In one word- delicious.  Eating is so easy in Japan. There is good food everywhere. Even the food at the cornerstore is surprisingly good. Some of my best lunches have been salads grabbed on the run for 298 yen ( about 3$).   There are lots of kelp and seaweed included in salads and hot dishes as well -very tasty and nutritious. Hot sweet potatoes are available in many places – the odour is distinctive. When French is used in public signs, it is usually to indicate a restaurant or a bakery or surprisingly a hair salon! I rarely see people eating casually on the street or on the run in the subway system. Chewing gum is something I almost never see, but smoking and drinking alcohol are common, but not on the street. Japanese cuisine is noted for the way it is prepared and presented. Small quantities of a variety of very fresh food served in small bowls: rice always a staple, maybe some miso soup plus a tiny bowl of pickled condiments, the main course which could be fish and a side of vegetables and optionally a small dessert. Japanese desserts are not nearly as sweet as anything you would find at home. My favourite dessert snack is daifuku and any variation of which I will sorely miss at home. This is a popular bean-filled rice cake. The sticky rice is beaten for a very long time until soft and doughy and then stuffed with a naturally sweet adzuki bean paste. Absolutely yummy and so satisfying. The best I tasted were ichigo daifuko – strawberry stuffed. I thought this would be something I would learn how to make and do at home, but it takes hours of intense pounding on sticky rice, so I think I will abandon that plan. The one thing I find disturbing is the Japanese need to wrap everything as if it were a gift, also extends to food. Even things like one grapefruit will come wrapped in cellophane – so much plastic.

I haven’t eaten one thing that I didn’t like. Something like natto, may require a bit of work, but neither did I dislike it. Natto is a fermented bean dish often eaten for breakfast and it is the texture that people find most difficult – rather viscous,  slimy in other words. Sushi of course is everywhere and very fresh. The best sushi I ate was at the Tsukiji Fish Market. We sat at the counter and the chef helped us choose things and prepared them in front of us. I love onigri. What a great replacement that would be for the sandwhich – essentially a ball of sticky rice that comes in a variety of flavours and stuffings – all handily wrapped for a no-fuss removal and hand-eating! Delicious and ingenious. Onigri vary from 90 to 150 yen. (.90 to 1.50$) Nabe, fish, chicken, vegetable and probably more…those are the kinds I tried – all fantastic. Nabe is cooked in front of you on a gas stove – a bouillon base with what every you want added. I want to make nabe at home this autumn or winter. Another great discovery has been udon and soba noodle dishes. Udon is a wheat based fat noodle and soba is a buckwheat noodle, served both hot and cold. One of my first mistakes with dining in Japan was not knowing how to eat cold soba. It was served in a slatted wooden bowl with a bowl of dark sauce on the side. I poured some of the sauce onto the soba and it of course immediately ran everywhere out onto the platter (at least it was on a platter and not set out directly onto the table!!!) The host quickly came to us, motioning to dip the soba into the sauce. AH! so much to learn.

Green tea is everywhere, both hot and cold as is coffee. I had never tasted cold coffee before; it’s quite good. There are machines for all kinds of beverages on all the streets. There is even one in the entrance-way downstairs. Beware the beverage you buy at the corner store. If it says 8% something – that usually means alcohol. You can buy all kinds of fruit-looking fizzy drinks at the corner store that have 8 to 9% alcohol. I unknowingly downed an entire can in a few minutes one late, warm, thirsty afternoon with Paul in Kyoto. That picture of me below, holding my face – I am holding it because it feels like it is going to fall off…I got so drunk so fast I couldn’t move. Paul had to go and buy some water. !5 minutes or so later I was fine, but for awhile, I was quite out of it.

Emiko-san invited me to a beautiful dinner at her place. She prepared a fish nabe with lots of sake and vegetables and salads and dessert accompanying. I will include a video of preparing the nabe as well as one of a lovely singing sake carafe with this post. It is an antique carafe so precisely made that the air movement causes a singing noise. Very elegant and beautiful.

Making Fish Nabe    Singing Sake Carafe




All meals, large and small begin with the words, Itadaikimas – essentially, thank you for this food and thank you for preparing it. All meals end with, Goochisoosama – pretty much the same as itadaikimas. I kept a very lean refridgerator, buying food daily as I needed it. Daikon radish became a staple in my salads and in cooked vegetable dishes. Sliced very thinly along with fresh ginger and carrots in a bowl covered with water, rice vinegar at dash of sugar and tamari makes an instant fresh pickle -keep it in the fridge. Rarely eating bread or cheese accompanied with exercise, I lost 12 pounds in 5 months. Japan has changed my eating habits and my tastes- for the better! Goochisoosama!