【The 4th】ONSEN · Gastronomy Walking in Nagato, Tawarayama Onsen
The 4th of ONSEN Gastronomy’s “Nagato, Tawarayama Onsen Walking Tour” was held with 74 participants.
The weather was as per forecast with warm and clear autumn skies. This time saw the inauguration of the “Haiku by Hiking” project whereby you can write “Haiku” poetry about the hike upon completion. Let’s get started!
Gastronomy Point #1 – Noman Temple
Menu: Manju and Matcha
In the beautiful Autumn conditions, we headed to the first “Gastronomy location” at “Noman Temple”. We saw the Autumnal colours of “Ginkgo” trees behind the Norman Temple main gate. On approach to the temple gate colourful, decorative ribbons had been lovingly placed by the locals. Tawarayama town has prepared for the event and the decorations add to the “feel good” vibes.
Matcha Tea entertainment details: Green tea with Manju.
The fresh Green tea aroma is prevalent in the vicinity and is quite calming. Nearby, the red sofa and Autumnal colours complement each other quite nicely.
“Autumn” and “Tranquillity” – a perfect combination, don’t you think?
Gastronomy Point #2 – “Kurogawa farmhouse Restaurant”
Menu: 3 assorted platters with Local sake and Japanese Herb Tea.
Our original plan was to proceed along a mountain path course from here but we changed our route due to the forecast rain. The going was still moderately up and down and I perspired readily. On one day per week, the Town Hall in Kurogawa turns into a country-style, Farm-house restaurant. The three-platter assortment of seasonal delicacies and bamboo dishes we savoured was delightful. Seasonal tastes like chestnuts and persimmons are delicious!
There are few people here and even fewer cars. When I pause, all I can hear is the breeze blowing. Turning a corner, the calm serenity is suddenly pierced by the laughter of a group of children playing gleefully…
Amongst other things, Tawarayama is famous for its Scarecrows.
Our own surprise during this time was in the difficulty of trying to express the beauty of the scenery.
We were told: “This week’s goal: Get to know Tawarayama with all five senses!!”
“An exhilaration of the senses” sums up perfectly our experience of the tour.
Tawarayama strongly impressed upon my its key attractions:
- People are warm and friendly
- There is awesome hospitality everywhere
It is still a long way to go.
Gastronomy Point #3 – “Miyanodai ippondo”
Menu: Free-range Chicken Japanese style hotpot (Oden), Local sake, Japanese Herb Tea
Suddenly, off in the distance, a series of food vendor tents and banners appeared…Saved!!
I can’t wait to try the local Oden – a Japanese style, Chicken hotpot.
“Look at the contents of this hot-pot!”, I thought. It looked so delicious and flavoursome.
I tried the Oden and followed up with some local Sake – “Tawarayama Horebozu“.
It was all so very tender and delectable – the Chicken just melted in your mouth. The Japanese radish was tasty and the local hard “Konnyaku” (a taro-like, potato derivative) had a unique texture which was great!
Gastronomy Point #4 – “Tawarayama Hachiman shrine”
Menu: Boar soup, Hotaremai rice ball, pickles, baked sweet potatoes, Yakitori.
We arrived our last location – the “Tawarayama Hachiman shrine”. The Autumn leaves were so beautifully coloured, leaving me with a wonderful feeling.
We attended a local Yoga class, held at the shrine.
I had originally planned to stay inside the shrine hall because it was supposed to be cold outside, but the weather was so nice and warm that we decided: “Let’s get outside with the elements !”
Our Yoga mats were laid on the moss which covers the shrine precinct. It was soft and fluffy on the moss – just like a down mattress. The sky above, seen through the trees was a deep shade of blue. It was comforting to enjoy the sensation of negative ions whilst doing Yoga.
Nagato-town is famous for Yakitori but this time I chose to eat the grilled chicken wings of “Choushu Kuro-kashiwa”. A local vendor grilled chicken wings in front of us at a BBQ whilst we eagerly awaited. The baked, sweet potato was tasty, as was the “boar soup”. The latter was particularly delicious and did not at all exhibit that distinctive “boar smell”. Mr. Nakano (a hunter, leading the community-based revitalization of Nagato) said, “If you cut the boar correctly the smell will disappear”.
As part of the new initiative called “Haiku by Hiking,” everyone wrote about Tawarayama with a variety of materials:
- Practising yoga at the shrine will extend my life.
- Let’s walk along the street lined with ginkgo trees. Because a reward is waiting for you at the end of the walk.
- I’ve decided! Next time, I will definitely come here by bus. Because I want to try Dassai sake!
Aren’t these masterpieces all so empathetic and interesting? I will try to compose a Haiku now.
- I fell in love with your haiku and my cheeks turned red like the Autumn sky.
Understand this haiku and you will understand this article. I am sorry I have done nothing to entertain you…..
At the end of the walking tour we visited Tawarayama Onsen. This hot spring town maintains its “old worldly” charming atmosphere. As the sun went down and the sky turned scarlet red, we enjoyed the serene baths of “Shirozaru no Yu” hot spring.
This Onsen provided a calming space where we can only hear the sound of running water and see the sights of a majestic sunset – all whilst enjoying the fresh, open-air.
Thanks to all the participants for sharing a luxurious time with us at Tawarayama this Autumn.