8th March 2011

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Snow Country

Up blearily for breakfast at 7.30am – and found it not much less lavish than dinner. The highlight of the morning: A few slices of Hida beef placed with some mushrooms on Hoba miso paste served on top of a large magnolia leaf all of which are placed over a ceramic box with a fire – a strange, salty but rather fun mix to swirl around with chopsticks as they cook. Once again, I was generously offered an entire rice-cooker’s worth of rice. In my tiredness, I nearly lopped those into my teacup to the amusement of the host. With time to spare, I went to the Jinya mae and...

The traditions of Takayama

My personal quest (I’m still asking myself when this crept up on me) for Japanese-manufactured sunscreen came to an abrupt halt the day I needed to leave Tokyo for the Japanese Alps. It was also a great opportunity to escape what was fast becoming an unwilling staple: the Tempura Soba. Vaguely grateful that my endeavour could continue in Kyoto, I packed and went my merry way – in the pouring morning rain to board the Shinkansen to Takayama (a 4.5 hour journey), a town stuck high up in the mountain, impassable in winter because of its heavy snowfall at times even in the 21st century. The Japanese have so far,...