Drinking · EAT! Hamamatsu · Hamamatsu

DRINK! Hamamatsu : An EAT! Hamamatsu Special

I’ve mentioned before that in many ways Hamamatsu is the Sunderland of Japan.
(Osaka is the Newcastle of Japan btw.)

This is for so many reasons – but mostly that while as uninteresting it may be in general, nevertheless there is many a watering hole in which to spend your hard-earned (debatable) wages. Here are a bunch of my favourites…



Kagiya tends to be a favourite for a lot of people in Hamamatsu and is usually a 50/50 mix of locals and gaijin.
Most drinks are only ¥500 and they also offer bar snacks including pretty good cheap pizzas.
If you’re looking for a language exchange group: there’s one that meets every Monday from 7pm. It’s ¥500 entry and includes a drink.

The Lord Nelson

The Lord Nelson

My pal Felipe asked me if The Lord Nelson is named after my local in the UK. Doubtful. Nobody who visits Jarrow leaves with all their limbs intact.
Are you even an expat if you don’t frequent the local British pub? (There’s a chain in Japan called Hub, but The Lord Nelson is independent.)

There’s canny enough beers on tap, and an impressive selection of Japanese and imported spirits – especially if you like whiskey. Food is fairly cheap too, around ¥600 for decent fish and chips.
The staff are really friendly with a high level of English, and if you’re a regular you can sit at the bar and they’re happy to chat to you.

The Smuggler

The Smuggler

The Smuggler is another British pub…that has a pet owl and a cat. Do I need to say anything more?
The music selection is actually very authentic – they often play UK artists such as Robbie Williams, Take That, Little Mix etc. I haven’t ordered the food myself but I’ve heard it’s pretty bomb.



A cool standing bar which is particularly lovely in summer. A mostly Japanese crowd and a nice drinks selection including beers, wine and spirits.

No Name Bar

No Name Bar

Ahh No Name. It should be called No Shame Bar, being as it’s the place of all bad decisions.

Usually I can’t remember my own name by the time I’m stumbling out of here.
Good bottled and tap beer selection (I’m usually on the Sam Adams but their cocktails are only around ¥600) and the staff are all super-nice, especially the lovely Hassim. Tell him I say hello!
If you’re feeling peckish, there are some authentic Turkish bar snacks on offer such as shish kebabs.

Liquid Kitchen

Liquid Kitchen

Hamamatsu’s premier divebar, ran by an Australian nutcase named Marty. Pretty much exclusively an international crowd if that’s your thing.
I’m usually too steaming by the time I’m in Liquid to take a decent photo, so enjoy this one from their Instagram page of Felipe looking like a Mexican drug lord (his words).

Mein Schloss

Mein Schloss

I’ve done a full post about Mein Schloss here already, but drinks-wise if you’re into craft ales they have their own brewery and they’re all really good. I do recommend the food, but if you’re just looking for beverages they have a nice beer garden.

Beer House Tir na n-Og

Beer House Tir na n-Og

A bar specialising in regional and national craft ales. It’s pretty pricey – about ¥1000 upwards for a pint, but really nice if you fancy something different to most other bars in Hamamatsu. There’s also a small selection of bar snacks – sausages, peanuts, pretzels etc. Mostly a Japanese crowd.

Grindhouse Rock Bar

Grindhouse Rock Bar

Hamamatsu’s premier rock bar, which reminds me of my beloved Trillians back home in Newcastle. As you can imagine they often have a band on with reasonable cover charge. Usual selection of beers and spirits. A fairly mixed crowd, Grindhouse is popular with Brazilians!

There are of course so, so many more – but some I have completely stumbled into my accident and never been able to find again on Google Maps (the bar of requirement?). So I’ll leave the rest of the exploring up to you!

~ Carla

Culture · Food · Friends · Hamamatsu

Orange Picking in Hamamatsu

The newest farmhand recruit.

Back in Autumn 2019, one of my favourite teachers at my elementary school Shirai-sensei gave everyone a local mikan orange. It was easily the best orange I’ve ever eaten, and when I told her so she delightedly explained they’re actually from her father’s orange grove.
(A term I only learned while writing this blog as I assumed oranges grew in an orchard – apparently not!)

A week later, she beckoned me over to her car after school, gave me a bag and told me I could take as many home as I could fit inside my backpack. While harvesting season was already over, she promised me the following year she would take me to see the oranges and pick some for myself.

And true to her word in October 2020 she drove me and my friend Haruna to see the trees, help harvesting them and bring some home for ourselves. The farm was originally her grandfather’s and her father took over five years ago, working with her mother and a few picking staff.

I also got to catch up with another of my favourite teachers who moved on to another school in March 2020 – she brought her husband and little daughter who was so cute. Her daughter definitely managed to pick more oranges than me!

I’ve only been raspberry picking in the UK, and strawberry picking last year. There’s something so wholesome about picking fruit straight from the tree or bush.
The grove grows two types of oranges – the smaller mikan is very sweet with no sourness at all, they remind me of the clementines my mam buys at Christmas. The larger, darker oranges are tart, but not at all bitter.

Although I live in the city, (I’m a bona fide city girl who has a mental breakdown if I’m too far from wifi or a soy flat white…) it was lovely to be out in the Japanese inaka for the day, living my best Ghibli-esque life.

I would have been grateful for even a small handful, but she very kindly gave us a huge box each to fill and we could take home as many as we could carry. We were also able eat as many as we could while we were harvesting!
(I taught everyone the term “eating on the job.”)

It was such a wonderful experience I would have otherwise missed if it wasn’t for the kindness of people I’ve met here.
Another precious memory I’ll treasure forever.

Not bad for an afternoon’s work!

We also noticed a tiny, quaint train station nearby so looked inside. There was a cute little gift shop and cafe inside ran by a sweet guy who spoke really good English.
It had a surprisingly hipsterish vibe and sold local crafts, beers and cookies.

Shirai-sensei told me a ticket inspector stands in the middle and manually checks tickets – even though it’s so quiet. Never change, Japan.
So cute! The art is by the Finnish brand Marimekko and is really popular in Japan right now.

Although we’d more than filled up on oranges, Shirai-sensei took us to a popular Italian restaurant and I had the best pizza and pasta I’ve eaten so far in Japan! (I’m half-Italian so hard to please!)

Shirai-sensei also wouldn’t hear of us paying, and told us it was her present for us. She is so kind!

Naples-style pizza.

And if I hadn’t been treated enough, Shirai-sensei gave me and Haruna presents from her recent trip to Kamakura. She picked out the pink earrings for me knowing it’s my favourite colour – they’re made from special sakura shells that are only found on Yuigahama Beach.

It was such a special, surprise gift and they’re absolutely perfect!

It was the sweetest day ever. It can be easy for me to feel disconnected to Japan when a lot of my trips have been cancelled over the past year due to the ‘rona.

But getting to do wholesome stuff like this reminds me of why I moved to this beautiful country in the first place. I hope we can all make more memories in 2021!

~ Carla

Bite-Sized Japanter · Hamamatsu

Bite-Sized Japanter #4: Shrimp Town

My neighborhood Ebitsuka literally translates as Shrimp (エビ ebi) Burial Mound (塚 tsuka).

A local told me it got the name because in ye olden days, people used to catch shrimp in the Shinkawa river that runs through the area, remove the intestinal tract then throw the faeces into a giant heap. How nice.

He was very drunk at the time though, so take that story with a pinch of salt.

~ Carla

Bite-Sized Japanter

Bite-Sized Japanter #3: Torikizoku.

I mentioned to my friend Haruna I was going for yakitori at the weekend.

HARUNA: You should go to Torikizoku.
ME: OK! I know ‘tori’ is chicken, but what is ‘kizoku?’
HARUNA: This means “royal family.” So Torikizoku is “Chicken Royal Family.”

A full-circle moment. Back when I worked in Sunderland I was a frequent visitor to the highly classy establishment “King’s Chicken.”

Ahh I am but a humble peasant blessed to be in the presence of monarchical poultry.

~ Carla

Culture · Friends · Hamamatsu

Strawberry Fields Forever

I was recently invited to go strawberry picking with one of my teachers and her family. WHOLESOME.

There are many places to go strawberry picking all over Japan, with many in my area growing the local “akihime” variety local to Shizuoka – known for their large grain and slight tartness.

We went to Shimano Nouen, which for around ¥1400-¥1800 (depending on the time of year) you can pick and eat as many strawberries as you’d like.
It’s also common in Japan to dip your strawberries in condensed milk so it comes with that too.

(In the UK have our strawberries with whipped or pouring cream – especially in the summertime so it was somewhat nostalgic for me!)

You can also take your photo outside with their mascot, Masaharu the Ichigorilla.
A combination of two of my favourite things: a photo op and a pun.
(“Ichigo” is Japanese for strawberry!)

Such a cute day.
Me and ******-sensei sadly won’t be teaching together in the coming school year, so I’m very grateful for the opportunity to make lovely memories.

~ Carla

Food · Hamamatsu · Life · Lifestyle

Groceries vs Eating Out In Japan

I thought it would be interesting to show the sort of things I buy in my groceries shop, and the price of food in general in Japan.

Now I’m going to be totally honest here – I actually hate cooking, and prefer making quick meals as long as they’re fairly healthy-ish.

Here’s an example food shop earlier this week.

♥ Can of beer: ¥250
♥ Vegetable oil: ¥170
♥ Packet of crisps: ¥97
♥ Frozen edemame: ¥320
♥ Rice crackers: ¥190
♥ Miso paste: ¥280
♥ Frozen broccoli: ¥170
♥ Button mushrooms: ¥175
♥ Eggs: ¥190
♥ Soy milk: ¥250
♥ Salad/sandwich chicken: ¥250
♥ Instant vegetable curry: ¥320
♥ Cup noodle: ¥120
♥ Frozen peas: ¥150
♥ Bar of chocolate: ¥160
♥ Peanut butter: ¥600
♥ Ketchup: ¥250
♥ Sushi set: ¥598

There’s a few other essentials I always have to hand:

♥ English breakfast tea bags: ¥600 (box of 120)
♥ Fresh noodles ¥20
♥ Tofu ¥70
♥ Soy sauce ¥120
♥ Sesame oil ¥170
♥ Mayonnaise ¥320
♥ Cereal ¥500
♥ Bag of flour: ¥350 (I like to make pancakes at the weekend)
♥ Nutella ¥400 (See above re: pancakes…)
♥ Frozen pizza ¥190 (Hangover purposes only. Mostly.)

My Saturday tradition if I don’t have plans – chocolate chip pancakes!

I also buy a huuuuuuge bag of rice every few weeks – a 2kg bag costs me around ¥2000+.

You’ll notice a distinct lack of meats and fruits in my grocery haul, and that’s because they’re both ridiculously expensive.
I don’t miss meat too much because I was a pescatarian for a few years prior to coming to Japan – so I only ever eat meat when I’m eating out.

Egg fried rice rice with mushrooms and furikake, miso soup and edamame.

The cost of fruit is a piss-take, though. Here are the average prices in my local supermarket:

♥ Punnet of strawberries ¥750
♥ Punnet of grapes ¥400
♥ Small bag of mikan oranges ¥400
♥ Small bag of kiwi fruit ¥400
♥ 1/2 a watermelon: ¥360
♥ 1 persimmon ¥300
♥ 1 peach ¥700+ (yes, really!)
♥ 1 apple ¥350
♥ 1 banana ¥90

It’s a shame I hate bananas, right?
Frozen fruit isn’t too bad – around ¥350 for a huge bag, but mostly it’s just frozen berries.

Fish is quite cheap, but I hate fiddling around with removing bones – so I rarely buy fish too unless it’s marked waaaaay down and can freeze it immediately.
I can usually find 3-4 fillets of salmon reduced to around ¥350.

As far as my cooking skills go – salmon, rice with furikake, miso soup, edamame.

However living in the city, for me personally I’ve found it’s just as cheap to eat out as there are so many quick eats options.

For example you can get:

♥ Corn dog ¥100
♥ Sandwich ¥250+
♥ Gyudon ¥500
♥ Karaage ¥500
♥ Omurice ¥600
♥ Curry and rice ¥700
♥ Yakitori ¥700 (for 5 sticks)
♥ Ramen ¥700
♥ Bento ¥800
♥ Burger and fries ¥800
♥ Sushi belt aprox ¥1000 (depending on how many plates you have.)
♥ Tonkatsu set ¥1100

5 yakitori for ¥700 at Tori Mero
Forever lured into this place with their ¥200 beers.
Karaage, omurice and a bottomless drink.
FYI: Japan has Denny’s and it’s GREAT.
Tonkatsu set at Wako.
Comes with unlimited rice, shredded cabbage and green tea.

This suits my lifestyle a lot more, but it’s completely up to you.
One of my close friends here also lives in the city but prefers to cook at home. Another pal says he hardly shops for groceries at all.

There’s also a few fast food places (no KFC tho????), but I’ve found they’re more expensive than back home.

If you like alcohol, a beer in my city costs around ¥500 a bottle or ¥700 for a schooner or pint. Spirits and cocktails start from ¥700-¥800.

Anyways I hope this has been somewhat interesting – if you’d like to see anything else, please just let me know in the comments!

~ Carla