August 19, 2014

Visiting My Parents' House/実家に行く

My family made a 4-day and 3-night trip to my parents' house. I don't have much to talk about the trip, so just some photos and brief explanations.

Day 1:

Before going to my parents' house in Chiba (adjacent to Tokyo), we visited Odaiba.

Inside the Fuji TV Building:
We had to go up a very long flight of stairs to the entrance.

Just too many people to enjoy the stalls, exhibits, and so on.
We were simply exhausted. Then, we went to AQUA CiTY ODAIBA,

where we had lunch.


My daughter's:
My son's:
My wife's:
Pretty good, and the prices are reasonable.
Note that my wife and I both ordered a set of mini salad and all-you-can-drink "drink bar".

View from the terrace.
You can see the Rainbow Bridge.

Then, at the request of my daughter, we went to Lemson's.

544 yen! Very expensive!

My wife's:
My daughter's:
My son's:

Price: 280 yen per 100 g. OVERPRICED!
値段: 100 gあたり280円。高過ぎ!

We left Odaiba and headed for Tokyo Station.

Day 2:

For supper, my father made these nihachi soba for us.
Nihachi literally means two eight. Soba (buckwheat noodles) made from 20% wheat flour and 80% buckwheat flour is called nihachi soba.  Nihachi is a very common ratio for soba (buckwheat noodles). Juuwari (100%) soba is very difficult to make, because of the lack of wheat flour as a bonding agent.
What is spectacular about these buckwheat noodles is that the buckwheat was grown by my father himself. He also grinds it into flour himself, using an electric mill.
二八とはtwo eightと言う意味ですが、小麦粉2割、そば粉8割で作った蕎麦(そば)を二八蕎麦と言います。蕎麦では、二八はとても一般的な割合です。十割蕎麦は、小麦粉をつなぎとして使わないので、作るのがとても難しいです。

On that day, I asked my father to show us the vineyard, among others, which had been severely damaged by the 27-cm deep snow last February.
その日は、去年の2月の27 cmの雪で大被害を受けたブドウ畑などを見せてもらいました。
The area was considerably reduced.

This is a device called Animal Earth, which is used to keep out animals such as monkeys and masked palm civets.
Then, we went to the field.

Recently, one chestnut tree collapsed due to typhoon No. 11.
Two konnyaku plants:
Animal Earth is in operation here, too.
Two varieties (oval and round) of eggplant:
Amanatsu (a type of citrus)
Reddish variety.

Myoga, native variety:

My father grows lots of other vegetables, too. I can't describe them all.

Day 3:

My family and father went to a vineyard nearby to learn how they grow their grapes. No photos.

Day 4:

We took a 10:45 expressway bus bound for Tokyo. We spent some time near Tokyo Station before riding a Joetsu Shinkansen train.

We had lunch at Hokkaido Cyubou.

I had Shiretoko Dori no Zangi Don:
Shiretoko is the name of a place in Hokkaido.
Dori < tori is chicken.
The term zangi is widely used in Hokkaido, and is almost synonymous with karaage.
Don is short for donburi (large rice bowl).

My son had a bowl of shio (salt) ramen, with some additional toppings.
My daughter had korokke curry.
My wife had cold ramen.
(Sorry, I forgot the exact name.)

I later had this lavender-and-vanilla mix soft-serve ice creme.
This restaurant is conveniently located (1-minute walk from the Yaesu Chuo Guchi of JR Tokyo Station), yet offers Hokkaido-themed dishes at affordable prices.  The portions are rather small, though. Adjacent to the restaurant is Hokkaido Foodist, where you can find all sorts of products from Hokkaido.

Then, we went to Tokyo Eki Ichiban Gai (First Avenue Tokyo Station), which houses Tokyo Character Street

and Tokyo Okashi Land, among others.

Floor Guide for First Avenue Tokyo Station (PDF file)/東京駅一番街のフロアガイド(PDFファイル)

Then, we took the Joetsu Shinkansen to return home.


Fräulein Trude said...

Monkeys and masked palm civets, what an interesting wildlife there is. Your trip sounds fun too. The last image, is this the dancing nashi pear mascot /character? Seen a video.

Sissi said...

Your father's soba look fantastic. And all these vegetables and the mysterious citrus... Myoga has made me so hungry... I am a big myoga fan!
Since your father grows his own buckwheat, does he ever eats buckwheat groats? I love them (when toasted only; otherwise they taste awful), steamed like rice and eaten... a bit like rice :-) Especially fried like fried rice. They go very well with miso actually!
I had no idea there were so many things to see in Chiba (though nothing beats your father's garden/field...). Monkeys and masked palm civets sound very exotic too! (Though I hope your father doesn't see them often.).

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: Yes, Funassy has become very popular these days.

Sissi: I don't think he does. I don't know what exactly groats are, but he even hates "soba gaki".

Kiki and Sissi: Those animals may be interesting and exotic to you, but for those living there, especially those who make a living by growing vegetables, they are nothing but nuisances. Last summer, wild boars ate ALL the sweet potatoes in my father's field literally overnight.

Hiroyuki said...

I was wrong. Wild boars ate all the sweet potatoes two years ago. I posted about that here:

Time flies!

okasan said...

Thank you for sharing your visit to Chiba. My son stayed with his host family's grandmother in Chiba while he was there. Does your father operates the farm as a business or hobby? He sure grows all kinds of interesting things. I am very curious as to how the 'Animal Earth' work. Is it a trap or just startle them?

Hiroyuki said...

okasan: Chiba is a nice place to stay, I suppose, because it's close to Tokyo but is not as crowded. My father grows all fruits and vegetables for a hobby, except the grapes, which he sells to neighbors at very low prices.

I don't know much about how the device work. According to this site:
it uses high voltages, 4000 and 8000 V, to prevent animals from entry.

Sissi said...

Groats are the "grains" of buckwheat. They are very popular (usually toasted) in certain European countries (Central and Eastern) and eaten a bit like rice. I have posted at least one recipe (fried buckwheat). The consistency is not as crowd-pleasing as the one of rice, but I like it a lot. I was always surprised I have never seen them in Japan where soba noodles are so popular...
I'm sorry to hear about the wild boars' attack... They would make a delicious ragoût :-)

Unknown said...

It's very nice that both you and your father have taken up farming as a hobby. Maybe someday I'll quit my engineering job and become a farmer.

I notice that you brew your own coffee too and the spent coffee ground is an excellent fertilizer. I put them around the flower in front of our house and it definitely helps them grow.

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: Oh, I see. Buckwheat groats are called soba no mi そばの実 or muki soba むきそば in Japanese. It's much less popular than soba noodles, but is used in some parts of Japan, like Sakata in Yamagata prefecture.

By the way, soba gaki is made like this:
It's like soba dumplings.

Hiroyuki said...

Yubun: Well, you can always start small, right? Growing some vegetables and herbs in small planter boxes can be a satisfying hobby.

As you may know, Mel Bartholomew, who developed square foot gardening (SFG), was an engineer. Applying engineering approaches to vegetable gardening should be wonderful (although SFG did not work for me somehow).

Yes, I brew my own coffee and I also roast it! Another interesting and rewarding hobby. And, yes, I do put coffee grounds in compost.

Sissi said...

Thank you so much, Hiroyuki. Now I know what to talk about to my Japanese friends and acquaintances.
I must try making soba gaki one day too... I love everything made with buckwheat.

Black Supay said...

the food look great! :)

Hiroyuki said...

Black Supay: Thanks for your comment!

Unknown said...

This year is too late as it's getting too cold at night already and we are going to see below freezing temperature in a couple weeks here in NJ. But next spring I'll get serious and plant something. I'm sure both my daughters will learn and enjoy growing their own food.

All these pictures of food is making me hungry.

Victoria said...

I'm a little late commenting on this post, but I was so impressed by your father's vegetables and soba noodles. I'm originally from Ukraine, and buckwheat is a very important part of the diet there. My grandmother doesn't grow it on her farm, but our neighbor does, and she buys her annual supply from him. Also, she gets buckwheat honey from another neighbor. Buckwheat groats we make into pilafs by themselves or with mushrooms. Buckwheat flour is used for yeast leavened crepes, or in our region of Ukraine, used to make small dumplings to be boiled in soups. Or small baked breads. But unfortunately, these kind of dishes went out of fashion after the WWII, so most people use wheat flour instead. To my mind, buckwheat gives a richer flavor.

Hiroyuki said...

Victoria: Thanks for retrieving an old post.

Your comment about buckwheat is very interesting, particularly because I have recently learned from someone from Slovenia that buckwheat is very popular in his/her country.

My father comes from the northern part of Nagano (aka Shinshu), where buckwheat cultivation is popular because rice cannot grow properly due to the climate.

The sad thing about buckwheat consumption in Japan is that it is almost always consumed in the form of noodles. I hope I can try using groats in various dishes when I can get them. Buckwheat breads sound very tasty!

Victoria said...

Same reason in Ukraine. The cold climate in the north and central regions means that buckwheat grows really well. It's funny, but in all my years of living there and eating buckwheat I have never seen a buckwheat field. This summer when I visited my grandmother, I volunteered to help our neighbor with his bee hives, because I wanted to see how he draws honey. His hives were in the sunflower and buckwheat fields, both of which were in bloom.

I showed my grandmother a picture of soba gaki, and she said, "it's just like galushki!" Galushki is the name of a very old Ukrainian dish that once used to be made with buckwheat in my region of Ukraine. It really is made the same way as soba gaki. It's just eaten different in our parts, with a garnish of fried onions and bacon. Or added in borshch, thick soup made with meat, beets and cabbage. A simple but healthy and delicious dish. Since I have some soba flour, I will make it this week. Thank you for an inspiration. :)