Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Chiba Prefectural Boso-no Mura

"When you look at Japanese traditional architecture, 
you have to look at Japanese culture and its relationship with nature. 
You can actually live in a harmonious, close contact with nature 
- this very unique to Japan"

Tadao Ando
Japanese self-taught architect



The shouka-no-machinami (商家の街並) or "merchants street" at Boso-no Mura.

One hidden gem in Chiba Prefecture, where you get to get a tantalizing time slip experience of traveling to the olden days of Japan is Chiba Prefectural Boso-no Mura (千葉県立房総のむら) or Boso Village. This is an unique museum that reproduces a Japanese scenery of 150 years ago at the Boso area. Here, visitors get to learn about the history and deepen their understandings of traditional skills and lifestyles in Boso area not only by the exhibitions but also by their own experiences. Among the interesting attractions in this village are old samurai residences, farmhouses and old buildings.  

This place is basically divided into two areas, namely "Fudoki-no-Oka area" (風土記の丘エリア), where visitors can learn about history and nature from the many excavated artifacts from tombs and ancient temples in Chiba prefecture,  and "Furusato-no-Wazataiken area" (ふるさとの技体験エリア), an area where visitors can experience first-hand various types of Japanese culture such as traditional crafts and events that have been passed down through the generations.


An unidentified person with a basket covering his head, blowing to a flute walking along the street.


Hello from Boso-no Mura!


Sakura-do (佐倉堂) is a pharmacy (薬の店), where several types of traditional medicine prescriptions and equipments are displayed.


Woodwork factory (木工所), called Nagara-ya (長柄屋). There are many types of wooden clogs displayed on the shelves inside this shop.


Kendama is a traditional Japanese hand-held game which is very popular in Japan and enjoyed by people of all ages. The modern Kendama has a wooden handle (ken) with three shallow dishes (sara) and a bluntly pointed tip (kensaki) which the player uses to catch a wooden ball (tama) using a variety of fun techniques (waza).
  This game got so popular that an international competition for this game was introduced recently.


  Guess what is this? It used to be a taxi in those days. Amazing, isn't it?


Got the chance to take a hold on a samurai katana (sword), which is made of errrrrr.... aluminium lol!

The "Furusato-no-Wazataiken area" is mainly divided into two parts - "Shouka-no-Machinami" (商家の街並) or "merchants street" and "Bukeyashiki & Nouka-no-yousu" (武家屋敷・農家の様子), which translates "Samurai residence and farmhouses". Machinami (街並) is a reproduction of a typical commercial street consisting of 16 shops, an information office, a guardian deity for children, the town square and Inari shrine, modeled after those found in Katori city (formerly Sawara city). These buildings were commonly found from the last years of the Edo period to the early years of Meiji period.

A short walk along this street gives a feel of bustling town market through the demonstrations done at most of the shops.


Kazusa farmhouse (上総の農家), a reproduction of the village's headman's (or nanushi (名主) in Japanese) farmhouse in Oami-Shirasato town (大網白里町). 
There is a mezzanine in the main building of the house.


Yo Yo requested for a photo together, which I gladly acknowledged. The gap between our height is just [fill in with an adjective] .... lol!


A reproduction of a middle-class samurai residence built in the latter half of the Edo period.


 A picture perfect shot at one of the tatami rooms of the farmhouse (photo credit: Tooru Ishikawa).


 This is how the kitchen in the olden days look like.


Dried chillies and other kinds of herbs harvested from nearby farm are being dried under the blazing summer sun.

Bukeyashiki (武家屋敷) represents middle-class samurai's warriors residence of Sakura clan in the last years of Edo period. Bukeyashiki of Sakura clan is characterised by the construction on high premises.   The main building is modeled on Takei's house in Miyakoji (宮小路) in Sakura city. 

It consists of guest's room called genkan (玄関) and zashiki (座敷), and family's rooms that include ima (居間), chanoma (茶の間), daidokoro (台所), and doma (土間). There are many bukeyashiki in Miyakoji at present, which remind us of the Edo period.


One group photo of the Chiba Kun Ambassadors with the performers at the village (photo credit: Tooru Ishikawa).


※ INFORMATION ※
Chiba Prefectural Boso-no Mura (千葉県立房総のむら)
Address: 1028 Ryukakuji, Sakae-machi, Imba-gun, Chiba Prefecture, Japan (千葉県印旛郡栄町龍角寺1028)
Opening Hours: 09:00 - 16:30
Closed:
Mondays (Tuesday if Monday falls on a holiday), beginning and end of the year, other extra holidays
Admission: 300 yen (adults), 150 yen (high school/college students), free admission (senior citizens of 65 years and above, junior high school students and below)
Website: http://www.chiba-muse.or.jp/MURA/index.html (Japanese); http://www.chiba-muse.or.jp/MURA/e/index.html (English)

Email: mura@chiba-muse.or.jp
Tel: 0476-95-3333
Parking: Available for free (155 cars, 12 buses)
Access: Train: From JR Narita Station (JR成田駅) on JR Narita Line (JR成田線), take bus by
"Ryukakuji-dai-shako" (竜角寺台車庫) for about 20 minutes and alight at "Ryukakuji-dai-2-chome" (竜角寺台2丁目). Walk for approximately 8 minutes, (bus schedule here - Japanese only), ※ There are 1 to 2 buses going in either direction every hour.
Car: 20 minutes (15 km) from Higashi-Kanto Expressway Narita Interchange.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Mouthwatering Unaju From Kanetaya

"Japanese eel is said to be 
the most expensive fish in Japan"
Froese and Pauly 2011





Golden-brown and spitting hot unagi fillet, served over rice as unaju, in square lacquer-look box.

Unagi, or eel may sound like a foreign ingredient to most of us who are not familiar to Japanese cuisine. However, when unagi is served, it always looked like a typical fish fillet to me. To be honest however, I find it hard to connect the dots between the snake-looking fish in the water, and the "fish" I was eating. For better or for worse, that experience did not stop me enjoying unagi all these years.  The combination of delicious warm rice and glistering sweet caramel-like unagi sauce (we call it "unagi no tare") over the perfectly grilled unagi is simply irresistible.

For those of you who pays visit to sushi restaurants from now and then, unagi sushi or anago sushi (salt-water eels) should be a common menu you find there. However, the satisfaction from eating freshly-grilled unagi on top of warm rice is completely a different and incomparable experience. The aroma of the sauce is more than enough to make anyone's mouth water.



Kametaya - a restaurant that specializes on traditional Japanese cuisine.

Our lunch during the second tour of Chiba Kun Ambassadors took us to a traditional Japanese restaurant - Kanetaya. We had two options to choose - between the unaju or makunouchi bento. It was a pretty straight-forward choice between the two; I opted for the former. As is standard practice, it is served either in a two-tiered lacquer container with the rice separate; laid on top of the rice in a fancy square or rectangular box - unaju (うな重); or on rice in a wide bowl - unadon (うな丼).

This style of cooking is called kabayaki (蒲焼き), similar to teriyaki (照 焼き). It is a very typical way to prepare unagi but other fish that can be prepared the same way as well.  Basically the fish is split down the back (or belly), gutted and boned, butterflied, cut into square fillets, skewered, and dipped in a sweet soy sauce based sauce before broiled on a charcoal grill. In the Tokyo region, the skewered eel is first broiled without the sauce, and we call it shirayaki (白焼き). Then the unagi are steamed, before being dipped in the sauce and grilled again.



Here comes our scrumptious unaju set. They come in several sizes - jyo (上), nami (並), matsu (松), take (竹), ume (梅), etc. This nami unaju cost 2,000 yen.



Side dish which tastes very much like the Chinese shumai, but with an interesting twist; notice how they made the skin with sliced wonton wrappers, topped with a dash of chopped ginger and boiled green mustard.



Colourful pickles made of radish and green mustard.



The Shoukadou (松花堂) makunouchi bento, or traditional Japanese lunchbox, is a highly lacquered wooden box divided into quadrants, 
each of which contains different delicacies - fish, meat, pickles, eggs and vegetables along with rice and an umeboshi.

Freshwater eel, especially when broiled in the savory kabayaki style, is credited with the marvelous ability to provide energy in face of the debilitating heat of mid-summer. Unagi is rich in vitamins A and E, and omega-3 fatty acids. From Edo Period (1600-1850), the Japanese have a tradition to eat unagi on a particular mid-summer day called doyō-no ushi-no-hi (土用の丑の日) in order to gain stamina from the hot summer heat.

Finally, our highly anticipated unaju made its entrance. Like everything else here, it is simple and just as good as you would expect. The melting-soft texture of the fish is basted with a rich, savory tare sauce that oozes into the rice. A dash of color and texture is provided by the small saucer of pickles.



For dessert, we got a pleasant surprise as we were served a special home-made black beans castella (黒豆カステラ). One word to describe it - orgasmic!

 

Each of us were given a little token of souvenir after our satisfying meal - an origami with the lyrics of a Japanese folk song.

Thank you for reading, and do make it a point to drop by this restaurant if you are looking for palatable Japanese cuisine in this area of Chiba.


※ INFORMATION ※
Kanetaya (金田屋)
Address: 3692 Ajiki, Sakae City, Imba Gun, Chiba Prefecture, Japan (千葉県印旛郡栄町安食3692)
Opening Hours: 11:00 - 22:00
Closed:
The second Wednesday of every month
Reservation: Available
Website: http://kanetaya.jp (Japanese only) 

Email: mail@kanetaya.jp
Tel: 0476-95-1105    Fax: 0476-95-8855
Parking: Available (40 spaces)
Access: From JR Awaji Station on JR Narita Line, walk for 12 minutes; Car: 20 minutes (15 km) from Narita Interchange. 

※ Free shuttle bus available for groups more than 10 peoples.