Japan 2013 Part 7 : Day 7 and 8 – Road Trip, Exploring Takayama 高山 and Epic Lunch at Turuturutei つるつる亭

February 7, 2014 at 4:59 pm

The posts and summary for the whole trip, can be found here

♥November 28th Thursday♥

In the morning, we headed towards Nissan Car Rental to collect the car my Japanese colleague has helped me to book (He got a better deal from the Rakuten Japanese website compared to us inquiring via the Nissan English website).

Kyoto Tower
One last glance at the Kyoto Tower, our beacon for the whole Kyoto stay, and off we went. Using the English GPS, we headed to Takayama via Meishin Expressway 名神高速道路. It’s a very nice highway to drive on, and there were lots of beautiful rest stops along the way, with nice restaurants, clean toilets, souvenir/gift shop selling local produce. We stopped at the one in Otsu 大津.

From where we parked, view of Otsu City and Lake Biwa 琵琶湖 could be seen.
Meishin Expressway Otsu

The food at the Otsu Highway Restaurant was quite good, we had a simple lunch, and the hubs ordered a bowl of udon with Ayu fish, a Lake Biwa specialty. Fish was quite tasty.
Noodle with Lake Biwa stewed fish

Such a nice view of Otsu and Lake Biwa for diners at the restaurant.
Otsu Highway Restaurant

It was more than 3hours journey then on, driving on the highway.
Meishin Expressway

Close to Takayama, it started to snow!! The girls’ first experience of snow. We stopped the car and let them go out to ‘catch’ some.

By the time we reached Takayama 高山, it was already dark. We looked for a place to dine. The good thing about Takayama for drivers is the ample parking lots available at restaurants, shops, and 24hours convenient shops. We went to 備長扇屋 (I don’t know what it’s called in English, or how it’s pronounced in Japanese), a yakitori restaurant.

備長扇屋焼鳥 friendly waiter

It’s a local joint, so there was no English menu. Good thing was the waiter there was so friendly, for drinks, he actually went to the bar and took bottles of liquor/sake out to show us what was on the menu.
備長扇屋焼鳥 friendly waiter

The yakitori was delicious!


Our hotel for the night is Spa Hotel Alpina. We got a room with Hollywood twin beds, joined, they are spacious enough for 4 of us to sleep.
Spa Hotel Alpina
The girls experience their first visit to the onsen (hotspring) there, initially both were shy to be naked in front of others, but after a while, they started enjoying looking at all the beautiful naked bodies of other guests while soaking in the bath.

♥November 29th Friday♥
It’s a day for us to explore Takayama 高山, a beautiful city in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture.

Takayama from Spa Hotel Alpina

I love the little quaint shops at Takayama shopping streets.
Shop in Takayama

We stopped at a cafe, Le Midi, supposedly famous for their pumpkin custard. We got ourselves one and sat at the bench outside to enjoy it.
Le Midi Takayama

Le Midi Pumpkin Custard

It was an icy cold day.

We explored the old street and their various shops, selling souvenirs, foodstuff from Takayama or Hida 飛騨 area.
Takayama old street

There were people who explored the town in rickshaws (we saw quite a few in Arashiyama and Gion area too).
Takayama rickshaw

The main reason we wanted a stop over at Takayama originally was due to the farmers market (after the visit we thought we should have stayed in Takayama longer though, as it’s a beautiful city with good and cheap hotels), but alas, there were too many distractions at the old street, so by the time we reached the market late morning, there was only one apple stall left operating.
Takayama market

The apples were locally grown. We bought a couple.
Takayama market - apples

Even these tiny ones were pretty delicious.
Takayama market - baby apples

After that, it got too cold for me. I went to a big heated shop nearby, and the girls and the hubs continued to hang around at the river bank.
Takayama river bank

Takayama bird watching

Takayama river bank

Takayama bird watching

Takayama street

Hida 飛騨 is famous for beef. We stopped at 喜八郎 Yamaichitei thinking of getting a beef bun/pao for Zaria to try.
Takayama Yamaichitei Paos

Takayama Yamaichitei

And in that small little shop, we bumped into CP, a blogger friend I’d known for a long long time, but never met in Malaysia! I knew she was going to Japan with her family the same time, but to meet in a small town in a small shop? What a coincident! We spent sometime updating each other on where we’d visited, and then had to part. She was heading to Kyoto, while we were heading to Shirakawa-go for our farm stay.

For lunch, we just use the GPS to help us find a restaurant, and of all restaurants listed on the GPS, we chose, Turuturutei 飛騨高山の蕎麦つるつる亭, and had an epic lunch!

The restaurant is a small restaurant, with only 2 tables, the other was occupied by a couple. We wanted to back off, but the owner came forward to greet us. He didn’t speak English, so he used his hands and facial expression to communicate. The other diner, and the owner’s son who’s working at the kitchen, with their limited English, helped us to order. We ordered 2 soba and 1 udon, with some flower tempura.

The owner sat with us, and then with every dish, he showed us the right way (or his way) to eat. This was what we had.

We were given a bowl of udon condiment each. See where the chopsticks were rested? He didn’t allow us to rest the chopstick on the table.
Turuturutei condiments

He grated us some fresh wasabi.
Turuturutei owner grading wasabi

Turuturutei real wasabi

The udon, delicious and springy, was scooped into our bowls of condiments, and a sauce was poured over it. When Zaria wanted eat it plain, the owner shook his head, and showed her that she should dip it in the condiment bowl, and pour in the sauce.
Turuturutei udon

The flower tempuras were really delicious. He showed us that we should only dip them in the salt and eat them.
Turuturutei tempura flower

Turuturutei tempura flower

The soba was served on a plate, and the owner told us to pour the sauce over it, and eat from the plate.
Turuturutei soba

Then he gave us each a small bowl of rice, with a tiny piece of plum.
Turuturutei rice

And scooped some soba soup (water that used to cook the soba) over it.
Turuturutei owner scooping soba soup

Turuturutei rice with soba soup

Gave us each a plate of condiments for the rice.
Turuturutei condiments for rice

And boy, it was delicious!!

The whole meal took us almost 2.5hrs.
When it was time to pay, the owner’s son came out and asked us, “Food ok?” We told him it was good.
Then he asked us with a smile, “Price high ok?”
Ha, that meal cost about ¥7500.
I asked Zara later if the food was ok.
She replied, “I don’t like people to control how I eat my food.”
Zaria added, “The King (the owner’s son told us his father was the king in the shop) was so bossy right? Like this cannot, like that cannot, he only want us to eat using his way.”

Anyway, we learnt the right way to eat Udon and Soba, it was a meal we will all remember.
Turuturutei Takayama

By the time we stepped out of the restaurant, it started getting dark, and then a snow storm started on our way to Shirakawa-go 白川郷.

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