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The Food Nomad – hits the Powdery Slopes of Japan, Nozawa Onsen

One of the many perks about living in Hong Kong is that great ski slopes are never too far away.  Being a Vancouverite with a loyal affection for Whistler, I have to honestly admit that the powdery slopes of Japan are also pretty amazing.  Over the past few years, I’ve visited several ski resorts around Japan, and although the ever popular Niseko is my top pick, I’ve also grown fond of some of the neighbouring ski resorts around Tokyo.  These resorts are like little hidden gems, small, full of rustic local charm, and just a shinkansen away from bustling Tokyo.  They offer amazing powdery slopes and down-to-earth hospitality (even if it’s sometimes hard to navigate through the language barrier).  This past December, on our way back from a blissfully relaxing vacation in Hawaii, we decided to make the best use of our return route and stopped over at Tokyo for a spot of snowboarding at nearby Nozawa Onsen resort.  Needless to say, we were getting some pretty weird stares from people when carrying our snowboards through Hawaii, but it was definitely worth the inches of fresh pow at the return trip back!
I love love love Tokyo – it’s one of my favourite food cities, and even though we were only stopping over in the city for a night, we still managed a session at
Sushi Zanmai, at Tsukiji Market.  This popular sushi chain is my favourite “people’s sushi” in Tokyo, because
Toro toro toro!!!!!!!!!!  3 shades of Tuna – Red, Chu-toro (medium fatty), O-toro (fatty)!!!!!!
Even though it was only 7am, I still bought a decent, deliciously crispy tonkasu sandwich for my train ride to Nozawa Onsen.  I NEVER compromise good eating because of a tight time schedule :)
Arrival at Nozawa Onsen, a tiny little village with streets all heated with onsen steam – hence, no ice!
The biggest public onsen in town.  I love the glowingly warm wood architecture.

First lunch on the slopes – minced pork and onions with Nozawa pickles and shredded sweet tamago.

Best tonkatsu to date!!!!!!!  So light, airy and crispy, with a soft, pillowy center.  This is the ultimate fuel for a day carving up the slopes!

So beautiful and serene.

“Nozawa bun” steamed with hot vapour diverted from the underground hot springs.  This particular bun was filled with red bean, but they also had savoury options like wild mushroom and radish.  All of which were dangerously delicious.

Local handicraft.

Our very Japanese ryokan (inn) complete with tatami mats.

The beauty of staying at a ryokan – kaiseki meals!  Every breakfast and dinner, we had elaborate multi-dish spreads like this.  This photo is from our first dinner there – note* the horse sashimi in the middle plate.  It was hard to swallow (literally) since I love horses.  The texture was finer than beef and sweeter, although impossible to love because of what it is.

Our tranquil dining room.

Cold, snowy weather is the perfect setting for shabu shabu!

Wagyu beef sizzle.

Eggy, velvety oyakodon.

The famous Nozawa-na, found all over town and at every meal.  These pickles are made from turnip leaves, and are harvested and boiled in the local hot springs during summertime, then preserved for the oncoming winter.  The first turnip seeds arrived from Kyoto somewhere between 400-500 years ago in the pockets of a chief priest, and have flourished in the area ever since then, making Nozawa-na an essential part of the local diet.

Local starchy roots.

I love the elegant look of these long-stemed garlic

Fresh, blushing apples, like the rosy plump cheeks of a baby.

One Comment

  1. Beautiful pictures, brings back memories of our trip.

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