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Japanese Cuisine Archive

Fast Food in Japan - Soba, Gyudon

Looking for a quick meal in Tokyo?? Of course there are McDonald’s,?Subway,?and other burger shops, but there is a wide range of other choices.

fastfood

One healthy choice is having Soba noodle.? There are luxurious Soba restaurants in certain areas, but in the busy districts are often cheaper Soba restaurants.
Most of these are standing-up-eating restaurants.? Choose a Soba with your preferred topping, buy a ticket at the vending machine, hand it to a clerk, and your Soba will be served in about a minute.? You will see many busy businessmen here in weekday noon.

fastfood fastfood

Not much healthy, but another fast noodle is Ramen.? Not many Ramen restaurants are standing-up-eating, though the customers are in a rush as well.? Usually Ramen costs about 700 yen, but these fast restaurants serve Ramen around 400 yen (if you want to pursue taste, you will have to?use your?time and money, of course).

fastfood

Gyudon (???筝?, Japanese beef bowl) is also a famous Japanese fast food.? You may have seen the signs of Yoshinoya (??????絎?), Sukiya (??????絮?), or Nakau (????????), the most popular Gyudon restaurants.? Not only beef bowls but pork bowls and chicken bowls are available at these restaurants, and there are also set meals with Miso soup and salad.? It is possible to take away your meal, which is impossible for Soba and Ramen.

People are usually rushing in these restaurants, so you may feel timid to enter them.? If it’s your first time, avoid the rush in lunch time, and try them in non-busy hours.? This will allow you to take plenty of time to choose your menu and to ask the clerk about the system of the shops.


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Historical Gourmet of Ginza

Ginza has been the leader of culture since the late 19th century.? Mainly in fashion, and also in food culture.? Many Western foods were first introduced in Ginza, and some Western-Japanese fusion foods were born.

ginza ginza

You may have seen the store in the photo above, near?Mitsukoshi and Matsuya.? This is the flagship store of Kimuraya (?????絎?, the sign in the photo reads 絎倶?????, for Japanese was read from right to left in the past), a famous bread company.
Kimuraya, first named Buneido (?????怨??), was founded in 1871.? The famous Anpan was invented here, as the harmony of Japanese and Western food culture.? Anpan is bread with sweet bean paste inside, and a salted cherry blossom on top.

What occured afterwards in Ginza?
In 1895, the first Western-food resraurant, Rengatei (??????梱) opened.
In 1897, Ginza Sembikiya (???綺у?????絮?) opened as a fruit store selling imported fruits, and also started the first soda fountain in Japan.
In 1902, Shiseido, the now famous cosmetic brand, opened a soda fountain (currently named Shiseido Parlor) in its shop, and started selling soda and ice cream.
In 1911, Cafe Printemps, a cafe mocking a cafe in Paris opened, and became the watering hole for cultural figures.
After WW2, many luxurious restaurants from all over the world opened in Ginza.? With Lecrin and Maxim’s de Paris, and many exclusive clubs, Ginza came to be concerned as the area of luxury.

ginza

Soda fountain machine, displayed in Ginza Shiseido Building.

Though the appearance has changed a lot, there are many old stores and restaurants still open in Ginza.? While walking around Ginza, look for the trace of history, and you sure will find a lot!


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Hanazono Jinja, a Shinto Shrine in Shinjuku

hanazono

Hanazono Shinto Shrine (??怨??腑?腓?) is?a Shinto Shrine?in?Shinjuku, which was?founded more than 500 years ago.? It is located in the center of Shinjuku, and is enshrined as the guardian god of Shinjuku since the Edo period.? It is called Hanazono (??怨??, flower garden) because the site was formerly a flower garden.

hanazono

Many festivals are held in Hanazono Shinto Shrine, almost every month.? Even when no festival is on, the site is full of people, offering prayers, taking a rest, and meeting someone.? It is a very popular place among the people in Shinjuku.

hanazono

Another thing famous about Hanazono Shinto Shrine is Hanazono Manju (??怨??薀????).? It is?a Japanese sweets shop founded in 1834, and moved to Tokyo in 1920.? This shop advocates its own Manju (薀????, Japanese sweet buns) ‘the most expensive, and the most delicious in Japan’.
The shop and cafe is right next to Hanazono Shinto Shrine.? One small Manju costs 367 yen, but it surely is delicious!


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New Year in Japan 1 - Cleaning & Toshikoshi Soba

Merry Christmas!
…and the next thing to think about is the coming year :)

new-year

In Japanese, New Year’s Eve is called Ohmisoka (紊ф????).
Misoka (?????) means ‘last day of the month’, and New Year’ Eve is the most important month-end, so it is called Oh(紊?, big)-misoka.

People tend to be very busy on Ohmisoka, because they have much to do to prepare for the new year, and New Year’s Day in particular.
Through cleaning is usually done in spring in the West, as there is a term ’spring cleaning’, but in Japan, it is often done on the last few days of the year.??In Japanese style houses, this cleaning?involves changing the paper on?Shoji (???絖?)?doors and setting?Tatami (???)?mats out to air in the sun.? The purpose doing this in the cold winter?is to get ready to welcome in the new year with everything?including people’s minds and bodies?in a fresh, clean state.

new-year

After cleaning and all, it is time for supper.
Around 23:00 on Ohmisoka, people often gather?at home?to have a bowl of Soba.? This Soba eaten in Ohmisoka is called Toshikoshi Soba (綛頑???????????, year-crossing noodles).? This tradition?has the meaning of a wish to be able to live a very long (like Soba) life.


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Osechi - New Years Feast in Japan

It may be strange to think about new years day when it’s not even Christmas yet.? But not if you are making reservation for Osechi (???膀?).

osechi

Osechi is a traditional Japanese New Year feast. The tradition started in the Heian Period (綛喝?????篁?, 794-1185).
Osechi?is?usually put into?special boxes called Jubako (???膊?), which resemble?bento boxes, only more flamboyant. Like bento boxes, jubako are often kept stacked before and after use.

The dishes that make up Osechi each have a special meaning celebrating the New Year.
Some examples are:

Kazunoko (??違????)
Herring roe.? Kazu (???)?means “number” and ko (絖?) means “child”. ?It symbolizes a wish to be gifted with numerous children in the?coming year.

Kuro-mame (藥?莟?)
Black soybeans. ?Mame (莟?, beans) also means “health”, symbolizing a wish for health.

Tazukuri (??遺?????)
Dried sardines cooked in soy sauce.? The literal meaning of the kanji in tazukuri is “rice?field maker”, as the fish were used historically to fertilize rice fields. The symbolism is of an abundant harvest.

The above three are called Iwai-zakana Sanshu (腑??????岩??腮?, three celebrational dishes).? Without these three, the new years feast would not be complete.
Iwai-zakana Sanshu differs by regions.? The above are the Kanto (including Tokyo) style.

Osechi

Traditionally, Osechi is made in each house, but it can be purchased at department stores, and even on the internet.
At the department stores, for example Mitsukoshi or Takashimaya, you can buy Osechi from famous Ryotei (exclusive restaurants).
The deadline of reservation is around Christmas, or some times the 20th of December.? Some are in a limited quantity so it finishes even earlier!? If you are interested, an early reservation is recommended.


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Iwasaki Family House, Ueno, Tokyo

iwasaki

Within a few minutes walk from Ueno station, you will find a nice mansion and a garden.? This is Former Iwasaki Family House (??у鴬經????), which used to be the mansion of Iwasaki family, owner of Mitsubishi syndicate.

This family house was designed by Josiah Condor, an English architect, and was completed in 1896.? The basic tone is Jacobian style, but some Islamic taste is taken in.

iwasaki

The main building is western, but there is a Japanese style house in the back.? The rooms are beautiful, and there is a cafe space for having Japanese tea and sweets, which you can also enjoy in the garden.
Feel the history, culture, and nature? :)

Former Iwasaki Family House (??у鴬經????)
Location: Ueno
Open Hours: 9:00-17:00
Entrance Fee: 400JPY
Website: http://www.kensetsu.metro.tokyo.jp/kouen/kouenannai/park/english/kyu_iwasaki_tei.pdf (Eng)


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Special Dining at Roppongi

If you are tired of ordinary dining, this might be the restaurant for you :)
The name is ‘Roppongi Horror Dining Trick or Treat’.? As it is shown in the name, you will be in a nightmare at this restaurant!

horror-dining horror-dining

At the entrance, a gravestone will welcome you.
In the dark light of the restaurant, horror movies are on air, and numerous dolls are displayed.
The master, in a frightening costume, will take you to your seat…

horror-dining

The menu is pretty normal (at least most of them are), bu they are served on wierd, freaky dishes.

This restauraut must be great for halloween parties, but it is open all year, so come over anytime you like!
Celebrities such as Quentin Tarantino and Tim Burton are said to be fans of this restaurant, so if you have luck, you may meet someone!

Roppongi Horror Dining Trick or Treat
Location: Roppongi
Open Hours: Mon-Thur 18:30-2:00, Fri-Sat 18:30-5:00
Website:?http://hdaimc14.xsrv.jp/trick_or_treat/top.php (Jap)


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Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku - Back to the 50’s

Omoide Yokocho

Walking in the crowd from the west exit of Shinjuku station, you will soon see a green and yellow board written ‘????????堺┴筝? (Omoide Yokocho)’.

Omoide Yokocho (????????堺┴筝?) literally meaning ‘memory alley’,?is a narrow street with a cluster of small Yakitori bars, Ramen restaurants, and pubs.? There are about 80 in this small alley.
This street preserves the?atmosphere of the 1950s, when the area was a black market and food stalls were abundant.

Omoide Yokocho

If you are willing to have cheap beer and dinner, or to experience the typical, traditional small restaurants in Japan, why not visit Omoide Yokocho?? And don’t be satisfied with just one restaurant, go bar-hopping!

Omoide Yokocho

Omoide Yokocho

Location: Shinjuku
Opening hours: vary by vendor (some are open all day, some open in the evening)
Website: http://www.shinjuku-omoide.com/english/index.html (Eng.? under construction)


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Shinto Shrine in Akasaka, Tokyo

You may see many Shrines when walking around Tokyo.? Toyokawa Inari?(莟?綏?腮画??) is one of them, located in Akasaka.

toyokawa

Toyokawa Inari is a Shrine in Aichi prefecture, constructed in 1441.? The branch temple in Tokyo was founded in 1828, and was relocated to the current location in 1887.
Toyokawa Inari is dedicated to Inarishin (腮画?欠??), god??of fertility, rice, agriculture, foxes, industry and success.

toyokawa

Toyokawa Inari is also famous for Inari-zushi (????????絲水??) which is sold on-site.
Inari-zushi is a kind of Sushi, but quite different from Sushi that is well known: vinegered rice is wrapped with sweet Aburaage (羃号?????, deep-fried Tofu).? It is named ‘Inari’, because foxes were thought to be apostles of Inarishin, and Aburaage were thought to be the favorite food of foxes.


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Joy of Autumn in Tokyo

Autumn

Autumn?is an active season in Tokyo.
All the hotness and humidity gone, people?get much more active than they were in summer.? There are Japanese proverbs showing how exciting a season autumn is:
??鴻????若??????? (”Autumn, a season for sports”)
茯??吾???? (”Autumn, a season for reading”)
蕋?罨蚊???? (”Autumn, a season for strong appetite”)

Definitely, it is better to read or play sports in the cool, comfortable season, than in the hot summer.
Also, autumn is the season of harvest.? There are various delicacies of the season, such as sweet chestnuts (???), brevoorts (腱????薛?)???and Matsutake mushrooms(??乗??).? Rice is also harvested in autumn, and is most delicious in this season.

Brevoort
Brevoorts.
The Kanjis “腱????薛?”, literally mean ‘autumn’, ’sword’, ‘fish’.? It is written like this because brevoorts are fish which are in season in autumn, and look like swords.

Autumn is also a season of art.? It is said “??梧??????? (geijutsu no aki)” in Japanese.? Many art events take place in this season.
Tokyo Designers Week, an event of design,?is one of them.

Tokyo Design Week
Work from Tokyo Designers Week 2009

Many works by?top designers, shops,?and art students would be exhibited.? Marking its 25th anniversary, this year’s theme is ‘Environment’.
Of course Japan is?a treasure trove of unique tradition, but don’t forget that new designs and technologies are always being created too!

???Location: Meiji Jingu Gaien
???Period: Oct. 29 - Nov. 3
???Website: http://www.tdwa.com/


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