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Tales (and pictures!) of trips in Japan


Palladion
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today was a national holiday yeay! :smile:

every month there is a market at the temple in shittenouji. today, my mission was simple - prayers and blessings for the upcoming year at uni! there were so many people there today that it was more than a mission!

there are so many food vendors that a day at the temple usually leads to gorging on all the yummy snacks that i never make at home. it is also a great place to pick up locallly grown vegetables for rock bottom prices. you never know who you will run into - today i met my mother-in-law!! :biggrin:

i took my camera today as the weather was great and the light was magic - i used my slr, so it will be awhile before i post the pictures. :sad:

what i bought:

two kabocha (pumpkins), tomatoes (huge! look like beefsteaks), ginger, onions, garlic and three carrots - all for 1100 yen!

i also bought two new knives for 1000 yen!! - i couldnt resist after i saw the demo - the guy was chopping up a tree with them. handmade, razor sharp and i can get them re-sharpened for free. :cool:

what i ate:

ikayaki (you might call it a squid omelette :huh: )

takoyaki (balls of octopus and batter) slathered in ponzu

fresh mochi (i watched them make it!) with aonori (seaweed) and sugar

warabi mochi (arrowroot cake and bracken starch dumpling)

sweet potato wedge fries with lots of salt

castella -mine were shaped like hello kitty

copious amounts of oolong tea

this was the stuff i paid for! there were lots of little samples as well - tsukemono (pickles), kimuchi, dried fruits, dango, and a few other things: i am not sure what they were!

i would not normally eat this much but i had already indulged quite a bit before i ran into my mother in law and i could NEVER say no to her :laugh: !

just before i left i bought some ikameshi (squid stuffed with rice and shiitake mushrooms) shoyu and sugar sweet! the squid was soft not chewy. delicious! the vendor was so nice he offered to give me two for the price of one (time service!) i only took one, so he gave me a discount. (like i needed anymore food! :wacko: )

needless to say, i had to change into some trainers when i got home as my jeans were feeling a bit too snug!

it was a great day out! if you have not been to the market, it is every month on the 21st. i highly recommend it!

i hope to post the pictures here soon!

"Thy food shall be thy medicine" -Hippocrates

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  • 2 months later...

Allright I just about have the best of jet lag.

I have to say that this trip has held the most astonishing, bizarre and wonderful things I have ever experienced. I have attempted to capture some of this feeling in the photos, but no photo or video could convey the senses that would need to be felt to fully understand the contexts.

What made it so much more moving was something I have never heard described by anyone, and the only thing I know to call it is "safe white noise". I barely speak enough Japanese dealing with food to get by and I read almost none - so I could not read any sign, understood no advertisement or commercial written or otherwise and overheard no conversation I could decipher.

It seems like I remember experiencing this as a child, before I understood anything and simply

relied on my instincts and ignored irrelevent information.

All of these things combined with the heartfelt kindness of the Japanese people and the utter safeness and peacefulness of their environment made everywhere I went nearly completely free of negative energy - since I did not understand many of the sights and sounds that were undoubtedly comparable to anything anywhere else - in that context they became simply a backdrop of undecipherable hum and vision - which made everything easier to focus on.

In some environments this would be a scary thing, but in Japan I saw many travelers simply lie on the sidewalk with their bags around them and sleep, anytime anything was dropped it was returned, tips were refused even when offered, help was offered without asking by strangers who would go as far as to lead you where you were going. Even if someone is thinking negative thoughts - they are smiling and helpful.

There were so many things that were so incredibly genuine that it made me feel like in the states I live in a plastic world where nothing is real and everything is a calculated attempt to conform to a stereotype or theme - to reproduce artificially an environment that exists elsewhere by default. Organic versus mechanical, fluid versus rigid.

I understand that in the context of my trip I could only see so deep - but it wasn't so much what I saw as what I felt - and I trust that more.

So anyway, that is really all I have to say - if anyone would like any specifics or has any questions I will be happy to answer in detail.

If there are none - that is fine as well.

Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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<center>how did osaka strike you so that you felt that this was "in direct conflict with the rest of osaka"?</center>

In every place there were elements of old and new, but the elements of new never seemed more than surface apparitions, the same attempt I speak of to conform to a theme but in a different way - almost a mask to hide the true depth - to depart from it even. The newer parts of Osaka felt like Miami and it wasn't until I entered the food market that I began to feel the roots of the city. I would almost go as far as to say it was the real Osaka - under the mask. Perhaps that is an extreme point of view. I saw many elements of Western influence in many places, but it was like they weren't serious - like it was a masquerade ball and when they go home they take off the costumes - it was very ironic. Like acknowledging that toys are toys and imitating them as toys and not a serious objects - I don't know if that makes any sense to you. It's like some places in Japan are deliberately attempting to escape from their serious and traditional past.

and lastly, can you explain what is going on in this photo???  how is coffee being brewed?  where is the coffee?

The coffee was placed in the top container - the water was poured in and steeped the coffee and dripped through the tube into the bottom container - then the top container was removed - no idea if that is completely accurate. Coffee was everywhere - much to my liking. Even in the most remote location.

sounds like quite the experience....  something we should all have some time in our lives, non?

Indeed, and I hope each and every one of you do - here or elsewhere.

i found this particularly interesting...
There were so many things that were so incredibly genuine that it made me feel like in the states I live in a plastic world where nothing is real and everything is a calculated attempt to conform to a stereotype or theme - to reproduce artificially an environment that exists elsewhere by default. Organic versus mechanical, fluid versus rigid.
before going to a new place, most people have preconceptions. i have many of japan and this quote is particularly interesting to me since i have always imagined japan to be quite conforming.

I suppose it depends on where you go and what you look for - first of all my first answer in this post applies heavily to this question - but I went to many places that seemed to simply exist as is and were not trying to be anything, it is a difficult line to decipher. Nowhere did I feel pretention or competition in the sense that we know it - but that could have been me. I've always contended that I would never want to do what I love for money - but I saw something here that I rarely see - people doing things that they would do anyway - and they just happened to make money at it - rather than putting together a plan to produce an environment designed to make money. Obviously that existed in some places - but on the whole I felt a sense of pride and a dedication to quality in even the smallest and insignificant of tasks, without hope of recognition or thanks.

las vegas comes to mind since that is described to the T in that sentence.  but its something i would apply to japan as well.  i believe that america is conforming but my prejudice is to believe that america is less so compared to japan.  still it is a fact that ive never been there.

Yes, Vegas is a perfect example - where you can see a fake Venice designed for the sole purpose of profit - and if it was not profitable it would not exist. Please be aware that I cannot say that everything is free from this in Japan, obviously it does exist - but as I said before - in some places it seems not to be the focus at all - and in the places it does - it does not seem quite so serious - but again that could just be me.

it is always great to hear others impressions on japan esp since im such a japan-o-phile...  it was a pleasure to view your photo album.  thank you for sharing.

Thank you.

Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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OK, I'm through Album #8 now. Those small towns in the mountains are incredibly beautiful! You take excellent photos and must have a really good camera. But the question that occurs to me is:

I'm reminded of how restful Japanese gardens are. Just looking at your photos of them causes me to relax. Is that feeling reflected in Japanese food, and if so, how? I can understand the concept of harmony in food, but what about restfulness?

I experienced many Ryokan meals that had many Kaiseki elements, that is another strong thing I came away with - that the whole of Western haute cuisine is very derivative of hundreds of years old Kaiseki - not that this is a bad thing - just an observation.

These meals used the best quality local ingredients in season, served in highly decorated small portions (but always with edible garnishes) in a deliberate progression spanning the spectrum of available ingredients - some meals like this in Kyoto were priced as high as $500 per person and included sensory elements present to do just that - induce calm, restfulness and harmony. The sound of a waterfall beneath you and the open air of the forest around you - the smell of certain flowers and the combination of certain colors. Kaiseki evolved around the tea ceremony which in itself is a very harmonious restful experience.

All in all, harmony with nature and the deliberate taking of your time were all elements that were highly exalted.

Bear in mind it was easy to walk up to a street stall and eat Yakitori in 5 minutes - but even that was prepared with great care and high quality ingredients.

The service at nearly every place I ate was indicitative of places that here would charge many times as much just for said service - this went from a $10 meal to a $50 meal - in many cases I never even poured my own drink or got to the bottom of a cup of tea.

I dunno if others have had different experiences - but on the whole this was mine.

Those small towns in the mountains are incredibly beautiful! You take excellent photos

BTW - Thanks Pan.

Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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Wonderous pictures!

That picture of the food market in Osaka also jumped out at me, as I recognized the place from my own trip. A friend and I happened upon it by accident, on our way from one of the subway stations to Den Den Town, the electronics area.

That was on January 3rd, so most of the shops and restaurants were shut down for the holidays. Still, I definitely felt a lot of the character that you describe. No pretenses, no flashy, mechanical advertisements, just a simple market, well-used. We happened upon the market purely by chance, but I am quite thankful we decided to wander inside.

We originally entered the market to find a bite to eat and eventually, after much wandering, found a stall selling some wonderful takoyaki. Though it wasn't open at the time, you can see the stall we ate at in the picture that you posted:

IMG_0508.jpg

gallery_17485_139_39866.jpg

Quite an interesting (and delicious) takoyaki: in addition to the tako, they also put a piece of cooked potato in the takoyaki.

I'm guessing you visited Tsukiji shortly before the recent change to disallow tourists from entering the Tsukiji auction area. If true, do you know how close you came?

-------

Alex Parker

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Wonderous pictures!

I'm guessing you visited Tsukiji shortly before the recent change to disallow tourists from entering the Tsukiji auction area. If true, do you know how close you came?

-------

Alex Parker

Thank you!!

The market in Osaka was definitely my favorite as far as food markets went and is exactly as you describe.

As far a Tsukiji - I dunno - the "frozen" tuna auction actually had a path for onlookers while the "fresh" did not - I was actually waved in by a guy in the fresh side for what reason I am not sure - but I'm pretty sure I actually heard him say the english words "Fuck it".

So I walked the tuna floor between the aisles.

It is a wonder outsiders aren't killed or maimed ther more often with all the swinging sharp objects and the motorized vehicles nearly colliding at every corner - you have to watch your ass or you're going to lose a limb.

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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What a great trip Sizzleteeth!!!!! It seems like you had a great time. I have absolutely loved every trip (3 so far) I have taken to Japan, and each time I try to go somewhere I havent been to yet.

As far as your cooking classes, were those also arranged by the "tour" company? Looks like great fun. I actually borrowed a Soba book (from the library), so Im going to attempt making soba sometime very soon.....maybe Ill have to ask you questions as the instructions seem quite complicated for kneading the dough, as you mentioned.

Also, i love to see places people went to that make me really want to go there to....like Takayama. What a cute town! I am definately putting this town on my list of places to go to next time I visit Japan!!!!

Thanks for the Ryokan link Hiroyuki!!!

BTW, this is the inn that sizzleteeth stayed at in Takayama, if anyone is interested:

http://www.yado-asunaro.com/english/index.htm

Sizzleteeth, how many different Ryokan did you stay in during your trip, and are there any you would recommend?

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As far as your cooking classes, were those also arranged by the "tour" company?  Looks like great fun.  I actually borrowed a Soba book (from the library), so Im going to attempt making soba sometime very soon.....maybe Ill have to ask you questions as the instructions seem quite complicated for kneading the dough, as you mentioned.

Also, i love to see places people went to that make me really want to go there to....like Takayama.  What a cute town!  I am definately putting this town on my list of places to go to next time I visit Japan!!!!

Sizzleteeth, how many different Ryokan did you stay in during your trip, and are there any you would recommend?

Yes the cooking classes were arranged - but also optional - Intrepid is really cool - it's like traveling with some friends - it's logistically easier than doing it by yourself but physically harder - no car service, no 4 star hotels, no luxury what-so-ever, no tour guide with a bullhorn, no sticking out like sore thumbs - just you and your backpack which you carry while walking further and more than you ever had or ever would. There are so many times when, had I gone totally on my own, I would have hopped in a cab and bypassed hundreds of things - but even when the train station was across town - you walked, with your heavy ass pack - I felt bad for a few people because I packed pretty light and there were some carrying a heavy load.

I'll answer any questions about Soba making I can.

Takayama was my favorite place overall and is what I would classify as the "real Japan" - meaning I 'd bet if you put all the towns in Japan side by side - they would heavily resemble Takayama more than Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima or Kyoto. Going to those places, while really cool and essential to experience the full spectrum, are really high in contrast compared to the majority - like going to New York City and Chicago and thinking that is what the rest of America is like - not even close - they are based on the core of smaller American towns with layers of extreme twists on top. Thousands of smaller towns, all with their own local flavor is America - Takayama and places like it are Japan - in my eyes.

The larger cities are also important parts of the greater whole, but are more isolated examples.

I also say that because on the trains I traversed a huge distance over half the length of the country and what did I see out the window? Places like Takayama, countryside - small towns.

I only stayed at 1 hotel in Tokyo - the rest Ryokan and a Monastary in Koyasan - I'll have to get together all the names and post them - I think I have cards for all of them. Will do that this week.

I would recommend them all.

(edit) : modified a statement I later didn't completely agree with myself

Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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The name of the shopping mall that both sizzleteeth and Palladion visited is Kuromon Ichiba (Black Gate Market).

Official site of Kuromon Ichiba:

http://www.kuromon.com/

(Japanese only)

Photo gallery (photos of summer festival 2003) in this site:

http://www.kuromon.com/_gallery/index.phtml

(Click a photo to enlarge.)

Webpages describing the shopping mall in English:

http://www.ofix.or.jp/travel/shopping/mall...omonMarket.html

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/market/market035.htm

http://www.tourism.city.osaka.jp/en/enjoy_...g/food/kuromon/

http://www.wingedseedmusic.com/weblog/archives/004980.html

I'll post some information about the takoyaki Palladion ate later.

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BTW here is the multicouse Hinai Jidori chicken menu at Imaiya that I had - unbelievable.

Every dish isn't pictured, but most of the skewers are there and the list of dishes.

This is on the Imaiya site.

http://www.imaiya.co.jp/english/menu/course.html

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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BTW here is the multicouse Hinai Jidori chicken menu at Imaiya that I had - unbelievable.

Every dish isn't pictured, but most of the skewers are there and the list of dishes.

This is on the Imaiya site.

http://www.imaiya.co.jp/english/menu/course.html

Imaiya really is great, isn't it? :biggrin:

for those who may have missed a group of us got together a year ago for a dinner at Imaiya, the thread is here

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 3 months later...

Just got an email asking and realized I forgot to post where I stayed - so here you go:

Kinuya Hotel in Ueno - Tokyo

http://www.kinuyahotel.jp/

Asunaro Ryokan - Takayama

http://japaneseguesthouses.com/db/takayama/asunaro.htm

Kameya Ryokan - Osaka

http://www.jpinn.com/inn/12-2.html

Ikawa Ryokan - Hiroshima

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g2...ma_Chugoku.html

Heianbo Ryokan - Kyoto

http://www.itcj.jp/hdb/526046.html

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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  • 5 months later...

Japan Trip Food Report

by Dee-Ann LeBlanc

I went on a tour of Japan that consisted primarily of Tokyo and Sapporo, with a side-trip to Mt. Fuji. During the trip, Mr. Perlow asked me to pretty please photograph all of the food I ate while I was there. I forgot a few times but he's done me some kindness in the past (like preventing me from having to eat cannoli in Manhattan during a conference) so I did my best.

That said, here's my "food log." I'm not a professional food reviewer or anything and I don't even know what some of the dishes were called--let's face it, sometimes I was just pointing at the menu at something that looked good in the picture--but I'll tell you as much as I remember. If you want to see my full trip report, then take a look at the trip report here. There's where you'll find lots of links to the places I'm talking about. I'm not taking the time to do as many here.

The first thing I had was while waiting at the airport. I could read the sign and it was a rice ball with salmon. I love salmon and I love rice and I love sushi so I figured it was hard to go wrong. I was surprised to find out that it was, in fact, hot! But it was very tasty. It stayed steaming hot, too hot to touch, until I finally opened the plastic wrapper. Then it cooled down enough to eat. Here's two pictures of it, one before I ate it and one so you can see the cooked salmon inside.

rice-ball1.JPG

rice-ball2.JPG

Next I had a chocolate, banana crepe at a food court but I didn't take a picture until halfway through, and it looks kind of gross! I have other crepe pictures so I'll spare you. I will say that the Japanese are very fond of crepes. There were stands everywhere! Most were sweet crepes but there were some savory ones like cream cheese and salmon.

I thought it would be interesting to chronicle drinks as well. Japan is full of vending machines, at least the places I went. These vending machines have a wide variety of drinks, often there's 5 machines lined up in a row. Some are hot (in cans) and some are cold. This is a Royal, British-style Milk Tea and it was quite good. Different, it took me a bit to get used to, really, but I enjoyed it.

milk-tea.JPG

That night we went to a conveyor belt sushi place. This was the only place we went where you had to take off your shoes, and we found out later that (oops) we did it wrong. You typically take off your shoes at a step. The deal is to never go up the step with the shoes on and never go down the step with your sock-feet or bare feet. It's a "clean" versus "unclean" thing. However, they didn't throw us out and probably just rolled their eyes at the idjit foreigners. The seating, as you can see in the pic, was on the floor. There were these cool half chairs and beneath was a depression where our legs and feet went, so we were actually sitting normally. It was just as comfortable as regular seating. Past my friends there you can see the conveyor belt, but I've included another picture just of the belt so you can see it. There were pretty common items on there, and we could ask the chef for anything else that we wanted that was on the menu. The amount you spent is tracked by the little plates the food comes on. The plates are color-coded to the price. At this particular place, they had this very cool electronic wand that they waved by the plates to calculate the total.

sushi.JPG

sushi2.JPG

When we went to Mt. Fuji, there were vendors near the first station (the first level on the mountain with the visitor's center and whatnot) selling fresh food. One was selling BBQ corn and it looked so good that a bunch of us had to have it. The guy put some form of sauce on it and then put it on the burner when you ordered, and was kind enough to give us a discount since so many of us ordered. It was delicious, as evidenced by the pic of me with my empty cob, which I tucked back into its neat little wrapper.

corn.JPG

One very cool thing about Japan is all of the plastic food displays. I kid you not. Apparently plastic food is a massive industry there. For those of us who can't even puzzle out the menus, it's a godsend, since we can just get up, walk over to the display, and point if we have to. Here's one example from a Japanese Italian place. Everyone I know who got pizza in Japan didn't like it, by the way. I didn't try it myself.

plastic.JPG

... continued in reply to this post ...

Edited by deele (log)

Dee-Ann LeBlanc

Linux writer and trainer

Author, Linux for Dummies

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While in Harajuku (ever hear Gwen Stefani's song "Harajuku Girls"? She pronounces it wrong, but essentially this is the trendy part of Tokyo where the teens shop for funky clothes) we got more crepes. Here's my friend with hers, and the plastic display that shows the insides and ingredients.

crepe.JPG

crepe2.JPG

Then there was this crazy place called Namjatown. It's almost impossible to describe, really, except to say that the Japanese are fond of food-based theme parks. Namjatown is two levels. The first level is made to resemble a festival in the 1950's, with lots of narrow alleys, dark lighting, lots of little booths, festive decorations, and so on. There's where you get gyoza, which you can see below in its neat little package, complete with soy sauce.

gyoza.JPG

Upstairs are sweets. Primarily, ice cream and cream puffs. When I say ice cream, I mean a bunch of crazy kinds and flavors. Our guide said there's horse ice cream. I can't say that I was eager to try it, and I didn't seek it out. I tried two things here. One was Turkish ice cream, which I'd never had before. The stuff ... well, it stretches. Like taffy. We saw him stretch it about two feet long as he was preparing the cones with great ceremony. Then he dipped the tops in a chocolate fountain, and the chocolate hardened on the ice cream after a bit. It was quite good. The closest flavor I can give it is vanilla.

turkish.JPG

turkish2.JPG

After that, our guide pointed out black gelato. It was seriously black. Like asphalt. She read the ingredients to us and it had 5 black ingredients, including black sesame seeds. We saw a guy eating it (which sparked an amusing conversation in which he showed off his black mouth) and my friend just had to have some. She went and got a cone and a bunch of little taster spoons. Honestly, it was very good. It had a buttery, rich flavor to it. However, it made your teeth and tongue black and looked really disgusting. None of us could eat more than a few bites. Later, I saw black sesame ice cream available in a tiny Haagen Dazs tub in a convenience store. One cool thing about Japan is portions. You can get lots of things in small portions like tiny, less than a pint-sized ice creams. I wish we could get that here.

gelato.JPG

gelato2.JPG

Here's another sign from Namjatown that represented the decadence of the place!

bananas.JPG

... continued in reply...

Edited by deele (log)

Dee-Ann LeBlanc

Linux writer and trainer

Author, Linux for Dummies

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The hotel had a 24/7 "pasta and pizza" diner so we went there one night. In order, the pictures below refer to the mis-matched salad my friend put together at the salad bar, the mixed Italian appetizers that I ordered (all very good and fairly authentic), the pizza a friend ordered, a friend eating a little piece of octopus and making a sad face over it though she mightily enjoyed it, the crab doria that I ordered (if you search the Web for doria recipe you will find that this is a very creamy dish on top of rice with cheese on top), and another friend's seafood pasta.

salad.JPG

appetizers.JPG

pizza.JPG

octopus.JPG

doria.JPG

pasta.JPG

At the Venus Fort in PaletteTown, we decided to eat at the food court. This was our free day so there was no guide there to help us, and we had fun navigating the food and whatnot on our own. Here are two shots of the food court.

foodcourt.JPG

foodcourt2.JPG

As far as what we ordered, first a friend ordered shrimp dumplings (first picture below). The guy asked her several times if that's what she really wanted. She loved them. He stared at us the whole time she ate them. Another friend ordered some sort of sesame dumplings filled with, well, I'm not sure what it was. It was a kind of gritty greenish black, maybe seaweed? She liked them (second picture below). I absolutely love my order (third pic). It was, I believe udon noodle miso soup, tempura shrimp, an inari sushi (rice wrapped in a kind of sweet tofu pocket), and I think some sweet almond tofu in an almond milk sauce, with almonds sprinkled on top. The big ladel was for the soup broth I'm pretty sure. The chopsticks were for the noodles and most of the rest. The little spoon was for the dessert. Another friend got something different. She got soba noodles (which come cold, the dark cup is the dipping sauce for the noodles), tempura shrimp on top of something, I forget what it was, and a mix of seasonings to add to it. She wasn't thrilled with the soba. I'd tried it the other day and actually kind of enjoyed it. I think soba is buckwheat noodles.

dumplings.JPG

dumplings2.JPG

lunch.JPG

soba.JPG

... continued in reply ...

Dee-Ann LeBlanc

Linux writer and trainer

Author, Linux for Dummies

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Next is a drink I absolutely loved. I think from the picture that it was some kind of grape seltzer, but I could be wrong. My friends tried it and didn't like it, but that was fine, it was all mine! I loved the cute little metallic bottles too.

drink.JPG

At another food court, in Sapporo, I ordered a soup with a heavy meat broth (I'm not sure what it was, alas) with tempura shrimp floating on top of it. The little onions and whatnot on the side are to season it to taste. It was excellent. Mind you, I'd tried to order something else but this is what I ended up with, and I didn't regret it. One of the people ordered chicken cutlets on top of rice (I can't recall if it was donburi or not) with soba noodles (second pic), and another ordered a combo I'm really not sure of! It looks like soba noodles with seaweed, vegetables, and I know those were shrimp or shrimp dumplings. Our only Japanese speaker had terribly broken Japanese so he was only so much help, heh, but it was fun.

soup.JPG

soba2.JPG

shrimp.JPG

A food court in Sapporo also had the best sushi we had during the trip. I'm a sushi nut and am happy to say that the sushi in Vancouver easily compares to the sushi in Japan from what I experienced. The best place we went in Japan is equivalent to our favorite places at home. However, we have to go to downtown Vancouver to get conveyor belt sushi and it was more common in Japan. I had to take pictures at this other one because of the cool plastic bubbles over the food. In the second pic, I'm the one on the upper right in the darker purple. The guy to the lower right is one of our guides who was just so so excited about how good the food was. He got people to try some things with some successes and some amusing facial expressions on the failures. You can see by the plates that we had a great meal.

sushi3.JPG

sushi4.JPG

One cool thing about the sushi places is that they had powered green tea and a faucet right at the table so you could just make your own tea as you wanted to. The powdered stuff is essentially instant tea and it's quite good. It's also supposed to be good for you. I got some to bring home.

I thought this next one was hot chocolate, but it turned out to be chocolate milk. Didn't matter, it was very good and very chocolatey! Another vending machine purchase.

milk.JPG

... continued in next post so I can get the lamb dinner in one grouping ...

Dee-Ann LeBlanc

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Author, Linux for Dummies

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Another food highlight of the Sapporo trip was 3,000 yen apiece, which is roughly (in quick mental trip math) about $30US. It's a Hokkaido (the island Sapporo is on) specialty, BBQ lamb. The deal is that you get a burner, rub lamb fat over it so things won't stick, and then put these odd, stiff, round slices of lamb on it and vegetables (my favorite was the pumpkin) on the burner and cook them as you like. You then dip them in a Japananese-style BBQ sauce. It was 110 minutes, all you can eat, and it was so wonderful. None of us lasted 110 minutes! I've included a bunch of pictures from there so you can see what it was like. This feast was in a brew house. If Sapporo sounds familiar, think of Sapporo beer!

Oddly, this place also had the best cola in the universe. I don't know what it was but it was very, very good.

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I mentioned how much I loved these bottles, right?

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Then it was back to Tokyo. We went back to the food court there and used a vending machine with fun Engrish on it to purchase tickets for our orders. It was time to finally try Ramen, since we hadn't tried it through the whole trip and the Japansese are so nuts over it! The second picture is my ramen, and I think the third is another type, but I could be mistaken.

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... finished in next reply ...

Edited by deele (log)

Dee-Ann LeBlanc

Linux writer and trainer

Author, Linux for Dummies

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Finally, here is a picture of the hotel food court (my friend very much felt she didn't look good enough to show her face in it), and then my fried shrimp (I like tempura better), rice, chicken egg drop soup (that's my best guess on what it was, it was delicious!) and salad that I had at the airport while waiting for my flight home. I think I was the only person at the end who wasn't looking forward to having western food again. I'm proud of myself for that!

I'm pretty determined to go back again. I loved Japan so much! Hope you enjoyed this little report from the front lines. Now that I'm home, I decided to take pics of the snack/treat foods I brought home for myself and for gifts. The first is the ubiquitous Pocky in four flavors (chocolate, chocolate almond, strawberry, and green tea).

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There also were some almond treats made to look like bird's eggs. I thought maybe they had a hard coating like Jordan Almonds (link chosen a bit at random to be informative, I've never ordered from these folks) I fell in love with those tooth-breakers at Italian weddings, being half Sicilian. However, the coating on these is quite soft. It's still good!

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I really couldn't resist getting the little candy sushi set, it was just way too cute!

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After having so much powdered green tea (hey, no steeping and you can even put it in your bath) I had to get some, so I think I got a packet of that. I won't be 100% sure until I open it. That's part of the fun of buying things in a place where you can't even guess at the writing.

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I'm not entirely sure what this is. My guess is some kind of soft, sweet rice coating with a plum-flavored center. I know it's plum for sure, there was a sign telling which box colors had which flavor. I'm not keeping it though so it doesn't seem right to open it!

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Last, there's the big sampler box of Japanese treats. Many of these are probably in a soft, sweet rice flour coating with a flavored filling inside. Very chewy and soft.

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I have no idea of what any of these things are aside from the little chiffon cakes in the green wrappers. I liked the mixed box idea because I'm taking bits of each and packing them up as gifts to people. Hopefully I'll have a little left over to try for myself. I did try a lot of sweets when I was there, often there were little sampler plates near things in the nicer stores where you could try a piece of one. For someone who's got weight issues like myself, though, I found that I love Japanese foods more than sweets. This would probably save me many pounds if I stayed over there for any length of time. Well, if I didn't settle down at a desk as a writer again!

Hope you enjoyed your virtual tour!

Dee-Ann LeBlanc

Linux writer and trainer

Author, Linux for Dummies

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One thing I forgot to mention was Kit Kats. I've never seen so many flavors in my life. There were cantelope ones (I'm pretty sure that's what they were, right next to the cantelope Pocky), sakura (cherry blossom, I believe) ones, I think green tea ones though I'm not sure ... it was crazy. The sakura ones were pink and very sweet.

Btw, sakura ice cream is wonderful!

The Japanese excell at taking existing things and making them their own (they're similar to the ancient Romans in that respect, I think). I suppose that shows up in the food along with everything else.

Dee-Ann LeBlanc

Linux writer and trainer

Author, Linux for Dummies

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  • 4 months later...

Thought I would share some food pictures from a recent 2 week trip to Japan.

In chronological order:

Kyoto: Sadly I kept forgetting to photograph the food I ate in Kyoto.

Beppu:

From Hakata to Beppu I had a snack on the train:

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Dinner:

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A snack of fried octopus:

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Bento Box for lunch:

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Japanese breakfast:

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Osaka:

Snack of Octopus balls:

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Okonmiyaki:

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My friend Lisa with a parfait:

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Scallion pancake at HEP 5:

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Hijemi:

Udon soup:

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Hakone:

Tuna donburi:

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Yokahama:

Pork cutlet donburi and soba noodle side dish:

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Tokyo:

Conveyer belt sushi in Shinjuku:

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Conveyer belt sushi in Akusaka:

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Manjayaki before:

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Manjayaki after:

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Yakisoba:

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Eating pizza with a fork and knife is like making love through an interpreter.
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Welcome back Gigni - looks like you did some good eatin'.

How'd you like the Okonomiyaki?

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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