How many times has a woman made sushi for you at a sushi bar in Japan? If you answered ‘never’, you’re certainly not alone as the world of sushi is one that’s traditionally been dominated by men. While a number of female sushi chefs are working hard to change societal norms and stereotypes, there’s one special restaurant in Akihabara that’s taking things even further, with a sushi bar staffed entirely by women. From purchasing ingredients to preparing fish and making sushi, these ladies are looking to challenge the male-dominated profession, and they’re doing it all while dressed in traditional Japanese clothing.
If you’ve gone on a few overseas trips, you may be familiar with the phenomenon of travel poo, wherein your stool takes on a different hue for a few days as you adjust to local ingredients. It’s far less common for the opposite to occur, but that’s what seems to be happening with Burger King’s black burgers, which have become a repeating success story in Japan.
Burger King is currently offering its darkly colored sandwich in the U.S. and the U.K., but many are reporting that while the company turned the burger’s bun black, the burger is turning their poo green. But what’s behind this transformation, and why didn’t it happen in Japan?
Last February, we had the opportunity to combine our loves for Japanese food and ice cream when Häagen-Dazs released a line of ice cream topped by mochi rice cakes and flavored like traditional Japanese confectionaries. We got our hands on one flavor and were blown away by how amazing it tasted, and so was the rest of Japan.
Before long, the supplies of both flavors of mochi ice cream were exhausted, and the freezer sections of convenience stores and supermarkets across Japan has always looked a little lonelier in their absence. Now, though, Häagen-Dazs has announced that its kinako kuromitsu and mitarashi kurumi mochi ice creams, featuring roasted soybean flour, black sugar syrup, sweet soy glaze, and walnuts, are making a triumphant return.
So what’s the quintessential visual representation of fish in Japanese culture? Is it a decorative koi, swimming gracefully in a garden pond? Or is it a delectable piece of sushi sitting atop an elegant piece of tableware?
Maybe it’s both, like these koi-shaped sushi morsels that combine five staples of the popular dish into a beautiful piece of edible art.
Among brands who like to get adventurous with the flavors in Japan such as Kit Kat or Häagen- Dazs, Pepsi is certainly one of the most prolific. Past Pepsi flavors have included cucumber, strawberry milk, and salty watermelon.
This time, everyone’s favorite alternative to Coke has unleashed a new flavor called Pepsi Ghost, especially for the Halloween season. They’ve really outdone themselves too, because for this limited-edition outing the special flavor is unknown.
So unknown, in fact, that even after drinking about a litre of the stuff I still can’t quite put my finger on it.
Maybe you’re familiar with the popular video game and anime franchise Yokai Watch. It’s a series that combines the addictive qualities of Pokemon with the traditional ghostly lore of Japanese yokai monster stories.
But maybe you didn’t realize the “real OG,” if you will, when it comes to cutesy renditions of traditional Japanese ghosts is the manga and anime franchise GeGeGe no Kitaro. Going strong since the 1960s, Kitaro is a beloved series in Japan that tells the tale of a ghostly boy fighting for peace between humans and ghouls, like a Japanese ghost-flavored X-Men.
The series is especially cherished in the author’s hometown in Tottori, but Kitaro mania extends as far as Tokyo proper, where a Kitaro-themed cafe exists. Of course, our ghost-obsessed Japanese writer felt compelled to make a pilgrimage recently.
If you hail from one of the many developed nations that comprehensively frowns on the practice of whaling, you may have the image that an appalling number of people in Japan eat whale meat. And while that may be true in relative terms compared to extremely low number of people who regularly eat whale meat in several parts of North America and Europe, whaling can be a divisive topic even within Japan. Some Japanese have no problem with dining on whale from time to time, treating it like just a meatier, gamier fish. Others think eating whale is a custom that’s long past its time and needs to be rethought.
To get a preliminary understanding of some of the many different opinions on the issue that exist in the country, we interviewed a number of Japanese people and asked them whether they were in favor of or opposed to whaling and eating whale meat.
The Harajuku/Omotesando district in Tokyo is already a mecca of sweet shops from around the world, but things in the area just got even sweeter this past weekend as another internationally loved bakery opened its very first shop in Japan. Yes, we’re delighted that London’s celebrated LOLA’S cupcakes now has a shop in Tokyo, and as you may have guessed, we weren’t about to miss out on trying the sweet creations from one of London’s best-loved baking outlets, so there we were on opening day.
We already knew from the pictures that their cupcakes look simply amazing; now we couldn’t wait to try some for ourselves, and there were even going to be four original Japanese flavors too — Yum!
Eating catfish is looked down upon by many people in Japan who regularly enjoy a plethora of ocean-raised fish. Even though the Japanese diet is no stranger to aggressively aromatic food such as natto, diners here simply cannot get past the stink of these bottom feeders.
Eel on the other hand is a much-loved freshwater fish that is a summer hit across Japan served on top of rice with a sweet sauce. But with this popularity comes a threat of overfishing and depletion of the species. Faced with this problem, Associate Professor Masahiko Ariji of Kinki University has found a way to raise catfish which taste like eel.
Since its announcement earlier this year, there has been a lot of curiosity over this flavor-modified fish. Now, attendees to the Catfish Festival in Hashima City, Gifu Prefecture will get to try a very limited supply before it gets released for public consumption.
Traveling in a country where you aren’t super confident with the lingo can be extremely daunting, and simple acts like ordering food become a bit of a nightmare. If you don’t speak the language, you won’t know what foods are on the menu or how they are prepared. Dictionaries, both paper and electronic, are definitely helpful tools when deciphering a menu and many restaurants also try to provide at least some English—one of the most used languages in the world—on their menus.
But sometimes, for all their good intentions, restaurants fail. While this may make ordering lunch a little bit trickier, it is at times like these that we are blessed with some wonderfully bad translated food names.
Today’s special dishes come compliments of restaurants in Taiwan and China that just couldn’t quite find the right words to describe their respective delicacies. Look forward to dishes including mermaids, fried Wikipedia and confused pizzas after the jump.
Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood means different things to different people. The beautiful people living the Japanese high life are drawn by the brand-name jewelers on the tree-lined Omotesando boulevard. Teens, meanwhile, flock to the narrow Takeshitadori shopping street to score up-to-date fashions that leave their parents scratching their heads in bewilderment.
And for those with a sweet tooth, Harajuku is all about the crepes.
Our intrepid Japanese-language correspondent P.K. recently took a break from seeing how many slices of roast pork or boiled eggs he could cram in his stomach and instead decided to see how much dessert he could consume in a single serving, as he decided to max out a Tokyo crepe by ordering one with every available dessert topping.
Even if you’re not ordinarily a very artistic person, we bet you get a spark of inspiration when you’ve got a pancake on your plate. Who hasn’t drawn a doodle or sketched a smiley face in maple syrup, or at least initialed their flapjacks with the sticky, tasty condiment?
After all, tasty as they may be, pancakes look pretty dull if you don’t add any decoration…unless you’re dining at this restaurant in Japan where the pancakes come pre-decorated with images of Pikachu, Mario, and dozens of other anime and video game characters.
As a nearly 10-year resident of Japan, whenever I’m back to visit the States I love taking friends and acquaintances out to a nearby sushi bar and being easily the most knowledgeable sushi snob in the whole place. While my buddies are pouring over the weird fusion sushi – inevitably featuring fried shrimp sticking out at crazy angles like that spider-head monster in The Thing – I’m busy cramming the more delicately-flavored and exotic nigiri cuts into my gullet, rolling my eyes around in the back of my head and making exaggerated, mmmm, ohhh man, noises and sometimes giving the side-eye to the guy reluctantly prodding his uni nigiri like it’s going to come to life and slither off the table.
I’ve developed a taste for Japanese style-sushi, in other words, and I’m not afraid to be a jerk about it. But, back here in Japan, I’ll be damned if I don’t sometimes get intense cravings for a good ol’ California roll. Luckily, there’s a great place serving authentic American California rolls and other “Americanized” sushi in Okinawa, just a (relatively) short hop from Tokyo, and you can bet we went to try it out!
One of the first things that foreign visitors to Japan learn about Japanese cuisine is that white rice served by itself is meant to be enjoyed as it is, not soaked in soy or doused in dipping sauce. But many people who aren’t all that well-acquainted with Japanese food find the taste of plain boiled rice bland, and love to drizzle sweet and salty sauces all over in order to jazz it up a bit, even if it does make eating it with chopsticks ten times harder.
The UK is one place that probably isn’t known for having a high level of familiarity with Japanese food. Chains like Wagamama and Shoryu Ramen do exist, but they tend to play fast and loose with the definition of Japanese food, and as a result many British diners wind up getting their tastebuds in a bit of a tangle. But now, Japanese company Kikkoman is actually encouraging this desecrating behaviour by bringing out a new product in the UK market: Kikkoman Sweet Sauce for Rice! As you might expect, it’s raising eyebrows in Japan.
If any of you have ever tried your hand at making omurice– a Japanese rice omelette- then you’ll know it can get a bit tricky when trying to plate up. This chef, however, not only makes the process look super quick and easy, but he even turns the process into a mini performance as he shows off his skill!
Until recently, rice-loving Americans looking to add a little zing to their favorite grain would need to trek out to the nearest Asian grocery store to pick up a pack of furikake rice topping. But now, according to Japanese media, the toppings are gaining traction on the US west coast and is becoming more widely available.
Furikake consists of a mish-mash of ingredients that have been dried and powdered and, in Japan, is intended specifically and only to be sprinkled atop a steaming hot bowl of sticky Japanese rice; which explains why many Japanese people are reacting with shock at how the Americans are choosing to deploy the condiment.
Vegetarians traveling to Japan may find it difficult to find food that fits their dietary lifestyle. Fish seems to be in everything including the soup stock used to make miso soup. To make matters worse, many foods in convenience stores, bakeries or even Starbucks have misleading labels, and that “vegetable sandwich,” or “vegetable pizza” may actually have meat in it too! You can order foods like okonomiyaki or monjayaki with no meat, but you still can’t be sure it won’t come with shredded fish flakes on top that there isn’t fish lurking in the dashi-based sauces.
I always recommend to my vegetarian friends that rather than asking Japanese restaurants to make something special for them, it’s better to just order food that doesn’t have fish or meat (or dairy) in it from the beginning. Fish has always been a staple in the Japanese diet, but the eating of wild and domestic game was banned for over 1,200 years in Japan, and Buddhist tradition gave rise to a special vegetarian cuisine called shojin ryori. Even now, the traditional Buddhist meal called ozen (rice, miso soup, pickles, boiled/simmered vegetables and beans), is still served at funerals in Japan.
So traditionally, there is a lot of vegetarian food in the Japanese diet. You just have to discover it. And RocketNews24 is here to help! In this article we’ll introduce you to common Japanese dishes that can be ordered at almost any Japanese restaurant that have no meat, fish or animal products in them, so, let’s jump into Japanese vegetarianism 101.
In Japan “straps” can be found everywhere. They’re like key chains, but with an elastic band. People primarily attach them to their mobile phones, but you can also spot them on anything else under the sun like gym bags or sleep apnea machines.
Now it seems that mother nature is getting in on the action by creating an eggplant with a loophole just right for attaching straps to. And attach straps is just what the lucky owner did.
The recent release of fine porcelain Sailor Moon cups and saucers has anime fans ready to add a touch of elegance to their table. Of course, what’s tea time without some equally posh snacks, right? So if you’re looking to keep your refreshments in the same anime family, why not pair your pour of Darjeeling or Lady Grey with some Sailor Moon macarons?
Tamagoyaki– best described as a fluffy, sweetened rolled omelette that’s often served chilled is a staple in typical Japanese bento lunches. A gummy candy flavor it is not…until now! Adding to an ever-growing list of odd flavors coming from Japan, tamagoyaki-flavored gummies are now a thing, and well-known Japanese YouTuber Hikakin has gotten his hands on these rare odd gems and given them a taste. The verdict? Watch and see for yourself!