Now that the World Cup is well and truly underway, fans in Japan have found themselves in the full-blown throes of soccer fever. While some would remedy the malady with a set of earplugs and a good lie-down, others look to the food world, with World Cup menus popping up all over the country offering all sorts of surprises. One place in Osaka has put together a creative curry and cocktail set that represents the Japanese soccer team, Samurai Blue, and the host country of Brazil. Can you see the two countries in the image above?
Travel website Trip Advisor recently released its annual list of the 30 best sightseeing spots in Japan. Featuring centuries-old shrines, futuristic cityscapes, and no fewer than four whale sharks, it’s an impressive collection of much of what makes Japan such a unique and awesome country.
Honestly, if you had the time, we wouldn’t try to talk you out of an itinerary that hits all 30 places. Of course, with that much sightseeing, you’re bound to work up an appetite. Thankfully, Trip Advisor is back again with its top 30 restaurants in Japan.
The rainy season has cometh! Spring was but a brief reprieve from the stinging cold of winter, and now Japan cowers beneath its umbrellas trying to escape the rain, knowing all too well that the humidity, however, cannot be escaped from.
It seems like the best way to chase away these rainy season blues is with a nice crisp beer, and RocketNews24 has a found a great place where you can do just that. It’s really close to our main offices in Tokyo, so sit back and plan your next happy hour, at Vector Beer!
Soichiro Honda, the man who founded Honda Motor Co., was once quoted as saying that the best-selling car cannot be the best-driving car, because the compromises needed to become the former are incompatible with the lack of compromises required to be the latter.
It’s hard not to respect a person with such unflinching standards, and even want to emulate him a little. So when we found out one of the legendary engineer’s favorite restaurants was just a short train ride from our office in downtown Tokyo, we decided to check it out. Even after we found out it’s famous for its grilled eel livers.
In recent years, ramen has been making a name for itself as a respectable, in some cases almost gourmet meal. Japan’s favorite noodle dish has even reached the point where some women feel it’s an acceptable choice for a dinner date (provided you follow certain rules).
That doesn’t mean ramen has been entirely gentrified, though. There’s one noodle joint in Tokyo that’s currently offering a throwback to the machismo that used to define the dish, with a bowl of ramen that has an action movie tie-in and is seasoned with tequila.
With relatively little farmable land, fruit is on the pricey side in Japan. In keeping with its status as a special treat, it shows up pretty often as a desert topping, but again, prices being what they are, usually not in such large quantities.
Shortcake lovers, for example, have been known to get excited about the one day a month convenience store chain Lawson adds a single slice of strawberry to its cakes. And while we suppose that’s better than nothing, it still can’t hold a candle to one Japanese cafe that tops its parfaits with what looks like an entire strawberry patch.
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the bustling, beautiful megalopolis of Tokyo, then the city really is yours – you just have to know where to look. And if you want to get away from the tourist trail and get down close to the beating heart of the capital, a journey into the back streets of the 23 wards is where you’ll wind up.
Come with us as we take you into different neighbourhoods and spend an afternoon exploring some of Tokyo’s best-kept secrets. Today we’ll take you around some of Shibuya’s lesser known backstreets, where you can chow down on falafels, pick up some of the best coffee and soak up a hip, laid-back atmosphere.
Japan is a great place to be a drinker, and not just because of the excellent public transportation and lack of social stigma about enjoying a beer in the park. The selection is also fantastic, as the country produces dozens of brands of tasty beer, sake, and shochu.
If you’re still looking for more variety, Japan also makes a plum wine called umeshu, which has a uniquely rich sweetness. Umeshu isn’t as quite as prevalent as other kinds of alcohol, though, so if you’re in need of a primer, we found a restaurant in Tokyo that’ll let you sample as many varieties of the drink as you like during a two-hour stay for just 1,500 yen (US$14.70).
Despite its well-deserved reputation as an extremely hard-working nation, Japan is also a country that knows how to relax. Every city has a number of cafes where you can stop, sip a drink, and soak in the soothing ambiance.
Some of these establishments style themselves after a comfy living room, while others feel more like a stylish library or lounge. Or, if you happen to be in Tokushima Prefecture, there’s the café built into what appears to be a crumbling castle.
While Japan is brimming with hamburger joints, you can also find plenty of restaurants that specialize in the meatloaf-like hamburger steak. Served on a griddle to ensure it stays sizzling hot, the lack of a bun means that with a hamburger steak the meat can take center stage.
The drawback though is that not having two slices of bread to hold everything together usually means fewer options as to what ingredients you’d like in your hamburger steak, compared to a hamburger sandwich. Unless, that is, if you stop by the restaurant Sakana no Nakasei in Tokyo, where you can customize nearly every aspect of your hamburger steak, right down to what kind of meat to use and how coarsely it’s ground.
My wife, who’s always interested in learning more about foreign culture (no doubt in an effort to better understand her insufferably baffling husband), recently asked me how Easter is celebrated in America. “We usually hunt for Easter eggs and eat chocolate rabbits,” I told her, which quickly presented us with two problems. First, our apartment isn’t nearly large enough for a proper Easter egg hunt, and while you can get special Easter donuts in Japan, bunny-shaped candies are surprisingly nonexistent.
Stumped as to how to spend the holiday, my wife offered a suggestion. “Why don’t we go to the rabbit café?”
Theme restaurants can be a lot of fun. Whether you’re munching on Final Fantasy desserts or knocking back a cocktail while surrounded by witches and monsters, a little break with reality can be just the secret ingredient you need for a satisfying meal.
Except, what do you do if you can’t round up a posse to go with you? Playing make-believe in a group can be fun, when everyone is egging each other on and having a good laugh, but most people feel awkward enough eating in a normal restaurant alone, let alone one that’s recreating a fictional world.
Thankfully, the Moomin Café has a solution to the solo-dining dilemma: they’ll seat stuffed versions of the beloved cartoons’ characters at your table to keep you company.
Sake is often referred to as “rice wine.” Some would argue the term is misleading, since unlike wine, sake is brewed, but Japan’s traditional spirit does have something in common with the world’s favorite grape-based alcoholic beverage. As with wine, depending on the ingredients and exact production process, two different types of sake can have very different flavors.
This can make searching for one that suits your palate a complex, if not unpleasant, task. There’s also the fact that most of Japan’s best-tasting sake is produced far outside of its major urban centers, which is why we were surprised and thrilled to find a restaurant in downtown Tokyo offering a sampler of sake from distant Akita Prefecture for just 500 yen (US$4.90). Our excitement only grew when we found out that the deal is also all you can drink.
When you want to blow off steam, there’s nothing like blowing something away, which partly explains why Japan’s interest in airsoft guns, which fire BB-like ammunition, continues to grow. But even though work is a major source of stress, most people don’t have the time to drive out to one of Japan’s rural airsoft fields (or catch a plane to the awesome urban set-up in Korea) after their shift ends.
Thankfully, though, there’s a way for Japanese professionals who’ve had a rough day at the office to fire off a couple rounds without putting a hole in their living room wall, as we found out at a Tokyo restaurant with its own airsoft shooting range.
We all have foods that we love perhaps a little more than we should, but for Mr. Sato, a man whose love of food in general has taken him on many a colorful, abdomen-abusing adventure risking his health and even his sanity, the gustatory passion that tops all others is shellfish. So when he headed off to report on an all-you-can-eat shrimp restaurant for us, we feared for his life.
With well over 20 years since the original Final Fantasy was released, everyone who was old enough to enjoy developer Square Enix’s hugely successful video game franchise from the very start is legally old enough to drink in Japan. So when we heard tale of a realm/café run by the company, called Artnia, where we could combine our passions for role-playing games and alcoholic beverages, we were intrigued, and when rumors reached us of chocolate buster swords, we were out the door.
Our journey took us through pitch black tunnels, subterranean cities, and secluded forests, but we persevered, and have returned to tell all of our adventures.
With the earliest varieties of cherry blossoms already starting to bloom around Tokyo, it’s almost time for sakura season to get into full swing! It’s Japan’s most enticing time to get out of the house and enjoy the beauty of nature! There’s just one little problem, though.
It’s still pretty cold out.
So if you’re torn between feeling immersed in Japanese culture and feeling anything in your toes, here are six Starbuck’s locations where you can relax with a warm cup of coffee while gazing at the cherry blossoms just outside the windows.
Although the juicy pork dumplings called gyoza originated in China, they’re a favorite of both students and expats in Japan. Filling and cheap, they make a great hot meal, and are also a popular way to fortify yourself for a night of drinking, or to satisfy the alcohol-induced bout of the munchies that follows one.
While Japan is filled with gyoza joints, some of the most popular develop an almost cult following, so when we got wind of a tasty pot sticker depository called Sosan no Mise at the next station over from the RocketNews24 office, we decided to check it out.
As with any business venture, the key to running a successful restaurant is to differentiate your establishment from its competitors. Earlier this month, for example, we talked about a pub in Kyushu called Sacrifice that accomplished this by filling its interior with creepy mannequins and props that would be right at home in any horror movie.
But for those of you who take issue with the inauthenticity of Sacrifice’s fake corpses and skeletons, might we offer this alternative: a restaurant in India where diners sit among coffins with centuries-old bodies inside.