The Japanese quest for harmony and perfection is a hard gig for them but makes for a great experience for visitors. Everyone will tell you how clean and safe it is and the reality of that is simply great.
There are lots of little things to watch out for but no one will ever make you feel uncomfortable about them.
I have very few food pictures. Having your camera out taking pictures of the food is frowned upon. I’m sure they don’t want anyone touching their phones during a meal. Remember the cleanliness thing.
When you sit down you are given a warm wet towel and after cleaning your hands, you should fold it neatly and place it beside your plate in case you need to wipe your fingers.
Restaurants have baskets for you to put beside or under your chair for your bags or purse, so you don’t have to leave anything on the floor.
Our love of Japanese food was a big motivator to visit Japan but the 1st day or so can be a bit overwhelming. We stayed at the Hyatt Shinjuku so we had our 1st sushi meal there at Miyako. With just 14 seats at the sushi counter we had a chef who was exclusively focused on making us happy. His knife skills were something to see. For the finale he used little bits of this and that and made us the most delicious roll. I dared one picture.
The next day we took a walk around the old fish market. I took one picture of a beautifully displayed octopus. The vendors do not want tourists taking pictures and getting in the way of their business. Being exceeding polite people, they may not say anything but they definitely don’t like it.
The department stores are amazing places and the whole top floor is often full of restaurants. We tried the tempura restaurant in the Keio Department store. That’s where I noticed how much the Japanese enjoy their food. We sat at the bar again and were able to see the reactions of the people around us as they ate and expressed their great pleasure. I didn’t know that eating tempura was complicated but they have us a guide to enjoying tempura. I really liked all the different salts. A giant tempered clam was absolutely amazing and I’m sure I’ll never have anything quite like it again.
In Takamatsu we did an udon making class, then enjoyed the udon with a bento box lunch. It was super fun and tasty.
By the time we got to Osaka we were pretty comfortable and had a great visit to the Kuromon Ichiba Market.
You don’t eat on the streets and there are no garbage bins anywhere, so in the market when you buy something, you should stand at the stall you buy from and eat so they can take care of your disposables. They may have a couple of tables in the back and will invite you to use them. We tried takoyaki, little balls of batter stuffed with octopus, cooked in a special molded pan and covered in yummy sauce.
We loved okonomiyaki, a savory pancake with optional fillings. Okonomi means “what you like” and yaki means “cooked”, so it can have almost anything in it. I have a recipe and am looking forward to making one.
Another fun foodie thing to do in Osaka is to wander along the Dotonbori canal and the streets around it. Lined with restaurants and full of people eating and having fun, you could spend several nights there and never run out of great things to try or see. You won’t be bored.
When it’s time to leave Japan you can buy your souvenirs or treats to bring home at the airport and trust that the price will be the same as in the city.
I can’t wait to go back to Japan.