Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Favorite Izakaya - Part 1

One (of many) of the things that I enjoy doing in Japan is visiting an izakaya. These are wonderful places, basically made for drinking, but with food substantial enough to make a meal. The thing that makes them wonderful is their intimacy. These are often small places where everyone knows everyone else including the owner/cook/bartender/server, all often the same person.

Meet Shie-chan. She is the owner and operator of an izakaya that has been doing business in Yokosuka for 90+ years, and all of that time in the same family.

The name of her izakaya is 坂戸屋 (Sakato-ya). Shie-chan is herself something of a wonder. She serves, depending on what is available, wonderful meat and fish dishes as well as the best yaki-udon that I have ever eaten. Her broiled seafood, especially her buri, is like butter. Smooth and rich with all of the delicacy that you expect from seafood. She serves a beef steak that is tender and rich in flavor. It is cut thin in the Japanese manner, but is delicious. (A note: expect the Japanese manner. Except for the time that I took a friend with me, I am the only westerner that I have ever seen there.)

If you spend any time at all in Japan, check out a local izakaya. Don't be part of an American or tourist ghetto. Make friends. I have made several friends at 坂戸屋 and was invited to participate in a community event that I will post about soon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kinugawa Onsen

One of my favorite things to do is soak in hot water. I have vacationed at Harrison Hot Springs in British Columbia several times. I have soaked in hot springs in the Rio Grande River gorge near Taos, New Mexico. It is wonderful.

In Japan there are the onsens. I plan on visiting several. Recently my wife, my mother-in-law and I went to Kinugawa Onsen. We stayed in the Kinugawa Plaza Hotel and ate this fabulous meal.

The hotel has separate baths for men and women. In each of these there are rotenburo (outside) onsen. The men's rotenburo was pretty open while the women's was more screened off from view. One of my favorite things is to soak in the hot water and then get out in the cold winter air. While I was soaking in the rotenburo at 4:00AM it was snowing. A pure delight.

The evening meal and breakfast were included in the price. The evening meal was brought to our room and everything laid out (as seen in the about linked photo) and explained to us. For breakfast there was a choice of Japanese style or a western style buffet. We chose the buffet, which was good, but think that maybe the Japanese breakfast would have been better.

When you get to your room, yukata are provided. These are very comfortable, as comfortable as pajamas or more so, and can be worn anywhere in, or outside of, the hotel. We saw people outside in their yukata who had obviously just been in the onsen. They had to get an extra large one for me. Even though I am not particularly overweight, I am an American sized American.

A picture of the river near our hotel;

A few links;

Japanese Guest Houses - Kinugawa Onsen

Welcome Site

Kinugawa Onsen Travel Guide


Tuesday, February 9, 2010


This is a newly created blog in which I will write about my experiences as an American living in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

I am still setting the blog up so if it looks a bit underdeveloped, that is because it is.

I am a retired U. S. Navy Chief Petty Officer who is currently employed by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. I work on maintenance projects on the USS George Washington in Yokosuka and plan on taking every Yokosuka assignment that the Shipyard will allow me. As I result, I hope to be living here 6 or 7 months of every year.

Many may know of my other blog - Photios - in which I wrote of political and social issues. I do not intend to discuss anything political here (too much). I want to write about my favorite restaurants, bars, karaoke places, people, language (as I struggle hopelessly to learn Japanese), etc.

That is all for now. This introduction may be modified or extended as I set up this blog.