Bamboo

One could say that Asia was built on bamboo (竹)and few would dispute it. Bamboo is a fast growing plant that has provided Asia with food and building materials for thousands of years. But moreover, bamboo forests, though increasingly rare in Japan, are beautiful places to wander and be amazed in. Arashiyama in Kyoto boasts…

Koicha

No, it’s not green paint, though you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for such. Koicha is thick green tea, consumed almost exclusively in tea ceremony. Koicha tends to be more expensive than normal green tea as it requires a very high grade leaf with a milder, sweeter taste. This is because the amount of tea used…

Kabukicho

If there is any neighborhood that has attained notoriety in Tokyo, it would be Kabukicho. This area north of Shinjuku station is infamous for its many vices: gambling, prostitution and yakuza (Japanese gangsters). There is even a permanently repeating recording by the local police played over neighborhood loudspeakers warning people of the dangers of Kabukicho. While…

Brigela

Gelato served in a warm brioche bun? Is that even a thing? Why yes it is, and you can try it for yourself at Brigela (Brioche-Gelato), a dessert chain in Tokyo. Combining the Japanese love of fresh bread and soft ice cream, Brigela seems like the perfect fit for the Japanese palette. Traditional flavors include…

Otaru

Otaru is a port city on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, about 25 minutes from its capital, Sapporo. Otaru thrived as a trading center until the mid 20th century when coal mines around the city started to run dry. Today, Otaru serves as a bedroom community for the Sapporo workforce as well as a wonderful…

Kaiseki

Kaiseki is the form of Japanese cuisine based on individual servings of a wide variety of dishes, tailored to regional and seasonal foods to ensure the freshest of ingredients. Traditionally, kaiseki starts with a soup and ends with a sweet dessert and green tea. Sandwiched between can be a variety of dishes including vegetables, sashimi, grilled meats,…

Ichiran Ramen

Ramen is the original Japanese fast food and the seating at Ichiran aims to keep it that way. Seating is set up like a voting booth; partitions on each side of you ensure your focus is only on the bowl in front of you. While Ichiran isn’t the best choice for enjoying a meal with…

Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a food that defies definition in Western culinary terms. Not quite a crepe, pancake or omelette, okonomiyaki is a meal rolled into one big package. Cabbage, eggs, pork and a batter made with flour and yam are the basic ingredients, but there are many optional ones including cheese or noodles. One of the quintessential…

Shirasu

Shirasu are immature white fish that are a staple in the Japanese diet. They swim together in large schools and not difficult for fishermen to scoop out of the ocean in large quantities. One fisherman on television recently said he can catch 150kg (330 lbs.) of shirasu in a single outing. Shirasu can be eaten raw or…

UN University Farmers Market

In a country where domestic agriculture is such a critical industry, there have been surprisingly few Farmers Markets in Japan. Recently, momentum is gaining for supporting sustainable agriculture and locally grown products, and Farmers Markets are a wonderful by-product of the overall movement. In the heart of Tokyo, United Nations University in Aoyama hosts a…