Wednesday, November 13, 2013

japan in food

Breakfast in Hiroshima

I can't think of just the right words to summarize eating in Japan, so let me share a few things I do remember.

I ate a lot more noodles than I expected  and I loved them.

The fish was usually raw  and always perfectly fresh and tender.

The sake was hot or cold  and both were good.

I am yet another foreigner who doesn't like natto (fermented beans)  and I can't even handle looking at that slimy texture.

I learned to drink green tea like water  and I miss it now.

I continued my new love affair with soft tofu  and am now determined to make it at home.

I live in Alberta and I don't want to be unpatriotic, but I ate the best steak of my life at the New Otani Hotel in Tokyo  and can't wait to go back for more.

Let me show you the rest . . .

One morning, these sweet potatoes showed up in the yard at our host family's house in Kasugai. I believe they came from Hamako's brother's garden. I never saw grass in between houses in the city; the land was always used for vegetable gardens and persimmon trees.

Hamako packed these snack bags for us on our last day. We happily munched our way through them on the bullet train.

We had our nicest hotel breakfasts in Hiroshima, looking out at the bus stop and scores of school children rushing to the bus with all their umbrellas up.

After making my way through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, all I wanted was a cup of hot tea.

I asked at the little shop inside and the server pointed to what looked like a refrigerated case of tea bottles behind me.

I said, "No, I would like hot tea."

She nodded and I gave in. She reached into the case and handed me a bottle that was hot. I still don't know how. I sat at a little table and drank it, looking through the rain at school children visiting the Phoenix tree that survived the atomic bomb.

This was just one small part of lunch at a restaurant on Miyajima.

From my seat, I could see out the windows, to the rainy ocean and rising land beyond.

While my mom finished her shopping on Miyajima, I ducked out of the rain into a little bakery.

Miyajima is famous for these little maple-shaped cookies filled with bean paste. They were only about 90 cents and I ordered two: one for me and one for mom. I sat down to eat mine and they brought me green tea. It was exactly what that rainy afternoon called for.

A market stall just before entering the Nishiki food market in Kyoto. I do believe we ate daikon radish every day in Japan.

Lunch at Arashiyama: a big bowl of udon noodle soup and green tea.

On our last morning in Tokyo, more than a hundred people were lined up for breakfast at the hotel.

We headed outside and found a little Thai restaurant. We sat outside at a rickety table and ate green coconut bread, ricotta pancakes and mango as we watched thousands of people cross the intersection from the subway station on their way to work.

I was reminded once again of a very important Japanese word: oishii. Delicious.

one year ago: potato chip cookies
two years ago: roasted tomato soup and asiago lace
three years ago: butter tarts

Sunday, November 3, 2013

japan in pictures

I got back from Japan last Monday.

Images from my trip keep surprising me: when I look a certain way, when I suddenly want a cup of green tea mid-afternoon, when I sit on the bus on the way to work and think how different the bus was in Kyoto.

Here are some of the pictures I love the most. I'll be back later with the food photos.

Kasugai Train Station

Our umbrellas after we were literally rained out of the parade in Kasugai

Thirteen-year-old Thomas was a big hit with the Japanese girls

Bullet train to Hiroshima

After the atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, only the bones of this building remained

The floating gate at the shrine on Miyajima Island

Contemplating the shrine and thankful the rain stopped for 10 minutes

Bamboo grove in Arashiyama

Koi in the gardens in Arashiyama

Japanese maple leaf in Arashiyama

At Kyoto's busiest intersection

Why can't Canadian men dress this well?

View from the Tokyo Sky Tree

Imperial Palace grounds in Tokyo

Bride and groom at the New Otani Hotel in Toyko

Last morning in Japan: view from Tokyo hotel room

one year ago: quince jellies
two years ago: applesauce spice cake
three years ago: west african peanut soup via winnipeg