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 the Central Police Station onto the Shichiken-cho street through Komagata Street.
I will spare you from 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 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 pavement (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,….
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.
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!
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