Friday, March 1, 2013

Eating my way across Japan (well through Tokyo and Kyoto): Part 1

In February of this year, I took a week trip to Japan with my friend Alec. He was going skiing for a week in the North but neither of us had ever been to Japan and we wanted to see what it was like. For me, of course, the food was a big draw.

We started in Tokyo where I spent three nights in a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with its heated bath. One of the highlights of the Ryokan is the Japanese breakfast in the morning.

Green Tea, pickled vegetables, miso soup, rice, and a piece of salmon and some omelet. Nori on the side to mix in with rice! Delicious way to start the day.
At the Ryokan, they also have lovely green tea in the room for you to sip while you sit on the pillows on the tatami mats. In Ryokan Sawanoya, where I stayed in Tokyo near the Ueno park, the tea was particularly good.

With a little origami crane to say hello!
When Alec arrived we explored a crazy area called Shibuya which is filled with trendy Tokyo teenagers shopping and milling about. It's home to the craziest street crossing in the world. I didn't think to go up to the 2nd floor Starbucks and take a video but here's one to give you a feel for it. We were there at night so it was bathed in neon lights too...

After feeling a bit overwhelmed, we just went into a sushi place never suspecting it was a conveyor belt sushi place! We felt so proud of ourselves for mastering the technology!

The menus are printed in front of you and you use a touchscreen television screen to select 3 dishes and your beverages.

 Then they whiz along the conveyor belt quickly to your "station" at the bar. 
Delicious! I made a dent. And it was cheap!
Alec demonstrating proper chopsticks technique. Note the big pile of plates from our neighbors nextdoor.

After a fast and furious day in Tokyo, we got up early the next morning to take the Shinkasen (bullet train) to Kyoto. And since it was Alec and I, we got SNACKS! We were obsessed with the Japanese snacks and a trip to 7-11 was always a treat. 

Onigiris are rice balls in a cool wrapper that keeps the seaweed crisp and the rice moist!
Often filled with salmon, salmon roe, umeboshi plum (salt pickeled sour plum), tuna, and fish roe. The one I got on the train was tuna mayonnaise and then I got another one that was salmon. It was a lottery as I couldn't read the Japanese.

Japanese 7-11s actually produce decent food! No gross burritos here!
Look at that selection!
We bought rice cracker snacks (our favorite had crab on them), aloe vera flavored jelly squares, Japanese chocolate, hot green tea from a heated rack, Asahi and Sapporo beer, jasmine green tea, some gloves, moisturizer, and numerous other things.

Up next - part 2! Eating our way through Kyoto!

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