When last I left you we were in Japan – back in November of 2022. It was a long winter in Sidney with some serious cold, snow and then a long, grey chilly stretch. It was a good time to hibernate. And when Wilf hibernates he plans trips. And this time there was going to be no waiting until the Fall. Instead we decided to pay a visit to Japan in the spring. We waited until all the excitement of cherry blossom season was over, and then waited until all the busyness of the Golden Week was finished. Golden Week is a period at the end of April beginning of May where a series of national holidays in Japan line up and most people have a week off. Very busy time!
And here we are. We did a quick bounce through Tokyo and we are in Nagoya.
We took the bullet train from Tokyo and zoomed south to Nagoya. It is the fourth largest city in Japan, and most tourists blast right through on their way to Kyoto. Granted we are only seeing a small part of the city, but we like what we are seeing. The pace is certainly less frantic than Tokyo…
We are staying at the Dormy Inn hotel – we have stayed at this chain before. One of the benefits of this hotel chain is that they pretty much always have an communal bath, with naturally sourced hot water – not just city water heated up. Usually the bath is on the roof with a view. No roof view on this one, but the spa area is on the second floor and the ladies side has an enclosed outdoor pool. When I say a communal bath I don’t mean co-ed. The men have their side and the ladies there and the two do not mix. On the ladies side there are two pools – a large one inside and a smaller one outside. Everyone gives themselves a very thorough scrub down and rinse then moves to the pools to soak in the lovely hot water. They are lined with smooth marble and have shallow steps that lead into the water. If you sit on the bottom the water is up to your shoulders. You can sit on the steps if it is too hot! After a long day touristing it is lovely to have a soak before bed time.
So what have we been doing? A lot of eating, as usual. Nagoya is known for its fresh water eels, and they are called unagi. There are lots of unagi restaurants around. This sign caught my eye – the ‘u’ in unagi is represented by a curvy eel.
We did go out on our first night for an unagi meal. Its a good thing that Mr Google and his map buddy are on the ball because we would not have recognized the restaurant without their picture.
Rather discreet, no? What the picture doesn’t show is that this on a street just choked with bars and clubs. And then there is this lovely little building that looks like a house. It has a lovely interior garden with a koi pond.
So how do you eat eel? Grilled, over rice. In Nagoya they grill it on a hibachi. I had a serving of larger pieces over rice in a bowl. Wilf had a more elaborate production – a bowl of rice with the unagi chopped over the rice. There was a separate bowl into which he spooned the rice and eel. He could it eat it as it was, or add horseradish (wasabi) and or sliced green onions. There was also a special pot of ‘eel sauce’. And then, if one desired, one could pour from the pot of green tea to make a sort of soup. And there was soup with the meal, as well. Both were a clear soup – mine had minced fish cake in it and Wilf’s had eel liver. I know, it sounds a bit much but it was all good. Oh, and a serving of pickled vegetables came with. Add in a serving of sake and a bottle of beer and you can see why a meal for two people has enough serving pieces to cover the whole table!
Specialty unagi restaurants like this tend to be on the more expensive side – we paid about CAD75.00 for our meal, which is consistent with other such restaurants on other trips to Japan. After all – one can not live on ramen alone!