Friday, May 30, 2014

Iwaso Ryokan Breakfast, Miyajima

It was early in the morning but the sun rises at 5-ish in the morning here in that why it's called Land of the Rising Sun? 

Our sleep was really good, no Ju-Onn or long-haired bugger climbing outta our bath. Tee Hee Hee. Just the beautiful soothing sound from the stream right next to our cottage. Air was really fresh here as compared to the city and JS got us up to watch the sunrise but we failed coz it was just too early...Hence we went out to get some nice morning air.

Monkey was giggling all the way
JS: "Monkey, stop chasing after the poor deer!!!!"
Monkey was still giggling tracking down all the wild deers everywhere. Yeah in Miyajima, wild deers roam for hundreds of years and this one was just a baby that I was chasing. Trust me u dun wanna chase the huge fat momma nor the pappa with the antlers.
Once we have returned, our dining tatami room smelled so so good and breakfast is already ready. :))))
pipping hot!!! with a huge claypot of rice underneath the table.

JS was grumbling that he had to sit on the floor again...yeah our feet and legs are not that takes a lot of effort to do this.

After our yogurt drink, there's some baby tomatoes with skins all peeled. :))) How nice :)))) bliss~~~~ the nite before we had our grapes peeled and now tomatoes. U see our stomach can't digest chilli skin, tomato skin etc.

Mizuna salad leaves, lettuce and Japanese sweet island. Served with a japanese vinaigrette ponzu dressing.

the BIG BREAKFAST - japanese style

Here we have some pickles, fresh vegetables, ume, saba fish and really fine baby anchovies.

a small dollop of Nato for your rice or Nori seaweed, whichever way u like it. As u wish :)))

Grilled baby flounder fish, tamago egg...both served with daikon radish in soyu. When we had our very first Japanese breakfast last time, we were in horror over the amount of food. But soon we were kinda addicted to this kind of breakfast. Yeah who would have full-fledged breakfast like this? Trust me, the palate and taste and flavours of all these dishes were tailored for BREAKFAST so it's light, appetizing, yummy, hearty.

Each time I never fail to finish my gigantic bowl of beautiful steamed rice. Lurve lurve lurve :)))

Observe the beautiful grain. It's really yummy, so fragrant and fine. Plus this wasn't their best rice yet, it's just an everyday rice.

They usually serve u the whole claypot so it's up to you to add/refill. As u wish :)))

My favourite...all time favourite was this...Sea Bream fried then simmered in japanese soyu sauce. SO DAMN GOOD!!!! plus both of us got the fish head. Delicate and sweet. In the end of this dish, JS was so clever, he scooped more rice into this bowl to be mixed with all the protein and yummy goodness.

So there u go, we whacked 2 bowls of rice each. -_-"
for breakfast. But this is definitely way way way yummier and better than Big Breakfast by the Big Golden Arches company.

Monkey was all over her food, yummy-ing around and talking to usual. Sorry I had to change back to my normal clothings bcoz to sit on the tatami mat in my yukata was quite challenging. Unless I don't mind showing wat color lacy panty I'm in...kekekekeke... To be modest and graceful and polite in a yukata requires more practice when it comes to sitting on the floor this low.

From the pic u could see the table is really low so there's really no room for u to fold ur legs underneath this in the end we just point-toes to each other, which was the No-No way in Japanese culture.

Only thing we missed in Japanese Breakfast is coffee!!!!! they usually serve tea for breakfast and we were dying for a cuppa so the room attendant made some for us. However Jap coffees are rather weak, hence Starbucks would alwiz be your best bet because the taste is standard worldwide. 

Both of us are now confirmed "Ryokan" addicts. For the yummy kaiseki dinner to the humongous breakfast....the beautiful view, wonderful onsen and excellent outstanding service. We will make this a ritual for every of our trip to Japan.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dinner at Iwaso Ryokan, Miyajima

We were hogging the prime space for photography for at least 1.5 hours. Will post all the beautiful sunset pics over the Otorii soon :))) Like leeches......we refused to leave. It was so so so stunning :))) The sun sets at 7.06pm and we were still standing still there, speechless, overwhelmed. Our existence was accompanied by wild deers, bz sniffing around us for food.

Sorry no feeding allowed in this island. U guys have to be kept as wild as go find your own food. Thing is once they hear any plastic bags being shuffled, they'll run to you in herds. That's the scary part coz Monkey is tiny and those wild deers......oh well were tiny as well but they stinks!!!!!!
After the sun has completely sets, we were still standing there waiting.....and waited for the lights illumination onto the Otorii. We didn't know wat time it was illuminated but waited and snap the last few pics before went running home to our Yukata...... and japanese slippers.....and it was uphill....

Congratulations to the both of us for behaving completely like "Gaijin" = foreigners in Japanese.
No one runs like this...u are supposed to be graceful and zen...Oh well sorry we are Road Runners so...Beep Beep and off we went up the hill and in less than 5 minutes we have arrived at our cottage.

Our mighty-room-attendant-who-can-carry-many-many-bags-at-one-go was so worried.....She was waiting for us for dinner. Like a worried mom, she heaved a sigh of relief when her honorable guests came puffing uphill with cameras on tows *I don't know why we have so many cameras and lens and gadgets and peripherals*

When u are staying at a ryokan, a full kaiseki dinner and a Big Big breakfast are served at your tatami room. Usually they will enquire wat time you would like to have your meals, wat drinks do you prefer and dietary requirements. I lurve to be fed like king and be bathed in an onsen, the joy of staying in a ryokan. At the end of the day, who doesn't?

Dinner was already set on the table with appetizers arranged neatly. We just needed to wash our hands and settle down. Appetizers are usually cold just like the french amuse bouche.

Usually we will settle down the first 30 seconds when the attendant is in. With feet folded politely behind our back, hands on hips, bowed at each other, and lifted our chopsticks with grace. Once she's outta the room....

Monkey unfolded her legs and laid it straight pointed at JS and chomp chomp chomp at her food while JS lifted his knee and sat like a Maharaja, elbow at his knees and chomp even louder

We hate to sit on the floor to eat
it is considered RUDE in japanese culture to have ur feet pointed at the person opposite you.
To us....this is COMFORT :)))))))

I know......we are ought to be sent for some educative cultural lessons by a sensei who will continuously whip our feet for the wrong placement.

Next was a terrine of Anago - a type of sea eel. Trust me sea eel is so much more delicate and sweeter and finer compared to the fresh water Unagi. Unagi has got this mud smell, hence u will alwiz find it cooked with a lot of sauce to mask this taste.

Miyajima island has got 2 specialities which are Oysters and Anago. So remember to eat loads of this when u are at this island.

Sashimi of a young white sea bream
so delicate and crunchy. Having sashimi at the source is such a different experience. U'll get that sweetness of the sea, with firm texture from the fresh fish which was just killed and bleed.

Next was more seasonal small bites of fish, chestnuts and ume
Each dish was presented in such a way to reflect the current season.

This is a "lid dish" meaning it's alwiz served covered in beautiful earthenware with a lid of coz...

in this case, it was simmered japanese aubergine with mushrooms. Somehow japanese simmered dishes are such comfort food. Be it simmered beef or daikon it just soothes ur tummy.

The next course was the friend fish, usually a tempura

Did I tell you earlier that oysters are also a delicacy here???
Will u just stare at the pic above and imagine the delicate creaminess, sweetness from the sea and finally the thin crunch which was so crunch u thought ur skull cracked.

the creaminess oozes out. I wished they will just serve me one whole basket instead of 2 pieces. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

In Japan tempuras are usually served with "shio" = salt
just pure sea salt.......nothing else to interrupt the taste profile.

Finally our surprise main dish!!!!
When u see these, u know shabu shabu is just around the corner

The glorious Hot Pot

look at the marbling

Shabu Shabu served with ponzu daikon sauce and roasted goma sauce

the best part was, we don't even have to cook it ourselves.
wahahahah my dream came be a pig here :)))))

Room attendant insisted a "kawaii" pic and I happily obliged.

The wine list was pretty limited here but it's OK coz somehow we still found something really nice to drink :))))

The 2nd last course of any japanese kaiseki u'll have the rice pot, some pickles and soup. Another comfort food for us and we definitely couldn't finish the whole rice pot after all the food.

Cherries were in season and it was so sweet, they even peeled the skin off the one and only grape. While the lemon was actually a jelly. Very good to clean our palate after the fatty beef.

The symbol of the Miyajima island is this leaf. This dessert is very popular and is usually sandwiched with red bean paste

but for that evening, it was sandwiched with green tea ice cream :)))))
so so so good.

Because of the amount of food, we had to roll ourselves down the hill to enjoy the view of Otorii at night. It was so so beautiful and we sat there in our japanese slippers and yukata with really huge tummy :P

the shrine that connects the otorii looks even more beautiful at nite. You could see that the tide was high and the entire shrine complex was covered in sea water.

It was Full Moon...that explains the high tide.
There's 2 high tides and 2 low tides here....if you are staying at the island, u can request this information from your hotel.

Then it's time to head back to our cottage to oink oink

Our warm comfy futons already being prepared and laid on the tatami room which was next to our dining room. With more desserts and hot tea prepared on the table.

It's amazing how our mighty lil room attendant could do so much. :)))) And we slept soundly that evening.....who wouldn't after all those comfy food? hahahahah

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Iwaso Ryokan, Miyajima Island

All the maple trees were standing GREEN in spring. Can u imagine how beautiful this would be during autumn with all the brown and red foliage??? I would think it's so so so beautiful, shrouded in crimson red during autumn :)))

oh well, but we were here in Spring so....just close ur eyes and imagine....hahahahaha

The beautiful red bridge at Momijidani Park

Iwaso is short for Iwakuniya Sobei, the founder of this ryokan. He built this bridge across the Momiji River for visitors to enjoy the beautiful surroundings while having tea. Soon the number of visitors were so overwhelming that he opened up this ryokan. That was after the Meiji area. :)))

A shrine at Momiji Park

We were led to our cottage by our room attendant in kimono and high slippers. Trust me she could walk faster in that than us while carrying our luggages...I don't know how japanese women do it.

Room attendant: "Please allow me to carry your handbag." 
She was already carrying 2 cabin size could I????
Monkey: "No no no it's OK."
Room attendant: "No, you are my guests, please..."
soon might attendant took us up on the hill slope, away from the main building after our check-in with ALL of our stuffs, camera bags, luggages, and my hand carry bag loaded with hobbits screaming yeaaaaa

There are 5 cottages in total, built in between 1924 and 1952. Everything was well preserved the way it was and they have been working really hard to maintain this.

JS was pretty ecstatic bcoz he LOVES to stay with history -_-"
It would be a surreal experience for Monkey as well bcoz most of the time we stayed at modern ryokan.

Japanese taught us to remove our shoes orderly ALL THE TIME. Now we practice this at's been a few months already. Let's see how long this new habit of ours can last. Kakakakakaka.

As usual most ryokans in Japan are very attentive. They would already have obtained your shoes size, apparel size for your yukata and most of all dietary requirements. JS has been famously known as the no chicken no duck no goose guest. It has been quite painful for Chefs as well bcoz he took the effort to remove chicken from ALL OF HIS BROTH. Yes Japanese are that attentive.

After the main entrance, there were 2 more sliding doors before leading to our main tatami room. The view was so so so stunning.

Monkey: "Look JS we get the view of the Momiji River!!!!"
JS: "Yes we must go down there later."

and so JS left Monkey alone to absorb the calmness and beauty of nature...while he went around roaming inside our cottage. It's a HUGE cottage I tell u.

Most of the parts were made from wood and bamboo...this is like the sinks for us to wash our hands. The towel rack/hanger was also made from bamboo. We have 2 units of this inside our cottage...
There were also 2 units of lavatory. Good one for Monkey one for JS so both don't have to fight for it. Japanese lurve their automated toilet. I only love their heated comfy seats :)))))))))))
Then there's an extension with a modern bath. I don't really know how many sinks do we need? :)))))))))
Maybe the hobbits need one too.
The fun about staying in a ryokan is their natural hot spring bath. Be it the outdoor type, the communal type or a private one inside your unit. The smell of cedar wood is just so soothing. I lurve my onsen....just soaking there doin nothing...but our best onsen experience was at Takefue *read about it here*
As JS was bz roaming the cottage, he found another room....and he rushed back to Monkey.
JS: "Is this 2 units or one?"
Monkey: "I've only booked one...why would I book 2 unless we are having a slumber party?"
JS: "There's another unit attached exactly like ours."

Yea there was another unit which mirrored the one that we got in. No wonder there's 2 toilets with 2 sinks. Because technically there's 2 attached units.

Later after much clarification we found out this unit is also ours. WAHHHH that's a huge cottage then. This would be where we will have all our meals while the other one is more meant for sleeping. This is something new bcoz by far, all the ryokans we have stayed utilise the same tatami room for sleeping and dining.
Just like the unit that we got into, it has a verandah for u to enjoy the view.
Please dun mind the mess.....we just dumped everything from maps to tissues and went around our cottage. We were asked to be seated again for our tea ceremony. Usually when u arrived at a ryokan, there will be a simple tea ceremony. You will also be served with their signature sweets/desserts at the same time, to complement the flavour and taste of the signature tea. Then your room attendant will explain and brief all the needs/facilities and assist you in anyway he/she could..

But u know us...we were too busy and too excited even though this wasn't the first ryokan stay. Like kindergarten kids we were exploring and touching everything to the dismay of our room attendant.

-_-" she must be thinking...and tsk tsk tsk-ing...TOURISTS!!!

We didn't finish our tea nor touch the dessert and zoom off like the cartoon Roadrunner
Beep Beep~~~~

I'm the Road Runner and JS the Wile Coyote

I'm not kidding when I said I'm the road runner....even the camera shutter speed is slower than my feet
Beep Beep~~~~~

Hey JS look!!!! we should have picnic over here :)))))))))))
we walked up this beautiful Momiji River

and there our cottage is just up there :)))))))))))))

It's really good to be with mother nature :))))
There will be more posting on our dinner and breakfast at this ryokan, so do wait for it.

Iwaso Ryokan
Momijidani Miyajimacho
Hatsukaichi City,
Hiroshima, Japan.

Tel: 082 944 2233