道 (Michi) means road, の (no) is a possessive like our ‘s, and 駅 (eki) means station. Together you have “Road Station“, which have all of the conveniences of a train station but is made for drivers and their cars. All michi-no-eki are organized by the government, and provide basic travel needs like free 24 hour parking, restrooms, and tourist information. Michi-no-eki is also the hub of many small towns providing them a place to promote tourism and trade. You can often find locally grown veggies, food stalls and restaurants with local specialties, souvenirs, hand-made goods, and sometimes even onsens! Michi-no-eki are government run and merchants are carefully selected to represent the town so you can be sure to find the best food and the most welcoming folks at the road-side michi-no-eki.
The Minami Izu michi-no-eki is my favorite place to buy locally grown veggies. They also have bread and other pastries, plants, a gallery with crafts for sale, and excellent soft ice-cream served with a load of fresh blueberries. I will add it to our recommendation map here. Take note of the michi-no-eki symbol below so you will know where to take a break the next time you are on the road.
Even though there is snow on the peaks of the alps in Nagano, Shimoda is still sunny and warm. There are very few signs of fall in fact, except these big orange persimmon (kaki) ripening on trees all over Izu.
We are forever receiving gifts from our neighbours and their gardens. In spring the local people forage through the bamboo forests and dig up these tasty delicacies, takenoko. If you eat them in the first two hours of being picked, you can enjoy “takenoko sashimi” or raw bamboo shoot with soy sauce and wasabi. If they are not that fresh then it is best to peel it, boil it, and use it for a number of dishes like, “takenoko gohan” (takenoko rice) and “nimono” (veggies boiled in a simple Japanese broth).
Here is Yasu’s yummy nimono recipe:
What you need:
1 takenoko (peeled, cut, and boiled in advance)
1 atsuage (friend tofu)
4 tbs soy sauce
3 tbs sugar
2 tbs mirin (sweet cooking sake)
1 tbs sake (Japanese rice wine)
400 ml of stock made with water and Japanese dashi (katsuo or kombu)
Boil everything together for about 30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Turn off the heat and let it cool in the pot. It’s even better the next day!