Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Japan Trip 2012 - Niigata.

Wednesday 15th February.
Having arrived safely in Japan and settled into the hotel, we didn't venture too far to eat on the first evening. Sitting on the tatami mats eating yakitori with chopsticks was enough for these three weary travellers to handle.

Thursday 16th February. 
After breakfast we went first to see Yamazaki. We had some fun with the snow before he arrived.

We bought several boxes of tosai and also this box of nissai (some are for special order).

This nice selection of doitsu koi and a couple of beautiful gin rin showa were lifted at Shinoda.

It was ramen noodles up in Yamakoshi for lunch. It has to be said, that for being here on her first time, Rebekah is learning how to use the chop sticks really quickly!

We didn't make any purchases at Miyatora today, but finished day 1 at Hosokai. The following photos are from Hosokai.

Dinner was at the Yakiniku restaurant. Plenty of well cooked meat!

Friday 17th February. 
Overnight there was quite a fall of snow. We were glad we headed to the mountains yesterday! This morning we went to Aoki. As always there was a stunning selection of koi. We purchased the pictured fish. The first four fish are about 35-40cm. The second bowl are 30-35cm.

Rebekah endeared herself to Aoki-san, not least because she dug herself an igloo between the koi houses. He videoed her at work and told her when she returns 10 years from now he will show it to her!

In the afternoon we visited a couple of other breeders to sort out tosai orders. It was also great to be able to call in in see my friends Kentaro & Kaiko Miya at Miyaishi Koi Farm. We finished early in time to go to the Koi Museum, Nishikigoi no Sato and take a walk up the town.

Tonight we went to a Soba noodle restaurant. Niigata soba noodles are apparently quite desirable with people travelling from quite far away to enjoy them. Unfortunately they do nothing for me so I let the rest try soba while I had tempura and a salad!

Saturday 18th February.
Today we visited two koi farms which I had never been to before and was really impressed at both. The first was Marusaka, a small facility, very clean and tidy with some lovely fish.

We bowled up a number of fish and made the following selection. The gin rin kohaku were stunning and the clean lines & white heads on the kujaku were impressive. There weren't many Sanke, but the couple I selected were really nice.

After Marusaka we called in at Izumiya to see his amazing fish house full of jumbo koi. Rebekah and Rory enjoyed seeing his bulls, though they decided not to pet them on this occasion!

After lunch at Starbucks in Nagaoka we called to see Kaze. He has some lovely fish, different from any I've seen before and I bought some tosai there.

With Seiki Ikarashi out of town and the snow starting to fall really heavily we called it a day. I'm looking forward to one of my favourite restaurants tonight, though, to be honest I enjoy all the food out here!!
I'm going to leave you with a couple of Rory's photos now.

Sunday 19th February. 
This morning we left Ojiya. It was snowing heavily and it wasn't until we were well along the freeway that the road became clear. Even around Niigata City there is a lot of snow.
The first place to visit was the ADA Gallery. This is somewhere Rory really wanted to visit. It is a unique system of aquarium landscaping. The tanks are quite stunning and the equipment is really top quality.

We travelled on into Niigata and found the hotel. After leaving in our suitcases we went for lunch then Rene helped Rory with a camera purchase. This took a long time - as things like this tend to do in Japan. You would think he was buying a car with all the service assistance!!

Meanwhile Rebekah and I were messing around in the mall.

Our hotel is right beside Niigata station (to the right of the picture) so at least we won't have too far to pull our cases through the snow tomorrow morning.

It's so amazing to see all the bikes parked up at the station, though it looks like some have been there for a while! Oh dear, just 2 days left before home. :-(

Monday 20th February.
Having made the trip on the bullet train from Niigata to Tokyo, we checked into the hotel and made the short walk through to Akihabara, the electric village. Rebekah was interested in the huge Sylvanian Family models, but we enjoyed time out having lunch at Tully's while Rory went next door for Sushi.

After walking a bit we came to the Kanda Myogin Shrine. Here are some pics taken around the shrine. 

Tuesday 21st February.
This morning we set off early, visiting the musical instrument area of Akihabara, before taking the subway to Ginza. We walked through the streets of Tokyo's most famous shopping area for a while and made a few small purchases.

It was a welcome break when we decided to stop for coffee and pancakes (since its Pancake Tuesday!)

We then took the train from Ginza to Hamamatsucho where we could take a walk to the Zojoji Temple below the Tokyo Tower.

We had a little time to visit the Kyu-Shiba-rikyu gardens just beside the station.

We finished the day out with a guided tour - up to the observatory on the Trade Centre building, a cruise up the Sumida River, Asakusa and Nakamise Street, drive through Ginza and ending at the Emperor's Palace.

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