Friday, 15 September 2017

Japan September 2017: Harie Village of Living Water (針絵:生水の郷)

One of the many waterways in Harie
針槐の水路
Crystal clear spring water
生水



(すみません、日本語があまり上手じゃない。)

Since we only called in the morning to book a tour (available times: 9AM, 1030AM, 130PM), only Japanese tour was available. I guess if you call early enough, you can request for an English-speaking guide. The train costs 970 yen per person and the tour costs 1000 yen per person. If you have money to splash, there is also an English tour available from http://www.yutour.net/tours/002_harie.html but it costs at least 10,000 yen per person which includes 
  • English-speaking tour conductor (licensed guide interpreter)
  • Admission fee for guided walking tour in Harie
  • Fare for all transportation listed above
  • Insurance
  • Local tax

あの日は朝電話で予約して、日本語を話せるガイドさんだけいる。もし早く予約して、英語を話せるガイドさんもいるかもしれない。電車は970円、ツアー費は1000円。http://www.yutour.net/tours/002_harie.html は英語のツアーがあるけど、ツアー費は10000円だ!
The phone at Harie community center
古い電話
Our guide, Maeda San
ガイドさん前田さん
Our visitor pass which allows us to visit Kabata in homes, led by Maeda san
かばたに入れるのパス




Maeda san met us at the sign and brought us on a tour of the village. She explained that there are about 140 households with about 600 people. The village seemed quiet and for the entire tour, we only met the occasional elderly on a bike or walking around. Maeda san told us that the youngsters commute daily to the cities for work so at the time of our tour (1030AM), it's exceptionally quiet.

There are no restaurants and no vending machines in the village. Only a small preserved fish shop, a bean curd shop which was not open and what Maeda san described as 美人の店 bijjn no mise, shop for beauties. We spotted a Takkyubin van and Maeda san explained that they use takkyubin quite a lot due to the lack of shops in the village.

この街はめっちゃ静かだ。前田さんは「みんな都市へ行って、勤めているよ。」と言った。レストランもない、店もない、二度販売機もない。みんなは宅急便で買い物する。

Preserved Fish Shop
魚の店

Bijin no mise (Shop for beauties)
美人の店
The highlight of this tour is really the waterways that run through the village and the kabata with Japanese carp, places where the villages draw fresh water for daily use. We were told that you can leave a pot used to cook curry in the kabata for a few hours and it will be clean. Amazing!!!

水路とかばたも面白かった!カレーを煮た鍋がかばたに入れて、3−4時間内は綺麗になる!

Kabata outside a house
家の外のかばた

Indoor kataba
家の中のかばた
The water maintains a constant temperature of 13 deg C through summer and winter. In the past when there was no refrigerator, people chilled their fruits and vegetables in the cold water.

水はずっと13度保つ。夏も冬も同じ温度だ。昔のころ、みんなは果物とか、野菜とか冷やすために水に入れた。

The water maintains a constant temperature of 13 deg C throughout the year. The greens at the side are watercress which can be used in salads.
水の周りはサラダの野菜
Maeda san recommended a Japanese restaurant that serves food made with the village's water but it started to rain heavily on our way there and we spotted the little Italian-style restaurant called Restaurant Hinata so we decided to step in and were glad we did. The restaurant is run by an elegant middle-aged couple and the wood-fired Japanese curry pizza was really good!

前田さんは生水を使う料理のレストランを紹介させた。でも途中雨が急に降っていた。近くのレストランへ行った。このイタリアのレストランは本物のだ。カレーピザーはめっちゃ美味しかった!





Pizza oven
ピザーのオーベン

Delicious Japanese curry pizza
美味しいカレーピザー

They grow various plants in their little garden
いろんな植物
http://harie-syozu.jp/guide

Access:
45 min from JR Kyoto to JR Shinasahi station from where it's a 15 min walk to the village.

アクセス:
JR京都駅から45分かかりに直接な電車でJR新旭駅へ行って、15分歩いて。

Japan September 2017: Kurama, Kibune Nagashi Soumen (鞍馬、貴船: 流しそうめん)



(すみません、日本語があまり上手じゃない。)
I wanted very much to try kawadoko dining (dining above the river) which is only available in summer so I planned a trip to Kibune via a hike from Kurama. 

To get to Kurama from Kyoto, take the Nara line to Toufukuji, change to Keihan line to Demachiyanagi then take the Eiden to Kurama, the final stop. The entire journey takes about an hour. Don't believe websites that tell you it's "30 min from Kyoto". It's actually 30 mins from Demachiyanagi. 

From Kurama, it's a 2-3 hour hike to Kibuneguchi. The hike is easy and is about half ascent and half descent with toilets and vending machines nearer to Kurama side. It's possible to go both ways although we see more people going from Kurama to Kibuneguchi. This could be because there are more restaurants at Kibune area so it's nice to end your hike with a meal. Even though it's September, the hike is comfortable because it's mostly cool and some parts are breezy.


京都の川床を食べたいから、鞍馬から貴船までハイキングした。京都駅から、奈良線に乗って、東福寺駅へ行って、京阪線に乗り換え、出町柳駅へ行って、エイデンに乗り換え、終点は鞍馬だ。時間は1時間かかる。鞍馬からハイキングルートをして、2ー3時間ほど貴船に到着する。夏だけど、天気は良かった。ちょっと涼しく風で、とっても楽しかった。

Once you reach Kibune, you will pass many restaurants offering kawadoko meals at exorbitant prices. At a minimum of ¥6500 for something that should cost only less than half the price, I feel that these are really quite a rip-off.  

For a more interesting experience, walk in about 15 minutes to Hirobun ひろ文 and get a number plate for nagashi soumen. The wait can be 2-2.5 hours so you should get a number before sightseeing around the place. You pay ¥1300 per person and they give you a fan with your number.


貴船に到着、いろんな川床レストランがあるのに、値段が高すぎると思った。もっと15分ぐらい歩いて、ひろ文レストランがある。このレストランで流しそうめんを食べることができる。並び時間は2時間以上、一人1300円を払って、番号を持って、観光した方がいいよ。





My main concern was people double-dipping and having to eat strangers' saliva so I prayed that I'll be first in the line of flowing soumen. My concern is actually unfounded because they actually have an excellent system (they are Japanese! How can they tolerate eating strangers' saliva!). There are 5 separate tubes for 5 groups of people, in two clusters of 2 and 3 each. The group seated on the left uses the inner tube.


実は「流しそうめんが汚ない?知らない一人と一緒に食べるかどうか?」と思って、心配していた。一番左の横方がいいかなあ。でも、家族や友達なら、一本を使って、大丈夫だよ!(o^^o) 良かった!




Although it's a very interesting experience, I felt that the place was rather touristy and I'm not sure whether I'll come again in summer. It's kind of like a been there done that for me. As for the kawadoko, there's something for everyone but you can't have your cake and eat it too. Cheap, kawadoko, fast: 3 choose 2. You either have to wait for a long time (nagashi soumen), pay for the expensive kawadoko sets or choose a restaurant with regular prices but without kawadoko experience. But I may try coming in autumn as I can imagine the momiji will be very beautiful.

面白かっただが、観光客が多くて、食べ物も高すぎて、一回以上行きたくない。でも、秋の景色は美しいかもしれない。

Access:
To get to Kurama from Kyoto, take the Nara line to Toufukuji, change to Keihan line to Demachiyanagi then take the Eiden to Kurama, the final stop. The entire journey takes about an hour. Don't believe websites that tell you it's "30 min from Kyoto". It's actually 30 mins from Demachiyanagi.
From Kibune Shrine, we took a bus (¥140) to Kibuneguchi station where we made the trip back to Kyoto. It's also possible to walk (about 30 min).

アクセス:
京都駅から、奈良線に乗って、東福寺駅へ行って、京阪線に乗り換え、出町柳駅へ行って、エイデンに乗り換え、終点は鞍馬だ。時間は1時間かかる。
貴船からバス(140円)で貴船口駅へ行って、京都へ帰った。

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Japan September 2017: Ine no Funaya (伊根の舟屋)





(日本語があまり上手じゃないので、すみません。)


This has got to be the highlight of the trip! I can't believe we only discovered this paradise now!

All the funaya that accept internet bookings were full for our shortlisted dates so I had to make a reservation by phone to Kagiya (Japanese only). Alternatively, you can leave a message on the Facebook page and they will reply very promptly. Before boarding the bus to Ine from Amanohashidate, I had called Mina San to inform her of my ETA so she can meet us at Ine bus stop. Since we arrived at 2PM but check in is 3PM, she took our baggage and we hung around at Ine Cafe and used the complimentary bicycles to check out the nearby spots.


伊根の舟屋は今度の一番楽しい経験だ!

電話で鍵屋を予約した。鍵屋のみなさんは伊根のバス停に待って、伊根カフェに送ってくれた。いろんなデザート(クレムブル、チョコレートケーキ、マンゴプリン)を食べて、無料な自転車に乗る、周りに観光した。


Ine Cafe, a rather modern and hip place
モダンな気持ちの伊根カフェ

Ine cafe
伊根カフェ

Complimentary bikes around the village
無料な無料な自転車

Mina san came by the cafe again to pick us up for check in. Upon entering Kagiya, we were amazed that it looked very well-furnished and well-maintained despite the weathered exterior. The view from our window on level 2 was spectacular and we felt so blessed to be in this paradise. From our window, we could watch Mina san's husband and dad fishing for our dinner. 

3時にチェックインして、みなさんは伊根カフェに会って、鍵屋へ行った。舟屋の外観は昔の感じがあるのに、中はモダンだ。二階の窓から海が見える。とても嬉しかった。みなさんのご主人とお父さんは釣っていた。


Level 1: Dining area with sea view
一階:海が見えるのダイニング


My Melody and Funayan
メロでィちゃんとふなやんくん
My Melody and Funayan at the boat docking area outside the dining area
メロでィちゃんとふなやんくん
Level 1: Bathroom
一階:浴室


Level 1: Bathroom
一階:浴室


Bathroom amenities
アメニティ

Bathroom amenities
アメニティ


The basin at the toilet is so cute!
可愛い絵!
Living room at Level 2
二階:リビング


The bedroom at level 2

二階: 寝室

The bedroom at level 2

二階: 寝室
Welcome snack
舟屋のせんべいとお茶
Dinner was an extravagant array of sashimi, steamed fish, braised fish and fresh vegetables. We felt so bad that we could not finish the food because it was just too much. Mina San's husband is an excellent chef and I felt that the food is even better than the ones at some of the ryokan I've stayed in.

夕食はとっても多くて、美味しかった。食欲が小さくて、残念だった。みなさんの御主人は料理が本当に上手だよ。泊まった旅館よりも美味しいと思う。


Grilled squid and fish salad
焼きイカと魚サラダ

Ika sashimi. We were told that this is the frilly part of the squid
イカ刺身。

Boiled tentacles. Super crunchy!
イカの触手。とっても美味しかった!

Assorted sashimi
刺身!たくさん!

Mina san even drew a picture to explain the type of fish used
みなさんが書いた魚を説明する絵

Steamed Amadai
蒸しあまだい

Braised Aji
煮たあじ

Lovely grapes
ブウドウ

The next morning, we visited the morning market and strolled around near Kagiya to take photos.

朝は市場へいった。また、鍵屋の周りを散歩したり、写真を撮った。


Nibi Valley photo spot
いいフォトスポット

Nibi Valley photo spot
いいフォトスポット
Breakfast was a balanced meal of salt-grilled fish, vegetables,  chawanmushi, miso soup packed with fresh mushrooms, rice.

その後は昼食を食べた。塩焼き魚とか、茶碗蒸しとか、味噌汁とか、とっても美味しかった。





Prior to our arrival, Mina san had emailed to inform that their boat Herbie had been damaged and apologized for not being able to offer us a complimentary tour around the bay. She very kindly arranged for a neighbour's boat to take us on a tour and we paid the elderly gentleman (who spoke Japanese very fast!) ¥1000 each. I will strongly recommend going with one of these smaller boats unless the waves are choppy because you have the whole boat to yourself. There are larger sightseeing boats which are more stable but you will likely be with other tourists.

鍵屋の船「ハービ」は壊れて、隣舟屋の船に乗って、伊根湾を観光した。料金は一人1000円だ。船長は速く話して、あまりわからなかった。(笑)



Chris enjoying it while it lasts
離れる時、悲しい。。。

Mina san then drove us up to 舟屋の里公園 (Funaya no sato koen) where we can have a panoramic view of the bay. We had a snack at the restaurant on level 2 while enjoying the view one last time before going back to Kyoto.

舟屋の里公園の展望台から美しい景色が見える。どうして京都へ何回来たのに、この素晴らしい所へ来たことがないなあ。。。二階レストランでお菓子を食べながら、ゆっくり美しい景色が目に留まった。


We really miss this place and felt very touched by the hospitality of the Kagi family. Thank you for the wonderful stay!

鍵家族のおもてなしから、本当に感動している!ありがとう!

The Kagi family
鍵の家族



It is possible to couple this trip with a night in Amanohashidate. We have stayed at Amanohashidate twice but never discovered this Venice of Japan or what they call 海の京都 (umi no kyoto), Kyoto by the sea. We will definitely be back again and we plan to bring our bicycles and cycle from Amanohashidate across the land bridge and to Ine the next time. It will be about 19km which is very doable.

伊根湾へ行く前、天の橋立に泊まりもできる。天の橋立へ二回め行ったのに、ユトピアみたい伊根が知らない。ビックリするような。。。もう一度伊根へ行ったら、天の橋立から自電車で行こうと思っている!

Funaya Accommodation
Kagiya 
¥20 000 per pax excluding tax, dinner and breakfast included
CASH ONLY 

泊まる:
舟屋の宿鍵屋
一人 20000円 (一泊二食)
現金だけ



Access:
2 hours on the limited express Hashidate from JR Kyoto station brings you to Amanohashidate where you can hop on to a local bus to Ine. JR Pass may be used for this train but you have to pay a small sum (about 1500 yen, I can't quite remember) because part of the route runs on non-JR tracks.


Check train times here: http://www.hyperdia.com/en/



You can also check out the Tango trains which are very fun to ride. I've tried the Aomatsu and Akamatsu before and enjoyed the very pretty interior and scenic rides.



The bus takes 1 hour and costs 400 yen. Take a ticket upon boarding and pay when you get off. No reservations required. Take note that the buses are infrequent (about 1 hour intervals) and bus times coincide with the train arrival times so do go directly to the bus stop right in front of the station after alighting from the train. We missed the bus at Amanohashidate by 2 minutes because I stopped to help a lost couple and had to wait more than an hour for the next one but as a result, we found a nice cafe beside the station that serves affordable and tasty meals. Get out of the station and turn right you will see the cafe. It's called Jou Jou. Do not be alarmed if you see many elderly people on the bus! The mean age of the people on our bus was at least 70! Haha...

アクセス:
JR京都駅から橋立特急で(2時間)JR天の橋立駅に到着して、普通バス(1時間)に乗り換えは伊根湾に到着した。駅前のバス停は時刻表がある。バス費は一人400円だ。間に合ったら、電車を降りて、すぐバス停へ行った方がいいよ。

京都から直接バスもある。5日前に予約必要だ。

Bus route
Bus time table at Amanohashidate station
There is also an express bus that takes 140 mins from Kyoto to Ine but it requires reservation at least 5 days in advance. I am not sure how this reservation can be done. I also do not know whether there is toilet on the bus. At least I know there is toilet on the limited express train haha...