Yokohama Ramen Coma

4 05 2010

Continuing on with the Australian Invasion (of one), the next day trip Lauren and I took was to Yokohama.  Our main reason (my main reason?) for going there was the Ramen Museum, however no trip to Yokohama is complete without a visit to Chinatown.  The Yokohama Chinatown is one of the largest in the world, and its a very bright and lively shopping and restaurant area, with a couple of shrines thrown in. 

Chinatown Shrine

Chinatown Shrine

So we wandered around there for a while, and I stocked up on Chinese pork buns and egg noodles.  Since we were going to the Ramen Museum later we didn’t have lunch at Chinatown, and we made our way along the bay side to the Minato Mirai area.  There we took a ride on the ‘Cosmo Clock 21’ ferris wheel. 

Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel

Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel

It really struck me how much the Minato Mirai district has changed since my first visit in about 2002.  It’s a much more international tourist friendly place, and there are more things to do.  From the ferris wheel we spotted a couple of things I want to try next time I’m in Yokohama, like the foot bath at the Manyo club, and putt-putt at Vivre.  Both of which are on top of the buildings! 

 

From Minato Mirai it was finally time to get our late lunch (or early dinner) at the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum.  The Ramen Museum is one of my favourite places to go in Yokohama.  Once you enter the Museum and walk downstairs into the basement, you enter a mock-up of what Japan was like in the early to mid Showa era (1925 and onwards). 

Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum

Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum

At any one time, there are about nine different restaurants showcasing different varieties of Ramen from all over Japan.  You can buy large or small bowls of ramen, and traditional Japanese sweets.  We were only able to fit in two small bowls of ramen, so we had Tonkotsu ramen (broiled pork bone soup) from the Kumamoto shop ‘Komurasaki’ 

Tonkotsu ramen

Tonkotsu ramen

and Miso ramen from the Hokkaido shop ‘Eki’  

Miso ramen

Miso ramen

 Both were very delicious, but pretty heavy.  I love trying different types of ramen, and tonkotsu still remains my favourite.  Alas, living in Kanto, the regional flavor of ramen is soy sauce, so I don’t get to satisfy my craving very often. 

And, after rolling ourselves home, that was our day in Yokohama! 

Once again, Lauren made a video, and you can check out her YouTube channel here

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Kyushu Photo Blog

5 01 2010

My apologies for the irregular postings over the last few months.  Between the parental unit invasion and travel I’ve hardly been on the internet.  But I finally got around to sorting out my photos from Kyushu, and without further ado, here’s the photographic evidence. (warning, very image heavy!)

Day one in Nagasaki:

Oura Catholic Church, which is Japan’s oldest standing wooden church.

Glover Garden, a garden that is the home to 7 western style residences from the Meiji period.

Kakuni Manju, BBQ pork in a steamed bun.  Very very yummy!

Dejima is the island where Dutch traders were allowed to trade with the Japanese during the Tokugawa period.  Due to the Shogun closing Japan to westerners, Dejima was built to allow trade with the Dutch to continue.  Over the years the island was lost to reclaimed land, but recently the island and the buildings have been restored.  I found Dejima to be really fascinating.

Saru Udon

Champon, a Nagasaki speciality, is a cross between Japanese and Chinese food.  Many of the dishes in Kyushu have Chinese influences.

Day Two in Nagasaki:

A visit to the Peace Park, which is just up the road from the hypocenter of the atomic bomb blast.

Here is the monument (on the right) which marks the hypocenter, and a piece of the Urakami Cathedral that survived the bomb blast.  The Atomic bomb museum is only a short walk from here, and really, I can’t use words to describe it.  Going to a museum like this is one of the most sobering and somber experiences you can have.  If you have the chance, go!

Another relic of the bomb blast, the other half of this Torii gate was knocked down by the explosion.

Kitties!

Nagasaki City night view, said to be one of the three best in Japan.  Here you can see Nagasaki Station in the center of the picture.

Day 3 from Nagasaki to Kumamoto via Shimabara:

We caught the train from Nagasaki to Shimabara this day, and had a quick look around Shimabara Castle.  Shimabara is the peninsula where many Japanese Christians were killed in a revolt, and the castle had many relics of hidden Christians in the area on display.  However, the castle was nothing compared to the one at Kumamoto, so I won’t post any photos apart from this –

A Shimabara food, Rokobe Manju, a black steamed bun with sweet potato inside.

After that we went to the ferry and were in Kumamoto by sundown.

Day 4 in Kumamoto:

We started out by going to Kumamoto Castle, which was built by Kato Kiyomasa (above).

A castle turret with the walls of Nimaru and Honmaru (inner and second circle of the grounds).

A close up of the stone walls.

The main tower of the castle.

View from the main tower, looking at the reconstructed palace.

The guided meeting room of the lord of the castle (inside the palace).

Although a lot of the building are reconstructed, there are a few originals, and plenty to see.  We literally spent all morning there, and didn’t even realize we had missed lunch!

Next off to Suizenji Jojuen garden, which was first started in 1632, and depicts the 53 stations of the old Tokaido highway.  You can even see a miniature Mt Fuji.

Dinner that night was Kumamoto ramen.

Firstly Tonkotsu ramen.

Then a salt flavored broth.

And finally a Chinese style simmered pork on rice.  All very very yum!

Day 5 in Kumamoto:

We wanted to make a day trip to Aso, but unfortunately the weather didn’t agree with us, and instead we went to the Former residence of Hosokawa Gyobu, a Samurai house.

Mum and Dad found it really interesting because they had never been into a Samurai house like this.  There were quite surprised at how big it was.

Day 6 returning home:

Finally, on the plane home we were able to see Mt Fuji, and final treat to the holiday.

To see some more photos, please check out my Flickr set!





Kyushu day 4- Kumamoto day 1

18 12 2009

Today was our first day in Kumamoto. After eating breakfast at the hotel we set off to explore the Kumamoto castle grounds. The complex is actually quite extensive and includes a number of original stone walls, a few original buildings, and a few replicas. The main donjon is a replica, but looks spectacular, and the replica palace in the honmaru was gorgeous. All in all, it was really intresting, and we spent over 4 hours there before we even realised.
Next it was across town to Suienji Garden. This garden was built in the 1600’s, and simulates the Tokaido highway from Tokyo to Kyoto. It even had a minature Mt Fuji. It was very pretty, and mum was particular happy.
We ended the day with some Kyushu ramen (pictured below). Kyushu is famous for it’s tonkotsu ramen, which is my favourite, so I was really happy. We had one tonkotsu ramen, one salt flavored, and one meat and rice dish. Overall a rich meal, but really tasty!