Around & About Kanayama
Kanayama has just over 7,000 people. There are several facilities available that make your time here enjoyable. What follows is an incomplete list of some of the more visited sites…
HIDA-KANAYAMA TRAIN STATION
Hida-Kanayama Station lies on the train line connecting Nagoya in the southeast to Takayama and other points north. From here one can get trains south to such places as Gifu city as well as Nagoya, or north to Takayama and central Gero, also known as Gero Onsen ("Gero Hot Springs"); and other places. Traveling speed depends on which type of train you take. The two main types are the futsu (normal) trains, which are inexpensive but which stop at every little station along the way, and the tokkyu (limited express trains), which are faster, stopping at selected towns only, and which cost about twice as much.
Buying a train ticket to KANAYAMA
When you're buying a return ticket to Kanayama, be sure to ask for a ticket to "HIDAKanayama", (pronounced hee-DAW). Asking for just plain "Kanayama" has landed some Ketchikan visitors in the wrong town!
The Shimin-kaikan is the new (as of 2008) Community Center Building. If you stand with your back to the Kanayama Elementary School Playground, facing the new yellow Kanayama Preschool, the Shimin-kaikan is the building just behind it. Community events and some Ketchikan group events are held here.
Restaurants, Snacks, & Souvenirs
Looking for fast eats, postcards, or souvenirs? The Hizan Complex ("HEEzawn") is a restaurant and shopping area next to Highway 41, the main route through town. Catering primarily to tourists, it has two ramen noodle shops, a fast-(but good) food restaurant, and of course souvenirs.
RIVERSIDE SPORTS CENTER
RiverSide Sports Center (sometimes called "RibbaSpo" by the locals) is a nice, modern sports facility. It boasts a sixlane, 25 meter heated pool complete with waterslide (which may or may not be turned on), two jacuzzis, a walking pool, and immense, half-arc windows; a weight training room with work-out machines, weights, and a television; an extra-large gymnasium with basketball hoops; a judo and tabletennis room; and an aerobics / hip-hop dance room. It also has a comfortable lobby, big-screen TV, drink and ice cream vending machines, views of the pool, and a helpful staff. Currently activities cost about 500 yen a session).
Each sport requires a different ticket which is a 1 hour rental for that activity.
A Short List of Don'ts
§ Absolutely no visible tattoos in the pool. Find a bathing suit to cover it otherwise, they will make you put tape around it!
§ No jewelry.
§ Swim in the correct lanes (signs are confusing)
§ Most of the swimming equipment is off limits. Go figure.
§ Don’t climb on the wall in the shallowpools.
There are the two small supermarkets in Kanayama. The largest is Matsuoka, which is part of the "Spar" groceries chain; it's found near the Kanayama tunnel look for the sign with the happy aquamarine-colored duck. In addition to groceries, it sells clothing (some emblazoned with very interesting English phrases). Usually open 9:30 am ~ 7:00 pm.
Although the sign says "Spar" in English, people won't know what you're talking about if you call it that. Here, it's known as "MATSUOKA".
"A" CO-OP Supermarket*
It is also worth shopping at the smaller "A" Co-op supermarket, located at the corner across from the downtown Eneos gas station and the north end of Hizan. The "A" stands for Agricultural; "A"-Co-op is run by the Japanese Agricultural association ("J.A."). In addition to western foods, both "A" Co-op and Matsuoka offer a range of Japanese products. "A" Co-op is usually open until 6:00 PM and is sometimes closed Sundays.
CONVENIENCE STORES ("KONBINI")
There is a small Yamazaki convenience store at Ishiya, on the Kanayama side of the river near the big green bridge that crosses (on the other side) over to the Kanayama Office building. Right next to Ishiya Toys (same owners), this “konbini” features O-bento lunches, sandwiches, and donuts, along with other snacks and drinks. Open from about 9:00 AM to 8:00 or 9:00 PM.
Open 365 days a year, Kanayama has two of these; one is on the right-hand side of Highway 41 as you head south past the Junior High; look for their red and yellow sign. The other is nearly a mile further down Highway 41, and also on the left; this second one has some fresh-baked goods available. They both have western treats such as HaagenDazs ice cream, as well as Japanese products like obento (readytoeat meals) and onigiri. It also features dry-cleaning, and may even have a copier, but you’ll have to ask the clerk about that.
Unlike Circle K in America, the ones here have a decidedly Japanese selection of products, similar to Timely. Their choice of o-bento is bigger, and they have sandwiches, too. Located further down the road from “Daily” on Route 41, and open 24 hours.
Aisle full of 100 snacks all in one store.
Warning: Japanese DVDs will not work in U.S. DVD players, so don’t waste your money.
Exciting New Drinks
There are a variety of drinks in Kanayama which we just don't have in Ketchikan, including iced coffee (refreshing in the summer) and a number of fruit and soft drinks. Japan is constantly coming up with new drinks! Be brave, and investigate such exciting choices as Calpis (try saying it aloud), ichigo milk, and cola-ade (try at least once) among others. What's your favorite discovery?
KISSATEN / COFFEE SHOPS
Kanayama has a variety of kissaten. Most offer a fairly limited selection of coffees (no lattes nor espressos in Kanayama -- yet), but many have a small selection of snacks, meals, and Japanese comics and magazines.
A coffee shop which opened in 2005, Adonis features small single-serving (but yummy) pizzas for about 800 yen, give or take, plus a selection of other foods. A bit expensive, but one of the few places in town where pizza actually tastes something like real pizza. This is near Yamanao (see above).
This shop is found on the right hand side as you turn downhill from the big green bridge on your way to the Kanayama Office. It's sometimes been a popular place for exchange teachers to hang out at the end of the work day. Another plus: the menu features English!
This place is across the street from the parking lot entrance to"A" Coop. Get a table seat by the windows next to the Japanese garden; a small, peaceful oasis of green.
Across from the train station, this coffee shop/restaurant is run by former Exchange Teacher to Ketchikan Kei Watanabe's family, and is in fact Kei's family's home. Kei's family is quite international: His older brother Yusuke taught sports in the country of Jordan for two years, and the family visited him there. Younger sister Mio has also been to Ketchikan. Kei spent a year in a Texas high school studying English and Spanish, staying with his uncle who is married to an Iraqi woman. Kei graduated from the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, has been to Cambodia, and spent the falls of 2000 and '01 in Bulgaria and Romania.
This place has the advantage of being close to the junior high. The music can get a little loud, though.
COFFEE SHOP FOOD
In addition to thick toast and curry rice, many kissaten offer spaghetti, delicate sandwiches, chocolate parfaits, cake, and delicious yakisoba (buckwheat noodles, pork, cabbage, and ginger fried in worcestershire sauce -- better than it sounds!). Some offer even more varieties, such as rice pilafs or "doria" (a small single-serving cream casserole in a piping hot deep dish).
Most also offer either morning service (pronounced MOANINGU SAWBEESU) -- coffee, toast, and a boiled egg -- or a morning set (pronounced MOANINGU SE'TTO) -- which usually adds a mini salad and maybe some fruit into the bargain. These only cost from 350 ~ 550 yen (usually the same price as just a cup of coffee later in the day), and are available mornings only from around 7:30 until around 10:00 AM (hours vary from place to place). Bring along a newspaper or book, and enjoy!
COFFEE SHOP BEVERAGES
Coffee is pronounced KOEHEE in Japan. Hot coffee often comes in two styles: "Hot" (pronounced HOTE-toe), which is stronger coffee, and "American" (pronounced American), which is weaker. (We figure this assessment may be based on the old American greasy spoon's typically watered-down coffee.)
Most shops offer Café Au Lait (kawFAY oh LAY) which, as you may know, is coffee with lots of hot milk; some shops also offer WEENA KOEHEE, which, although it sounds like coffee with a hot dog stuck in it, is actually "Vienna" (or "Viennese") Coffee, a sweet coffee with milk, whipped cream, and (sometimes) little candy sprinkles. At least, that's what it is here.
There are several good restaurants, and a few so-so ones, in town.
The following is an incomplete list of the ones we like so far.
Located to the right of RiverSide Sports Center. This is also a hotel. The restaurant food is good, the menus have photos you can point to, and there is a hot springs bath in the basement (see the front desk to ask about prices; bring your own towels and wash cloths!
KAWA KYU - AN
Homemade noodles, both the thick white udon type, and the thin buckwheat soba type, are available either nicely chilled with ginger or wasabi, or bubbling hot at this popular eatery. Their large variety includes noodles in miso broth (miso-nikomi udon), with tempura, mountain vegetables, spicy Korean kim-chee, soft-boiled egg, and even some topped with hot pork cutlets. These are way more delicious than they sound, and every ET so far has just loved this place! Located past Shimohara Elementary heading north to Gero; look for the green sign with white kanji.
HIZAN RESTAURANT (on the left)
Located at the Hizan complex (see the beginning of this informational handout), this is not to be confused with the Hizan Restaurant on the right-hand side of the complex ("Hizan Bekkan"), which serves similar but different dishes that are not as good. Look at the display of plastic food to find a dish that looks tasty; pay in advance (yes, really), and sit down to a quick, yummy meal. If you order hot coffee, you may luck out and be served a scrumptious and (considering its diminutive size,) fairly heavy wafer cookie with it, made in nearby central Gero.
Specializing in broiled eel, but also serving delicious tempura and sushi, this place has something for every fan of Japanese cuisine. (Never had eel? Try it; you'll be pleasantly surprised!) Eels are served hot and fresh in a lovely sweet brown sauce over steaming white rice (they're kept alive in a pool in the center of the restaurant until it's time to broil them). Large mugs of steaming Japanese tea are complimentary, and cold drinks are also available for the usual pricey fee. Look for the giant black and white eel twisting around a pole, right next to Circle K.
This is like a Bar and Grill, so Adults only unless your host family takes you; open nights
Look for the red lantern near Igetaya Pharmacy. This place is an izakaya; that is, a lively place with scrumptious treats, alcohol, and noisy but cheerful people. In addition to typical izakaya fare such as a variety of yakitori (skewered chicken chunks), there are several delicious delights here we haven't found anywhere else, including shimeji bataa (small mushrooms fried in butter, delivered on a hot iron plate), tebasaki (hot and juicy peppery-sweet baby chicken wings), and fried cheese balls. No customers admitted after 9:00 PM, although those who get in earlier often linger past that.
More or less across the street from the Hizan Complex (see above), this is a comfort-food, mom-and-pop ramen shop, with a wide variety of ramen noodle dishes in jumbo bowls, as well as delicious gyoza (pot-stickers), including the –spicy hot Kim Chee Gyoza. Great with an icy drink.
~Thank you Tony for the information on Kanayama.