Eating in Japan- Omurice

My first time in Japan I was really surprised restaurants were so specialised. Rather than having a selection of assorted dishes on their menu, most places specialise in one type of food. Often, they offer many different iterations, or variations on a theme (or flavour). One of my favourite types of places to eat is…

In Conversation with Van Milton, a Kyoto Tour Guide

Last week I had an enlightening conversation with Van Milton. A tour guide in Kyoto, without customers to guide at the present time. In addition to tour guiding, Van is a botanist, a teacher, a keen hiker and cyclist and a fellow sake lover. We met through the Taste with the Toji online sake group….

Eating in Japan- Yokochō

Yokochō means “alleyway” in Japanese, and the busy alleyways of Tokyo, Osaka, and other large cities in Japan, are an opportunity to connect with the past. Bustling and crowded alleyways are packed with small izakaya, bars, ramen joints and other cheap and delicious eateries. Many of these establishments seat only 4-10 people. They are very…

Eating in Japan- Kaiseki

Kaiseki is an elegant, stylised and ritualised multi-course set meal served in ryokan and restaurants in Japan. The highly trained chefs present the food in such a way as to embellish but not detract from the natural beauty and freshness of the ingredients. There is always a seasonal element to the meal and the local…

Eating in Japan- Depato Food Floors

Eating in Japan is one of my favourite things to do. Wherever you eat the food is good. Even in the convenience stores. In fact, convenience store onigiri and arabiki sausage on a stick are some of the things I yearn for when I think about Japan. Something I worked out quite quickly on our…

The Mothers of Invention

“Our need will be the real creator” Plato Monday night is sake night at our house. (Well, some other nights may be sake nights, too…) However, Monday night is Taste with the Toji night. Some of you may remember me writing about Taste with the Toji sessions last year, when our gorgeous friend the Sake…

The Red Thread of Fate

Unmei No Akai Ito 運命の赤い糸, the red thread of fate, connects you from your pinky finger to your destined lover’s pinky finger. It is a magical, invisible cord that can stretch around the world. It can tangle but can not break. The cord will eventually bring you together regardless of place, time or circumstance. It…

Romance in Japan

“Japanese are born Buddhist, marry Shinto and die Buddhist” is the old adage about religious tradition in Japan. However, these days it would probably be more appropriate to say “born Shinto, marry Christian and die Buddhist”. Ritual is popular in Japan. Religion not so much. Most Japanese consider themselves not to be religious, but they…

Osaka Obachan

Every country has its own subcultures and quirks. Some more than others. Japan has many, and I think it is one of the things that make the culture of Japan so very intriguing. One subculture I find particularly interesting is the “Osaka Obachan”. I believe it is rare to find such a trend in older…

Cultural Dysphoria

My very first time in Japan my kids quickly pointed out to me that the reason I liked the country so much and felt at home was because the Japanese people were all like me. Small, polite and very tidy and organised. It has taken me some time to understand that the real reason I…

Uniquely Japanese- Omoiyari 思いやり

You may have heard the story about the Japanese fans at the World Cup match who remained after the game to clean the stadium. It made the news around the world. This kind of behaviour is not rare in Japan. A tiny country, with LOTS of mountains and a huge population that has little crime…

Zen in Space…

I have not been able to find a lot of information about this in English, and my Japanese is not good enough to decipher technical writing, however I thought this was very interesting, and I have tried to fill in the blanks with some research. Daigo-Ji Temple in Fushimi, in Kyoto, is a very, very…