Friday, January 30, 2015

New Year holidays

I have not written any post for about a month now. Hubby and I had been to our home in Ichinomiya City during the New Year holidays and after returning back to Yurihonjo, I had not been keeping well due to the extreme cold weather. Now I am alright and back to blogging. I will write about the New Year Holidays in this post. I should mention here that there are a few places hubby and I visited in 2014 about which I have yet to write. I will write about those places after this blog post.

27th December 2014
During the New Year holidays, hubby and I went to our home in Ichinomiya City of Aichi prefecture and also visited a few of our relatives in the city. We went by our car. On 27th December 2014, the first day of the long holiday, we were busy packing several things that we wished to take to our home in Ichinomiya.

28th December 2014
On 28th December, we loaded the luggage in our car and left our home in Yurihonjo City at about 9 am. While driving we saw many beautiful scenic landscapes along the way. We stopped for some time at Oyashirazu Pier Park located in Itoigawa City of Niigata prefecture. Oyashirazu Pier Park is located about 410 kilometers southwest of our home in Yurihonjo City and it took us about 6 hours of car ride to reach the area. Oyashirazu Pier Park is a Road Station and is part of a network of roadside service areas and tourism facilities found along Japan's national highway system. The Pier Park is uniquely located underneath Hokuriku Expressway and features a beach, a museum, restaurants, fish market, gift shops, and several other amenities. We loved viewing the white sandy beach and spend some time along the beach which refreshed us very much. Later we continued driving along the expressway. It was snowing at many places and we clicked several photos of the picturesque scenes all around us. We stopped at Nyuzen Parking Area in Toyama prefecture to take rest and again clicked a couple of photos of the snow covered mountains and fields. From Oyashirazu Pier Park we drove another 95 kilometers southwest for about 1.5 hours and reached a Kaiten Sushi restaurant named Himi Kito Kito Sushi located in Toyama City of Toyama prefecture. It was about 5 pm and we had an early dinner of various kinds of Sushi at the restaurant. We loved having the superior quality and flavorful Sushi with fresh and diverse fishes from Toyama Bay. After dinner, we went to a hotel in Toyama City where we checked in for the night. Hubby was tired due to driving the entire day and so he retired to bed immediately. I watched a television program for some time.
Beach at Oyashirazu Pier Park Road Station

Another view of the Pier Park

Panoramic view of snow covered mountains as seen while driving along Hokuriku Expressway

Another view of the snow covered picturesque mountains along the expressway

Beautiful snow covered mountains along with many houses in the foreground

Snow covered mountains and fields as viewed from Nyuzen Parking Area

I am standing at Nyuzen Parking Area

Himi Kito Kito Sushi restaurant

Hubby having dinner at the Sushi restaurant

Hubby sleeping at the hotel room in Toyama City

29th December 2014
On the morning of 29th December, we left the hotel at about 9 am and visited Toyama Castle located in Toyama City itself. It was just a five minute drive from the hotel. We loved viewing the castle about which I will write in details in a blog post later on. At about 9.30 am we left the castle and again started driving on our way to Ichinomiya City. Ichinomiya is located about 220 kilometers south of Toyama City and we had a long drive ahead of us. On our way, on Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway, we saw mind refreshing snow covered mountainous regions. After driving along the expressway for about 80 kilometers for 1.5 hours, we reached the historic village of Shirakawa-go located in Gifu prefecture. We visited this world heritage village and enjoyed viewing the traditional houses for about 4 hours. I will write about this village in a later post. We left the village at about 3 pm and again continued on our way to Ichinomiya. After another 2.5 hours of car ride, we reached our home. Hubby was rather tired due to driving for a long time, and so he took rest for some time. Afterwards, father-in-law, his wife, hubby, and I had dinner at a nearby Yakiniku grilled meat restaurant named Yakiniku Ishidaya. We had various kinds of meat like Rosu, Karubi, Tan, Horumon, and chicken that we cooked ourselves on a gas grill burner built into the table. It was fun to grill several pieces of meat at a time and dip it in a sauce called Tare and eat. In addition, we had salad, soup, and rice. The dinner was very filling and satisfying. After dinner, hubby noted that our car looked rather dirty and was covered with a layer of dust due to driving for almost 800 kilometers in the past two days. So hubby and I went to an automatic car wash machine located near our home and washed our car. We returned home at about 8.30 pm and retired for the day.
I am standing in front of Toyama Castle

Snow covered mountains along Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway

A few traditional houses in Shirakawa-go Village

Hubby and two traditional houses in the historic village

Grilling meat on a burner built into the table at a Yakiniku restaurant


Father-in-law and his wife having dinner

Father-in-law and hubby having dinner

Washing our car at an automatic car wash machine

30th December 2014
On the morning of 30th December, father-in-law, his wife, hubby, and I visited my late mother-in-law’s grave located near our home in Ichinomiya. Father-in-law cleaned the gravestone with water, offered flowers, and lit some candles and incense sticks, and then we all offered our prayers. Afterwards we all visited the home of my father-in-law’s eldest brother who lives very close our home in Ichinomiya. In fact, hubby’s eldest uncle’s home is the main ancestral home of ‘Nagata family’. We paid our respects to hubby’s uncle and his wife and gave them a souvenir we had bought from Toyama City the previous day. Hubby’s uncle and aunt have a huge front yard and a garden. It was really nice to talk with them while strolling in the garden. We saw a cute stone statue of a Tanuki raccoon dog in the garden and hubby’s aunt told me a Japanese folklore story about Tanuki. Aunt grows a lot of fruits and vegetables in her garden throughout the year and she excitedly explained about their seasonal growth. She gave us a huge cardboard box full of many radishes, Chinese cabbages, carrots, and various kinds of oranges. We brought all those vegetables and fruits back to Akita, and now only a few oranges remain. Unfortunately I forgot to click photos of all the vegetables and fruits and only clicked a photo of the remaining few oranges today. We are really thankful to hubby’s uncle and aunt for such a great favor. In the evening, hubby, father-in-law and his wife, and I had dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Hubby’s sister and her two daughters also accompanied us. We had traditional multi-course dinner which consisted of a sequence of dishes, each small and artistically arranged. I could recognize only a few items such as Tempura, Korokke, Sashimi, salad, soup, rice, and dessert. The dinner was wonderful and very filling. Afterwards we clicked several funny selfie photos. We all had a nice time chatting and catching up with others.
Father-in-law, his wife, and hubby arranging flowers to be placed at my late mother-in-law’s grave

Father-in-law and his wife praying in front of the grave

Mother-in-law’s grave decorated with beautiful flowers along with lit candles and incense sticks

Front yard and garden of hubby’s eldest uncle’s home

A cute statue of Tanuki in the garden

A few of the various kinds of oranges that hubby’s aunt gave us

My sister-in-law, father-in-law, and his wife having dinner at a Japanese restaurant

Hubby and his older niece having dinner

Younger niece and I having dinner

Younger niece enjoying having Korokke

Fun time after dinner

31st December 2014
On 31st December, father-in-law, his wife, hubby, and a few other relatives went to play golf at Springfield Golf Club in Tajimi City of Gifu prefecture. They left home at about 5 am. I am not at all interested in golf, and so I preferred to stay at home and relaxed all day. They returned home at about 6 pm in the evening. Afterwards we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant located near our home. Father-in-law’s older brother also accompanied us for dinner.
Hubby, uncle, father-in-law, and his wife having dinner

1st January 2015
On 1st January 2015, hubby and I just relaxed at home and watched some movies. January 1st is considered to be a very auspicious day in Japan, and is best started by viewing Hatsuhinode which is the first sunrise of the New Year. Hatsuhinode is traditionally believed to be representative for the whole year that has just commenced. So awakening before sunrise is considered important to view the first sunrise of the year. However it snowed heavily in Ichinomiya and the surrounding area in Aichi prefecture, and we had to be satisfied watching the beautiful white flakes of snow falling in our front yard. We watched television networks broadcasting live the first sunrise breaking at various locations in Japan.
Hatsuhinode and Mount Fuji we saw in a television program

Snow in our front yard

2nd January 2015
It snowed heavily on 2nd January also, so we stayed at home and relaxed the entire day. In the evening, hubby, father-in-law and his wife, and I had dinner at a Shabu-shabu family restaurant located in a shopping complex named Aeon Mall in Ichinomiya. Shabu-shabu is a Japanese style of cooking in which thin slices of meat, usually beef or pork, is quickly cooked in a boiling broth. Vegetables and noodles are also cooked in boiling water and various combinations of meat and vegetables are dipped in different kinds of sauces and eaten. It was an all-you-can-eat experience complete with a very extensive salad bar, desserts, and drinks in a 70 minute period. Hubby and I gorged on all the food like we were starving for weeks, and finally ended up overeating. Shabu-shabu was a real nice experience for me.
Vegetables, dipping sauces, and a pot of boiling liquid containing half water and half our chosen broth

Gorgeous plates of raw meat and the pot of boiling liquid for cooking the meat and vegetables

Father-in-law and his wife having dinner

Hubby cooking Shabu-shabu meat

I am having dessert

3rd January 2015
On 3rd January, we started back on our return journey to Yurihonjo City. We left our home in Ichinomiya at about 9 am and went to see Matsumoto Castle in Matsumoto City of Nagano prefecture. Matsumoto Castle is located about 220 kilometers northeast of Ichinomiya and it took us about 3 hours of car ride along an expressway to reach the castle area. We loved viewing Matsumoto Castle about which I will write in details in a blog post sometime later. We enjoyed the castle and its surroundings for about 2 hours, and then left the area. Later we continued driving along the expressway. It was snowing at many places and we clicked several photos of the snow covered mountains and picturesque scenes all around us. We drove for another 280 kilometers towards northeast for about 4 hours and reached Niigata City in Niigata prefecture where we stayed at a hotel for the night.
Hubby standing in front of Matsumoto Castle

Snow covered mountains as seen while driving along the expressway in Nagano prefecture

A snow covered parking area somewhere along the expressway in Nagano prefecture

4th January 2015
On 4th January, we left the hotel at about 10 am and continued driving on our way to Yurihonjo City. Yurihonjo is located about 230 kilometers northeast of Niigata City and almost the entire stretch of the highway road from Niigata City to Yurihonjo is located alongside the coastline of the Sea of Japan. We enjoyed beautiful scenic views throughout the way. After about 4 hours of car ride we reached home at 2 pm.
Beautiful view of the coast and the Sea of Japan

Hubby and I enjoyed the New Year holidays very much. It was so relaxing for us.


Param said...

The Toyama castle looks fascinating. You had a great time, it seems. So nice to be able to see Japan with an insider, and not as a tourist.

jalna said...

I enjoyed this post very much. My sister and I will be joining a "Nihon Kai" tour this spring and will visit some of the places that you mentioned. I am looking forward to your future posts.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you very much for your nice comment Param.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Jalna for your comment. Hope you will have a nice time during your Nihon Kai tour....I will try to write about the sightseeing places mentioned in this post as soon as possible.