The aim of this trip was to try and find some decent mountain biking routes in the area.
The aim of this trip was to try and find some decent mountain biking routes in the area.
This is an incomplete list of supermarkets and department stores in Numazu. I have also referenced a few stores a little further afield purely because I think they are worth a look.
Basically, supermarkets are broken down into:
Recycle centres in Japan are, as you can imagine, are somewhat different to what we have in the West. There is a great deal of quality stuff out there that is dirt cheap and if you are only spending a year or so in country then it is totally worth a trip to these second-hand shops.
A special thanks to one of my mates for putting the cracker under me to get me to post this.
Sometimes it takes a gentle cricket bat to the back of the head to realise that you have failed and that once you recover from the starburst shooting from inside your eyelids and your vision returns enough for you to distinguish between colours you must stagger to your feet and resolve the situation.
This particular baseball bat came in the guise of a relatively new friend asking where he might find reasonably priced Mexican chili sauce in Numazu. I was stunned. Doesn’t everyone go where I go to get such things? Had I not mentioned this in my blog as ‘the’ place to go to get decent sized condiments? Had I missed out a quintessential element to Numazu that makes life in this beautiful city so very livable? I had hadn’t I? Had I had, he would not have had to ask, had he?
The appearance of a universe of sparkly little pixels forming an endless data stream of ‘had’ rebounded off the inside of my eyelids. I needed to back out now, reboot and hope everything would be okay.
“The Green and Gold Shop,” I incredulously vomited out of my mouth as I came back to reality. My friend looked a little perplexed and a touch concerned(No doubt he sensed my reaction to his enquiry). To make up for lost time I began to rattle off the wonders that reside within the Green and Gold Shop. I mentioned the large tins of herbs and spice; the fact that they had an excellent selection of western style dried fruits; the multitude of jumbo sized sauces like tomato, BBQ, mustard, Dijon and many things in between; the bargain 1kg packs of grated cheese; the array of stock cubes and broth; the tinned fruit; molasses; the big packs of deep friable everything; peas, 1kg of ’em; frozen fish and meats; bulk packs of pasta and noodles; monster packs of seaweed that you could use for roofing supplies; a small shelf of local community veg; a point card system; and Mexican, bloody, chilli sauce.
My now reluctant friend was barely keeping up with the paces of my rail gun list when another friend interjected, “But the Green and Gold shop is not its real name is it?” My breath exploded from my lungs as my hyperactive bubble burst. I slumped back into my chair deflated.
My wife patiently took over explaining that the Green and Gold shop is what we call this little bastion of goodness because its signage is in green and bright yellow. Its actual name is “Komatsuya”. My wife explained that you can find it on the south side if you follow the road that commences at the western railway underpass and keep following it down to the end and if you take a right and walk another thirty meters then you will be there.
As my wife and my friends cleaned up my verbal melee I realized how remiss I was to not have written about this before and that I needed to share Komatsuya with you too.Scott Donald
I have to say that I was driven by the potential of freebies. I had never been to a shopping centre opening before so what better way but to cut my teeth and start small on an opening of a little shopping complex at the Numazu Fish markets called the Numazu Minato Shinsenkan.
It was the weather that set the mood for the day; pushy gusts of cold ambushing my wife and me on our bikes as we made our way to the fish market port. The static in the air charged the mind and triggered every kid in the vicinity to foam at the mouth and send their parents to an early grave.
Our arrival at the port was greeted by a group of Lucha Libre’s, Mexican wrestlers, plugging in guitars and keyboards and setting up drums. Of course, I didn’t immediately get their connection to the opening of the shopping centre until my wife pointed out that one of the masked men was wearing a mask that could be a loose depiction of Himono, a type of dried fish. Mind you, he could have also been wearing a giant squid on his head with two holes cut into it so he could see out.
It was around ten-thirty in the morning and the centre was starting to fill. We made our way into the shopping centre. The centre extended out in a straight line for about 100 meters. On either side of the main walk way ran café’s, restaurants, grocers, fish mongers (of course) and food stores featuring Numazu’s regional specialties. I could see all this easily from the entryway because of my six foot four height and the four foot nothing swarm of hunched over grannies filling up the walkway with wisps of grey and black.
My wife charged on into the foray as I hesitated. I have experienced the sheer power of Japanese grannies in the past. Most of these interactions have been during grocery shopping. They are surprisingly nimble and their short stature puts them under my radar as they squeeze their way in front in the check out. If I do however, manage to catch them before they push in, they resort to using their sharp deadly elbows that dig holes into my ribs startling me enough for them to get in front. All the while they tactfully act like sweet little grannies in complete ignorance to the cracked ribs they have just given me. These are the modern day ninja and their name is obaasan. Fear them.
Now I stood before a plague of obaasan’s, jostling each other for potential freebies and the best deals of the day. Was I stupid enough enter this frightening mass of predators? For you, dear reader, yes. No more than a few paces into the crowd I took and elbow to the ribs as I was jostled about from stall to stall making sure that every obaasan had a shot at me, all the while my wife danced and dodged the crowd. An ice cold chill ran down my spine as realization dawned, some day my wife will be an obaasan with frightening abilities.
As my ribs numbed to the jabs, I started to appreciate what was on offer in this shopping mall. The mall was a display of all the delicacies and local produce of Numazu. Each stall specialized in something. One store I was propelled towards sold a selection of dried seafood goods all packaged and ready to be sent on their way as gifts. Next to each type of packaging was little sample taster jars. I tried a number of dried seaweed and was surprised with their delicate nuances of flavour. In another jar was tiny little fragments of dried fish which exploded with sardine and soy flavours under each crunch.
Further around the store I was greeted by a grinning obaasan, a sales woman this time, with an open jar shoved under my nose. It seems to be an universal phenomenon I have noticed during my travels. If you are in a foreign country and the locals can see you are a tourist, then expect their most foul tasting delicacy to be thrust into your face as a challenge. There is no way for you to really win in this predicament. The local has all the cards. If you decline the offering, then you have insulted their culture and they have won. If you taste the offering and spit it out, vomit or even show a hint of displeasure then you have insulted their culture, but at least you tried. The last option is the best for your ego but this time your stomach looses. This is what I have chosen to employ in these situations. It is simple; take the ‘food’ offering eat it while showing absolute delight and then help yourself to more. You have just earned cultural brownie points (of which you may need to eat said brownie as soon as you are out of site to take away the horrid taste) and possibly a new friend.
So without looking at the contents, and putting on a big smile, I took the food from the jar and chomped away, and away…and away, at the very crunchy, dried baby crabs covered in sesame seeds and tasting exactly the same way that aquarium fish food smelt when scattered over vomit. It took everything I had to reach in the jar for another, but I did, and that wiped the grin of the obaasan’s face. It seemed like she told the rest of her kind because I noticed far less jabs in the ribs for the remainder of my time in the shopping centre.
Traveling up the main aisle I came across a stall that specialized in wasabi, the sinus blasting florescent green mustard most commonly found as an accompaniment to sushi or sashimi. The Izu Peninsula is famous for growing top quality wasabi．This little shop was displaying more that its common paste form you see chugging on you local sushi train. Wasabi rice and prawn crackers were a spicy treat. Though, my favorite wasabi product was the oil. The oil was light on the palate and ended refreshingly well, in a similar way that a good quality extra virgin olive oil leaves your mouth clean and ready for more tastes.
Yet further along the shopping centre there was an interesting fish monger with squirming octopus, crab and crayfish. Each fish eye was brilliantly clear with freshness. Even the giant tuna head sitting on totem display for customers to appreciate looked a little curious as to where the remainder of its body went.
On the port facing side of the market ran half a dozen restaurants, taking advantage of the view of the port with its dramatic View-O tsunami gate in the distance.. A seafood broth was the purvey of one restaurant, while another offered sashimi. One café that caught my eye had cozy little spaces for couples to look out over port or even sit outside on a calmer day (it looks like my old gripe about the lack of balcony dining is going by the wayside). The restaurant’s accessibility to such fresh produce will tempt me back there for a tasting very soon
Finally to top off my tour of the Numazu Minato Shinsenkan, I was greeted by cheeky little characters wearing masks with the funniest expressions I have ever seen. Exaggerated smirks and grins beamed from their masks. Accompanying pelvic trusts and playful trickery heightened their display. Were these the dirty old men sent to frighten the obaasan’s out of the centre before they tore it apart? I never quite figured out the story behind the masked frivolity. But I certainly enjoyed it.
All in all, the opening at the Numazu Minato Shinsenkan was a great way to waste a couple of hours until lunch. While the shopping centre is unashamedly focused on the Japanese tourist market, it was really a great way to see what seasonal food offerings there are in the Numazu local area. Not to mention, the really great dining on the boardwalk running along the centre.
The Numazu Kaijinsai and Numazu Port Festival is going to be a big event for the Numazu Port area and is happening on the 23 May 2009. So take a trip down to explore, get festive, get cultured and wear your stretchy pants, the food is great.
For more information check out the Numazu City Hall, April Newsletter, here.
Although I am a big fan of practicing my Japanese in some real life scenarios, sometimes it’s just easier to find someone who speaks a little English to help you out. This is what happened to me on the weekend. After spending a good half hour rummaging through my Japanese-English dictionary trying to figure out how to explain what was wrong with my bicycle, I nervously headed up the road to speak to the guy at the bike shop.
Upon arrival at the bike shop I was so flustered that all I could manage to mumble was a few Japanese words for ‘grinding’, ‘broken’ and possibly ‘mother’ and the odd random ‘no’, ‘ni’, ‘wa’ and ‘ga’s’ put in to make it sound like I was at least souping up a sentence (albeit probably ultimately derogatory). To my surprise the gentleman by the counter responded to me in superb English and had the graciousness to keep a straight face at my failed attempts at Japanese.
Talking to Yuji Maeda from My Ring bike shop was a pleasure. Yuji’s modern looking shop holds a surprising 80 year history of bicycle sales and repairs in Numazu, that all began with his grandfather.
After a long career in electrical engineering, which took him all over the world, Yuji decided on a sea change and a return to his home town and a little less stress. It was in fact, Yuji’s previous career that helped him on his was to learning English. Yuji spent considerable time in the USA and Australia refining his English. He even learnt a little German from his time working in Germany.
Now with My Ring, the new evolution of this family business, Yuji is bringing quality cycling products and services to Numazu Hon-Cho area. The My Ring range stretches from starter adult and children’s bicycles (around 24,000yen for an adult Japanese standard ‘granny’ bike) to top range European mountain bike and racer brands. My Ring also offers affordable repairs service.
One of the extra services that came in handy for me when my family came from Australia to visit was My Ring’s small fleet of standard rental bikes. As of this date, bikes can be rented at 300yen per hour of 1,500 for the whole day. Very reasonable.
The quality of care and friendly English speaking service that Yujis’ My Ring offers will keep me a loyal customer during my time here in Numazu.
The woman behind the counter tilts her head to the side and continues to look at me, lost.
Hmm, how about this; “Lambu arimasuka?” I ask again. I am met with a tilt of the head in the other direction. I mentally kick myself for not bringing my English-Japanese dictionary but plough on into another variant of saying lamb.
After the third tilt of the head I am starting to wonder if I repeatedly say lamb really fast then perhaps the counter woman’s head might just pop off like a cork out of a wine bottle. Struggling to control my amusement over this mental reenactment, I change tactic to inquiring about the availability of mutton.
Success. There is mutton. My wife pipes up with an inquiring “Baby mutton?” This is met by yet another tilt of the head. The poor woman behind the counter is going to need a neck brace by the time we have finished with her.
Fortunately I came up with one better than my wife (a very rare occurrence). “kodomo mutton?” I inquire.
“Oh lamb,” the counter woman responds glaring at me as if she was thinking, ‘why didn’t you say so in the first place’? My wife retreats to stifle a laugh as I stoically chew on my cheeks and swallow my own guffaw.
We have lamb!
Australians and New Zealanders especially love their lamb. We grew up with eating it. It is very much apart of our culture and we start acting
funny funnier when we are without it.
After recently returning from a little over a month relaxing in Thailand, my wife and I met up with a Japanese friend of ours who we proceed bore about our trip in exchange for providing her with some quality souvenirs from our vacation. Finally our conversation led to our obsessive roast lamb dining habits while staying in the resort town of Pattaya.
Our friend stirred and quickly added, as we paused from our relentless story telling, “You can get lamb in Numazu”.
We were at a loss for words. I managed to mumble to her a startled, “You can get lamb in Numazu? Where?” Excitement was starting to flood over me. I now realize why torturers are so violent. Its the pure excitement of getting the information out immediately. I know that I felt like leaping across the table onto our poor friend and shake her down until she spilled the beans on the location, of the sacred lamb.
Perhaps seeing the wild desperation in our eyes she quickly told us that it could be found on the north side of the Numazu station following the road north towards eSPOT. A place called Maruka.
We knew Maruka well. Maruka has regularly supplied us with such a diverse range of meats from, beef and pork to chicken and duck with sweet meats in between. They offer a variety of cuts and there is even a section for you to have your meat cut to order. The best part in the price. These guys are very competitive in their prices and the quality is generally quite high. Another bonus of Maruka is that they also offer a large assortment of fresh fruit, vegetable and fish; also very cheap.
Now to our embarrassment there was lamb and mutton at Maruka all along.
I ordered about 600grams of boneless loin strips, at 100yen per 100grams, that our friendly, head tilting, woman behind the counter cut to order and an assortment of prepacked chops and spare riblets. Again Maruka surprised us with their variety and quality food.
It’s Lamb for dinner tonight and a little slice of home.
P.S. Just so you don’t suffer the same predicament that we faced, here is the Japanese word for lamb; ramuniku. Failing that, this is the word for still living lambs; kohitsuji. Best of luck. Scott.
Style: Butchers specializing in foreign style cuts of Beef, Pork, Lamb, Mutton, Chicken, Duck, Fish and Sweet Meats. They also provide a good selection of groceries. All prices are very competitive and the quality generally quite good.