So how many did you manage? 15! 15? Yeah I’m so proud! So proud? But Ryotaro said that if you do less than 100 you’re a looser Ready? I’ve got Mankey But he’s just a bad man
A very bad man indeed 2 years ago I tragically lost a bet doing the wanko soba noodle challenge Challenge that involves stuffing yourself with as many bowls of soba noodles as possible without being physically sick Not only did I lose a bet but my reputation as a man was completely destroyed as apparently a man should be able to eat over a hundred bowls And I only managed….44 But recently I had a chance of redemption when my friend Ryotaro and I travelled 500 km across North Japan in 3 days Over the years people have asked me where they can get traditional Japanese clothes to try on while they’re in Japan and I..never really know I’m not an expert on the subject But I am now! Japan’s largest Tourism company, JTB just started a service where you can rent traditional Japanese clothes from shops across most cities in Tohoku have them professionally fitted and then go off and travel around! Ryotaro and I were invited to try out that service And wear them whilst traveling around for 3 days across Tohoku To amazing and sometimes bizarre locations that I didn’t even know existed with the journey ending with Wanko Soba Noodle Battle to the death! Err…except…without death Sorry! Our journey began in the city of Koriyama where we were joined by Hana, a Taiwanese blogger who would also be coming along on the journey So these are our Yukatas here we can choose from The trick to choosing the perfect Yukata
Is to try and conceal your weight So I think the black one is the best one, right? That’s correct the black one make you look slimmer I wanna look good so I want this one You look like a Prince or something I am actually… I feel like I’m a Maharajah or something Prince Muppet Prince Muppet?! I went with this pattern in the end I found it conceals my figure better than the black one did The patterns are a good distraction Actually you know what for kimono it’s likeyou need to be…if you’re a little bit chubby, that actually suits you better Obviously I’ve worn yukata a few times but I never thought I’d look good in it You know I never thought it fitted very well So I’m quite curious as to see if this fits alright I think it might because there’s quite a lot of people working on this To make it look good That’s true Finished? Finished! What a handsome young man Shut up! For our first destination we headed deep into the mountains of North Japan to visit the village of Ouchijuku An old stopping off point for travelers hundreds of years ago It was here that we would also be having quite a peculiar lunch This is one of the best views of Tohoku Yeah I guess so Top ten view there I think if you’re gonna walk through one town in Japan wearing a Yukata, it should be here: Ouchijuku Obviously the most distinctive thing is the roof It’s the roof yeah! It’s made out of the straws from the rice That’s pretty cool! So not only can you eat rice but you can turn it into a house That’s right! Alright so we’re at the restaurant and we are going to eat soba, this soba is very special You need to eat it with a long onion With a long onion..? Yeah What.?? How is that even possible? Surely the onion would just sort of like flop Well we’re gonna make it possible Wow! You really weren’t kidding weren’t you I wasn’t kidding That’s an onion What it does is that This onion is literally like a spice And adds some flavor to it You can just pick it You look so proud Coz I am!! Aaah…so difficult!! I think it’s the first time I’ve eaten somewhere where you can eat the utensil you’re using to eat I can’t think of any other time that I’ve done that This is the only place in whole Japan that they do this Really? Yeah! Eating with onion What a unique way to eat My onion is getting shorter, that’s the problem! I hate it when that happens After a delicious lunch of noodles and onion We left Ouchijuku and stopped off at an antique goods shop In the nearby town of Aizu Wakamatsu It was here we grabbed a popular old fashioned soda drink Called Ramune A drink that can often feel more like handling explosives And then…BAM Alright? Ready? Woah There’s a ball here So if you just pull it too high then you’ll stick the thing so… Refreshing? Very nice! Like that? And then.. Yeaaah Who thought this up? Who thought “oh yeah! This will be a good idea!” And now there’s a little ball in there So when you pull it up like that and then if you do it too much That’s it! Nothing’s coming out! That’s magic Because of the ball Shit! The ball got stuck This is the most dangerous drink in Japan But very refreshing! For our last stop of the day we wanted to grab some souvenirs So we headed to a famous local shop sculpting figurines and masks With one rather questionable mask in particular standing out This is one of our Gods He’s called Tengu Tengu, he has a long nose Look at his nose! A little bit phallic I would be quite scared if a God came to me with a nose like that Yeah actually it’s a scary one too It tries to prevent human beings to go into the mountains because he’s almost like a God But not only he protects but he sometimes hurt people who do not.. With that nose? Yes with that nose.. Chris…turn around I must admit it is a slight improvement As we walked around the shop The owner was sitting quietly in the corner Carefully hand painting the figurines, silently and elegantly And then suddenly he threw on a change of clothes Pulled out a retro boom box and did this: And that’s how the first day of our trip ended. The next morning we caught the train to Sendai and dropped into the local Kimono shop to switch clothes So you’re in black today Do I look thin? Ah…do you look thin? No, it doesn’t help at all! Really? Yeah, I think this one’s better than the one yesterday You think so? Yeah coz it conceals my stomach Why do you care so much about concealing yourself? I like to be overweight but give the illusion of being thin That’s the western dream Western dream?! Western culture summarized Alright let’s go Our first stop of the day was Genbikei Gorge And it was here that we would discover the exciting future of food delivery So there’s a sweet shop over there making kind of Dango Which is a kind of chewy rice sweet But it’s quite far away it’s actually across this gorge But the guy worked it out, he put a basket system in place that goes across the river You can sit here in this nice spot and enjoy his products You hit this bit of wood here with this hammer Put in your order And he will send over the basket Let’s just hit the wood Yes please! How hard? Really hard! I don’t want to smash the basket into the gorge The fastest basket pulling I’ve ever seen He just changed the flag To what? Which one? He’s changing it to the Union Jack He’s waving it He’s playing the British….National Anthem I’m not even making this up God Save the Queen! Wow! So fast! And look! All these drinks! Nothing spilled How did he do that? It’s really nice! Is it nice like..you know with a scenery like that? I want all my food brought to me in a basket Over a gorge from now on Look how many people are coming to see this It’s amazing It’s the greatest marketing I’ve ever seen If you have a restaurant just put your stuff in a basket And send it over the gorge and the people will come The only thing is it might be difficult getting a gorge….build one! For lunch we stopped and had some mouth-watering Maezawa Beef The most famous beef in Iwate Prefecture Juicy juicy beef You dip it in the sauce And into the mouth! Watch his face! Our last stop of the day was Hanamaki Hot Spring resort In a hotel that recently won numerous architectural awards However there was one rather worrying flaw We just arrived at Hanamaki Onsen, it’s a hot spring resort In Iwate Prefecture This place is called the Koyokan which means the house of falling leaves The first that got my attention was this sign Warning of a pair of bears spotted in the area Around here, and we’re going for a walk aren’t we? Yeah we are Rubbish! Coming across bears before dinner?! That’d be truly unbearable In the end though we didn’t have to worry about bears As we stayed in so Ryotaro could play Pokemon Go It’s the day Pokemon Go has been released He’s been playing it more than I have Well I’m on level 3 still though I’m on level 1 I haven’t caught on really Fucking Bulbasaur is on your leg Come on! You got it! Wow! I got Mankey It was the final day of our trip and as the Wanko Soba Noodle Challenge loomed ahead We first ventured into Akita Prefecture To the town of Kakunodate A famous Samurai town home to one of the best preserved samurai manners In all of Japan So much armor How much does it weigh? It’s around 25 kilos 25 kilos…? If I’m going out in a 25 kilogram samurai armor It’s not gonna do much good is it? Coz I’m gonna be like: What you want is: Grab a shotgun, grab a katana And just sort of… Naked? Obviously you’re gonna wear clothes Oh okay Not naked Otherwise you would look a little bit stupid Give it a swing Fucking hell, he’s trying to break the glass That’s what I’m trying to do I’m gonna make you look slimmer By cutting me in half? Yeah exactly What is this twisted surgery? After narrowly avoiding Yotaro’s questionable weight-loss program We passed a stand selling my favorite Japanese drink called Amazake A sweet drink made from the leftover rice grains used to produce Japanese sake Like a rice pudding in a drink True! That’s the best way to describe it! A rice pudding in a drink! More liquid though It’s really really great! It’s not alcoholic So anyone can drink it And on a very hot day like this It’s the perfect thing to drink It’s quite refreshing The time had come for Wanko soba 44 bowls to beat my previous awful record And 100 bowls to be a man This is Ryotaro’s first time right Well, you did it when you were like 3 Yeah 200 years ago so this is it this is the big chance! It’s expected he’s gonna beat me because he eats everything As Hana was doing hers separately, it was just me and Ryotaro With his smirking cheeky face before me There was everything to play for The record here is 570 bowls 570 ??! The average for a male is 50 It’s relentless, absolutely relentless She’s like aiming at you! I’d be going so fast I had no idea how many I’d eaten However I had forgotten that Wanko soba was actually a game You’re trying to beat the person giving you the noodles You can’t stop until you put the lid on your empty bowl This was proving bloody difficult Incredibly though I’d done it I’d finally beaten 100 bowls You did alright! 118 yeah! How many did you do? 120? 122! I was that close?!! I hadn’t known that I would have carried on! 122! 122 and…118 I didn’t know I was 4 away from beating you! Get out of my eyesight! So how many did you manage? 15! 15? Yeah I’m so proud! So proud? But Ryotaro said that if you do less than 100 you’re a looser No, I’m a girl I think you’re a winner But he’s just a bad man A very bad man indeed! I’ve actually really enjoyed wearing a Yukata I’ve done it a few times and I must admit it’s very nice In the height of summer It’s quite liberating wearing a Yukata in summer Having the evening breeze blow around But I do recommend it! And if you wanna visit any of the locations We’ve seen in this video, again all the details are in the description box below As for us we’re heading back to Sendai now And Ryotaro can finally play Pokemon Go He’s been dying to play Pokemon Go for the last few days You haven’t got a Pikachu yet? No I haven’t got a Pikachu I do Whatever! Well done! Great, thanks for watching guys, see ya next time! Bye!! Don’t play Pokemon Go Right so I’ve got all these Pokemon and I’m already Level 4
No matter how many expressions I pull,
or faces I make, or things I say I can’t describe how good that was. So in Japan there are five types of famous beef. And today we’re off to go and see one of them
and that is Yonezawa beef. The city of Yonezawa beef is in the south of Yamagata,
which is the place where I’ve been living the passed 3 years. But somehow I’ve never actually
eaten any steak from there. So this is it
this is what I’ve been waiting for, for 3 years. I’m joined today by Ryotaro. -Hello
-He is Japanese -I’m Japanese.
-But he thinks he’s British. Alright I am….what do you think. That’s exactly what we sound like in the UK. Do I sound like a pom? Incredible impressions of a British person aside, what are we doing today? We’re eating the beef tomorrow,
so today we’re going to a Ryokan? A traditional Japanese inn. That’s right. Why this ryokan?
Why did we choose this one? Ok so, when I sort it on the website I saw this really great outside bath with a waterfall. Ah like at onsen? That’s right. And with the snow I think it’l look very nice. So we’ve got an onsen -a hot spring, a ryokan – a traditional Japanese inn and Yonezawa beef. This is going to be a good trip. This is Ryotaro’s music. Madonna. Madonna. This is what…this came out in 1980 something. And you know it right? I’ve never heard it in my life. Seriously. I don’t mind Madonna’s 80’s stuff though
– it’s quite good. Yeah it’s quite good actually,
the one’s she released in the 80’s. Then it all went downhill after the 90’s. Yeah. Before checking in we first decided to explore the local town, famous for it’s hot springs after the ryokan gave us both some stylish silver coats. Trury… the fun never ends. Look at him go. What is this? It’s a hot spring actually
– a natural hot spring that you can drink. It is quite hot. It’s 72 degrees. Is it quite sulphuric? It is and it’s salty actually.
I tried it. So I think you should as well. How much do you drink? Well, just a little bit. I don’t know – as much as you want.
It’s good for your blood circulation. -Oh my god it smells like a rotten egg.
-Just try it. Just sip… It’s good for your health! That’s horrible. It is isn’t it! But it’s good for your health. So what did you think? No. It’s just like seawater. Drinking seawater that smells like rotten eggs. That’s true. What’s she doing?
Fishing for eggs? No actually she’s soaking eggs. She’s soaking eggs. Actually they soak eggs in the hot spring for,
I think 10 minutes or something. 10 minutes. Yeah, so that it gets half soft, half boiled. And you put some soy sauce on the top and you can eat it. So you can eat it? Yeah you can eat it. We’ll get to eat it tomorrow morning actually. So here are some eggs that are being boiled now…presumably. -So how long will they be there? For 12 minutes?
-12 minutes. So who’s eggs are they? I don’t know. They’ve just left them there. They’re pretty confident. I mean this shows just how safe it is. The safety of Japan you can leave your eggs boiling in some water down
the street, and no-one will ever come and take them. You couldn’t do that in the UK. You couldn’t leave your eggs boiling in the water down the street. They’d be gone in 25 seconds. The most dangerous thing in Japan…Isis. Real Isis. Look at the size of them. It’s massive isn’t it? How many people a year do you think, meet their demise standing underneath those? Well it actually happens a lot actually. I had it once. It just came off on to my head. And you didn’t die? I didn’t die.
I’m a strong guy you know. After exploring the town and it’s delicious mineral water, we headed back to the ryokan to check into our rooms, before entering the hot spring. So the thing I love about ryokans is the rooms are just so peaceful and relaxing. You can see why Japanese families come here to relax. In many ways you do feel like you’ve gone back in time – with the exception of the Panasonic television and a few other items. And I find it a really great place to just disconnect from the outside world and just relax and unwind With the view of the snow coming down outside, it all comes to together to create just this,
really peaceful, wonderful atmosphere. With the exception of the snow
coming off of the roof like that. just your colour. Yeah? Am I a purple guy? I think you are a purple guy. Oh really. When you coming into a ryokan room,
then you’re going to have this. This is a Yukata. Some people say its like a kimono. But a kimono is like a really thick and colourful. The one that we would wear to celebrate something. But in ryokan we call this a Yukawa – it’s really thin. What else… okay. You’ve got this big towel. And then in the bag with a small towel inside. Big towel, is to wipe your body off
after you get out of the bath. Small towel is the one you take in. Modesty towel! Sure. Modesty towel you cover the private parts of the body.
So you can take this into the bath. But one thing you must not do is
– please do not soak this one into the water. So what you do, what you do while you’re in the bath
– you put your towel, on your head. Let’s see what you look like with the yukata. Okay, alright. Oh yeah… So we’re about to go into the onsen
– let’s change into the Yukata….so… Woah. So there you go – like a Jedi knight. But better. Only problem with Yukata is it really does make your stomach stick out. So if you’re like me, you have to stand up straight
and give the illusion, you’re fit. Let’s go! What a way to enter an onsen. You have to put you underwear into this. And the towel. Remember I told you before
– big towel inside, small towel – with you. That’s about it. So we have to take our clothes off, so over. Freezing cold! I can’t actually show you much, because we’re not wearing anything. But this is what an outdoor onsen looks like. You’ve got a bench there for
when you need a bit of time out. Hot bath. Awesome waterfall… falling snow. This is the reason this is
like my favourite thing in Japan. It’s so cold! Right now, it’s January, it’s snowing and we’re still not in the bath! Let’s go! This is it Look at that So….there you go. That’s what it looks like in an onsen. And…it’s so nice…absolutely beautiful. I feel very mellow after that, very – very relaxed. Did you enjoy that? Oh I loved it.
I just absolutely loved it. With the waterfall and everything. The waterfalls, the snow… I know! It was perfect. After relaxing in the onsen, we headed over to our private dining room for an incredible feast, which would be hosted by the owner of the Kajikaso Ryokan, Mr Satou. Look at that. Fantastic. The meat! It’s Yonezawa beef Look at the presentation absolutely amazing. Yeah! This is what it’s all about.
And the beautiful snowy scene outside. Had such an amazing dinner this evening. To call it a dinner wouldn’t seem right.
It felt more like an experience. What with all the little dishes,
the amazing, beautiful presentation. The copious amounts of sake. And i think the best thing about eating at a ryokan like that is the pacing of the meal. It’s very nicely paced out, so you never feel stuffed.
You never feel too full. Shabu-shabu is a Japanese dish
where thinly sliced beef is boiled in hot water. The term shabby shabu is an onomatopoeia,
derived from the sound emitted when the beef is stirred through the boiling water. And before eating it you dip it into a vinegar soy sauce. And it tastes incredible. Smells good! Very good? Very good! Very very good. And, this beef, drink with Nihonshu (sake). It’s very nice. Ah yeah! Nihonshu (sake) is very good. I agree. Best of all we were joined by the owner Mr Satou,
who’s such a really nice guy. Maybe I’m saying that because he gave me copious amounts of sake. Or maybe I’m saying that because he genuinely is a really nice guy. Ah beef and sake – good combination. It’s very fruity! Yeah! Like white wine. But it’s Nihonshu(sake). So nice. Such great hospitality! Yeah! Top notch. The next day Mr Satou generously arranged for us to go for lunch at a nearby famous Yonezawa beef restaurant, and even got us access to seeing the beef being prepared behind the scenes. You know it’s serious business
when you have to wear this… And that. You look very nice with the hat. Yeah? Yeah.
It’s like a rapper. Dj Beef…guy. Japanese beef or wagyu as it’s known in Japanese,
is famous for it’s marbling, whereby the beef contains a high amount of fat. The uniqueness of Yonezawa beef is that the fat, compared to other beef is very soft. Even at a lower temperature,
it starts melting. So we need to keep the room very cool. Okay It melts! When you touch it, it starts melting. Oh yeah. wow! It’s like ice cream. Due to the fat’s low melting point, it means the steak quit literally melts in the mouth and has an incredibly rich, almost buttery flavour, creating one of the richest, juiciest steaks in the world. As someone who absolutely loves steak ,
I can tell you now, once you’ve tried it, regular steak will never, ever, taste as good again. To produce the marbling effect,
the beef comes from the finest cattle, which are fed an intensive high grain diet. Whilst regular cattle are slaughter around 15 months, wagyu cattle are raised until 36 months. And this obsessive and length process of quality control, leads to some of the best tasting, and most expensive beef on the planet. Chris. He is also marbled. Cut! Cut! It’s marbling! Cheeky Mr Satou. This is the definition of Yonezawa beef,
what makes Yonezawa beef so special. The farmers need to be local people,
meaning the cows are from local and grown here. Ok so local cows. That’s right. Also this is quite important.
It has to be the female cow. Why? She needs to be a virgin actually. It say here… The male cow gets too big,
and the female cows taste finer. Really? So only female cows that haven’t given birth? That’s right yeah. Wow! This is the 300 gram steak. This is the 200 gram steak. Medium rare. This is the rump steak. Oh my god. 300 grams of awesome. So Chris, I’m Japanese and grew up here. However, I must say I’ve never seen Yonezawa beef at 300 grams. So what do you say? It’s the meal of Kings. Look at that. That’s mental.
It looks and smells amazing. Such a good smell. First of all, just one piece. You see that. Yeah I see that very well. It’s so tender! So tender! So soft! Very very good. Very very very god. Just cutting through it
you can feel the texture can’t you. Look at this. Look at this marble. Look at the texture. It’s phenomenal isn’t it. Yes! Did you get it rare or medium? I got medium rare. For those of you who like well done, don’t ever do it in Japan. Yeah it ruins the flavour of the steak. Let’s just try it. The tears of joy. You know what I’m doing now? Almost crying. No. I’m climbing the stairway to heaven. Not quite yet, as I’ve still got some left. The juice is coming out of the meat and spreading in his mouth. If he could describe it in one word, in English,
what would that word be? Happy Happy! How was it? That was the best female cow I’ve ever eaten. Female cow. Perhaps the best cow in general that I’ve ever eaten. That was amazing. No matter how many faces I pull, or expressions I make or things I say, I can’t really describe how good that was. Last year I ate Kobe beef, which is the most famous. But I couldn’t finish it. I didn’t really enjoy it. It was too rich,
there was too much fat and it was too rich. This was perfect. Amazing, from start to finish. Come here again in Yonezawa. Yeah! -Okay?
-Okay! Thank you Satou san. Thanks for everything. If you’re in Japan and have the chance,
staying at a Japanese inn and relaxing in an onsen, should be at the absolute top of your to do list. Japanese ryokans can be found throughout Japan, but if you’re interested in staying at the kajikaso ryokan in Yonezawa, ranked as one of the best ryokans in north Japan,
you can find all the details below. And if you’re looking to try some of the finest beef in Japan, whilst the Kongoukaku restaurant we visited is also in Yonezawa, fortunately they also have a branch at Tokyo station. The details of which you can find in the description box below. I can’t recommend it enough to anyone looking to try what might be the best steak you’ll ever have. As for me, I’m going to sit
in this chair and pretend to be cool, even though I’ve obviously set up the camera for this closing scene. Many thanks for watching guys, I’ll see you next time.