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Strawberry and Cherry picking, June 2017

14 Jun

Brought kiddos for cherries picking up at Mount Aso last weekend. And coincidentally they had strawberries farm beside the cherries farm (Early June is actually not the season for strawberries as weather is getting warmer. But somehow the farm still managed to keep the fruits)

The farm produced less cherries than usual the farmer said. Perhaps the land had not recovered fully from the quake.

We were very thankful that we had the chance to experience strawberry and cherry picking in Mount Aso. We were told to pick the fruits gently so we would not harm the plants. And kids listened carefully the instructions. Both cherries and strawberries were fresh and sweet.

Fruits, flowers, vegetables season vary every months. And that is exciting.

Happy cherry picking this month πŸ˜ŠπŸ’πŸ’

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Getting Bamboo Shoots, Kumamoto, April 2017

18 Apr

We let the kids explore lots of new things in Japan. We hope they do remember the experience as they grow.
Beginning of April is when the bamboo shoots (γ‚Ώγ‚±γƒŽγ‚³) starts to grow and people will dig them to enjoy the shoots in many kind of dishes. I saw one of my friend did the digging last year and looked into the internet to find information about it.

We found a place near Mount Kinpo, called Yuuhouen Fruit Land.

The place was not difficult to find, and apparently they also have fishing activity and cafe for the visitors.
We had to climb up to the top to get to the bamboo forest. The weather was warm on that day and my littlest one complained during the walk πŸ˜† so I Guess this kind of activity suits better for primary’s school age onwards.

Digging the shoots was not easy, because we must make sure we don’t destroy parts that are delicious to eat.
The fruit farm charged about 1000 yen / kg of the shoots, which is double the price of buying the shoots directly from the market.

The place provided the tools (Rental was 100yen/person) and free guide. They provided a guide that will help you taking out the shoots out of the ground (this part is not easy, so to be honest, I am not sure if we could do the whole thing by ourselves. The Uncle did the tough finishing part)

Some muscle works during the experience, good one for families to try. After that, the next part is how to process those fresh bamboo shoots πŸ˜… and it would be my job πŸ˜…

Some say that you can cut and grill the fresh shoots directly after you take out from the ground. But once you want to bring them home, you need to boil them, few minutes with boiling water, and then 2 hours with Low fire, then leave them soaked overnight.

This is the info from internet I found why you need to do the boiling and the soaking.

There is a grain of truth to the rumor: the shoots of some species of bamboo do contain cyanide.Β  Or rather it contains taxiphyllin, a chemical that causes cyanide to form.

I did some cooking with the shoots and everyone enjoyed them 😊

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Kokopeli Cafe, Kumamoto, March 21, 2107

21 Mar

Lunch at Kokopeli Cafe, Kumamoto. Somewhere further from the city center, I think it was about 30-40minutes drive from Kumamoto city center, heading toward Mount Kinpo. The road was long but we managed to reach the cafe. It was an old house remade as a small restaurant. It only opens for lunch. They cooked food from organic ingredients. My Friend had Cajun chicken while I had seafood cooked in olive oil. Her food seemed better πŸ˜†

Lunch sets ranges from 1500-1800 yen per set. It comes with soup, small dessert and coffee.

What were good about this place was the playroom for kids and some children rides at the garden. Overall it was an interesting place and quite popular among young couples and families.

Aso Nishihara Kumamoto, March 2017

20 Mar

We had a drive again to Mount Aso today. We planned to visit Aso Milk farm where kids could interact with the farm animals. Weather was cold and windy today, it drizzled as well. Though we managed driving to the top (the farm is at tophill), we decided to miss the visit and come again when weather is warmer.

Had no ideas where to go next, we found a small cafe that sells ice cream and fresh milk. It was called Yamada Milk Farm. The milk there was fresh, the soft ice cream was nice too. The cafe was a bit old, and might still recovering from last year earthquake. Kids could see some fury animals there, the goat and the black pigs.

Not far from there we had lunch at small restaurant that gave RV rental. The specialities were handmade beef pizza and Japanese burger with rice. The restaurant name was Aso Maron “something” πŸ˜…

I managed to get the area’s map. This area is Aso Nishihara, with some interesting small shops to explore. We defined wish to go back and check more places.

 

Neko Cafe Kumamoto, March 2017

10 Mar

We found this Cat Cafe, in Hotakubo. I am not a big fan of cats, but my son is. He loves animals, and has always asked for getting a dog for family’s pet.

When my husband and him saw advertisement of Cat Cafe in the TV, they really want to go there. I had no idea what actually a cat cafe offered their customers.

So… we eventually went there. The cafe was quite clean and had nice smell. Kids below primary school age are not allowed to go in. They have specific time for small kids, and if I am not mistaken, it is 11-12pm (one hour) only (not sure if it is for all days or only weekends).

The cafe has 30 cats, and they release 15 cats to hang around in the cafe to play with customers each time. While 15 cats are hanging around, the remaining cats stay upstairs to rest.

Some cats don’t bother having people around them and just sleep while some were active and asked for attention. They were all beautiful cats. You can touch and caresse them, but you can’t carry the cats. You can get they toys provided and play with the cats. They gives you lucky dips and if you win, you may carry one of the cat.

For the fee, basically you have to pay minimum fee of 400 yen for 30 minutes playing, and you must order one drink that cost 300-400 yen a glass. So the basic fee for 30minutes hanging out in the cafe is about 700-800 yen. They have other packages for longer play time that comes with drinks and even food.

There three of us during the visit, so I got the basic package. 700yen per pax.

Overall, it was a nice visit. Though my girl was scared and could not move from her seat. My boy was having great time. I had good time too actually. This might be an interesting place to visit and the location should be easy to find.

Hitoyoshi Hinamatsuri Festival, 26/03/2017

27 Feb

Brought the kids to see the Hina dolls at Hitoyoshi yesterday. It took us 1 hour and 30 minutes drive.

They were half excited and half complaining as they were worried the drive would be Long. My Husband and I went to this Festival 13 years ago, and I even still keep the picture from this event.

The drive were easier 13 years ago as we didn’t have 2 “going to be” teenagers passengers in the car. Though it is not always easy, communicating with each other during the drive has always been the main purpose of our travels. And again, I have to admit, kids napping during the journey Β can be counted as a bless πŸ˜…

The journey from Kumamoto to Hitoyoshi passed 22 tunnels, and during this drive my 11 years old observed some of the trees in the mountains were affected by the earthquake/land slides. We talked a bit about their friends in the school too.

Hinamatsuri is one of nice event when you have daughters. That’s one of the reason we wish to show the kids. And Hitoyoshi has always held this event nicely to attract people coming over to see. The Japanese decorate their houses with Hina dolls until March 3rd, and they clean up the decorations right away after that day.

 

 

 

Kumamoto Zoo and Botanical Garden 25/02/17

25 Feb

Kumamoto Zoo has just opened few parts of its exhibits after the earthquake last year. I heard that the whole zoo was actually quite spacious. Parts that are open right now are the elephant’s space, giraffe’s, goat’s, and little furry friends, the guinea pigs.

My kiddos quite enjoyed the visit today. We are in the middle of exploring Kumamoto and quite excited to find more places to go with the kids.