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Kurabu – Eating Well in Obuse

One of our guides in Tokyo had been recommending we visit Obuse for years and on this latest trip we finally got a chance to go to this small town near Nagano. One of the best parts of our day was lunch at Kurabu, the robata-like restaurant operated by the folks who also run the local sake factory, Mashuchi.  The Club (kurabu) got its name because it was built in an old section (bu) of the brewery (kura), and serves the traditional “yori-tsuki” style cooking that the brewers enjoy. The “yori-tsuki” was a place where the brewers could quickly gather...
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Sour Milk: It’s Just Different Here

Sour Milk: It’s Just Different Her...

As a frequent traveler to Japan it should come as no surprise that there seems to be a different set of tastes that appeal to the average Japanese. The fruit flavors are different, the candies are different and certainly the drinks are different.  But this new offering — conspicuously being announced in the Tokyo subway system, had even my iron-stomached traveling companion gagging:
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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...