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Floor B1

Floor B1

Sometimes you hear about this stuff, sometimes you don’t.   Many guidebooks suggest that you stop in a department store to explore the food offering there.   What they aren’t always clear about is HOW to explore and, interestingly enough, how standardized all the offerings are in Japan. First of all, there are usually three main places to find food in the department stores – the first floor has lots of fancy gift food (all boxed up, very pretty and sometimes very expensive), the top floor usually has restaurants (sometimes the top two floors) and many of...
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Taberarimaska? Eating when you’re ...

Traveling when you’re allergic to common foods is always a challange – in Japan it can be even more so.   I’m allergic to onions, my boyfriend to garlic.  As you can imagine, some cuisines are totally off limits.   Japanese food, however, is great because it doesn’t always contain these, but that doesn’t mean NEVER. What makes traveling in Japan with allergies more difficult is the inability to read the language – so even if you know the word for what you are allergic to, it’s not always possible to figure out if it’s in the...
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What’s with the No Chocolate Ice C...

OK, I can now say, without qualification, that it is impossible to find Haagen Daz Chocolate Chocolate-Chip ice cream in Japan.   This is too bad for the chocoholic, ice-cream addicted traveler who is jonesing for a fix. Here’s where we tried:  every 7-11 we could find, every Lawson’s we could find, every grocery store that we could identify as a grocery store, the Daimaru, Takashimaya and even the Haagen Daz shop on Kawaramachi-dori  in Kyoto.   None. Nada. Keine.  and, of course, Betsu. We also found every OTHER odd-ball flavor of Haagen-Daz – green...
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Moms Are Everywhere

Moms Are Everywhere

The gentle women of the ryokan were fussing around, putting each plate just-so, wiping up a tiny little crumb from the table and making sure that each course was presented perfectly.  Our information indicated that we were not to worry if we didn’t eat everything, as many of the dishes were unfamiliar, and that gaijin were not expected to finish every bite.  But apparently, the authors were unfamiliar with one particular attendant in Karashiki… It started with simple instructions, all communicated in sign language and three words of English.  Put this sauce on...
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Where’s the (Hida) Beef?

Where’s the (Hida) Beef?

So while in Takayama, we were told that the Hida beef was a “not to be missed” – and that some of the best available was at the Hotel Associa, outside of town, either at the regular kaiseki or at the Teppanyaki restaurant.  We hauled ourselves out there and sure enough, in addition to the great beef, we were also treated to the “meditation of the chef”.  One of the cultural wonders of Japan is the reverence with which so many people approach their craft, whether it’s the traditional arts or the art of service.  The care, temperance and...
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It’s Waste Your Money!

It’s Waste Your Money!

Eating out in Japan is always an adventure – not quite as adventurous as China (fewer eyeballs in the soup), but lots of unknowns none-the-less.   However, one restaurant in Takayama has solved the mystery of where to eat and has posted advice for the puzzled traveler.   Their advertisement (from the blackboard outside) is shown here and we’re sure that you’ll want to find out what they’re all about.