Category Archives: Japan

Japan- The Last Snapshots

Here are the last of the photos from my Japan trip back in June. Since then I’ve been back in the kitchen, excited about cooking with summer’s best ingredients, so I’ll get back to the cooking blogging soon. Is it just me or are corn, tomatoes and basil all one needs to eat during the summer? The farmers markets are just loaded with the best and sweetest produce right now.

Anyway, back to Nippon!

Dark purple asparagus at the market in Sapporo

Taking the shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo from Nagoya

Would you like some beecon, or bacon?

Hairy crab with lots of “kani-miso,” at an izakaya near our hotel in Sapporo.

People gather at a matsuri in Sapporo- this area where all of the food stands are is definitely the most popular of the festival!

An array of plastic sushi displayed in the window of a sushi restaurant, Otaru.

Hmmmmm….more delicious looking plastic food in the shotengai (shopping street) in Sapporo.

Punk rocker in front of one of Japan’s most popular convinience stores, SUNKUS, which is pronounced and means “thanks.” It took me a year to realize that while I lived there since I kept pronouncing the “kus” like “bus.”

Salmon sashimi, fresh and fatty, at an izakaya in Sapporo.

Tiny little eateries like this sushi shop are one of my favorite things about Japan. No matter what city you’re in, you’ll find little places- bars, yakitoriyas, sushiyas, etc.

Last but not least, my 99 year old “obaachan” or grandmother. Isn’t she the cutest? She still loves to eat and chat and is just perfect.

Japan: Snapshots

I still have a ton of photos that I took in Japan to share with you all, so here’s a random selection of some of the better ones. Enjoy!

A bird’s eye view of the busiest intersection in the world. Shibuya, Tokyo Japan.

Some delicious peppered pork yakitori in Sapporo, Japan.

The delciousness pictured above was made by this man in his tiny yet efficient kitchen, Sapporo, Japan.

Fountain in the city center of Nagoya, Japan.

A gaggle of bike riding girls in Nagoya, Japan.

A beautiful eki-ben (means an obento purchased at the train station) on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya from Osaka, Japan.

The Mama-san of a hostess bar gives me her best pose, Osaka, Japan.

A plate of absolutely divine anago sushi at our favorite restaurant, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.

Sushi no moriawase- a mixed selection- at the same sushi restaurant, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.

The view from our room at the Excel Hotel, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo girls always look good but it takes a lot of work to keep it up! Coffee shop, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.

Piping hot kani kureemu korokke , maybe the best I’ve ever had, at an izakaya, Koenji, Tokyo, Japan.

Japan: Otaru, Hokkaido

I am finally back with another Japan entry. Boy- I really am disappointed that I haven’t been able to blog lately and it’s always gnawing at the back of my mind that poor Tuna Toast is growing moldy. Thanks to the Brangelina twins’ arrival, a home remodeling project and a lot of changes at work, my life has been quite hectic lately. I’m hoping to get back on the blogging bandwagon soon!

So, as with the previous post, I would like to post a series of photos with little captions to give you a photo essay of our trip to Otaru, near Sapporo, in Hokkaido. Otaru is a port town very popular with tourists, and although we normally avoid those types of places we couldn’t travel too far due to J’s ankle injury and it was an easy train ride from our hotel in Sapporo. We actually enjoyed it quite a bit- it was a lovely day, the ocean smelled wonderful and it wasn’t too crowded. Of course there were the usual touristy restaurants and shops but overall it was a great experience and completely different from anywhere I’d been during my seven years living in Tokyo.

The 35 minute train ride from Sapporo was very scenic – with the last 10 or so minutes being right on the coast:

We arrived at Otaru station and one of the first things I noticed were these beautiful glass lanterns:

Otaru is known for their glassmaking. With the decline of the herring fishing industry in the 1950’s, the makers of glass buoys decided to get into the fine glassware business. There were many glass shops and even a place where tourists can make their own glass:

Another famous landmark in Otaru is the Kitakaro sweets shop. J and I walked in and were happy to see that many of their yummy confections available to sample, and sample we did! Kitakaro is best known for their version of Baumkuchen, a German cake made of many layers, or rings.

Kitakaro store

Also known as “The King of Cakes,” Baumkuchen, literally translated means “tree cake” and is sweet, moist and delicious with tea. You can see the pre-cut Baumkuchen here:

We also had a soft-serve ice cream cone since Hokkaido is famous for their fresh dairy products. A lot of sweets come in milk flavor, unlike the States where vanilla is the predominate ice cream of choice. The freshness of Hokkaido cream doesn’t need to be masked by any flavorings and the soft serve was so good that J and I ate it before I could even whip out my camera!

Although we didn’t stop to sit and eat a meal during our day trip, we sampled enough food to keep our tummies really happy. There we many seafood markets offering freshly grilled scallops topped with a dollop of fresh, Hokkaido butter (YUM) and a splash of sake:

We also walked into a few small historical stores like one that sells konbu, or dried seaweed, and sampled some konbu tea while looking at their vintage housewares:

….and then bumped into what seemed to be a tiny museum filled with old knives, typewriters, magazines and other tools:

After we were finished window shopping we walked off of the main shopping street toward the famous canals. Though the canals used to be bustling with small ships that had to unload the larger ships coming into the harbor, modern facilities made them obsolete and they’ve since been restored and have become one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions.

We saw a few more things, including this cool sake shop where, of course, they let us sample some of their goods. The old, wooden floorboard creaked beneath our feet as we walked through and looked at the gorgeous bottles covering the shelves:

J and I really enjoyed our time in Otaru and were glad that we decided, in spite of J’s twisted ankle, to make a go at it. It really is a beautiful little town and I’d recommend it for a half-day trip if you ever find yourself in Sapporo. Definitely go hungry- with almost all of the shops offering samples of their food, it’s easy to feel satisfied even if you don’t stop for a sitdown meal. In addition to the cake, scallops and sake we tried some amazing Darjeeling tea chocolates- J loved them so much that we walked by each of their three locations (all on the same street!) and got samples at each. Unfortunately they had to be refrigirated so we couldn’t bring any home, but they were absolutely divine and unlike any chocolates we’d ever eaten.

More Japan reports to come, I promise!

OtaruMore Info

Japan: Photo roundup #1

Here is the first roundup of our Japan trip from a couple of weeks ago. We visited Sapporo, Otaru, Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo. Although the trip was busy and we ran into a few stumbling blocks, Japan is and will always be one of my favorite places on earth and we did have a lot of fun.

1) Hot NUTS! It was my first time on business class and, being the dorky type, I was almost as excited for the flight as I was for the vacation in Japan. When the United flight attendant served me a bowl of fresh, warm nuts the minute my butt hit the seat, I was pretty much on my way to a great flight. I’m sure those of you who fly business all the time are yawning at this little tidbit, but I was as giddy as a kid in a candy store. Crunchy, salty and toasty nuts in five different varieties, plus a glass of champagne? At that moment I wished the 11 hour flight was 18 hours. *sigh*

2) Fresh fruit and yogurt.Is this a post about JAPAN or United business class?” you’re probably wondering. I promise, last photo (at least in this post) of airplane food but C’MON!!!Doesn’t the deep color of those blueberries make you want to chomp your monitor right now? Again, dorkface me was utterly impressed. Woo hoo!

3) Yosakoi Soran Festival. J and I were wandering the streets of Sapporo when we thought we heard takio drums in the distance. As we walked toward the sound, we started noticing more and more people and then we pretty much ran smack into this festival which is the fusion of the Yosakoi Festival of Kochi and traditional soran folk music of Hokkaido. Tons of people danced and clapped to taiko-like beats, and we could tell that there were numerous teams, each sporting their own colorful uniforms. We found out that we were there on the second of three days, and a taxi driver informed me that on the third and final day, a winning team is announced and the whole thing is “crazy.”

4) Crab at Nijo Market in Sapporo, Hokkaido. I know I had some photos of live ones in my last post, but are they not impressive?

5) Ahhh, Engrish. This is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen. Although it’s funny at first look, it’s actually quite deep if you think about it. I mean, who wants to be treated like that? I’d surely be crying if it was me.

6) Hip girl in shotengai (shopping street) in Sapporo. Fashion in Japan never fails to amaze me. You can wear pretty much whatever you like and no one even blinks an eye…’s just a form of personal expression and the majority of Japanese seem to completely accept that, which I think is fantastic!

More to come………..