Gastronomic Cycling in Shizuoka 1~4

PART 1

Many friends have enquired why I call myself a “cycling gourmet” (instead of the celebrated “galloping one”).
There is no mystery there for the simple reason that I have never driven, or was tempted to, a car in my life.
Thanks to that, I’m still comparatively in good health in spite of my ever-going battle of the bulge and a blood pressure to keep in check.

As for my bicycle(s), do not expect me to ride the state-of-the-art mountain bike (although I’d love to own one!), great for riding on all roads, but definitely unpractical. I need that sturdy basket in the front!
In any case there is no way you can suddenly stop to take a picture with your car sitting in the middle of the street!
Japan might be a congested, teeming land, but there are millions of pictures begging to be taken of the everyday life of its people, the more for it that it is the safest country in the world. With a minimum of (good) manners you will soon discover that almost everyone is happy to be reported on!

Shizuoka City is a very compact town in spite of its fairly large population of over 800,000 souls. Really big buildings are only to be found near the large Railway Station (this is earthquake country after all). In spite of many wide arteries gridiing the area, there are plenty of side streets to explore.

A typical thoroughfare starts from theCentral Police Station onto the Shichiken-cho street through Komagata Street.
I will spare all the ubiquitous chain cafes, diners, nonsensical cake shops and the like to concentrate on the places of true interest.
Japanese cities can appear bland and jumblelike to the point of sheer boredom at first contact, but if you know what and where to search there is plenty to discover, big or small, local or foreign, amusing or downright alien.

Shichiken-cho starts with th Isetan Store, one of the major chain department stores in Japan.

The food department is invariably located on the first or basement floor in such buildings.
Isetan is worth some study as they make an (albeit a bit weak) effort to promote truly local gastronomy:

Map of Shizuoka Prefecture and its main fisheries harbours with the fish of the day.

Shizuoka sake!

Shizuoka Green Tea with a map of the main fields!

Shizuoka Wasabi products.

Shizuoka processed fish.

Keeping straight (you must explore the side streets at night with their many izakayas!) you will find Il Cuore Trattoria, a great Italian Cafe where you can enjoy your drink and tasty light fare at a table outside on the pavemen (in warm weather!).

The best and most beautiful cappucino in town!

Just keep going on, and you will find Takahashiya Sembei shop.

The oldest rice crackers shop. All sembei are made over a charcoal fire!

To be fair, there are many small cheap restaurants (ramen, yakiniku, etc..), cafes, bakeries, boutiques, beauty salons and whatnot along the way, but they would not have you raise an eyebrow.
You will also find one useful Shizutetsu grocery store along the way, but skip it for the time being.

Now, when entering Komagata Street, you do have to keep an eye open for some intriguing sights.

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the minuscule Komagata Shrine,

and salute its dragons (we know this guy, don’t we?)!

Just past the Komagata Shrine you will discover where the true locals buy their everyday needs at ancient grocery stores.

Tomitaya is your typical Shizuoka off license/liquor shop,

offering rare Shizuoka sake, some of which you will not find in any other shop in Shizuoka City!

Have a good look at what is displayed at the shops.

Not only the (very low) prices are clearly indicated, but also the origin of all the veg, meat, fish and fruit!

There must be good reasons for the local to crowd such grocery stores!
Great places for expats with gastronomic priorities and limited budgets!

Sano Rice(only) shop.

Very good value for very fine rice coming form all over Japan!
A reference shop for vegans and vegetarians!

I’m pretty sure you will have missed a lot on your way out, therefore on your way back proceed slowly and have two or three more looks.

Dotai Kotai Izakaya. They are part of a big chain, but they have the merit to serve a few eminent Shizuoka sake and decent food.

There are some intriguing signs to be put on film.
The shop above sells beef, chicken, pork, sausages, delicatessen all in the same place,….

Scorpion Hearts?
This is not a food store, but a beauty salon!

Amici, a tiny watering hole I definitely will have to investigate in the near future!

A quaint entrance to an unusual cafe.

No comments!
The amateurs of the truly bizarre should come well-equipped!

I just loved that one!

Biwa is a popular “Chinese Fusion” restaurant with ladies but I hold reservations as to that kind of presentation…

Unusual design for a Crepe shop called Roulotte.

But the kids seem to love it!

Osakaya is shop solely selling “katsuo bushi/Dry bonito shavings”. Shizuoka is the main area for ships to bring their bonito catch in Japan.

Ichome, a kitch jumble of a trattoria, which seems to be really popular.
I’ll have to check!

Will meet you soon at the next destination!

———————
PART 2

Today was also a glorious day, even in the second half of the afternoon with blue skies and crisp air. Time to go out!

Bazooka Gourmet will smirk again when he sees that I had to change the basket yesterday as it finally fell apart!

i took the street at the back of the office, running along the Sumpu Castle Park and Moat. Sumpu is the old name of Shizuoka City. The caste which had been leveled down in early Edo Times was rebuilt to two thirds of its original size at the end of last millennium (LOL, not so long ago, actually!).

The city is still asking the country to pay for the repair of the wall which collapsed in three different spots during last summer’s earthquake (do you remember my earthquake bento?).

I was then cycling past the Old City Hall Dome built by Queen Victoria’s subjects in the 19th Century. To think that a former Mayor wanted to pull it down. It is presently used as a museum and local government seat.

A minute later I reached the entrance of Sengen Shrine street, the destination of the day, marked by a giant red torii. A torii is a Japanese entranc/arch erected to allow birds to perch and rest on (Shintoism).

Senegen Shrine is only about 300 metres long but it is one of the oldest street in town. Although it has been renvated over the ages, one can still find traditional shops and quaint sites.
The shop above is famous oden-ya/Japanese pot au feu restaurant.

Shizuoka-style oden is renown all over Japan!

Taking a short peek (I will write a full about oden again soon).
Note that I use my mobile phone camera. A real camera tends to put off people for good reasons….

Narrow but interesting (reason oming in next pic!) entrance of an antique shop.

Although the shop sells all kinds of old sabres and knives, the police notice states you are allowed to carry knives with blades over 5 cm long!

This shop specializes in peanuts only!

They went as far as to designing their own “mon/arms” with peanut plants!

This cafe specializes in organic food, a very real real thing in Shizuoka!

A sign to make sure you know they use only organic vegetables!

A local celebrity: Yamada Nagamasa

Yamada Nagamasa (1590~1630) voyaged to Siam where 7,000 samurais lived in Ayathaya as the personal gurad of the Siam King.

The statue was erected in 1991. Note that due to the closure of the country in Edo Times, he probably become the last Japanese sailor of note for the next 200 years!

A grocery selling only organic vegetables!

Would love to taste these!

At the first crossing stands this quaint shop selling miniature cars.

Hundred of them all different!
Did you know that Tamiya Miniature Company is in Shizuoka City?

Real antiques for the collectors!

The City Tourism Bus (names in French…) clearly indicates this is a street to explore.

This street is one of the very last where you still can find shops selling traditional gardening tools, some of them real monsters! LOL

This pet clinic (real vet!) is apparently the best business in the whole street!

End of the street and entrance to the Sengen Shrine (will write a report about it one day!) and it’s back along the other side of the street towards my real destination I ignored on purpose at the entrance of the street.

A soy sauce shop, probably the only one in town.

And an old one at that! These ceramic bottles are over 80 years old!

Local soy sauce brands.

A yeast and miso shop. Only a few shops left in Shizuoka. This is the place to buy artisanal miso!

That shop still sells traditional cookware, kitchen and bathroom wooden and metallic utensils. Almost no plastic there!

Shizuoka is famous for this kind of bamboo craft!

Now, this is the guy I had left for dessert!
Now, what is he cooking on his copper hot plate?

Can you guess? Hot Cakes? Yes and no…

have you heard of Doraemon, the Japanese manga character?
He loves “dorayaki”, the Japanese double hot cake filled with anko/sweetmeats!
This is the only place left in Shizuoka still cooking them every day in the true traditional way!

I did ask for the authorization to take pictures.
The man was real sweet (of course…) and gave me (to prove the great taste…good businessman!) a single hot cake wrapped around anko/sweetmeats!

Hot, simple and so delicious!
The gentleman was beaming all the time.
“If you want to take more picture, come inside!”
????

I only understood when I passed the “noren”/Entrance curtain!
The place for all its tiny size was a real Ali Baba cavern full of antique collectibles!

I almost screamed when I discovered those exquiisite antique glasses,

Cups, saucers and more!
Who could have believed there was a cultured man behind that artisan?
I know I will come for more than one reason!
No wonder customers kept streaming in!

Mr. Kawauchi make the dorayaki. His smiling wife packs them carefully and individually in cellophane paper printed with”Dorayaki”, the shop name and all ingredients used!

Out of the package.
They are big and sell for only 100 yen/1.10 US $.
Mr. Kawauchi was selling them only 42 yen when he opened his shop 22 year ago!

After a big bite.
The hot cake is unbelievely light and soft. The taste is certainly heads, shoulders and torso above anything sold at higher prices in department stores!

Where next?
—————————-
PART 3

Eating Veal Kidneys at Pissenlit!

Venturing into side streets might be tantamount to tempting fate in some countries, but in Japan, and particularly in Shizuoka, it is more like opening an intriguing Pandora box!

The side street is called koya Machi and is parallel to the traditional merchant artery called Gofuku-cho.

Japan does not have fire hydrants but fire “holes”. Keep an eye at ground level and you are bound to discover some interesting “manhole covers”!

Koya Machi Street entrance in day time.

Any city in Japan shows two distinctive faces in day time and at night.
The same spot might look drab and even decrepit in the afternoon but come dusk and you enter another world.

Koya Machi entrance at dusk.

Koya Machi Street starts across from Shizuoka JR Station and is only a few hundred metres long (the continuing and busy Ryogae Street is much, much longer) but pack enough for investigation.

At the very beginning on the left side stands Fugetsuro, the abode of the klast Shogun of Japan, Tokugawa Yoshinobu who retired there after the failed Bakufu Revolt.

It has then been transformed into an expensive restaurant-hotel by his descendants. It surrounds the best private Japanese garden in the city, complete with pond, bridge and guest house.

View of the garden from the Ukidono Izakaya.

One of the annexes was transformed seven years ago to accomodate a better-class izakaya, Ukidono, but still cheaper than the unaffordable Fugetsuro Restaurant, a renown, if somewhat old-fashioned, kaiseki restaurant.

Ukidono is worth paying a visit because it has a very extensive list of Shizuoka sake!

Just across the street is Lavigne Wine Shop.

Lavigne seels exclusively French wine you can also savour at the standing pay cash on delivery bar until 10:00 p.m.!

Walking past Lavigne, you will see this small curry restaurant with a somewhat strange name, Kabocha, written as “Kabo Cha/Kabo Tea” instead of the real name, “Kabocha/南瓜/Southern Gourd”.

just a little further up stands the oldest Izakaya (founded in 1922!), Takano!

Notice the real flower arrangement outside!

More real flowers outside!

The entrance at night.

Takano has recently been voted one of the best true izakayas in Japan!
It serves true local food such as sakuraebi kakiage/sakura shrimps tempura.

The present generation speaks fluent English!

The sashimi plate is simply a bargain!

And the Japanese sake is exclusively from Haginishiki Brewery in Shizuoka City!

Go across the street again and you will find Life Time, the other place owned by Fugetsuro.
It is a cafe opening late until night with a selection of drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and the jazz concert place in Shizuoka City!

Life Time on a cold winter night.

On the right at the next corner, stands a thin building.
on the second floor you will find an izakaya called Ichi. Never been there but must be very old, because…

the sake, Kikugenji/菊源氏, advertised on their sign was brewed by a brewery called Toyo Shuzo (Izu eninsula), which disappeared more than 10 years ago!

The sign makes clear you have to climb the stairs up to the second floor to Ichi in case you don’t know!

Ichi at night.
The sushi bar on the first floor has not much interest unfortunately.

A litle further up and you notice people busy delivering bottles of sake and beer to this busy and cheap izakaya.

The same place at night.
The name means “Showa Era Hormones”! (hormones are actually animal intestines).

Another ubiquitous “Ramen Shop”.

“Five Bucks Bar” or “Fine Bucks Bar”?

I wonder what customers drink there!

Beware! The larger and the most colourful the poster, the more forgettable food!

back again to the Showa Hormones Izakaya for more investigation!

I found this “notice” pinned on the wall at eye-level in the men’s toilets.
The notice says:
“Genki no nai Otoko ha mamushi sake!”/Viper Sake for people (men) not feeling energetic!”
This is real sake in which a snake was marinated!
The note says above that you should be careful not to drink too much, or you will suffer from nosebleed (Japanese men supposedly go through this predicament when their libido is overstimulated!).
Actually, orders are limited to a single glass. It had better work as it costs a whopping 22 US$!
Last, but not least, as if men needed more incentive, they added a picture of a “well-endowed” man (face not shown!) wearing snake skin pants!

N.B.: A lady friend told me that there was nothing hanging on the wall inside the ladies’ facilities!

More seriously, the place also serves “oden/Japanese pot au feu”. Shizuoka Oden is famous all over Japan!

Behind the place I found this notice.
It says, “Open form 15:00. The earlier you come, the fresher the food!”
Thank you for telling us!

The same place at night. Empty…. I wonder why….

On the first floor of the next building stand this sign introducing no less than 26 watering holes!

Some names are worth a second look!
Oratoire, in French! I wonder what people are visiting this place for!

Lay back maybe?

Back across the street you will find a horror show of a restaurant (?) sign! Interesting grammar notwithstanding…

The sign in question to prove I’m not kidding you!
Now, for the horror show!
Take your time and read slowly!

Aargh!

Tears….

Blast me!

I definitely trust you!

At night….. empty…..

Next: Ryogae Street!
—————————————–
PART 4

Ryogae Cho Street in Shizuoka City where Koya machi meets Edogawa Street, one of the main arteries crossing the city parrallel to the sea.
“Ryogae” means “Money Exchange” and was the hubbub of the city in Feudal Times. The street of the same name. although being comparatively narrow and parallel to a more important thoroughfare is nonetheless one of the main venues for diners and revellers.
It is a very long street, making it impossible to cover in one single article, so let’s proceed slowly!LOL

Like the entrance of any by-night street it looks pretty drab in day time.

Much the same atmosphere even halfwy up.

But it starts lightening up at dusk.

Like in any other revelling streets expect all kinds of giant signboards!
“Woody Cloud” is the name of a large cheap izakaya, not a heavy contrapption hanging over your head!

At night the (chgeap places) neons seem to attract all kinds of people.
Did you know that in Japanese moths if described as night butterflies stand for women working in bars?

Those big sign boards are a bit difficult to investigate at night at leisure.

But in daytime you are in for a filed day!

don’t be afraid of climbing stairs. You will be left in peace in daytime. After all the night butterflies are still sleeping!

I have a special fondness for the meaning of this sign: Tsuki no Oto/The Sound of the Moon!

The same night sushi restaurant ha another larger sign on theopposite wall. Aren’t these rabbits cute?

but some places are open for business at lunch and dinner.
Above is the advertised lunch sets.

At night the same sign is turned around to announce the dinner sets!

The same sushi restaurant advertizes the setsubun festival/the day when the Japanese throw beans to ward off bad spirits. Contrary to what you might think, these two are good spirits!

We are still at the same place, but as I have some reservations about the quality of their food, I will not divulge their name. Actually they are known for having sued a magazine who criticized them.
On the other hand they the best array of sushi plastic models in town!

I would steal these!

And those too!
But I’m not ready to compromise myself yet!LOL

Now, in the next building there are signs definitely needing some explanations!
You will not get shot in this bar! They just mean they sell the drinks by the shot!

Do you speak French? If you do, you are in trouble!

Take your pick!
I don’t really understand what “lavless” stands for, even after so many years in Shizuoka! “loveless”, maybe, but it doesn’t stand to reason…

Now, what kind of shop can call itself “Psyche”?

A flower shop! which stays open very late at night: a ot of flowers are needed for uncountable reasons in such a neighbourhood!

Shidax is the largest single karaoke shop chain company in Japan!
They even own a semi-professional baseball team!

Back to the signs.
I wonder where I left my wallet!

Now, that sign could get you into trouble in some countries!

Don’t they have mountain cats in America?

The back entrance of Loft, a favourite shop of the Missus! They sell all kinds of clothes, stationery and crafts.

Sawamura, a good if small art gallery with exhibitions regularly changing.

A major lottery booth.
It stands at the very corner of Ryogae Street and Aoba/Green Leaves Park Street.
We shall not proceed any further this time but go back slowly for more investigation as dusk is coming on us.

Although the place is a cheap izakaya chain restaurant, the sign gives you a good indication of Japanese food. Left is shabu shabu/Japanese meat fondue, right is nabe/Japanese pot au feu.

What kind of customers patronize this nonetheless well-known night bar?

People drink very late in Shizuoka City!

Don’t complain later!

Part of the street is slowly turning into a mini China Town.
I’d love to try those egg tarts!

Cuthroat prices competition among those Chinese restaurateurs!

The third one within to entrances. Working day and night!
They must be from the same family!

Real cheap!

The dusk is slowly shrouding the street.
Shinchikurin, one of the older izakayas reamaining in the street.

Now as far as I know, this sign hasn’t changed for the last 20 years! C’mon!

Well-known cheap izakaya with a benevolent guardian.

The same guardian keeps a watch on the ridiculously low prices!

Akachoshin/Traditional red lantern (they were a lot smaller not o long ago!) denoting an izakaya!

Shidax Karaoke at night. Cheap! (I don’t mean the prices!)

Still closed at dusk, but I have promised myself to investigate this takoyaki shop!

Cheap store speciliazing in “hostess dress” open till late at night. You never know, you might firnd some interesting garments!

Venturing into a dark side alley would be dodgy at best in many countries. In Shizuoka it would very often end up in discovering a little well-kept secret (gourmet secret!)!

Well, I’m afraid I will have to leave my bicycle somewhere as walking is more practical at night!

Next: Aoba Park Street!
———————–

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