Eating in Japan- Izakaya

Eating anywhere in Japan is a treat. Eating in an Izakaya is the best treat, in my opinion. Izakaya are sometimes compared to pubs in the West, but I think of them more as bars with amazing snacks. Similar to tapas bars. They are casual, fun and often rowdy. Izakaya translates to stay and drink….

The Kimono Police

“The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know” Albert Einstein Last week I had coffee with a very lovely friend of mine. We used to work together and share many interests including mushrooms and moss. She is Japanese, and I am always amazed that after every conversation we have, I…

The Only Gaijin in the Village (Or, How the Onsen Changed my Life)

On my recent trip to Japan, my fourth, I finally tried an onsen. We stayed in a traditional, and very beautiful ryokan on Lake Chuzenji, just out of Nikko. We spent three nights eating, sleeping and bathing in the traditional way. All the traditional ways of living in Japan are surrounded with layers of etiquette…

Japanese Etiquette 101- Honorifics

Before I went to Japan I had seen old movies where the foreigners called the restaurant owners Mama-San, and had a vague understanding that san was something like Mrs. I had no idea that honorifics are part of everyday life in Japan, and that I would one day answer to カイリさん (kairi-san-my name- Kylie-san) カイリ先生(kairi sensei-Kylie…

Japanese Etiquette 101- Hashi (Chopsticks)

The day after we arrived in Japan for the first time Mya and I did a Sushi cooking class in Asakusa. It was an excellent idea (in hindsight) as our beautiful teacher, Yoshimi-Sensei, armed us with some essential local knowledge, including hashi etiquette. Hashi, or chopsticks, are, of course found in many other countries. However,…

Japanese Etiquette 101- Surgical masks

Upon arriving in Tokyo the first time, you may mistakenly assume you have arrived during some kind of epidemic. Many people (my kids and I estimated around 25%) of the population wear surgical masks when out in public. At first, I found it slightly confronting. Only because it’s difficult to ascertain someone’s mood by looking…

Japanese Etiquette 101- Pay on the tray…

I had no idea when I went to Japan that change trays existed outside of restaurants, or that they would be used in every cash transaction I would make in Japan. But they were. My first slightly awkward experience was within a very short time of disembarking my flight. The JR ticket office at the…