Posts Tagged ‘Japan’


This is a picture from Magome-juku, Nakatsugawa, Gifu, Japan. Yeowatzup did a 15-day walk from Tokyo to Kyoto along the Nakasendo (an ancient highway) and passed by this spot. Check out Yeowatzup’s flickr for more interesting pictures!


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A while back, I posted about Gifu Castle with a bit of information about its’ history. Gifu Castle isn’t the only historical place of note in Gifu Prefecture – there is also Iwamura Castle!

Iwamura Castle is well-known for its’ prime mountaintop location — and for how difficult it can be to get to it. Luckily, it has recently become accessible by car. Previously, climbing the hiking path (about a 20-30 minute trip) was required. Don’t miss out on this castle!

Photos from: Tsuda

Estimated to have been built around 1185, the Toyama family was in charge of the castle until  the 1570s. In 1571, Toyama Kageto suddenly passed away, leaving behind his young, adopted son. This weakness was taken advantage of by Akiyama Nobutomo (following the commands of Takeda Shingen). This was an unstable political period in Japan, and ultimately Nobutomo was executed and the castle was given to Kawajiri Hidetaka.

Hidetaka was responsible for creating the castle structure still seen today. Sadly, this castle fell into ruins after the castle abolishment law was passed in 1873.

The Lord’s housing was not at the top of the mountain, though, with the castle. Instead, the Lord lived at the mountain’s base, and the Taiko turret has been restored at this location (photo below).


Iwamura Castle, Gifu

Iwamura Castle, Gifu (Photo credit: The 2-Belo)


Sources for more information:

JCastle’s Iwamura Castle Page


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Photo a Day

This is Iwamura Castle in Gifu Prefecture. (Look for more information later today!)

Source: Tsuda’s Flickr

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The Okuhida Hot Spring Village in Gifu Prefecture — covered in snow.

Source: Ginger085’s Flickr

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Nancy, France

Nancy’s location in the province of Lorraine and the history of that specific region has heavily influenced the traditional cuisine. The famous Quiche Lorraine, as you may be able to guess, comes from this area, but Nancy is also home to a particular version of macaroons.

Quiche Lorraine is a German-inspired dish that originally was baked in a brioche pastry instead of French pie dough. The name comes from the hybrid dialect historically spoken in Lorraine that mixed French and German; “quiche” came from the word meaning “cake.”

French Quiche lorraine


The popularity of this dish has expanded beyond the north of France and is now a common meal in any kitchen that cooks French food. Try typing “Quiche Lorraine” in an Internet search bar and tons of recipes pop up. For more information about this quiche in Nancy/Lorraine, you can check out this site.


Another article on the same site describes the story behind Nancy macaroons and why they are only available at one specific bakery. The Sisters of Les Dames du Saint Sacrament’s Convent was dissolved during the French Revolution, and the Convent’s doctor (who lived in Nancy) took in Sisters Marguerite and Marie-Elisabeth. They were both skilled with pastry and made almond macaroons for him as proof of their gratitude.

“Macarons de Nancy” or “Macarons des Soeurs Macarons” are only available at Maison des Soeurs Macarons because the original recipe is still a secret. This article describes some of the differences between Nancy macaroons and other types of macaroons.



Gifu, Japan

Surprisingly, it was easier to find details about regional specialties in Gifu than it was to find the information for Nancy! One popular food export and the Slow Life City Initiative promoted by the city’s government caught my eye while I was researching.

Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis


Ayu, or Sweet Fish in English, are small fish that are part of the salmon family and is considered a summer delicacy throughout Japan. Scientific information about Ayu can be found here. Gifu is famous for the harvesting of Ayu from its rivers as part of the strong fishing industry. It is known for its “sweet” taste, and is typically grilled with a bit of salt on top. It is such an icon that the Gifu Convention & Visitors Bureau suggests pastries formed in the shape of Ayu as good souvenirs.


The Slow Life City Initiative is a promotion started in the early 2000s to encourage Gifu citizens to lead a slower lifestyle, with a focus on traditional Japanese culture, arts, locally grown food and slow tourism (or tourism that focuses on these areas). One traveler in 2010 wrote a blog about their visit to Gifu and the “Morning” initiative. As part of this program, you can go to any restaurant in Gifu during certain hours and receive a complimentary breakfast with coffee. More details (and photos!) are available on the post here.

There are two webpages about this Initiative on the Gifu City’s official site. One focuses on “Local production for local consumption,” or at least, that is what my Google translator tells me it says. The other webpage talks about the Slow Food Contest, which was last held in 2005. Both sites have recipes available.

For specific dishes and their descriptions, this site has a lot of information to peruse. Examples are akakabu no tsukemono (pickles from red turnips), ayugashi (sweet fish cakes), and dobujiru (mashed beans soup).

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Photo a Day

The Dinosaur Wall in Curocabe is made out of dinosaur figurines! (At least, from the close ups, that is what it looks like).

Source: Kojach’s Flickr

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Shokawa no sato in Gifu Prefecture.

Source: Tsuda’s Flickr

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