Hello, it’s Tomocchi! ☆
This time I’m going to introduce a great place I stayed at while I was on Iki Island!♪
Minatoya Guesthouse, which opening in April 2016, is run by a married couple: an angler and an ama diver (a female diver who dives for shellfish, etc).
Making use of an almost 100-year-old building near the Ashibe Port, the heavy beams and each and every part of the design of this guesthouse, handmade by the couple and their friends, wonderfully evoke the prosperous history and atmosphere of the Ashibe Port area.
Kana Ogawa is the okami (the traditionally female landlady of a guesthouse) and an ama diver, while Ryoji Ogawa is the owner and an angler.
Kana, the okami, was originally from Rikuzentakata City in Iwate Prefecture. She moved to Nagasaki Prefecture with her family after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
She wanted to try working as an ama diver, and just as she was looking into it, she heard about recruiting for ama divers in Iki from an acquaintance and decided to apply.
As an Iki City Local Vitalization Cooperator, she spent three years training to be an ama diver. During that time, she married her husband, Ryoji, an angler from Iki.
Right now, she works as an ama diver while running the guesthouse together with her husband, Ryoji.
Minatoya Guesthouse is popular and bustling with lots of regulars. There are lots of reasons for its popularity, but I think one reason is that, just as you’d expect from a guesthouse run by an angler and an ama diver, it’s a place to enjoy amazing seafood dishes!
First its time for a toast! I’m drinking Iki shochu (a local speciality with a higher alcohol content than sake) with a young man who’s come here alone from Fukuoka. Cheers～♪
Japanese Horse Mackerel sugata zukuri (sashimi arranged in the shape of the original fish) and tataki (seared sashimi).
Just what you’d expect from a guesthouse run by an angler and an ama diver! Spending time drinking Iki shochu while enjoying fresh, plump Horse Mackerel that’s just been freshly caught in the waters around Iki – truly blissful!
・Chicken Curry with lots of Winter Vegetables
・Fried Yellowtail Amberjack with Shio Koji (a seasoning made with salt and rice koji).
・Iki-grown Spinach & Kimchi made with Nappa Cabbage
・Spicy Potato Salad made with Iki-grown Taro Yam
And many, many more homemade dishes filled with produce from Iki keep coming, one after another!♪
Ah… the Iki shochu just keeps flowing! ☆
After the meal, relaxing on the sofa, leafing through pages of the books on the bookshelf…. there’s simply nothing more comfortable! ☆
With the day winding down, I decided to make my way to the second-floor bedrooms.
The private rooms (from ¥4,000 per person) are spacious, and the handmade interiors are just wonderful.
The dormitory (from ¥3,000 per person) is just so convenient – fully equiped with power outlet and reading lights.
The shared washroom and bathrooms also have everything you might need.
There’s also Free Wi-fi, a shared kitchen and showers.
A rental service for towels, hair dryers and washing machines are also on offer.
After a peaceful night, it was time for breakfast the next morning….. and I just couldn’t take my eyes off the giant white object that Kana was about to start slicing!!
What is it?!!
Actually, I was told it’s “Ikishu Tofu”, traditional Tofu from Iki.
It seems more than 1.5 times larger than regular tofu.
One theory is that because there are many large families in Iki, “big size” tofu like this became more and more popular.
Simple and firm, Ikishu Tofu is just packed with the umami flavor of soybeans! (*´∇｀)
When it was time to leave, the okami Kana came to see me off with a cute smile!♪
“Please do come again!!”
Address: 258 Ashibeura, Ashibe-cho, Iki-shi, Nagasaki Prefecture 〒811-5301
Official Website：http://www.minatoya-guesthouse.com/（JP & EN）
Hello, it’s Tomocchi! ☆
I visited the restaurant “Manpuku” in Hirado City, Nagasaki Prefecture, where you can get “Sashimi Refills”!
Let me say it again…
This might be the ONLY (!?) restaurant in Japan where you can have “Sashimi Refills”!!!
The restaurant is located in Tabira Town, Hirado City. ()You’ll find the restaurant just after you cross the Hirado Ohashi Bridge, close to the Tabira Bus Terminal and the Hirado Seto Ichiba Market.
It’s a popular restaurant where there’s always a queue to get in.
※ This time, we were permitted to visit the restaurant before it opened for the day.
The restaurant “Manpuku” is filled with fresh seafood sourced from local markets. It opened in 1980, giving it a history dating back 40 years.
The current chef is the fourth-generation proprietor. According to the owner, the seas around Hirado are well-regarded even nationally as an area where a variety of species of fish can be harvested.
The sashimi refills system started about eight years ago, in order to let people to get full by eating delicious fish from Hirado.
Here are the three menu items that allow sashimi refills:
・Matsu (upper-level) Teishoku Set Meal ¥2,200 (unlimited refills)
・Take (mid-level) Teishoku Set Meal ¥1,700 (unlimited refills)
・Low-level (Ume) Set Meal (Teishoku) ¥1,100 (up to 2 refills permitted)
This time I ordered the Take (mid-level) Teishoku Set Meal Teishoku for ¥1,700, which has unlimited refills. There was plenty of food in addition to the sashimi, so I thought I’d be full even without a second helping! Rice and miso soup are also included with this meal.
This time, the sashimi I received were: minke whale, salmon, tuna, yellowtail amberjack, bream, and squid. Everything was fresh and delicious ♪
I was already starting to feel full, but I ordered a sashimi refill. The refills are offered one plate at a time, like this.
(As mentioned above, the Matsu and Take Teishoku Set Meals are all-you-can-eat sashimi, while the Ume Teishoku Set Meal lets you refill up to two times)
Here are the rules about the sashimi refills:
※ You may not give any sashimi to another person in your party, or leave any uneaten.
※ The sashimi varieties are decided by the chef.
The ¥1,350 Seafood Don Rice Bowl is also popular. It even looks delicious, right?
By the way, the menu is also filled with great non-seafood options, such as a Croquette Teishoku Set Meal, so even people who don’t like fish can enjoy a great meal too.
That’s right, I found a sign inside the store that says “Salad Bar – ¥50″. When I said to the owner, “A ¥50 Salad Bar – that’s too cheap!”, I found out that it was previously “Free”!
Born from a desire “to let customers eat a balanced meal with not just fish but also seasonal vegetables” at Manpuku, there is a small vegetable patch beside the restaurant. As much as possible, home-grown vegetables are used in the salad bar. The mayonaise and sauces are also home-made.
The popular “Sweet Potato Tempura” is also all-you-can-eat ☆
Make sure you go there on an empty stomach!!
After eating a filling meal at Manpuku, why not Go！Go！to the world-heritage-listed Kasuga Village or to the beautiful beaches!
Address: 344-22 Yamauchi Men, Tabira Town, Hirado City, Nagasaki Prefecture, 859-4825
Opening Hours: 11am ～ 9pm (Last order: until 9pm)
※There are times when the restaurant may be temporarily closed during the day.
The restaurant does not have fixed closing days, but may not operate on certain days.
※ Reservations are only accepted for group party plans
Hello! It’s Tomochi☆
Summer means it’s time for marine sports!!
Why not give “SUP” at try at a beach near you?
SUP is short for “Stand Up Paddleboarding”.
Born in Hawaii, this water sport lets you have fun paddling around while standing on a board floating on the sea.
That’s why I visited the Yuki no Ura Seaside Park in Saikai City,
which has fantastic transport access from both Nagasaki AND Sasebo (just 1 hour by car from either city).
This time, I’m going to introduce ”SUP”, the much-talked-about marine sport you can try out at the Yuki on Ura Seaside Park.
“Oh, but I’ve never done a marine sport, and besides I don’t have any of the equipment…,” you might say. No problems!!
No special prep required – you can try it out in regular beachwear (swimsuit, sandals, a towel)♪
The reception desk is at
the Yuki no Ura Beach Store, a surf shop located in Ōseto Town, Saikai City, along National Route 202.
<Cost: Both SUP and Surfing cost ¥4000 each (about 2 hours, including rental)>
Once you’ve signed in, it’s time to Go! Go! to the Yuki no Ura Seaside Park!
The sun hits the water’s surface and makes it sparkle – it’s so beautiful!!
Yuki no Ura Seaside Park is enclosed by a bay, so the waves are relatively calm.
Yuki no Ura Seaside Park is well-equipped with toilets and coin-operated showers.
Listen to a lecture from your instructor
about how to stand and use the paddle, and then let’s paddle out into the blue sea!
Until you’re used to it, you might fall into the sea again and again,
but don’t worry: your instructor is there to help.
Once you’ve got the hang of it, even beginners will say
“Finally! I’m standing!!!”
Paddle right and left, and stroll smoothly on the sea♪
As you start to get the hang of it, SUP gets more and more fun.
If the sea and weather conditions are good, you may even be able to paddle into the Yuki no Ura River.
With fantastic access from both Nagasaki and Sasebo, why not enjoy SUP in Saikai?
Cost: Both SUP and Surfing cost ¥4000 (about 2 hours/incudes rental)
Period: Year-round (Depending on weather conditions, there may be days when the experience is not possible).
Contact info: Yuki no Ura Beach Store Phone: 090-8910-9001 (Mr./Ms. Kusahara)
Facebook Page: https://ja-jp.facebook.com/yukinourabeachstore/
Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
“Right now, the Nagasaki BIO PARK is have a rush of babies!!”
… is what I heard, so I went right over to check it out.
If you’ve met me, you know I’m a complete capybara freak!
And so I have to talk about the baby capybaras first.
These capybara twins, one male and one female, were born on May 16th.
This baby is getting a big drink of milk from Ms. Zabon, the mother of the twins.
I think to myself about how they’re still babies, but they were munching away on these hard bamboo shoots.
Food gets these babies’ undivided attention.
Capybara babies can eat hard food, the same as a fully matured capybara might eat, right after they’re born!
They may be rodents but they have the cutest faces. It takes them about a year to grow to their full size.
When you stroke their fur, it’s as soft as a kitten’s!
With their tiny voices they make a “kyuru-kyuru” sound ♪
Suddenly, it started raining!
We took shelter with the capybaras.
Even though they’re skilled swimmers, they appear to not be the biggest fans of rain…
Fewer people visit the BIO PARK on rainy days, so this was our chance to spend some extra lazy time with the capybaras in their hut.
They also have benches for humans there, so it was quite comfy.
I got these excellent views of their cute butts and ears. I’m so happy ☆
Next, I’ll introduce Arumu the llama. He was born on May 26th.
When I put my finger near him he sucked on it like it was his mom’s breast ❤
It tickled but it was so cute!!
We gifted some vegetables to his lovely mother. I’m very glad she seemed to like them a lot.
The little guy poking his head out of the hole is a baby prairie dog.
Seven of them were born on May 10th.
Prairie dogs come out of their holes for the first time about a month after they’re born, and now it’s been about two months.
They grow exceptionally fast and reach adult size after only three months.
You can get food for the animals out of these capsule machines.
Definitely get some and get up close and personal with the critters!
Come out and see the babies while they’re still tiny!
Nagasaki BIO PARK
Address: Nakayama-gou 2291-1, Seihi-cho, Saikai City, Nagasaki Prefecture 851-3302
Entry fee: Adults 1,700 yen, Junior-high school students 1,100 yen, Children 800 yen (There are group discounts)
Hours: Open daily, year-round. 10am – 5pm (last entry at 4pm)
PAW (petting area) Hours: 10:30am – 5pm (last entry at 4pm) Entry fee: 500 yen per hour
Hello, it’s Tomocchi ☆
This spring, Iojima, the resort island in the sea south of Nagasaki City, was reborn!!
The rooms in the hotel were renewed of course, but the real attention grabber is the night fun! Island Lumina (アイランド ルミナ) is a night adventure that unfurls before you with lights and pictures using the island’s nature as the canvas.
This completely new style of attraction allows guests to experience a magical world created by digital art using the latest technology as they walk along a 1km gently sloping path through a forest.
Moment Factory (モーメント・ファクトリー) who produced this work, is one of the leading digital art groups in the world and have done production for world class acts like Cirque Du Soleil and Madonna!
I’ve been looking forward to this since long before it opened and I finally got to go ♪♪♪
The bus from central Nagasaki City takes about 45 minutes. Once you reach the island, you take the shuttle bus (pictured above) from the Island Lumina shuttle bus stop to the venue.
Drinks are allowed in the attraction. Make sure to get a drink at the café near the ticket gate and stay hydrated on your adventure.
They also have small bits like sausages and apple pie. Having a snack before going in is part of the fun.
We wait for the sun to go down, then in we go!!
Here is where you buy tickets (cash and credit are both accepted). If you buy your tickets more than three days in advance you get a 100yen discount.
The free, colorful face painting pens help get you pumped for your adventure. Even if you aren’t sure what to draw there are staff there to help you out. Once we were set, we snatched a snap at their picture corner.
From here the fantastical world beautifully spreads out before you. Everyone who takes part in Island Lumina goes on an adventure with a girl named Yura to find the sorcerer’s stone. While enjoying the sea, forest, and night sky of Iojima, guests are treated to a night adventure full of fun and excitement!! The course takes about an hour and has a few hills, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
These round stepping stones emit light and sound as you walk across them!! It feels strangely like you’re in water.
It really feels like you’ve gotten lost in a world of magic!! Enjoy the movie-like story with all five senses as you move along the course.
Make it through the gently sloping forest…
… And as I thought I could smell the ocean… suddenly we’re on the coast!
I love hearing the sound of small waves through the clear night air. And when I looked up, the night sky was so beautiful!! The whole atmosphere was so perfect that I wished I could just stay there forever.
Oh, did you get lost??
Get out your penlight and search for the correct path. (You’ll receive a penlight from the staff)
You can leave the path at any time you like if you don’t feel up to it. (The staff will lead you out)
Some lively noises come into earshot… we’ve come to the active experience corner! If you beat the taiko drums as fast as you can, a beam of light shoots out with a byooon! It’s you vs the dragon!!!
Not only for children, Island Lumina is a night attraction fit for adults too. The animations are beautiful and expertly executed. The high-level images are ahead of the pack, and I was constantly wondering what was waiting around the next corner.
After this, I definitely recommend taking a slow dip in the hot springs and then staying a night in one of the lovely rooms in the renewed hotel ♪
Night Attraction Island Lumina
Address: 1-3277-7 Iojima-machi, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture (inside i+Land Nagasaki)
Hours: From Sunset to 11:00pm (last admissions at 10:30pm). These times will fluctuate with the seasons.
Price: Age 18 and up: ￥2,400
Age 13-17: ￥1,800
Age 4-12: ￥1,500
Children under 4 are free.
The attraction occasionally closes due to inclement weather. Thank you for understanding.