September 23, 2015

Hiking in Zao from pond Katakai 2

Continued from Hiking in Zao from pond Katakai 1
We managed to walk through the very steep "Zange" slope, and stopped at the rope-way station a little while. Around the rope-way station is usually crowded with tourists, but there seems to be fewer people than before. Probably because the bad weather though...

We started walking again after a short break, and gradually the wind became stronger as we get close to Wasagoya-ato. Clouds were coming and going with the cold breeze.

なんとかザンゲ坂を登り切り、ロープウェイ山頂駅でやや休憩。そして、まずは熊野岳を目指します。リハビリハイキングなので、急登の近道はせず、熊野分岐から熊野神社へ、そしてお釜へ行きました。まだコマクサがないだろうかと思いながら探したら、なんとか少し咲いていました。もうコマクサの季節はお終いですね(^^)

Old lady's statue

There used to be a shed called Wasagoya, and a woman named Wasa was a guard at this shed. I think this statue was built to worship this lady. She puts a frightening look on her face, but I think she's trying to warn hikers to be careful.

Okama (volcanic lake)

We went straight to Kumano bunki (bifurcation), and headed to Mt.Kumano first. Since it was our first hiking in Zao this year, we thought we should go and pray at Kumano shrine. Then, we went down to Okama (volcanic lake). Okama was beautiful as ever.

Komakusa (Dicentra peregrina

We tried to find Komakusa very hard, but there were very few. I think the season is almost finished, but we were lucky enough to see these last piece of beauty.

Temperature in a shed near Mt.Kumano

It was almost freezing thanks to the very strong wind, and we evacuated to the shed to have lunch. The room temperature was 7 degree! Hmm, the hiking season is gradually coming to end.
It's our first hiking in Zao in this year, and probably the last.... I wish I could have gone more!

Here's detailed information about volcanic warnings.

The route we took is here↓



September 21, 2015

Hiking in Zao from pond Katakai 1

My hubby suddenly (again!) brought up an idea going to Zao for the weekend while we were having dinner on a Friday night. I thought it's a bit difficult to find a place to stay in such a short notice, but we luckily found a last minute offer. If my hubby decided this earlier, I might be able to see some friends in Yamagata, but this is our ordinary way of traveling... (Sorry my friends!)

As we quickly preparing for our trip, we checked websites to see if there is volcanic activity in Zao. Then, found out that Umanose (a hiking trail beside the volcanic lake called Okama) became off limits to all visitors. At first, we were planning a trail that pass through Umanose, so we had to change our plan. This time, we parked our car at a parking lot in front of pond Katakai. This place is close to Paradise Slopes and toilet is available.

金曜の夕食を食べていた時の事。旦那さまが急に「蔵王行っちゃう?」と言い出しました(笑)泊まるところがないんじゃ?と言いながらネットをチェックすると、直前割の宿泊を予約することが出来ました。・・・という事で、急きょ蔵王でハイキングとなりました。風が強く、寒く感じるところもありましたが、花も沢山咲いていて、最高の山登りができました(^^♪

ちなみに、お釜が見える分岐までは立ち入りできますが、馬の背は通行止めとなっておりますので、ご留意下さい(2015年9月現在)。

Going through the trees

Left: Direct route, Right: Indirect route

Soon, we faced this sign pole and we decided to go indirect route since we haven't gone for hiking lately;P However, although it was indirect route, I lost my breath quite soon... So, I tried to distract myself finding flowers. Leaves of the trees were began to change its color, and the wind was slightly cold.

Ookamenoki (Viburnum furcatum)

This sign tells you not to approach to the volcanic lake and its surroundings

The Japan meteorological agency announced the volcanic warning of Mt. Zao on 13 April 2015, but it was canceled on 16 June 2015 with an advice of "Be mindful that the volcano is potentially active", which is the lowest level. Zao is safe, but it seems tourists are not feeling that way. Many hotels and Ryokans experiencing downturn in passenger numbers, and some of them had to close its business.

Shiratamanoki

Akinokirinso

We walked along one of a Paradise Slopes, and joined to the famous "Zange" Slope. There were lots of gentians blooming on the side wall of the slope. They were in full bloom, and I believe that it would the best "gentian day" in this year.

Gentian on Zange slope

In full bloom

To be continued...

September 11, 2015

Dolce Miele, a geratelia in Kanuma 黒田養蜂園(Kuroda honey)

This summer was extremely hot and muggy, wasn't it? We had an errand to run on an oppressive summer day, and after that, we had chance to go Kanuma. Then, I recalled an image of delicious-looking ice cream that I saw on the internet the other day. This geratelia is run by a beekeeper, Kuroda Honey, and there's also a cafe that uses their honey.

The cafe, Honey B

I regretted to come here after the lunch because the menu of the cafe looked really nice. There were Pizza, Pancake, and Pasta that uses honey. Maybe, I should come back for these cafe menu.

The entrance of Dolce Miele and its Gerato

Both buildings looked quite new, so they might started their business relatively recently. A huge ice cream freezer jumped out at us as we enter, and there were perhaps about ten different Geratoes. Everything looked great, but we chose milk and mango. The server asked us whether we want to try different taste, and kindly gave us one spoonful trial Gerato. Terrace seat was available in front of the shop and we had these Geratoes at there. Both are tasted very rich and dissolved gently in our mouth. Yum!

***Dolce Miele, 黒田養蜂園(Kuroda honey)***
291-1 Murai, Kanuma, Tochigi
Tel:0289-77-7388
HP:http://kuroda-honey.com/sweets/

September 9, 2015

Michino eki Sashiba No Sato Ichikai 道の駅 サシバの里いちかい

The road around this place has been changed quite a lot. I haven't had chance to visit to this brand-new Michi No Eki (roadside station), but I was able to stop at on the way back from Ibaraki Prefecture. My hubby told me that one of his colleague often visits here and recommended their ice cream.

茨城からの帰り道に新しい道の駅に寄ってみました。サシバと言うのは、鷹の一種で、この道の駅がある市貝町が繁殖地になっているのだそうです。あちこち見たあと、向かったのは、知り合いにおすすめされていたお店へ。こちらのソフトクリームは、地元の牛乳を使っているようで、濃厚で美味しかったです(^^)

Brand-new roadside station



Soft served ice cream

The ice cream was very soft and had rich taste of milk. It seems they are using local farm's milk, and that is why it's fresh and tasty. That day, I had lots of fresh and delicious stuff!

I could not buy anything from farmer's market at this place because we went there in the late afternoon. So, I hope I could go there sometime soon too.

***Michino eki Sashiba No Sato Ichikai 道の駅 サシバの里いちかい***
1280, Ichihana, Ichikai, Haga-Gun, Tochigi
Tel:0285-81-5401
HP:http://www.michinoeki-ichikai.jp/

September 8, 2015

Fish market in Nakaminato 那珂湊おさかな市場

A few weeks ago, on a Saturday morning, my hubby had a sudden desire to have very fresh fish for lunch. Then we decided to go to Ibaraki Prefecture for the first time in years. It was October in 2009 when we gone there last time. The way to get there seemed a little changed, and it took only one hour and half to get there. We felt this place a bit closer than before! It's not too far for us (maybe thanks to better road?).

ある土曜の朝に、突然「新鮮な魚が食べたい」と言い出した旦那さま。海無し県に住む私たちにとって、鮮魚はなかなか手に入りにくいのです。そこで、急きょひたちなか市にある那珂湊おさかな市場へいく事にしました。1本1,000円の鰹は、とても大きいので、お兄さんに捌いて頂いて、お刺身や竜田揚げに。以前に行ったときと比べ、道路も良くなったみたい?なんだか少し近くなったように感じました。絶対また行こう~♪

We arrived the market just before the noon, so we went straight to a restaurant to have Sushi for lunch. The sushi was very fresh and delicious;) Then, after the lunch, we headed to the market to buy some sea foods.

Funny guy who cut up our bonito

We bought a bonito (1,000 yen) and a guy cut it into small pieces. He was really nice, funny guy, and he made us laugh a lot while cutting our bonito. Then, we bought some other fish and clam.


Crowded market

We had very fresh Bonito Sashimi that night, and I used clam for soup the next morning. Well, fresh fish is something that is very hard to get in Tochigi since we are living in an inland, but going to this market might be a great way of spending time on a weekend. We'd definitely go there again sometime soon!

***Fish market in Nakaminato 那珂湊おさかな市場***
19-8 Minato-Honcho, Hitachinaka, Ibaraki
http://www.nakaminato-osakanaichiba.jp/

September 2, 2015

Cucina Vegetale Maruyoshi クッチーナ ベジターレマルヨシ

This restaurant is situated relatively remote area, but is very popular. It often comes to my mind when I'm choosing restaurant for lunch, but I've always gave up since it's quite hard to get in if I don't have a reservation. Then, this place came to my mind again on a weekend of Obon (Japanese summer holiday), and I made a reservation with no trouble.

お盆の土曜日にマルヨシさんへ行ってきました。ランチを考える時に良く思い出すのですが、予約をしないとなかなか入れないので、ついついあきらめてしまいがち。この日は、世間はお盆の帰省で大忙しのようで、珍しく静かな店内でゆっくりとランチを楽しんできました(^-^) 行きたいな~と言う方は、お早目の予約をおススメします♪


Lovely entrance of the restaurant.

There were only two elderly couples when we got, and I was a little surprised about it since it is usually bustling with lots of ladies. Then we realized that it was a Saturday that many young families are too busy traveling to and from their hometown.

Appetizer plate (and my white wine!)

Inside the restaurant was cozy and quieter than ever. So, we enjoyed our long lunch. We both ordered Pranzo A set (1,550yen), and the appetizer plate was served at first. Everything on the appetizer plate was amazing, I especially liked the purple cabbage salad. Look at the color on the plate too, it was beutiful;)


My main, chicken with tomatoes.

My main dish was chicken and it had quite rich taste, so I could not finish (don't worry, my hubby did). It seemed this dish was flavored with some herbs and tasted nice. After the main, they served us this pretty dessert named Semifreddo. Then, I recalled similar dessert that I had at other restaurant. Is this Semifreddo thing becoming popular?? Well, it was sweet and yummy anyway.

Semifreddo

***Cucina Vegetale Maruyoshi クッチーナ ベジターレマルヨシ***
1041-150 Himuromachi, Utsunomiya, Tochigi
Tel:028-667-4338
Click here for more information

August 27, 2015

Soba Denshokan in Aizu そば伝承館

During summer vacation, we went to Fukushima as usual, and on one of a day, we went to Yamato-machi for lunch. Yamato-machi is in southwestern part of Kitakata City, and well known for its delicious soba noodles.

夏休みはいつも通り会津へ。お昼にお蕎麦が食べたくなり、山都町へ行ってきました。山都町は喜多方市南西部にある町で、美味しいお蕎麦で知られています。そば伝承館は、何度か行った事があるのですが、お盆の期間のせいか、なかなかの混み具合でした。
天ざるの天ぷらは揚げたてサクサクで、お蕎麦も良い香り。また行きたいと思います(^^)

Traditional-looking building

Their buckwheat are stored in Yukimuro (snow house), and cooked with care. You can see the process of making soba noodles through glass window.

Soba-master was making noodles in a glass booth

We watched noodle making for a little while, and bought our tickets. I ordered Ten-Zaru (1,300yen), which contains cold soba noodle and Tempura. These Tempura had very light and crunchy texture, so it was definitely freshly-cooked (sometimes, unfortunately it is not). The soba itself had nice aromatic soba flavor and great texture.

My Ten-Zaru

There are many soba restaurants in this area, but this restaurant is (probably) operated by the municipal government and it is one of the easiest place to go. We wanted to try other restaurant before, but I failed to decide which place we should try. Well, if it happens to you, this restaurant is definitely a safe option.

All-you-can-eat (Soba) day!

We found this brochure on a table, and somehow it was Wednesday. It says that you can eat soba as much as you wish if you pay 1,000yen on Wednesdays, and my hubby wanted to try. Then, I asked the server if they were holding this event that day, but they did not (because it was kind of holiday, I guess). So, I think this event is being held on a few limited days on Wednesdays. If you have a chance to go there on Wednesday, check the availability!

***Soba Denshokan そば伝承館***
3077-1 Sawata, Yamato, Kitakata, Fukushima
Tel:0241-38-3000
http://www.sobanosato.jp/tradition/