The Ramen Shop in Omiya: Negijiro

There is never a bad time to eat ramen. But everyone knows that it’s especially good on a chilly winter day, which is exactly what we did!

We were in Omiya, a city in Saitama that I rarely go to, for my sister’s wedding dress fitting. It was so much fun seeing her in all kinds of dresses! I took tons of pictures from every angle so she could review the fitting, but I am unable to disclose them due to part superstition, part too many to go through. So I thought I’d share where we went after the fitting!

Negijiro Ramen is located on the west side of Omiya Station, which is a bit more quiet than the other side. I’m not really familiar with this area, the last time I was here was in high school, but apparently it is considered a competitive ramen district by those who are “in” on the ramen scene. Obviously I am not one of them, but I happened to have a friend who recommended Negijiro Ramen if ever in Omiya.

It was our first time there, a tiny shop with maybe 10 or 12 seats around the counter. We all ordered Shoyu Ramen (soy-sauce based ramen), which is one of  two most popular dishes, the other being their Tsuke-men (ramen noodles with a separate bowl of soup). Every order came with a small plate of boiled vegetables, which is not only filling, but very healthy, too.

The shoyu ramen was so delicious, the perfect combination of thick-ish noodles and light soy-sause soup, with a hint of pepper. And I didn’t even have to add an egg to it, I love when it’s part of the original menu!

What do you think? Will you try this ramen?

2-331 Sakuragi-cho Omiya-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama JAPAN
TEL: 048 645 3711
OPEN: 11:00am to midnight
SHOYU RAMEN: 630 yen

The Afternoon in Chichibu

Chichibu may be famous for their matsuri and Shibazakura, but there is much more to this region.

Even if just around the train station.

On my way back from Hitsuji-yama Park, I had a little time to wander. I discovered a city surrounded by mountains, filled with interesting temples and local shops. The streets were quiet but full of charm.

The temple I stumbled upon was Nosaka-ji (野坂寺), which is the twelfth temple in the Chichibu 34 sacred temple pilgrimage. This temple may be one of my all time favorites because it was so quirky.

Right at the entrance, you come face to face with a lovely Azukari Kannon (預かり観音), a Kannon that will gather your worries, anger, sickness, and whatever else may be burdening you. There is also a gorgeous wood carving of the Mountain God. I won’t mention everything but there was just a lot of interesting things to see, you’ll have to go discover for yourself.

A piece of advice. If you ever discover a temple with a cemetery on the side of a mountain, climb to the highest grave. You won’t regret it. I loved seeing the view from above. My ancestors on both my parents sides have a great view from the family grave, which we took full advantage of this new years. I’m sure they won’t mind sharing a view with you for a while, especially if they haven’t had visitors in a while.

I passed by a beautiful shelf of white wisteria (which I didn’t even know existed), a large elementary school with a great view of Mount Buko, and retro shops that were so cute that I had to stop and snap photos of.

Then I discovered an amazing local bakery, where I ended up buying much more than I could eat. The bakery prides itself in using natural yeast, domestic flour and other organic produce. If you, unlike me, have self restraint and only get one thing, I would suggest the Aosa Bagel. I didn’t even know this existed but it was delicious!

I’m already looking forward to my next time in Chichibu. x

Have you been to Chichibu? Isn’t it charming?
2-12-25 Nosaka-machi Chichibu-shi, Saitama JAPAN
1-18-12 Nosaka-machi Chichibu-shi, Saitama JAPAN
TEL: 0494 25 7373
HOURS: 10:00am-6:30pm (Closed Tuesdays/Fridays)

The Shibazakura Hill in Chichibu

I feel like every other blog post lately is of flowers.
Then again, it is spring! The season where everything starts to bloom. That’s a good reason, right? You’ll just have to bare with me for a bit longer! (Yes, I do have a few more in store…)
Right before Golden Week, I got itchy feet and hopped on a train headed to Chichibu (秩父), a corner of Saitama Prefecture surrounded by mountains. It’s a really great spot to explore and hike, about 1.5 hours from Shinjuku by train. As much as I love living in the city (and I really do), sometimes the inner inaka in me craves nature. Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to get away from the city in Tokyo (although it doesn’t necessarily mean that you get away from the crowds).
It was Shibazakura season at Hitsuji-yama Park (羊山公園).

Shibazakura, phlox subulata or moss phlox in English, is originally from North America. The flowers look like small cherry blossoms and cover the ground like grass, thus the name Shibazakura in Japanese (shiba=grass, sakura=cherry blossoms).

There were nine different types of Shibazakura that cover the 17,600 sqm (4.3 acres) hillside in various colors. The design is based on the traditional clothes the float riders wear participating in the Chichibu Yomatsuri, a very large festival in this area.

Although the flowers itself are very small and simple, seeing it cover the hill is quite impressive. I noticed a very sweet scent in the air from the Shibazakura, too. I may have gotten slightly high from that at one point. Did I also mention you get a fabulous view of the massive mountain, Bukosan (武甲山)? It was beautiful. And they also served sakura flavored soft serve!

Now doesn’t that make you want to go see this Shibazakura hill next year? x

6267 Omiya, Chichibu-shi, Saitama JAPAN
埼玉県秩父市 大宮6267
TEL: 0494 21 2277

The Blueberry Kakigori

Kakigori, which is what we call shaved ice, is my favorite summer dessert. Cold and refreshing, it just hits the spot during our hot and humid summers in Tokyo. I could eat this morning, noon, and night.
Well, if the blueberry picking didn’t tempt you enough to go to the blueberry farm Myrtille Moriyama (ミルティーユ毛呂山), I’m pretty sure this will.
There was a little cafe/shop on the side of the farm called Hatofura (はとふら). They have a lovely terrace outside under a roof of grape vines. Perfect spot to enjoy the ice cream and kakigori we ordered while taking a break from blueberry picking!
The shop sold various jam, tea, and even fresh vegetables. It was one of the sweetest shops I’ve ever been inside and reminded me of the shops you see in the Anne of Green Gables movie (which, of couse, I love!).
Don’t you wish you were eating kakigori here right now? 😀
The entrance to the farm and cafe.

Handwritten menu.

Fresh vegetables for sale, too!

Couldn’t resist buying homemade jam!

Jars of herbal tea.

I love how this little shop is set up…everything looks lovely.

Blueberry Ice Cream

Blueberry Kakigori (it was delicious!!!)
Isn’t this an amazing place? 😀

The Afternoon at the Blueberry Farm

Have I ever mentioned how much I love blueberries?
I really do. I actually love any type of berry. But blueberries are my favorite. Which is why I always long for summers back in Michigan (where I grew up) because we had every kind of berry sold in farms and supermarkets for unbelievably low prices. The joys of living on the agricultural side of Michigan.
If you live in Tokyo, you know how expensive berries are. My eyeballs nearly fell out when I first saw the price. This teeny tiny plastic package filled with 15 or so blueberries can cost almost 600 yen. Isn’t that the craziest thing?
Anyways, I’d heard that there were blueberry farms around the Greater Tokyo Area so I looked into it and found a lot of farms. Some were even as close as the next ward over for me. But my friend wanted to take the car somewhere so a couple of us headed out to the further side of Saitama to go blueberry picking last weekend.
And let me tell you…it has heaven! 😀

The farm was called Myrtille Moroyama (Japanese website here).
The farmer said that the blueberry season this year was just starting.
We were all pretty serious about finding the best blueberry bush…so many to choose from!
I cannot tell you how excited I was to see so many blueberries within reach!
The first half hour I only had this much in my basket because I kept on eating it all!
So interesting how even on the same branch, some are already ripe and others still young.

There were 3 types of blueberries on this farm; Tifblue, Brightwell, and Powderblue.

I specifically tried to pick bigger blueberries to take home with me.

Found out that this farm has been growing blueberries organically since 1998…how awesome.
I love how they gave us these little baskets to put the blueberries in!
It was so much fun! Definitely going to try to come back again this summer!

Myrtille Moroyama
258-2 Takinoiri
Moroyama-cho, Iruma-gun
Saitama 350-0456
Blueberry Picking Hours:
(Open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays,
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays)
Entrance Fee: 300 yen (includes all the blueberries you eat)
Blueberry Fee: 130 yen/100g (the ones you take home)

The Afternoon at Costco

Met up with my sister at Costco.
Costco is like Disneyland.
It’s too expensive to go everyday
but every time we go it’s like a magical wonderland.
I’ve learned to control myself at Disneyland.
I’ve learned that Bambi ears are not cute outside in the real world.
I’ve also learned that Mickey popcorn cases just get in the way at home.
But I have yet to learn to control myself at Costco.
You would think we weren’t two single girls.
Thank god for these huge shopping carts
or we would have had to get two.
But we had so much fun!
And I’m looking forward to not having to buy any
detergent or shampoo for the next 5 years. Ha.
After shopping, we headed to a near by onsen.
I love onsen in the winter.
Especially the baths outside.
We call them Rotenburo.
There’s something so relaxing and refreshing
about sitting in a hot bath outside when the air is chilly.
You can stare up into the sky and see the winter constellation.
Or the vast blue sky if it’s during the day.
But either way, I love it.
Rotenburo’s are really really great.
If you have never done this, you really need to.
We headed home all relaxed from the onsen.
And spent the rest of the night watching Happy Endings
while eating tortilla chips with cheese and salsa.
Pretty great day 😀

That Afternoon at Seibuen Pool

Summer should always include a day at the pool.
Even if you’re an adult.
Reading books and relaxing by the pool is the best.
Is it weird that I packed a lunch?
I made the world famous Jumbo Onigiri,
(it’s onigiri with croquette, shiso kombu, and cheese!)
and chips and cookies.
I am not into healthy at the moment, apparently.
Whenever we come here, my bestie D and I usually
grab a float and just bobble along the lazy river.
It’s like sitting in a cafe and chatting
expect even better because we in a pool!
Seibuen Pool, we’ll be back! x