Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
One of the longstanding popular spots of Hirado’s tourism is the Matsura Historical Museum. The building itself is the former residence of the Matsura Clan which ruled over Hirado, making it the museum with the most history of all of Nagasaki.
It’s a treasure trove of important cultural artifacts. There you can find many National and Prefecturally designated items related to international trade and Christianity, as well as very old, important documents.
I have been many times before, but I was happy to go again to introduce it to you.
These tall and wide steps on the right were for horses. All humans please use the stairs on the left.
(You can also get there by car if you approach from the rear.)
First thing on our itinerary was to grab lunch on the grounds at the “Choubou-tei Kitchen”, where you can look down on the entire town below Hirado Castle ♪
(眺望 – Choubou is Japanese for “view” or “look out on”)
The restaurant design is elegantly Japanese, but they serve Western food. It seems like a great fit for this area that blossomed due to trade with Portugal ☆
Just as the name implies, the restaurant has a commanding view of Hirado Castle and the surrounding town.
The menu is centered on Italian dishes that use local produce. They visit markets every morning to deliver their guests the freshest seasonal ingredients.
For lunch, they have several options around 1000 yen, like the Pasta Lunch or the Pizza Lunch. Go for dinner and have some wine for an extra fancy time ♪
Bacon Egg Burger (950 yen)
First of all, the bun is irresistible. It’s made of rare Hirado flour.
The texture is delightfully crunchy. And the smell!! The garlic butter they add does some good work.
The main player here is, of course, the Hirado Beef burger, which is rich and flavorful. Topped with soft-boiled egg and delicious bacon, this burger is sheer happiness ♪
Hirado Island Pork Cutlet Curry and Rice (1,250 yen)
I heard that Mr. Ogawa, the chef at Choubou-tei, decided to move to Hirado because he fell in love with Hirado Pork.
At my first bite, I was completely blown away by how delicious the cutlet was! At first it was tender and just a bit sweet. But then the umami flavor comes through!! It’s a perfect match for the mellow, European style roux. So, this is the sort of rich flavor that can make you want to move house.
For dessert, we had German style pancakes ♪
Dutch Baby (900 yen)
They top this carefully made hot pancake with cool ice cream with bits of fruit inside. You can choose from either “mixed fruit and berry” (which we went with) or “chocolate banana”.
Crunchy and fluffy. The secret to its popularity is its texture which is similar to the outside of a chou a la crème. Dig in before the ice cream melts to enjoy that luxurious hot and cold dessert experience ♪
Now that our tummies have been satisfied, it’s time to check out the museum!
Look at all these cultural artifacts!
Just as one would expect from the actual former residence of the lords of Matsura, the building itself has an atmosphere about it.
When the Princess of the Aoyama family married into the Matsura Clan, this is the carriage she arrived in. The pictures on the inside of the carriage are simply gorgeous! But it’s so small! The princess must have been quite a petite lady.
These adorable dog shaped boxes with their exquisite human facial expressions were a wedding gift from the princess. It’s said that they used them to keep blades for self-defense in them near their bedside ☆
Also on display were games that were played by the ladies of the home, like Kai-awase, a shell matching memory game.
They also have artifacts connected to Koxinga, a hero from Hirado.
Koxinga (or Zheng Chenggong) is a historical figure who was born of a Chinese merchant and a Japanese lady. He is known as a hero of East Asia for helping Taiwan throw off occupation by the Dutch.
I love this picture!!
This is part of a painting of a battle. But if you look closely you can see one soldier that seems tired and doesn’t want to be there (lol). The artist must have had fun with this one ☆
They also have a room where you can try on bridal gowns, armor, and helmets to take pictures in! I felt like I was in a period drama!!
Start your tour of Hirado at the Matsura Historical Museum, where you can find the history of the area all condensed into one place!
Matsura Historical Museum
Address: 12 Kagamikawa-cho, Hirado-shi, Nagasaki-ken, 859-5152
Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
A comfy new space has just opened in the AllCore Nakadoori area near Spectacles Bridge in the center of Nagasaki City♪
Captain Book (a play on words for “Captain Hook”, which also works in Japanese^^), opened in August of this year and is a book store focused on Nagasaki. It carries the themes of “read, write, and talk.”
This bookstore delivers these three fun experiences.
Inside this cozy space are four carts (table spaces) made to look like ships where guests can read books at their leisure, write their own history, and enjoy the events that get put on. (If you look closely you can see the lovely way they modeled the ceiling and the tabled areas to look like the bottom of a ship!)
Retro Nagasaki woodblock print postcards
In the interest of their guests “learning and enjoying” Nagasaki, they also keep back issues of the quarterly magazine “Raku” which is essentially a photo collection of Nagasaki.
Also, guests are welcome to sit and read at their leisure the more than 400 books available that relate to Nagasaki. Of course they’re also for sale ^^ It’s quite a luxurious set up! The owner Ms. Kawara said that she wants her customers to “take the books in their hands and see and feel for themselves the texture and the weight of them.”
In the viewing area (which is where they keep the books that aren’t for sale), there was the Nagasaki Jige Jiten (or the Dictionary of the Nagasaki Dialect) which drew great attention not long ago. I saw plenty of other books related to Nagasaki that brought back so many memories!!
The chairs in the viewing areas are also shaped like yachts with their sails unfurled.
Sitting in a chair ordered from a specialist of luxurious boat furnishings, surrounded by all things “Nagasaki”, it’s as quiet as being inside a ship. Guests can soak in a feeling of being wrapped in happiness in this private space.
I really like that feeling of being holed up on the bottom bunk of a bunkbed. With the warm lighting and the comfy chairs, I don’t want to leave♪
Captain Book holds events about books and Nagasaki twice a month. Locals and out of towners alike can be found attending these fun events where they can speak freely with writers and editors.
More than just a bookstore, Captain Book feels like a community space built around books. I already can’t wait to go back♪
3-16 Furukawa-machi, Nagasaki City 850-0851 (Allcore Nakadoori)
TEL 095-895-9180／FAX 095-895-9181
Hours: Open year-round.
Weekdays 10:30am – 7:00pm, Weekends and Holidays 12:30pm – 6:00pm.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/captainbook1/
Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
For those of you out there that would love to head out to Hasami and Arita, the areas famous for their ceramic goods as well as fashionable galleries, potteries, and cafes…
…but don’t have a car… I have some wonderful news for you! o(^o^)o
The Ride-Together service between the JR Arita Station and Hasami began on September 1st this year!
The timings of the taxi services have been set according to the arrival times of the limited express trains that arrive in Arita Station from JR Kyushu. They have eight return trips every day and a one-day pass is 1,000 yen (500 yen for children)!!
On this service you can get in or out of a taxi at any of the appointed locations which are: the combined facilities at KILN ARITA near Arita Station, Hasami-Arita Interchange which is near the popular Maruhiro in Hasami, the Hasami Town Hall, Tougei no Kan (more info below!), and Mt. Nakao Exchange Center.
Also, if you show your taxi ticket at any of these three locations they’ll have special offers for you.
The locations are: (1) Tougei no Kan, (2) Nishi no Hara / Minami Soukou, and (3) the Mt. Nakao Exchange Center.
This taxi service is the bridge between Saga Prefecture’s Arita and Nagasaki’s Hasami, two towns renowned for their pottery.
Give it a try! o(^o^)o
Arita-Hasami Ride-Together Taxi
Days of Operation:
Service daily starting September 1, 2017. Eight return trips made daily. The trips are timed along with the JR Kyushu limited express trains’ arrival at Arita Station.
One-day ticket is 1,000 yen for adults and 500 yen for elementary school children and younger. The ticket allows you to ride as much as you like for that day.
Pickup and Drop-off Locations:
Arita Station (Kiln Arita) → Hasami-Arita Interchange (near Maruhiro) → Hasami Town Hall → Hasami Tougei no Kan → Hasami Mt. Nakao Exchange Center.
January, March, May, July, September, November – Mayumi Taxi (0956-85-5844) February, April, June, August, October, December – Sougo Koutsuu (0956-85-2050)
Hasami Tourism Association – 0956-85-2290
Hasami Commerce Promotion Division – 0956-85-2162
Flyer and timetable are here https://www.nagasaki-tabinet.com/db_img/wn_img/1480/p1480.pdf
Definitely check out Hasami with its fashionable galleries, potteries and cafes. New things are opening up all the time ♪
Allow me tell you a little bit about Hasami Pottery ☆
Hasami Pottery started around 400 years ago, with a potter that accompanied the forces of Toyotomi Hideyoshi on his campaign to the Korean Peninsula. That potter settled in Hasami and began his work. Eventually, Hasami Pottery became known throughout Japan, and towards the end of the Edo Period (end of the 1700s to the beginning of the 1800s) Hasami could boast of producing the largest amount of pottery in the country.
Kurawanka Chawan (replica)
When most people think of Hasami Pottery, the first thing that comes to mind is the Kurawanka Chawan. These thick, ceramic bowls for everyday use were made in the Edo Period in Hasami, among other places. These bowls were loved widely by the common people of the time and had considerable influence on Japanese food culture.
You can buy a replica for daily use for 1,500 yen ☆ I really like the sharp form of the tall bottom of the bowl (^_^)
Konpura Bin (replica)
These ceramic bottles were used during the Edo Period to export Japanese sake and soy sauce to the West via the only open port in the country: Dejima in Nagasaki. These exotic bottles would be charming decorating a home in the East or the West.
One of these is 800 yen and is perfect as a flower vase ☆
The kurawanka chawan and the konpura bin both tell the history of Hasami Pottery. When they were first made they were a bit difficult to get because of their price, but the reproductions made today are quite reasonable.
Come for a visit and consider bringing one of them home as a souvenir ☆
Hasami Pottery was not a high-class item, but rather a part of regular people’s daily lives. That heritage continues to this day, only with even more modern designs ♪
Here remains a tasteful wall near the entrance of a private residence. There must be some kind of history behind it! I asked a local about it and they said that it’s called a “tonbai hei”. It’s made from discarded, fire-proof red bricks (“tonbai” used to make the kilns in the area), used pottery tools, as well as scraps of pottery and red clay all put together and hardened. This is just the sort of thing you would expect in a town famous for its pottery ☆
Hasami’s Tougei no Kan
From traditional items to casual goods popular with young ladies, this place is packed with Hasami Pottery! Guests can even try their hand at making their own original pottery! The second floor is a museum where you can see, learn about, buy, and touch Hasami Pottery ☆
On your next day off, how about taking a trip around Hasami in a ride-together taxi?
Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
For this article I went to the Obama Hot Springs ♪
At around 30 different places around this beautiful hot spring area situated on the coast, more than 15,000 tons of water over with temperatures over 100 degrees Celsius springs forth every day. It’s said that such volume at that temperature is the most in all of Japan.
From Nagasaki Ekimae Terminal, Obama is only a 70-minute bus ride away (Obama – Unzen Express Bus).
Once we arrived in Obama, the first thing we did was visit the Obama Hot Springs Tourism Association across the street from the terminal. In addition to tourism maps and pamphlets, they also sold the 「湯めぐり札」 Yu-meguri-fuda ☆
It’s a bargain at 1,300 yen! You get two entrances to private hot springs (like at hotels or ryokans) and two entrances to outdoor, public hot springs! (One person can use the card for 4 total entrances, or two people can use it for two entrances each)
This time I enjoyed two different hot springs, and on top of that I did some research on some delicious gourmet dishes and some popular sweets too ♪
◆ Open Air Bath on the Sea (Kaijou rotenburou) – Nami no Yu, Akane
Hours: 9:00am to 6:00pm (after 6:00pm it closes except for reservations)
It’s 300 yen to enter if you don’t have the Yu-Meguri-Fuda.
Our first stop was here. From here, beyond the sign looks like nothing but ocean, so let’s get a closer look!
Whoa!! It’s so expansive! (〃≧∀≦)
This is sea level!! This hot spring is built on top of wave-dissipating concrete blocks, and being in there truly makes you feel like you’re just part of the ocean. ヽ(*´∇｀)ﾉ
I feel like I can float forever here ♪ (This spring has an abundance of salt so floating is easy)
During high tide, you can feel the mist from waves crashing below you. We went during the daytime, but I hear that seeing the sunset over the Tachibana Bay is breathtaking ♪
Note: The picture above is taken from the men’s side of the hot spring. We were given special permission because we were writing this article.
◆ Rose Gelato
It’s so refreshing to have some of this Rose Gelato after getting out of the hot spring ヽ(*´∇｀)ﾉ Isn’t it just so photogenic? It’s so cold and colorful it just cools you right off.
For 500 yen you can have two flavors of ice cream. On the outside I had mango, and on the inside I had peach. The peach ice cream is made from peaches grown right here in Nagasaki and the flavor is amazing!
You can buy these and even eat-in at “Orange Gelato” near the Open Air Bath on the Sea.
After our ice cream it was time for lunch. Hm? Gelato before lunch? Well, you’re right that maybe we shouldn’t have… but we had just gotten out of the bath and we were hot!!
◆Kaisen Ichiba: Mushigamaya
After becoming “one with the ocean” at the open air hotspring on the sea, we went for lunch at the Kaisen Ichiba: Mushigamaya where they cook the freshest seafood with hot spring water and steam ♪
Look at the hot spring steam billowing (@o@ !!
There were 14 kamameshi pots waiting at the front of the store and it really got my appetite going ♪
Here’s a freshly steamed sea bream (around 900 yen) with a Shimabara Peninsula tomato (200 yen). This delicious and healthy meal is made possible through the hot spring steam bringing out the natural sweet and savory elements of the fish ♪ Just add a bit of ponzu and it’s ready to eat.
The “Jige-don” which is a selection of sashimi from the day’s catch is also quite popular. Today’s included golden cuttlefish, blackfin sea bass, Japanese sea bass, chicken grunt (still a fish), sardine, marlin, and vinegared mackerel! Look at the generous cuts of fish! It was so filling!
After lunch we took a leisurely walk around the hot spring town. On this road lined by a stone wall that felt full of history, this cat was lazily grooming himself.
◆Carbonated Spring (a cider-flavored hot spring)
This spring bubbles and sputters in the middle of a residential area.
I reached down to touch it and I couldn’t believe it! It was cold!!
This is the only cold spring in Obama, which is usually known for its hot springs. Back in the old days, this water used to be served to tourists as drinking water ☆ The original cider?
The next place we visited with our Yu-meguri-fuda is this:
Baths available from 1pm to 8pm (private baths available).
The regular price without the Yu-megiru-fuda is 800 yen per person.
After our walk around the town, we headed to the Iseya Ryokan, which has been in operation for 348 years, to enjoy their open-air baths ♪ The girl at the front desk had a lovely smile.
This is the men’s bath.
This is the women’s bath.
It was so relaxing to view the Tachibana bay with a breeze from Obama cooling us off. The Obama hot springs produce some of the hottest water in Japan at 105 degrees Celsius, and the water is a bit salty. This hot water warms you to the core, so you don’t have to worry about feeling chilly once you get out.
I sweat so much it felt like a detox ♪ It felt so good (*˘︶˘*).:*♡
◆Yukemuriya’s “Tennyo Taiyaki”
Look at these fishy fishies!! !!(ﾟДﾟノ)ノ
After our second bath of the day we stopped by a nearby sweets shop to pick up some of these taiyaki with their sexy red lips, and then take a walk along the beachfront.
This unique sweet is part of legends that surround the Obama Hot Springs. These Tennyo Taiyaki are said to live in the clouds of steam that rise from the springs. The flavors include regular anko, white anko, custard, chocolate, sweet potato, and matcha. Even when they cool off they stay pleasantly soft and squishy! They also stretch as you bite and pull away from them!! They include collagen so they are particularly popular with ladies ☆ The popular sweet shop that sells them regularly appears on TV!
◆The Longest Footbath in Japan: Hotto Futto 105
This footbath stretches 105 meters along the boardwalk by the sea. It’s the longest one in all of Japan!! I heard that they made it this long in reference to the 105 degree water that the springs in Obama produce. It’s a great place to view the sunset ♪ There’s even a footbath for pets too!
Feeling the rejuvenating effects of the footbath～
Definitely check out Obama where both the springs and the gourmet are hot ♪
Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
In Higashisonogi-cho in Nagasaki Prefecture, there is a small unmanned train station right next to the sea. It’s called Chiwata Station.
Built in 1928, this retro-style building situated on the curve of Omura Bay, while being a hub for locals, is also popular with photographers and train enthusiasts alike who come for the views which look like something straight out of the past.
In 2016 it was even used as a location for a commercial for JR Kyushu.
In Chiwata Station there is a small cafeteria. Its name is:
This is the cafeteria-owner-cum-station-master Yushita Ryunosuke, his wife, and their 10-month old son. “I want to make Chiwata station into a place where lots of people gather, since there is no place like this anywhere else in the world,” Said Mr. Yushita.
Mr. Yushita, who’s hobby since the age of 19 has been making curry, decided to follow this passion by opening up a cafeteria after quitting the life of a salaryman. He moved locations to inside the actual Chiwata station in December of 2016.
His wife is pictured here cutting onions with their son swaddled in front of her. He’s growing up so fast at Chiwata station with so many people around him.
“Since this is an unmanned station, we sell tickets while were making the curry,” she laughs.
The only thing on the menu is the curry, which changes daily. Today is tomato curry. It’s topped with a pile of coriander which gives off a wonderfully fresh smell. The flavor starts off spicy, but then the umami floats to the top, and the flavor leaves the inside of your mouth warm and satisfied. The curry here is made without any flour, in the traditional way.
There is gentle music playing as the girls across the room enjoy their conversation. Suddenly I hear a few tones and then over a speaker:
“A train will arrive shortly.”
Oh yeah, this is a train station, isn’t it?
On weekdays, the cafeteria is only open until 3pm. After that, the whole space fills with the sounds of lively conversations of the school children returning home.
Elementary school students excitedly do their homework as well as read the books here on the shelf.
I’ve heard that the old ladies that use the station look forward just to greeting Mr. Yushita. One lady said that she dropped off a few vegetables to say thanks for him always letter her drink water there. This train station has many stories like this that’ll warm your heart.
“This is a train station, a curry restaurant, and a place for locals to meet.
It makes me really happy that since more people from out of town are coming in that more locals are starting to come too,” said Mr. Yushita.
A train station, curry, and an unremarkable daily life. Somehow these elements combine to prosper all together.
Chiwata is a town where you can experience stories of an unremarkable daily life that warm your heart. Why not visit this little cafeteria in Chiwata Station?
Address: 750-3 Chiwata Station, Hiranitagou, Higashisonogi-cho, Higashisonogi-gun, Nagasaki Prefecture 859-3928
Hours: There are no decided days off. However, the cafeteria is usually open Mondays, Thursdays, and Friday from 11am to 3pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm. It’s usually closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.