It's Lunch Time

Japan Hour

Japan Hour - Winter in Japan
It's Lunch Time

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Japan Hour:

It's Lunch Time

Join us as we embark on a food adventure around Japan. We will visit interesting places and find out what the locals eat in these areas. Our first destination is Lake Sagami, which is surrounded by beautiful and lush greenery. It is located in Sagamihara City in Kanagawa Prefecture, an hour's drive from Tokyo. It is an artificial lake built for power generation purposes for the Sagami Dam, which was completed in 1947. The lake is approximately eight times the size of Enoshima Island. A popular tourism spot, it was also the canoe racing sporting venue during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Our aim is to visit homes which command a magnificent view of Lake Sagami. We begin from Katsuse Bridge, which divides Lake Sagami and the Sagami River. We start walking along a forest trail and meet a resident, who tells us there are several vacation homes in this area.

We visit one of these lakeside houses and meet Mr Sasaki. His residence is actually 30 minutes away but he has been building a house for himself by the lake for the past few years. Only one-third of the house has been completed so far. He tells us that he has built about 40 houses around Lake Sagami. He agrees to show us his lunch, which was prepared by his wife early that morning. There is croquette sprinkled with cheese and fried egg, and rice topped with dried kelp. After his lunch, he guides us to a place, which offers a beautiful view of the lake. 

We then resume our search for places with splendid views. We notice a place called Lake Sagami Hantamae Boat Rental, located below Katsuse Bridge. It rents out fishing boats and the staff are getting ready to hold a cherry blossom viewing party-cum-lakeside barbecue. We meet the proprietor, Mr Yamamoto, whose house is behind the boat rental facility. We lend a helping hand is preparing for the barbecue and then join Mr Yamamoto and his staff for a delicious lunch of steaks and vegetables.

After this, we go up a stairway and see many vacation homes. We drop by one of them and speak to Mr Oda, who stays in a huge three-storey house. He shows us a secret door leading to a room with replicas of famous paintings, such as those by artist Johannes Vermeer. There is also a banquet hall, where masquerade parties are held. The kitchen is located on the second floor. A stage for performances, a big screen monitor, masks and over 300 costumes can be found on the third floor. There are eight rooms where partygoers can rest.

Mr Oda takes us outside, where we are greeted with gorgeous scenery. He also built an outdoor bath, so that he can enjoy the view of Lake Sagami while bathing. Furthermore, from the majestic house, one can also see the fireworks which are part of a festival held at the lake every August. We find out that the house was designed by Mr Oda, who established a construction company years ago. He currently manages condominiums in Hachioji. We get to see what Mr Oda is eating for dinner. Dishes include eel fried in cooking wine, spinach with sesame seeds and sweet and spicy butterbur.  

Our next trip takes us to Chikuma City in Nagano Prefecture. It is Japan’s top producer of apricots, with pink apricot flowers blossoming in April. We visit what is known as the Apricot Village, an area with farmers’ residences. Most of the residents here have apricot trees growing in their yards.

We speak to Mr Kasai, whose wife, Ms Fumiko, is a chef who cooks for a kindergarten. She allows us to watch her cook the family meal, which comprises seven dishes. She first sautees shimeji mushrooms and then adds soy sauce, salt and pepper. She also makes locally picked butterbur with fish cake and deep-fried tofu, as well as shaved yam from the town of Matsushiro with dried kelp flakes. The meal also includes pickled apricots and cream croquettes.

Tips:
1) Stay at one of the several vacation homes around Lake Sagami
2) A must-see place in Chikuma City’s is an area known as the “Apricot Village”

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