Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chowing down in Japan...

Hmmm.. how to choose?

Not quite finished yet with the Japan adventure.... there was the food.  On a cold, rainy afternoon, there is nothing like a steaming hot noodle bowl, of which we partook (is that a word?) a few times on our trip.  The best was in Hakone, in a little noodle place on Lake Ashi.  We had just visited the Hakone Shrine in a freezing drizzle and wandered back to town.  Chris seemed to be fine, but I was chilled to the bone.  My noodle bowl with soba and tempura did the trick.  I couldn't understand why the restaurant was deserted until we noticed a pizza place across the way packed with locals.....  

Noodle bowl in Hakone
Himalayan tea in Asakusa
In Tokyo, we found an awesome cafe in the Asakusa neighborhood, after a chilly, rainy walk through the shops.  We ordered Himalayan tea, which was served with sweetened condensed milk, then added a shot of Scotch, which really warmed things up!  One evening for dinner, we found  the Indian restaurant, Moti, owned by a Delhi family, where I had dined eons ago when I was living in Japan.  This was where I learned to love Indian food.

Christmas decorations

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A quick trip to Japan

Hei Shrine, Tokyo

Asakusa, Tokyo
We took a mini-vacation in Japan this month; a couple of days in Tokyo, followed by 4 days of playing in the mountains west of the city.  I met Chris in Tokyo (he had business there), roamed around my old haunts from ... a few years ago..., then we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Hakone, an area dominated by Mt. Fuji or Fuji-san. This is an area of mountains, lakes, temples and small towns, and one gets around by an efficient system of trains and buses.  

We stayed at a beautiful, but understated Hyatt, with house dog, "Haru", on the side of a mountain with its own onsen, which is the Japanese word for hot spring.  The word "onsen", actually conjures up a whole experience that includes not only the spring itself, but a pool, either natural or man-made, that uses the spring as source, with an inn or hotel nearby or surrounding it, creating an environment that dares one to relax and soak until reaching nirvana.  

Hakone Shrine
Chris with Fuji-san
The sulphuric hot springs were created eons ago by ancient volcanic activity in the area, and indeed, one can see plumes of sulphuric vapor rising out of the ground in a number of places there.  Our days started with a hike or ride in a train, cable car and/or bus with a bit of sight-seeing, bowl of noodles, followed by return to the hotel for a soak and then cocktail hour by the fire.  After 4 days, I was not ready to leave.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hi From Mt. Fuji from Flat Lucy!!!  It felt grrrrrr-eat to be back in the mountains with the humans even if 3D Lucy had to stay behind in Singapore. Cool weather, lots of new smells in Japan, plenty of steep climbs and downhills too.