Five senses #17

· Beauty, Culture, Decoration, Fashion

Today is the 17th « Five senses » article to tell you, as always, what have stimulated my 5 senses lately. I hope you’ll like reading it and that you’ll discover a few things: enjoy !

 

Taste

I bought this book before the lockdown and just finished it… it’s the perfect illustration of the slow life!

« Un sandwich à Ginza » can be read quickly or very slowly… the way I chose. The author Yokô Hiramatsu precisely describes delicious japanese meals, from a favorite restaurant, an unusual place, from Osaka to Tokyo, season after season. A few drawings of the comic master Jirō Taniguchi come along to illustrate the story: a real plus to the narrative.

“Un sandwich à Ginza” by Yôko Hiramatsu (illustrated by Jirō Taniguchi) Editions Picquier

 

While reading, I was really pleased to discover the Omurice temple (omelette stuffed with rice), the joy of a winter invigorating fondue (nabe) or the secrets of a simple cantine in a company.

A change of scenery and descriptions to make your mouth water (only the episode with the bear repelled me). I was as amazed as when I read the manga « Le gourmet solitaire » from Jirō Taniguchi. A contemplative narrative that makes you travel and makes you want to try new flavors.

 

Sight

As I said on Instagram, the posters in our living room have been the same the past three years, and even though they were very useful to decorate our wall, it was time to choose more personal images, which will remind us souvenirs. And what would be better than photos from our Japan trips?

The most difficult was to select only 3 (we kept on the left side the photographic enlargement of the SkyTree from 2014, that we really love)

Teeshirt vintage customised with a MadHatterPlushies patch (already seen here)

 

Some of the pictures were beautiful in colors but austere in black and white, and we wanted to avoid all the famous “cliché” (classic views of monuments from Japan, kimono/yukata, Tori…). So after long hours of discussion, here is the selection:

  • A picture of my SO and I seated next to the Yayoi Kusama artwork in Naoshima, taken by a tourist with our camera (we might not leave our camera like this in another country but Japan is quite safe about this). An impression of serenity emerges from this picture, but reality was different: there was another 10 person lining to take a picture next to the famous pumpkin… but this contrast with the backstage makes us laugh and reminds us some nice memories spent on this wonderful island.
  • An architectural detail from our hotel in Awaji designed by Tadao Ando We loved so much our stay in this place that watching these few crossing graphic shadows give us peace.
  • This Garyu Sanso house in the small town of Ozu made us dreaming (I’ll tell you more about this soon): we can’t live inside but we had to hang it on our wall to pretend.

 

Smell

Cherry Lipbalm Hurraw

 

Since wearing a mask is highly recommended to go outside, I’ve barely worn red lipstick. However, I don’t like a nude face when I take my mask off (to have lunch for instance). So I chose a less colorful alternative than a red lipstick: a tainted lipstick balm with a cherry smell.

I discovered this brand thanks to my friend’s Candice advent calendar surprise (=a coco balm), and I wanted to try another taste as yummy. The color is discreet but is enough for these particular period with mask.

 

Touch

Vinyl turntable TN-400BT Walnut TEAC

 

You’ve already seen these vinyl turntable on the blog but I haven’t written any article about it.

Indeed, a year ago we decided to invest in a pretty vinyl turntable with a few criterias for the selection: unobtrusive, with a wooden board, transparent cover (to protect from the dust), good sound quality, good durability AND Bluetooth connection so that the sound could come out of our B&O Play speaker.

This last criteria made us eliminate quite a few turntables that fulfilled the previous criterias. The purists will say that for a good sound we should have plugged the turntable to an amp and speakers but our priority was also to not have too many things, considering the size of our apartment and our will of minimalism.

It will always be possible to plug an amp later, if we decide to live in a bigger place (and without neighbors!).

 

 B&O Play A2 Bluetooth speaker Bang & Olufsen (2016)

 

As for now, the sound of this Japanese turntable is very qualitative and the pleasure to listen to our favorite tracks remains the same.

Now that we all use streaming platforms, I had this envy to get this object in order to have the pleasure to open an album jacket, read lyrics, admire picture.

 

Hearing

Since the lockdown I’ve walked every morning with my earplugs in my ears: the good occasion to exercice (which was limited the last few months) and to listen podcasts while walking.

Here are 3 podcasts that I’ve listened with pleasure while walking in the morning (feel free to recommend others in the comment area below!) :

 

THE MINIMALISTS : I discovered this podcast after watching a documentary on Netflix with the same name. As its name suggests, it gives you ideas to consume less, using less things to live better, while talking about daily topics. It’s all in English but pretty easy to understand (if you have basics but Joshua and Ryan’s american accent is very clear).

KIFFE TA RACE : While questions about racism are under the spotlights, it’s even more important to educate ourselves and analyse our daily behaviors. This podcast animated by Rokhaya Diallo and Grace Ly discusses without taboo different topics about racism with a guest, in a chill and humorous way. Learning to know the others and accept the differences, that the aim of this podcast – in an educational way as much as possible.

CD2TITRES : the musical Madeleine de Proust. Loïc unveils the secrets of the best hits from 1996 to 2003 : the holy period for Pop music. The story of “Who do you think you are” from the Spice girls, “Erase/Rewind from the Cardigans and other songs we enjoy listening again while discovering the secrets behind. A nostalgic effect but also a lot of information for pop music fans (just like me!). (English translation by Quiterie)

Shimanto

· Food, Illustration, Travel

We continue our Japanese roadtrip! After leaving the city of Kōchi, we headed south to Shikoku island toward Shimanto for 2 nights in order to enjoy one full day on the area.

We slowed down to make sure we’d enjoy the Japanese nature and discover my favorite part of this country, the wilder areas. As always, I’ll take you with me to show you this refreshing part of Japan. Deep breath, let’s go!

 

Yakatabune boat trip on the river

Shimanto-gawa is a 196km-long river, the longest in Shikoku, well-known for its extremely pure and clear water. We could have chosen a canoe-kayak but we took the most traditional way, the yakatabune.

 

This traditional Japanese barge was created during the Edo period and was used as a private boat for the shoguns (the ancestor of the private yacht!). When we get inside the yakatabune, we can admire all the views at the same time while enjoying a good meal on a long table, comfortably seated on pillows placed on the tatami.

 

This boat trip was recommended by the owners of our housing that I’ll describe at the end of this article. The wharf was not really easy to find (especially since I can’t remember the exact address but the company name was called “Yakatabune Sakoya”) : anyway, just go to the Shimanto tourist office or show a picture of this article to local people, they will help you out.

The guide/boatman of the day, called Hideaki, was very talkative, even though he wasn’t speaking a word of English (thank you google translate for helping us out). Only us and a couple of tourists from Hong-Kong on the boat : and we enjoyed this small committee!

That being so, Hideki explained to us that the water wasn’t really clear that season because of the rain and that the best was winter time to enjoy the best clarity. He proved it by showing us a photo album while telling us some stories about «celebrities» as he was very proud to pose with Kumamon, the mascot of the Kumamoto prefecture or Kyushu island.

We also discovered the chinkabashi (submersible bridges) hanging over the river, built without a fence, in order to resist the bad weather and flooding.

As always, Japanese know how to compose with their weaknesses to better adapt to the caprice of nature.

 

Dragonfly park

We visited this dragonfly park early in the morning, and once again we were almost the only tourists to be there. It’s in a very quiet ambiance that we freely strolled around the water lilies and dragonflies.

74 species can be watched along the year : we only saw a few of them in their natural habitat but it was very relaxing to experience this show.

 

The park also had a museum with insects and a small souvenir shop where benefits are intended to preserve the dragonfly species.

 

Savour Shimantoya eel

(SHIMANTOYA 2494-1 Yamachi, Shimanto, Kochi 787-0157) This restaurant is apparently the most popular to savour a bento with eels freshly fished in the Shimanto river.

 

We had a beautiful lunch with a view on the river. The caramelized eels and shrimps were delicious… and eating all of these seated on a tatami made this experience even better (…or painful, depending how flexible you are!).

The restaurant has been featured in a manga comic book !

 

 

Our small house in Shimanto

If you want to see a full home tour of this housing in Shimanto, please check out my Instagram highlight stories called “Shikoku”: all I am saying is not very reliable but everyone who likes the french show « La Maison France 5 » might agree. More seriously, this small house was just the perfect location in the region… and the adorable owners advised us for dinner places, grocery shopping and what to visit around : we almost thought we were locals!

We did some grocery shopping in the supermarket nearby and prepared big and yummy breakfasts that you can see on the picture above.

VSo here is the address, if you want to stop by for a night or two in the region: Shimanto river house Yuube-Tei (2082-7 Fuba Kamimachi, Shimanto – 787-0018 SHIMANTO). Here is also their website and their instagram page: say hi from me!

 

On the road to Matsuyama !

After this break into nature, here we are again, on the road on the way to Matsuyama. Before telling you all about this city full of charm, here is a quick look at the temples we visited on the way between Shimanto and Matsuyama : the 39, 40, 41, 42 et 43 (Enkō-ji, Kanjizai-ji, Ryūkō-ji, Butsumuko-ji et Meiseki-ji) … And there are the 5 new calligraphies on my Nokyocho !

 

 

I hope you enjoyed the destination today that was for us one of the most beautiful reconnection with nature… before going back to an urban landscape in the next city of Matsuyama : see you soon! (English translation by Quiterie)

Kochi

· Food, Illustration, Travel

Finally ! Back to tell you more about my Japanese road trip, which was exactly a year ago. On that same date, I was in the city of Kōchi ! The ambiance really changes from what we’ve been living this year, no? I hope this will make you dream a bit. It was so nice to plunge back into all the pictures from another time, time of the live-and-let-live attitude.

So I will tell you all about the tour we did in the city of Kōchi, located in the Kōchi prefecture, on the Shikoku island where we’d been wandering around… Do you follow? We stayed 2 nights in Kōchi (the city), which gave us a bit of time to discover all the points of interest.

 

Kochi castle

We didn’t get inside, to keep up some time to visit others city areas but here is a quick glance at the surrounding park. This castle built in 1611 during the Edo period is now a museum.

For Japanese animation fans, you should know that this castle can be clearly seen in a Ghibli movie « Ocean Waves » where the scene takes place in Kōchi (I haven’t watched it, as most of the Ghibli movies = yes I know, shame on me! But I am planning on catching up on Netflix).

 

Katsurahama beach

The car was useful to access the beach otherwise I think we could take a bus (because it’s 30min away from the city center). This beach surrounded by pines is quite amazing and we got lucky enough to have this beautiful weather.

Unfortunately, swimming is prohibited considering the dangerous stream, so you won’t need to bring your swimsuit, or you can wear it (but it will stay desperately dry).

This beach is well-known for its statue of Sakamoto Ryoma (with also a dedicated museum if you want to know more about him). In a nutshell, the end of feudal period came thanks to him in Japan, so he deserves a bit of attention.

On the side, after crossing a small bridge above the beach, a cute temple overlooking the waves. This place is very impressive and photogenic as shown on the pictures.

 

Hirome market

This city market is an indoor market made of 7 different sections but the food section is still quite large. We took this chance to grab our lunch by stopping by a few food stalls. I don’t have any specific stall to recommend, just follow your intuition and own desires!

Grilled squids and mochi crêpes

 

We tried the local speciality : the skipjack (bonito) tataki, the emblematic dish of the Kochi prefecture. A kind of pink tuna lightly grilled, half cooked that comes with green oignons, ginger and/or garlic… the perfect plate for a date with your lover.

Katsuo no tataki (tataki de bonite)

 

The region is well-known for citruses and sweet potatoes fries. Enjoy, this market is the place to discover new flavors, get wild, dare trying!

 

Chikurin-Ji temple (Temple 31)

Let’s not forget about the 88 temples pilgrimage of Shikoku : this temple was worth the detour for our calligraphy collection but also for its 4 storied pagoda and for its relaxing green bower. Please admire.

 

 

 

Other visit ideas

Here are a few ideas (that we unfortunately didn’t have time to try) but that seem interesting if you stay around.

THE MAKINO BOTANICAL GARDEN : This garden is dedicated to a famous Japanese botanist, Tomitaro Makino or « the father of Japanese botany » (yeah that’s right). Facing the Chikurin-ji temple, this garden will pleased the maple tree, chrysanthemum and other Japanese natural beauty lovers.

THE YOSAKOI DANCE FESTIVAL : A festival of traditional dance that takes place every year on August 10th and 11th (except this year maybe!).

The Yosakoi dance uses an accessory that you’ll see pretty much everywhere in the region : the naruko (a kind of Japanese wooden castanets). Lots of dance groups come to participate to a contest organized during the festival. The ambiance must be so friendly, colorful and festive (and I can imagine the food stalls hehe!)

THE GODAISAN OBSERVATORY : to overlook the city and admire the landscape.

 

Kochi yummies

We mostly ate on the go, while doing markets, but here are two addresses recommended by the locals that caught our attention (and pleased our taste buds).

KUMONYA (1 Chome-4-15 Harimayacho, Kochi) : an izakaya restaurant very local and authentic.

We sat at the counter, obviously no English menu, so we followed the chef recommandations… and it was so good! Skipjack in all kind of forms (tatami and maki) seashells (I couldn’t tell the name), grilled eggplants, everything was delicious!

PÂTISSERIE NEGRITA : I think it’s a chain of pastry shops. If you miss French pastries with a Japanese twist, this place is just made for you. Quite small but it was perfect to satisfy our sweet tooth. Very special thought for the nice waitress (that might have changed since last year).

 

Housing in Kochi

We booked a simple hotel : the Comfort Hotel Kochi mostly for its location in the center. We had some misunderstanding about a reserved parking space that actually was not! So we had to find a public parking but everything ended up well…

From what I recall, the room was quite small but good enough as we just stayed to sleep.

 

I hope you enjoyed the tour, especially as this end of lockdown period is still unclear. See you for the next episode to leave the city and travel along the Shimanto river! (English translation by Quiterie)

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