Where To Eat- Nakagawa

There are a couple of really amazing restaurants to visit in Takinoue, and I’d like to tell you about Baru Nakagawa!

Nakagawa was originally called Silver Hat, and was in Nigorikawa for many years. This past summer, though, they built a new grocery store and restaurant, and moved into the center of Takinoue. The entire building is entirely new, and definitely feels that way!

The part of the building facing the main street is the grocery store; from the middle and back is the restaurant itself.

Nakagawa’s full name, Kaisen ・Yakiniku Baru Nakagawa (海鮮・焼肉バルNakagawa) tells you what their specialty is- sushi and yakiniku, or Japanese-style barbecue. However, their menu is really large, and offers a lot of choices, just like they did when they were Silver Hat. You can get pretty much anything you might have a craving for, including ramen, sukiyaki, karage, fish, and many other things. They also have a rotating menu with foods that are in season.

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I love this- the open-cooked Okhotsk mackerel set

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A personal favorite of mine; tuna, avocado, and wasabi

Their drink menu is also enormous- they have a large selection of Japanese sakes, shochu, beer, and many pages of mixed drinks.

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The バイオレットフィズ (violet fizz)

The grocery store itself has a great selection, and even a seating area facing the street. I especially recommend their sushi, it’s really good!

 

Baru Nakagawa is open for lunch (11:00- 14:00) and dinner (17:00-23:00), and the grocery store is open from 9:00- 19:30. If you want more info, please check out their website or twitter!

 

 

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Hotel Keikoku’s Hina Matsuri

So I got a call a few days ago from the town office.

“Hey, Jordy, will you go to Hotel Keikoku and write something about the Hina dolls there?”

I said yeah, sure, of course, and that I’d go there as soon as I had some time, which I did the next day. When I’d heard “hina dolls” on the phone, I figured they had found a special set, or set up something interesting.

My view when I approached the front doors:

 

Keikoku Entrance (1)

Yes, I was a bit startled.

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Hotel Keikoku is having their first-ever hina-doll festival. Hina Dolls are displayed in celebration of Hina-Matsuri, or Girl’s Day, which is always on March 3rd. The hina-ningyou (dolls) are set up before then in February, and symbolize the Emperor, Empress, and all of their court. The dolls are almost always very ornate and lavish, and are set up on stepped shelves called a hinadan. The Emperor and Empress are at the top, and their attendants are on the steps below them. The dolls are thought to bring good luck and ward off bad spirits.

full hina set

Traditionally, people would decorate their displays with hishi-mochi (diamond-shaped sticky rice cakes), shiro-zake (white Japanese sake) and peach blossoms, because of their beauty and symbolism of spring. Today,  people often also eat sushi and elaborately decorated cakes for Girl’s Day.

Hotel Keikoku brought together 35 full sets of hina dolls for their display, with the help of the vice-mayor and people in Takinoue. It took them almost four full days to get everything set up, but they said it was worth it to see the reactions from their customers.

 

keikoku hallway

While we are in the depths of winter, there can be days without a lot of color, and the employees at Hotel Keikoku wanted to share some joy with the people that visit them. They even are preparing special meals during this time for children that visit.

keikoku exit

Some people told me they thought that the dolls are creepy or scary, and some said that they liked how luxurious the display was. Once I got over the surprise, I personally loved it. Each set is different, and I spent a lot of time looking at them. Undoubtedly, it’s a sight to see if you are interested in Japanese culture.

Where to Eat- Restaurant Alice

There are a couple of really amazing restaurants to visit in Takinoue, and I’d like to tell you about Restaurant Alice!

Restaurant Alice is in Asahi-machi, only a few blocks from the Shibazakura Park. Restaurant Alice is very recognizable from the outside- it’s a vibrant green- and inside is quiet and comfortable.

alice outside

Most of the food from Alice is local, produced on an organic farm here in Takinoue.  Their menu stays pretty consistent year-round, with a lot of Japanese foods that are really delicious.

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From top right, clockwise: miso ramen, omu-spice curry, salad, kitsune udon, seasonal set, gyoza set meal

 

At Alice, they even make their own liqueurs from local fruits. I really like the ume, but the other flavors are really great too. There are some interesting ones that I haven’t seen anywhere else!

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Restaurant Alice is open for lunch and dinner. They also offer locally-produced items, such as foods, sauces and dressings, and even organic bug-repellent incense.

alice prodcuts collage

 

Come drop by!

 

 

Where to Eat- Le Bella at Suehiro Inn

There are a couple of really amazing restaurants to visit in Takinoue, and I’d like to tell you about Le Bella!

Le Bella is the restaurant attached to the Suehiro Inn, very close to the Shibazakura Hill. The inside is really cute and warm, and there’s even a deck that sits overlooking the Shokotsu River. The deck even has standing heaters, to stay warm in the chilly evenings.

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The dining room

 

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The outside deck

They have a party room, which you can reserve for dinner. I have been to Le Bella many times for parties with friends and coworkers!

Le Bella’s food is amazing! While a lot of traditional Japanese food is available, the owner of Le Bella incorporates western cooking into her meals, so you can taste some amazing Japanese-fusion food! The menu changes seasonally, so there’s always what is best at that time of year available. You can even eat deer here!

suehiro food collage
Clockwise from the top: Seasonal foods (deer-meat ajillo, avocado and prosciutto salad, bread, asparagus); deer meat katsu- curry; cold soba

Le Bella is typically open for lunch, but is available for dinner upon reservation. Come visit!