summer break #1

so at my school we get quite a few breaks throughout the year, for a total of about 6 weeks over the year. one of our breaks was in july from the 13th to the 21st. I decided to take a bike trip to Shizuoka prefecture and I stayed in a town called Omaezaki.

here is the map of where Omaezaki is. the route I took on the way back went through Hamamatsu, Shinjiro, Toyota, Miyoshi, and Nisshin. (going there I went through Okazaki, Toyokawa, Toyohashi, and Hamamatsu)
I spent July 16th riding, and I stayed in a hotel that night. 
the next day I headed over to the youth hostel.
 On the 17th I did a bit of exploring around Omaezaki, went swimming at the beach...

The beach has a giant slide near it, so I went on that. super funn!!

Omaezaki is right on the pacific ocean, with no islands obstructing the view. I've rarely seen views like this--living in places like Wakayama, Vancouver, and Nagoya the ocean always has a coast on the other side or some islands obstructing the view. That night I stayed in the hostel in Omaezaki. It was really peaceful and the owners were really kind.

So on my second day, I did something I've wanted to do for a long time. I went surfing! I just found a little shop called Morey Surf where I could rent a surfboard and wetsuit... and the owner taught me a surfing lesson too! it was really fun! I didn't get to stand up on the board but am hoping to go back soon and try it out again :) I have found a couple places along the Chita peninsula (south of nagoya)

after my surf lesson I was all salty and sandy so I really wanted to go to an Onsen. but the only onsen was about 19 km away. although that was nothing to what I had ridden two days before, so why not go to it? the Onsen was called Ko-umare and it was one of the nicest I've been to. they even have a scented oil bath which changes every month. I was really surprised to find the price was cheap--only 500 yen for 3 hours.

these pictures were taken on the way to the onsen!

the very next day, I left the hostel before 7 am and had breakfast of a rice ball, block of tofu, and oolong tea in front of a convenience store. then I headed about 40 km to Hamamatsu city. There is nothing to see there but I wanted to send my heavy backpack back home by express delivery. Which only cost about 1000 yen.
Inland sea in Hamamatsu
then I headed up into the mountains which I would cross over into Aichi prefecture and back home. the mountain going up was really high, and I finished off my bottle of tea just going up! thankfully at the top there were a couple of vending machines waiting for me. After the top I thought I would have a really long downhill ride. but it was more like a plateau, going straight across and through most of Toyota city (yes, the car company started from there). then, I had a really fantastic ride down into Toyota's city centre. after that it was a hour or two on the highway back home to Nagoya city.
This was the longest trip I've done so far; I probably rode over 350 km in 4 days.
the plateau part of Toyota
now here are all the prefectures I've been to... not counting the ones I've only passed through: 
Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Tochigi, Hyogo, Osaka, Nara, Wakayama, Gifu, Nagano, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Niigata, Aichi, Mie, Fukui, Shizuoka, and Shiga 
(just went to Shiga on August 13th, but that's a story for another post) 
That makes 19 in total! there are 47 in all, so I only have 28 left to visit.


curry potato salad

so yesterday I wanted to make some curry, but since it's summer, I wanted something more refreshing than a big plate of hot steaming curry and rice. so I thought i'd make a "cold curry"... if you will. it has all the basic ingredients of a japanese curry but in potato salad form!
how do you make a fantastic vegan potato salad that is also extremely healthy? one could go the easy route by adding a ton of vegan mayonnaise but an even better way is to use lemon juice. it goes extremely well with the potatoes and I have to say it gives the salad a light, tangy taste--way better for the hot summer months than heavy, oily mayo dressing. this is something non-vegans will love too, maybe more than traditional potato salad.

curry potato salad
3 potatoes, cubed
1 carrot, cut into the same size as potato
1/4 white onion... diced
(you could also add some green peas!)

boil these in water with 2 pinches of sea salt. when the potatoes are cooked through, drain the water and transfer to a bowl to cool.

a splash or two of vegetable oil
about a teaspoon of curry powder
2-3 pinches of black salt
2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice

mix until incorporated, but not so far as to make mashed potatoes. (we'll save curried mashed potatoes for this winter.)
cool well, and enjoy!
I had this in my bento on monday, along with a rice ball and homemade agar jelly (not pictured)!

the other compartments contain a block of deep-fried tofu, and:

mizuna no o-hitashi (blanched Japanese arugula)
boil a large pot of water, and blanch the greens (almost anything can be used, such as spinach).
try not to mix it around, but keep the stems and leaves straight.
then take it out and wring out the water.
cut into sections of 4-5 cm, arrange nicely in individual dishes (so that the stems and leaves are straight) and top with about 1~1.5 tsp of Japanese soy sauce (such as Kikkoman) and ground sesame.
one serving is about the same size as what I have shown in my bento box.