This morning saw us checking out of our ryokan in Takayama after another fantastic simple breakfast of Capelin (fish) with a sweet glaze and sesame seeds, a hard boiled egg, sweet potato and wasabi leaves.
After breakfast, we loaded a minivan with our larger bags and then set off to look at the Miyagawa morning market in Takayama – close to where we had been exploring yesterday. After perusing the stands and trying taiyaki (a local sweet which consisted of a sweet pancake consistancy cake, filled with bean paste, custard or green tea filling) we decided to have another cheeky coffee at Coffee Don but this time we showed several other members of the tour group where the store was located.
Nick and I tried the shop’s specialty item this time, which is Japanese style cheesecake . The ‘cake’ portion is a light sponge cake with the cream cheese filling sandwiched between. The filling was to die for, with a lemony, creamcheesy flavour.
After our coffee break, the group re-formed and Rika introduced us to a region specialty, mitarashi dango which is a kind of Japanese dumpling made from rice flour. Usually, it is sweet, but in this area, it is made with a more savoury recipe. It is covered in sweet soy sauce and then pan fried to give it a glassy glaze and a burnt/caramelised fragrance (which we could smell everywhere – it was very alluring!)
After this, we headed to the train station to once again make our move to a new location.
We were reunited with our bags at Takayama station and then set off to Toyama where we had a brief stop before catching the Skinkansen the rest of the way to Kanazawa. Once again, we took a bento lunch on the train with us. The Japanese actually have a term for this kind of bento – ekiben. These are sold at train stations and bus stops specifically for travellers.
Arriving in Kanazawa, we took a minibus to our new lodgings, Ryokan Yamamuro. Whilst not as traditional as the last Ryokan we stayed at, it had similar rules about shoes and tatami mats. It also boasts a private onsen which is a lot more glamourous than the previous Ryokan – its tiled with blue and white ceramic with lighted mirrors and white benches. The previous Ryokan came off as a little industrial with stainless steel all around.
After we settled in the Ryokan, Rika took us for a guided walk around the old town. We looked at the teahouse district where geishas entertain businessmen and a district famous for its gold-plating history. For those who are interested, you can take gold-plating classes and plate specific items with gold leaf. They even sell icecreams with edible gold leaf draped over the soft serve (but this seemed a little too indulgent for Nick and I to consider trying it).
When we were done, Rika released us to wonder around the Kenroku-en gardens by ourselves for a few hours.
Nick and I also elected to go for dinner by ourselves instead of with the group. Nick managed to find an amazing place, Izakaya Itaru Honten where we were able to sit at the bar and watch the chefs prepare the meals for the patrons. The Izakaya was a different atmosphere to previous places we had been in that it was louder and a little rowdier. Patrons seemed to be mostly office workers coming to drink and relax after work and they were quite happy about it! The chefs calling greetings to each patron as they entered and left was quite cheery.
We shared an assorted sashimi platter, a grilled flatfish and a grilled chicken dish which had a lovely yuzu dressing. We each also had a drink – Nick had a draft beer and I had a plum liquor drink on the rocks which was fan-tas-tic!
After this, we were decidedly wrecked and so headed back to the Ryokan for a well deserved sleep!
Tomorrow – more fun in Kanazawa and Wagasashi making class!