Sapporo

I wonder how many people realise that Sapporo is not just a brand of beer, but is in fact Hokkaido’s premier city and Japan’s fifth largest. To be fair I knew about the beer long before I knew about the city, it was for me an interest in the world class brew that encouraged me to…

Breakfast sets

I found the ryokan in Matsumoto to be a wonderful experience in the onsen district, past the university in the foot hills, quite far from the centre of town. The building was awesome, dark and foreboding from the front, opening up to expose a labyrinth of structures behind, the design featured within allowing my mind…

Izakaya

An Izakaya is an informal type of gastro-pub quite common in Japan, I’ve not eaten in one yet. So this was quite a treat. The room is set out like many of the smaller restaurants I’ve been into in Japan, a bit like a British pub, but with a kitchen wedged into the central bar…

Kēki to kuramu

With Matsumoto providing a nice backdrop to undertake and to enjoy a few more mundane days within the journey around Japan. There was time here to explore the textiles, the crockery stores, the stationary shops along with time spent sitting and watching the world. Days like this provide the perfect opportunity to be lazy with…

Riding the Sushi train

I am amazed it took me so long into this trip to find a sushi train restaurant, I suppose I may have never found one if it were not for the walk out to the Wood Block Printing Museum and my inherent dislike of returning by the same route. The new route although not quite…

Matsumoto

Matsumoto is perhaps the best place to be afflicted with temple tiredness, like the old town fatigue backpackers get in Europe, for me it’s that point in the trip when the fascination of everything I see and do wanes. It’s still cool and I’m enjoying the journey it’s just things don’t seem as fresh as…

Lunching in the villages

I enjoyed the few days of modern isolationism that the Kiso valley villages afforded me to have, with little to do besides walk a trail and find some lunch. I could sit besides the river and stare at the clouds, I could perch myself under the cherry trees and allow the sakura to fall upon…

Edo guesthouses

Magome in particular is one of the first places in Japan to purposefully restore and modernise it’s heritage buildings, it lead the way and set the example to other places what can be done to bring these wonderful places into this century and to give them purpose. The sympathetic conversions and restorations are visible in…

The Kiso trail

One of the draw cards to the Kiso Valley is the opportunity to walk the old Edo period road that links the pretty Edo period villages of Magome and Tsumago. It’s a lovely walk indeed, leading through elevated farmlands, past a few remote houses and through a small stand of cedar forest. The smell of…

Bowls of glory

I’ve been trying to find some new noodle bowls when I’m in Japan, I really like the style of crockery that I’ve seen in many of the restaurants. Yet nice bowl, the kind that will make decorative and practical usable souvenirs from my trip seem hard to find, I have considered lifting one or two,…

Matsusaka beef

I don’t know if I can adequately describe how good the beef I just ate was, to describe it as the pinnacle of quality and flavour of all the beef I have eaten in my life to date would be appropriate. I think that says something, I mean I’ve worked with and eaten some of…

Kuromon Ichiba

What a cracking market! The crowds were small and polite, the stalls colourful and inviting with plenty of visual and culinary stimuli. Many of the stalls and items available have a culinary theme, along with raw and prepared produce there was also so much ready to eat food it is a crime that I will…