On this day, we took a cute two-car train to Narai.
Narai is a former post town: a place where travellers would stop for a break in their journey along one of the routes connecting Kyoto with Tokyo.
It is also exceptionally well preserved, with the appearance that a Westerner expects from “old Japan”: a quiet high street, low wooden houses, panels, and archetypal Japanese implements and ornaments everywhere you look at.
The fact that it is essentially perched on the mountain adds a lot to the ‘scenic’ feeling—I couldn’t stop thinking that we had somehow entered a painting!
We walked all the way along the main street, browsing the shops, deciding we were not “the target” (we have really no need for random knick-knacks), and taking lots of pictures.
But once we reached the end of the street (and the town), we were starting to get a bit hungry.
We had already seen lots of interesting, picturesque looking restaurants but it was hard to choose any in particular, so we just chose one almost at random: こころ音.
We removed our shoes as is mandatory in these places, and entered the dimly lit space. We were guided towards a big table in the dining room; there were some guests quietly eating their food in a table further away from ours.
I ordered warm soba noodles with mushrooms and mountain vegetables; I think this variety is called “Sansai”:
These were the first soba noodles I ate in Japan… and they were amazing! The stock had a really deep flavour, and the vegetables were so fresh and tasty.
I enjoyed this lots, lots, lots.
There was a half-open panelled door leading to the rear patio and its greenery on our left side. We could also hear the noises of the kitchen; it sounded very domestic, of vegetables being chopped, food being cooked, and kids laughing and playing drums with a wooden spoon on the hanging pans and pots.
Since we had “completed” Narai, we decided we’d come back to Matsumoto and find somewhere to have a coffee!
Posts in this trip:
- 8/5/2019: Tokyo via Helsinki
- 9/5/2019: Jetlagged in Tokyo
- 10/5/2019: Tokyo to Matsumoto
- 11/5/2019: Narai – Japanese Coffee, Korean BBQ
- 12/5/2019: Matsumoto to Kanazawa
- 13/5/2019: curry for breakfast, a sugar tree, a pretty new café, sake tasting and excellent kaiseki dinner in Kanazawa
- 14/5/2019: a fancy izakaya, a visit to the sake district, okonomiyaki and more sake in Kyoto
- 15/5/2019: a vegan Buddhist breakfast, Kyoto temples, a yudofu lunch, and a monumental kaiseki dinner
- 16/5/2019: back to Tokyo, a hidden coffee parlour, music, stationery, and beer and snacks in Shibuya
- 17/5/2019: Asakusa, Ginza, kaiseki dinner, and vertigo-inducing cocktails
- 18/5/2019: Art in Waseda; views, yakitori and beer in Ebisu
- 19/5/2019: Art and soba noodles in Roppongi, hipstering in Nakameguro and Daikanyama, and kaiseki dinner in Ginza
- 20/5/2019: we find a Valencian bar near our hotel, fabric shopping in Nippori, sake tasting, tonkatsu for lunch, and beer with old friends
- 21/5/2019: an atmospheric walk, hanging out in Katsutadai, and a delicious last dinner
- 22/5/2019: back to London, via Frankfurt