ABC Cooking Studio Singapore x CLAIR Summer Trip to Kagawa ~ Takamatsu

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I was beyond ecstatic when I received the news that I am selected to go on a trip to Kagawa organised by ABC Cooking Studio Singapore and The Japan Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (“CLAIR”). I agreed to it instantly of course, not knowing what I’d signed up for and it turned out to be one of the best hasty decision I made in my life so far. So when I finally managed to calm myself down, I began to wonder where actually is Kagawa. A search on google and I found an array of scenic images. Why no one told me about this place before?? Having returned from the trip couple weeks ago, here I am eager to show you this seemingly underrated destination for you to seriously consider visiting soon.

Kagawa, the smallest prefecture of Japan is located in the northeast of Shikoku island and they are most famous for their Sanuki udon. Sanuki, by the way is the old name of the prefecture. There are over 600 udon restaurants in Kagawa and they even earned the nickname as the “Udon Prefecture”!

Even the goodie bag given to us states “Kagawa Udon Trip”. Welcomed by Ao Oni Kun mascot at the airport.

I will describe Kagawa as an enchanting quiet rural area, full with greeneries in the summer, misty dark blue sea, colourful sunsets and charming mountains. Sounds good so far? I’ll assume a yes haha… So please read on! Since I’m new to the place, I shall only introduce to you the places in Kagawa that was included in our 4-day itinerary.

Takamatsu / Shōdoshima / Mitoyo / Kotohira / Naoshima

It can be extremely long to incorporate a 4-day trip into one blog post, and the last thing I want is to lose you with a lengthy post so I shall break them by the 5 locations, beginning from Takamatsu. Shall we?

Lets start by HOW TO GET THERE

We flew from Singapore Changi Airport to Tokyo Haneda Airport with Japan Airlines and thereafter transit from Haneda to Takamatsu Airport. The transit took us about 1 hour 20 minutes. The image below shows the various ways to get to Kagawa. This info can be found from Kagawa’s official tourism website.

Takamatsu is the capital of Kagawa Prefecture with many attractions in this city itself. One attraction you cannot miss is Ritsurin Garden. This famous historical garden built in the Edo period was awarded three star on the Michelin Green Guide! I say it’s definitely worth a special visit. It was afternoon when we arrived at Takamatsu. Our first stop was JR Hotel Clement Takamatsu, where we spent the night there. The hotel is conveniently located in Sunport, the business and shopping district around JR Takamatsu station.

Classic Avocado Cheese Burger from Freshness Burger located in Sunport, opposite our hotel. Spotted the cute cabinet inside the burger place.

Ritsurin Garden

We hopped on the taxi which took us from hotel to garden in just about 15 minutes. Oh one good thing is you don’t have to worry about traffic jam here. Like I’ve mentioned, Kagawa is a rather quiet area so the traffic will be smooth most of the time. The weather was unbelievably hot as Japan was hit by the unforgiving heatwave while we were there. This however, did not kill our excitement especially so in this elegant garden. So zen! “Ritsurin” means chestnut groves, but this garden are brimming with as many as 1,400 pines trees and about 1,000 of them are well-cared for by gardeners. Just look at how the pine trees are properly shaped like bonsai.

Kikugetsu-tei Teahouse

Opening hours: 9:00am-4:30pm (Last entry by 4:00pm)

Teahouse Entrance fee:
700 yen/adult, 500 yen/child for matcha with wagashi
500 yen/adult, 400 yen/child for sencha with wagashi

We strolled our way to Kikugetsu-tei Teahouse, one of the 2 teahouses in the garden. We were each given a bowl of matcha and a wagashi. We were also taught the proper way to drink matcha.

The tea bowl will be placed in front of you on the tatami with the front of the bowl facing you. Pick up the tea bowl with your right hand. Place the tea bowl on the palm of your left hand and rotate twice clockwise so that the front of your tea bowl now face your host. Drink a few sips. When you’re done, rotate the tea bowl twice anti-clockwise so that the front of your tea bowl will be facing you again. Place it back to the original location on the tatami.

We had the privilege to enjoy a ceremonial matcha experience with the governor of Kagawa Prefecture, Keizo Hamada!

Made new like-minded friends. We are all members of ABC Cooking Studio!

The tea ceremony with the governor of Kagawa Prefecture at Kikugetsu-tei Teahouse was reported on their local news the next day!

Because its summer now, so everything is green. There are about 70 maple trees around the garden and I was told the garden will transform into a picturesque red and gold during autumn 🍁 I imagine it will be magical to enjoy a tea ceremony here during that season, with the weather cooling down as well.

Alice in Takamatsu

Dinner was arranged at the magnificent restaurant “Alice in Takamatsu“. This truly is a perfect dinner place especially on a first night. Panorama view of the city witnessing sunset, fabulous food, warm friendly people… it was a sheer bliss to be there.

Such a blessing to see rainbow on this beautiful night…

And the glorious night view…

The main theme of this trip was to focus on eating local so we had a slogan: Eat Local Japan. Food was fantastic at Alice in Takamatsu and the important thing is that they focus on using mostly local ingredients to prepare all the dishes. The dessert was truly exceptional but sadly I lost the photo of the dessert. I should go bang the wall…

Beef and Prefecture-grown Onion Goulash with Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Setouchi Fish a la Meunière, Prefecture-grown Eggplant and Couscous with Flavors of Iberian Chorizo, Crème de Coquillages (Bivalves)

Olive Free-range Chicken Ballottine, Kagawa-grown Lemon Confit and Herbs, Olive Free-range Chicken Egg Sabayon Sauce

“A Champagne toast is a public gesture to appreciate something, but it does more than just that: it unites a group of people. A toast can be so appealing that everyone attending will feel good.” source

Stay tune for next adventure on Shōdoshima, the olive island…

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