Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Okawachiyama Part 2: Lunch + Rest of Village

You can read the first part here.

After making my way from one end of the village to the other, I decided to take a break for lunch. There are only a few cafes in the village, and not all of them were open, so if you've got picky eaters with you, I'd recommend having lunch before coming here. But, you should definitely take a tea break in one of the cafes, because it's a great way to try some of the pottery!

The front part is the shop and there were SO MANY TEAPOTS.

I really, really, wanted to get a set but I just got that Lupicia teapot/jug combi that I use a lot, so it wouldn't make sense to get more.

They were also selling light switches, which I found to be really pretty as well!

While I normally only take one or two photos of my food, I took individual photos of each dish because everything was in such pretty containers (except my orange juice, which was in a glass and hence does not get a photo). This is the cup for water:

And I didn't even know wet tissues got their own containers! It also looks like a good size for dessert forks and spoons.

If you need toothpicks:

I could totally see this as a sort of pencil holder as well (although if it was mine I'd probably break it in a week...)

This was on the table next to me and I found it absolutely adorable! It just goes to show that pottery can be fun too.

I got a prawn pilaf which came with a cup of soup. It was 550 yen for the pilaf and soup, which I thought was pretty reasonable.

And because I really, really, wanted to drink something in a porcelain cup, I ordered a glass of tea as well. The tea was supposed to come in a glass as well, but the ladies at the shop will change it to a porcelain cup for you if you ask. Or if you drink coffee, you could just order that and save yourself the extra step:

I really like how the coaster matches!

After lunch, I started heading back to the entrance of the village, using a different route.

This bridge is the Tonbai bridge.

I'm not sure why there is pottery in the walls lining the river but I couldn't resist getting a closer look! And then promptly got chased away by a bee.

I think this spot would be absolutely breathtaking in autumn, when the momiji leaves are red!

Also, I find it really cute that even the sign for the restroom is made out of pottery.

There's a viewing area as well, but the view is not great. The most interesting thing was this wall, so I wouldn't really recommend going to this area. You could just walk around the kilns some more (apparently Okawachiyama is also known as the 'village of secret kilns' because it's surrounded by mountains).

I'm not sure why but I really liked the light here. Of course, my picture does not do it justice at all.

I also saw one of the stepped kilns! According to the guide, these kilns are built in a style resembling the kilns in Jingdezhen (pronounced "Keitokuchin" in Japanese. The kanji is 景德镇). These kilns were used to make porcelain for shoguns and emperors!

After a while, I found myself back at the carpark that I parked in! This village is definitely a good place to wander around in(:

Next (and last) post: the Imari-Arita ware traditional craft center + I try painting a cup.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Okawachiyama Part 1: The Village

So yesterday I decided to actually use my rest day to go out. I decided to go to Ookawachiyama (大川内山 - link leads to their Japanese website), which is a place that I've been wanting to go for a while. Originally, I planned to go there on the 22nd of July, because there was going to be some sort of lantern event going on, but I had work. Still, I wanted to go before the wind chime festival was over so without really thinking about it, yesterday became that day.

Ookawachiyama is about 40 minutes away from Sasebo (by car). I managed to make it there using the voice navigation of Google maps, but I did get lost once, so I would really recommend you go with someone who can read a map.

Also, there is parking! I didn't really research this well enough, but I decided to trust in the fact that the village had a website and therefore must have made arrangements for visitors. The car park I ended up in had this little rest shop at the entrance with a really pretty porcelain mural at the front!

The white and blue bridge is the "Nabeshima Clain Kiln Bridge with Tile and Ceramic Dragons". At the back is the potters' grave, where about 880 unknown graves are gathered into a pyramid. According to a sign near the grave, many Korean potters came to Japan after Japan's invasion attempt of Korea in the 1950s. Their graves face Korea, symbolising their desire to go home.

I almost went to the graves to take photos but I realised that this was a grave and managed to stop myself in time.

And since it was still the wind chime festival, I managed to take lots of photos!

I'm not too sure what this wheel is for but I liked it.

As well as the big mural that depicted the village.

This is basically a collection of pottery shops and it's a good (or perhaps I should say dangerous?) place to come to if you're looking to get cups, plates, bowls, etc.

The first thing I did was to walk to the entrance of the village, because I wanted to see the Potters' Bridge. 

To the left of the bridge was a monument of the crown prince and princess.

The ground in front of the potter's bridge is covered with broken pieces of pottery and it made this really pretty tinkling sound when I walked across it. Well, sometimes anyway. At other times you just hear the porcelain breaking and I decided to be a lot more careful not to fall.

At the other side of the bridge were some wind chimes and this little garden, with water falling into the pond periodically.

This is the little house that provides the water.

After looking around, I walked back towards the village, following the path of the river.

The river basically forks into two near the Nabeshima clan kiln bridge (one leads to it and the other leads to the stone bridge below).

The village is exactly like what I saw in the google photos! It's very lovely and quiet and it was a pleasure to just wander around and listen to the wind chimes. I took several videos and pieced them together so if you're interested, you can watch it and hopefully get a feel of what I experienced.

I was so tempted to get something, but I managed to exercise some self-control (for the moment).

And more photos of the windchimes.

If you'd like to learn more about the town, you can download a PDF of the map that they give out at this link. The PDF is basically a map of the town and a few explanations of key points. And like I mentioned, here's the video that I mentioned earlier:

Next post: Lunch + the rest of the village

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Oreo & Hershey's Sweets Taste Test

I was at the supermarket last week when I remembered that Oreo has released a line of sweets. It's supposed to be only available this summer, so I decided to look for it and I found that Hershey's released a line of sweets as well!

And because my willpower for sweets is practically non-existent, I bought everything that I wanted to try and spent last week constantly snacking.

And I figured that since I was eating, I might as well make notes and share them, in case you're like me and want to try the sweets but have more willpower and will only get one or two.

1. Oreo cake (130 yen)

I liked how this looked because it promised to be an oreo in cake form. Well, it was pretty good, but it wasn't amazing. I couldn't really taste the oreo filling in most of the cream - the only time I tasted oreo was in the crushed oreo bits in the center of the cake.

Hershey Cookie & Cream Sand (130 yen)

Yes, this is called a "sand", I'm guessing it stands for sandwhich? This reminded me of dorayaki and the cake part was really fragrant and delicious. Unfortunately, that meant that it overpowered the cream and I didn't taste Hershey's cookies and cream in this.

Crepes - Hershey (140 yen) and Oreo (130 yen)

Since there were two of these, I ate them at the same time. The pastry for both of them was nothing to shout about, but the Oreo crepe tasted a lot like the Oreo cookie (at least way more than the cake) and I found that I really liked it.

The Hershey's crepe, on the other hand, made me worry that I have forgotten the taste of Hershey's cookies and cream despite that being a huge treat for me when I was young. It was nice, but the taste of the crepe was stronger than the taste of the cream and it reminded me of the cake in the Hershey's Cookies and Cream Sand.

Eclair - Hershey (130 yen) and Oreo (120 yen)

front: Hershey's. back: Oreo

And another two sweets that I ate in together because I couldn't decide which to eat first (and ended up alternating bites). The eclair is my favourite of the Hershey's sweets and I even preferred this to the Oreo version. The cream here was nice and strong and I finally tasted the cookies and cream. Too bad the pastry was only so-so.

The Oreo eclair definitely looks better (or maybe I'm just a sucker for things with something crumbled on top) than the Hershey's one. As with its Hershey's counterpart, I liked this best of all the Oreo sweets that I tried, probably because the taste was the strongest. And like the Hershey's version, the pastry was only so-so.

If you're only going to buy one sweet, you should definitely get the eclairs.

Also now I need to start eating healthy (until I see the next limited edition sweet).