Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kamakura, Japan

This past week, Brad and I had two days off of school. We decided to travel outside of Tokyo to escape the busy city. Since the break was short, we chose to travel somewhere that would require little travel time. The best place we found was Kamakura, Japan. An hour south of Tokyo, Kamakura feels like another time period. There are numerous shrines and temples to visit, beaches and of course, great food.

Our first day in Kamakura began with a stop at a coffee shop. We arrived around 11am and needed a little caffeine before we started sight seeing. Along with our coffee, we shared a small snack. In many coffee shops around Japan, different foods are made with hot dog-like sausages. We happened to have one wrapped in a croissant. Although this is not my favorite food in Japan, it hit the spot at this particular time.

Our first destination was the Daibutsu, or Great Buddha. The statue is beautiful and breathtaking. To read more about it and the other places we visited, click here.

After spending some time exploring, we left the Daibutsu and made a couple stops to sample local food. The first thing we tried is something easily found in Tokyo. Mochi, rice cakes covered in a miso sauce, have a great flavor and a funny texture.
They are gooey and served warm on a stick. Ours had sesame seeds on them as well.

Purple sweet potatoes are popular in Kamakura. They are used to make potato chips, lightly breaded and fried potato cakes; my favorite food made with these delicately sweet potatoes is soft serve ice cream. Yes, that's right...purple sweet potato ice cream (pictured above). It is actually a light lavender color and tastes a little like vanilla with a hint of sweet potato. My family makes a dish at Thanksgiving each year made with sweet potatoes, brown sugar, cinnamon and marshmallows. The purple sweet potato ice cream reminds me of the sweet potatoes from that dish, only more mellow.

That night, Brad and I went to a restaurant above the Kamakura train station. It is actually two restaurants that work together. The first, Tenten, specializes in tempura while Furin serves fish and seafood. Brad and I each ordered a combination of sashimi, tempura, miso soup and salad. To help get rid of the chill that night, we enjoyed some warm sake.

Speaking of warm sake, I did a little research on how to heat sake. Here is how to make your own warm sake:

You will need:

Sake pitcher (heat resistant- most are made of ceramic)
pot of hot water

Fill the pitcher with sake. Carefully place the sake pitcher upright in the hot water. When you see small bubbles rising from the sake, remove the sake from the water. Do not allow the sake to boil. If it gets too hot the taste will be ruined. Pour the sake into small sake cups and enjoy!

I think I will let you all digest that for now. Tomorrow, I will add more about our second day in Kamakura. Thanks again for reading and feel free to share your thoughts!

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