Eating My Way Through Japan

Blossoms in my favorite hue

Blossoms in my favorite hue

Visiting Japan during the cherry blossom season has long been an ambition of mine. However, only now that I live in Asia, did it actually seem feasible. When I noticed last September that we had back-to-back holidays (Ching Ming and Easter) resulting in four straight days off of work AND coinciding perfectly with cherry blossom season, I immediately booked tickets to Japan.

We flew from Hong Kong to Tokyo and took the train to Osaka, where we stayed for four days. Kyoto is the main attraction when it comes to cherry blossoms but, as a result, the hotels book up real fast and get quite expensive (~US$500/night for a 3-star hotel).

Luckily, the train from Osaka to Kyoto is only 30 minutes, so we commuted in and out of Kyoto for three days to view a collection of ancient landmarks, such as the Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle, Silver Pavilion and Heian Shrine. These all happen to be World Heritage Sites, so even without the cherry blossoms, we were thrilled to have an opportunity to go sightseeing in Kyoto.

 

Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)

Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)

One of the reasons I love visiting Japan is that you really can’t go wrong when it comes to food. The Japanese pay so much attention to detail and take pride in what they serve in restaurants. As a result, you can eat almost anywhere (shopping mall, train station, airport), and the food will be clean and taste good.

This trip was no exception. In between sightseeing and shopping, my husband and I ate to our heart’s content. Kyoto and Osaka are known for okonomiyaki, which is sort of a like an omelet, but with completely different ingredients. We dined on okonomiyaki a few times along with takoyaki, a ball-shaped dumpling made with batter, octopus and a few other ingredients. During the trip, we also ate sushi (of course), katsu, curry, tempura, ramen, udon noodles and yakitori. Here’s a small selection of the good eats we enjoyed in Japan.

 

Ramen (from the Haneda airport)

Ramen (from the Haneda airport)

Katsu curry at Shin-Osaka Station

Katsu curry at Shin-Osaka Station

Yakiudon in Osaka

Yaki Udon in Osaka

Modanyaki (okonomiyaki with noodles underneath)

Modanyaki (okonomiyaki with noodles underneath)

Yakitori

Yakitori

Tentojiki (tempura with egg over rice)

Tentojiki (tempura with egg over rice)

Fresh Ngiri

Fresh Ngiri

Beyond food, we found several really good coffee shops. Just to be clear, when I say ‘good coffee,’ I’m not talking about Starbucks. I mean, really good coffee made from beans that have been roasted within the last 24-48 hours. I’m talking about espresso drinks with microfoam and latte art. We also found a few Viennese coffee shops, which were also quite good!

Viennese Coffee from Inoda's in Kyoto

Viennese Coffee from Inoda's in Kyoto

After our time in Osaka and Kyoto, we traveled back to Tokyo to spend a couple days enjoying the cherry blossoms in the nation’s capital, to do some shopping and to eat more 🙂 Though I have shopped in Tokyo before, this was my first time staying in Ginza. We were a few blocks from the major shops and made sure to hit up the world’s largest Uniqlo (twelve floors).

 

Ginza

Ginza - one of Tokyo's busy shopping districts

 

After a week in Japan, it was time to go home. We were sad to leave, but going back enriched by the sights we had seen and the food we had eaten. Of course, this also meant it was time to hit the gym!

Enjoying the cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen Park

Enjoying the cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen Park

 

I look forward to my next trip to Japan, which will be a business trip at the end of May. Though the cherry blossoms will be long gone, I can’t wait to eat more okonomiyaki!

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Comments
One Response to “Eating My Way Through Japan”
  1. mrs.sumisu. says:

    Missing Japan and Japanese food! so jealouse!

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