Tag Archives: nagano

Ryokan Repast

As I type, I am sitting in my tatami mat room at a stunning Hokkaido ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn. Recently reconstructed, this Noboribetsu ryokan is a creative blend of East and West built with comfort in mind. Beautiful baths, cozy couches, gorgeous green scenery, what’s not to love? But a ryokan stay would not be complete without an intricate kaiseki dinner. Last night’s food was rich, delicate, and oh so plentiful! It was so good that I forgot to document nearly half the meal. With that in mind, I thought I’d take this opportunity to showcase a May meal from a ryokan in Nagano.


The dauntingly long, yet promisingly delicious menu.


Our appetizers.


Next up, sashimi!


And… one of my favorite spring dishes: mountain vegetable tempura.


Your basic nimono, or simmered dish.

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Polished off with pickles and rice.


Of course, it wouldn’t be a true ryokan meal without a, shall we say unusual, fruity desert.


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Located in the mountains of Nagano, in a town called Ueda, Misuzu-kan is famous for its classic jam candies. On our way to Bessho-onsen for an overnight ryokan trip, we hopped off the shinkansen at Ueda and headed up the street to Misuzu-kan.


Still situated in its original 1924 building, Misuzu-kan seems to have hardly changed since its inception.


We step inside, only to be greeted by a little man pouring tiny cups of fresh apple juice, textured and tasty.


I admire the space, the antiquated aesthetic, the stunning old light fixtures that Mom adores.


Then, we approach the counter, where each product is laid out beautifully, scores of samples at our fingertips.


I work my way from one end to the other. First, the nama-zeri, directly translated to fresh or raw jelly–the kind that is totally natural, with even its sugar content at a minimum.


These samples were followed by a jar of special sugar jellies, along side a dish of red bean paste, or anko.

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But the real standouts were Misuzukan’s signature jams and fruit jellies. With a bowl of every flavor of jam on offer, as well as massive pile of individually wrapped jam candies it was tough to decide what to taste, let alone buy!

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In the end, we settled on apricot and plum jam, a large box of traditional jam jellies, and a container of sugar encrusted ones to boot!


The wrapped up our purchases and we headed out to the onsen, large shopping bags in hand.


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Train Station Feast

Last Night, my family and I headed to Nozawa Onsen, Nagano for a relaxing post-exams weekend of skiing. It just so happened that our shinkansen (bullet train) was leaving from Tokyo Station, a train station with an excellent food court. Hence, ‘train station feast’!

First stop, onigiri (Japanese rice balls).

Train Station TreatsHere you have the full array of onigiri offerings:


And… my personal favorite, konbu, or kelp with a sweet-ish soy flavoring. This particular konbu onigiri was made with sesame seed and shiso leaves to boot. Yum!


Next, we stopped at a vendor that makes healthy and delicious wafū, or Japanese style, salads.

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Last but not least, we grabbed some inari-zushi before bolting for our train. (Inari-zushi are a type of sushi made by filling a pocket of fried tofu with rice.)

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Once safely on board, we broke out our banquet. Eating in my family is a communal event. What we don’t share to begin with, we mooch. It works out well and everyone gets some of everything!


A crunchy salad with strips of yuba (a type of tofu), greens, and daikon (Japanese giant radish), topped off with jyako (tiny dried fish).


An avocado and tofu salad.


Smoked salmon salad.


Takana onigiri.


Chirimen (rice with jyakoinari.


My konbu onigiri. Delish!


For desert, we devoured a bar of amaretto-marzipan chocolate cached in Dad’s backpack. I am categorically opposed to putting alcohol (and cinnamon and coffee) in chocolate. Why mess with a flavor that’s already perfection? But, I have to admit, this wasn’t half bad. Ok, it was more than half good. (And it didn’t hurt that it was called Mozart chocolate, seeing as I am pretty much addicted to western classical music, his in particular!)

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