I spent the last weekend in what is probably one of my favourite country in the world: Japan! I just love its culture, people and the pristine beauty of its countryside. And to be honest, coming from China, a bit of quietness and order is sometimes nice to enjoy!
I came for once not in Tokyo but in Nagoya, as this time I was actually visiting a business partner for the opening of her new headquarter in her hometown of Matsusaka, in the Mie Prefecture. It is always great to visit them as I always enjoy great hospitality from them and we have become friends over time. And their new HQ if definitely nice, have a look at a few pictures:
I spoke to their architect and it turned out that he could speak perfect French: he has lived in Paris for a few years and we discussed also a very interesting project of his for the refugees shelter. Another unexpected encounter was with the chef who did the catering at the event: he greeted me in a perfect French and the reason why he could speak French was even more surprising… This will not make any sense to those of you that are not from Belgium or even Liège, but for my fellow citizen: this gentlemen had worked at “Le sanglier des Ardennes” in Belgium’s smallest town Durbuy. But what was even more surprising is that 3 days before meeting him, I had looked up this specific restaurant to book a table to take my parents to dinner during my upcoming return in Belgium! What a small world!
The hospitality of my host reached a peak by taking us to a local restaurant in Matsusaka serving the local specialty: Matsusaka beef! I felt really honored to be offered this real treat! What an experience! Those who know me can say that I’m a bit of an hedonist who enjoys the “good things in life”… but I will from now on, put matsusaka beef very high on my list! What a delicacy! I have never had a meat that was so tender (you can break it with chopsticks) and so delicious (marble score of 100000 at least)! Here are a few pictures and a video explaining why Matsusaka beef is so great:
We stayed overnight in Matsusaka as the day after, a small group of us was going to visit Japan’s holiest place: the Ise Shrine. We stopped at two different shrines, the first one being rather small, and the second one being the real attraction. I had been to temples in Japan before, mainly in Kyoto 4-5 years ago during the first of a long series of trips to Japan, but this time it was nice to get a bit more explanations from my Japanese friends. What striked me in this place was the peacefulness of the area. Even the surrounding forest seemed to have been designed in harmony!
We then visited a snack street next to the Grand Ise Shrine. I’m a bit of “stomach traveller” meaning that I always want to sample the locals favourite… so I really was in my element there… You could find all sort of snacks and food: from fresh seafood on the BBQ, to oysters, dried fish or sweet treats… We stopped first to have something sweet: red bean paste on a rice cake. Hoichi (delicious in Japanese)! And then we went to a small joint where they were serving only 3 dishes (my experience taught me this is a good sign) of noodles! I went for the local favourite: Ise udon noodles with beef! Again Hoichiiiiiii !
After a short car ride, it was time to say thank you and good bye and hop on the train back to Nagoya where I would stay until the end of the weekend.
Even nicer than all the temples and surrounding forest was the Sakura! The cherry trees were blossoming, which happens during a very short period every year. During that period, Japanese families gather in parks and picnic together under cherry trees. An activity called Hanami. I must say it was quite amazing to witness this. The parks are full of people and I was even more lucky as we enjoyed a nice and sunny spring day! A few pictures to finish:
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