Tag Archives: Tourism

Tax Exemption at Matsuzakaya Department Store in Shizuoka City (and in Japan)!

All pictures taken by Robert-Gilles Martineau and authorized by Matsuzakaya Department Store in Shizuoka City.

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In 2015 Matsuzakaya Department Stores, formerly from Nagoya but now merged with Tokyo-based Daimaru Stores were among the first establishments to provide a tax exemption service to foreign tourists in Japan!
Good news for the latter when you realize that the refund will amount to no less than 8%.
But there conditions similar to the same scheme existing in many other countries, especially in Europe!

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Matsuzakaya Department Store in Shizuoka City, right across from Shizuoka JR Station North exit, consists of two buildings, the main building/本館 and the North wing/北館, also called Bekkan/別館.
For the sake of simplicity this article deals with the Main Building only, as the tax exemption counter is located on the 6th floor of the Main Building!

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Note that Matsuzakaya Department Store has provided an English, Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean multiple translation of its floor plan!
Simple multilingual floor plan leaflets are provided for free at the reception lobby on the first floor, too.

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Freshly-cooked food on the basement floor. Such food cannot be tax exempted.

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Vegetables and fruit on the basement floor.
Such items cannot be tax exempted either.

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Packaged sweets and cakes on the basement floor.
These can be tax exempted!

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Wines, spirits and liquors are also tax exempted!
Matsuzakaya Department Store offers many local sake and shochu among a vast selection!

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First floor: Women’s shoes, handbags and casual jewelry, cosmetics, accessories.

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Second floor: Men’s clothing/men’s accessories.

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More men’s clothing on the second floor.

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Third floor: Women’s clothing/handbags.

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Fourth floor:  Women’s clothing.

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Fifth floor: Children’s clothing/Toys/Women’s intimate apparel.

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Sixth floor: fine jewelry, kimono art, tableware, cooking supplies.

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Very popular cooking supplies on the sixth floor!

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Seventh floor: Event Hall/Home furnishings.

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Eighth floor: Event hall/Restaurants.

Bear in mind that restaurant bills are not tax exempt.

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Having completed your purchases for the day, proceed to the tax exemption office on the sixth floor!

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The staff at the office do not speak English but a multilingual phone translation and interpretation will be launched there in March!

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The Japanese side of the tax exemption counter pamphlet.

Bear in mind that Masuzakaya Department store will levy 1.1 % off the 8% tax for paperwork and other expenses. You will be actually refunded 6.9%!

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The multilingual side of the pamphlet in English, Chinese and Taiwanese.

Please copy it and read carefully the conditions!

In short you will be refunded tax for purchases totaling over 10,801 yen (including tax) in a single day at the store for standard products, and 5,401 to 540,000 yen for consumable goods. This must be done on the day of purchase between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.!

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For consumable goods you will be provided vinyl bags which will have to stay sealed until you have left Japan!

For more information consult Matsuzakaya Department Store Shizuoka HOMEPAGE
ENGLISH SITE
CHINESE SITE
TAIWANESE SITE
KOREAN SITE

10-2, Miyuki Cho, Aoi Ku, Shizuoka City, japan 420-8560
Tel.: 054-254-1111
Opening hours: 10:00~19:30 (B1 and 1st floors and tax exemption, 10:00~20:00; main Building 8th-floor restaurants: 11:00~22:00)

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Atami City: The Hot Springs City of Yore in Shizuoka Prefecture!

All photos taken by Robert-Gilles Martineau

Atami must be the most famous hot springs city in Shizuoka Prefecture and in Japan! And one of the oldest to boot.
It has always been a favorite destination for Tokyoites in particular.
Shizuoka people do visit the city but in markedly smaller numbers.
The main reason for this state of affairs is that Atami is at the eastern extremity of the Prefecture.

The welcoming hot spring just outside the JR Railway Station.

The City counts 7 different hot springs more or less connected to Mount Fuji.
Be careful not to touch the water! It is truly scalding hot!

But you can take a foot bath at a reasonable temperature.
Bear in mind that at 16:00 the bath will be emptied!

If you don’t believe me, take a plunge! You won’t come back alive! It does look hellish, after all!

The city is celebrated for its plum tree flowers especially in February (and March if you are lucky!)!

One main attraction is the MOA Museum. You had better take a day bus ticket to keep expenses low as the city is half along the coast, half perched on top of steep cliffs. Walking is just a bit too tough. Bus is best!

One can enjoy great vistas from the MOA Museum and other sites atop the nearby mountains!

The park around the Museum is worth a leisurely walk in all seasons!

There are some great photos to be taken outside!
Unfortunately the inside is almost completely prohibited to cameras!

Inside the museum lobby.

Do have a look at the vistas from inside!

One of the rare sights allowed to photographers!

A grand view of the Atami Harbor! The locals call it the Japanese Napoli! LOL

The actual entry of the Museum!

They also have plenty of plum trees in their own park stretching over the mountain slopes.

Difficult to right focus!

It is a vast park that provides with plenty of physical exercise!

What did I tell you?

Next we shall visit the local markets!

Botarga/Mullet Roe/Karasumi/カラスミ!

The shopping streets in Atami City are quite old-fashioned. You almost seem to slipped back 30 years when you stroll along them browsing old-fashioned shops of every kind.

Once out of Atami JR station you will find two parallel streets going down sharply on the right. There you will find the epitome of land and sea products of the region.
Will you follow me?

Atami is located at the northern tip of Izu Peninsula, which means an access to an incredible number of fish. Can you believe that Shizuoka produces 50% of all dried and semi-dried fish in Japan?
And of a great quality!

These dried fish are shirasu/白子/sardine whiting. Rare of that size (and not cheap!)!

The himono/干物/dried fish on the left are not cheap either: globefish/fugu/河豚!

One Japanese confectionery typical of Atami is Onsen Manju!

Onsen manju/温泉万寿/means hot spring steamed sweetmeat cake. Many shops are competing with each other!

A great array of fresh fish paste cakes you eat either as they are, or as oden! Very tasty!

A giant Japanese brochette! The sign says to be careful and not to push the display with your hands (apparently some did with a disastrous result!)!

One great thing about Japan is that most (Japanese-style) restaurants display their cuisine as plastic models in their shop windows! At least you have a good idea of what is available!

More seafood left out to dry to become tasty himono! Traceabilty guaranteed!

More, including rare tuna himono (bottom right)!

Now, the beautiful kinmedai/金目鯛 (Top right) is expensive (but not by Tokyo standards!)!

Izu Peninsula and Atami City are also famous for all kinds of citruses!

Golden oranges/貴金柑 (front) are beautiful and expensive!
They tend to come up with a new variety every year in that region!

Now, if you want to eat sushi, you will know that the seafood is fresh!

Although this is a sushi chain of the cheaper kind, they have the merit to explain clearly the varieties and the prices (very reasonable!)!

Now, what are these?

Karasumi/カラスミ/Botarga, or mullet roe! You can find anything more traceable. This is a truly expensive gastronomic marvel, even in Shizuoka!

A last long look at the shops and then we’ll go to another tourist attraction!

 

Atami resort harbor/marina.

Strolling in Atami City, that is in the downtown area by the sea can be interesting indeed if you know where to look!

Don’t look up but down for directions!

Difficult to get lost!

There are 7 hot springs (including the one in front of the JR station), but I couldn’t find them all…

3rd one. Don’t put your hand inside!

4th one. The temperature was alright!

The 5th one. A little beauty!
I couldn’t find the last two. Pity, when you realize they have been used for hundreds of years!

The other major Atami attraction is the Baien Koen/梅園公園/plum tree Park!
It was created more than 120 years ago and subsequently donated to the city!
Let’ take a stroll!

I forgot to check how many kinds are planted there. I can assure you you need a few visits to exhaust them all!

Now, this is Japan!

Take your time and enjoy the sights!

Flower trees everywhere. You should come on bright sunny day!

A man-made waterfall! Great in summer!

A view from “inside” the waterfall!

Plum tree blooms…

Interesting tree…

Beautiful color!

Can you see the daffodils?
Spring is near and we shall to think and come back again in the summer!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Kushida Shinto Shrine in Fukuoka City: A Photographic Introduction

All photographs taken by Robert-Gilles martineau

When In Fukuoka City for the first time, being religious-minded or not a site not to be missed is Kushida shinto Shrine/Kushida Shrine/櫛田神社, a Shinto shrine located in Hakata-ku. Dedicated to the deities Amaterasu and Susanoo, it is said to have been founded in 757. Its visit can enjoyed at all times of the year although the New Year and during the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival during the first two weeks of July are arguably the best periods of the year!

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A horned lion guard, called “shishi or komainu” seems to ensure the safety of the donated Japanese sake kegs behind it!

The whole visit makes for a truly great photographic experience of a typical Japanese Shinto Shrine, and I can assure you are bound for some surprises!
just follow me for this first visit and I can guarantee you will wish to come back again and stroll around the place at your own pace!

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The other lion guard with its maw open also guarding the sake kegs!
Sake kegs will be found at Shinto Shrines only and not at Buddhist Temples as sake is considered as the food of gods in Shintoism.

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The whole shrine is actually a group of them erected at various times and their lion guards differ!

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There are always two lion gurads at each shrine, one with its maw closed,…

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The other with its maw open!

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On the new Year visitors are requested to walk through the mouth of a giant Ameterasu Goddess under a torii/sacred bird gate!

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Placed at both entrances, but do not worry they won’t eat you!

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You will also meet fox guards/kitsune meaning that the shrine is dedicated to Inari, the Goddess of Plenty!

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Its counterpart is carrying a sacred scroll inits mouth.
Both look unusually fierce!

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Torii/sacred bird gate can be fund in stone or red-painted wood, alone or in rows!

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A whole mixture of torii!

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A small but highly venerated shrine at the very end of the torii tunnel!

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A stone torii arch?

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You will discover a whole menagerie as well such as this sacred bull!

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Sacred cranes guarding a natural salty hot spring!

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A Lord Horse!

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Belgians will be astounded to find a Japanese version of their Manneken Piss!

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Keep a sharp eye for the bonsai/miniature trees!

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you cane even buy (for 50 yen) your own fortune-telling slip/o-mikuji in five different languages: Japanese, English, Korean, Taiwanese and Chinese!

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My fortune-telling slip in English!
Now, what did it say?

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“Very lucky”!
Wishing you the same!

Access: 1-41, Kamikawabata-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture 812-0026
Between Hakata JR Station and Nakagawa River, near Gion Station.
Phone: 092-291-2951

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival Giant Floats in Fukuoka City!

All pictures by Robert-Gilles Martineau.

Some of the information is  based on official Fukuoka City Tourism Internet Sites.

Hakata Gion Yamakasa (博多祇園山笠) is the name of one of the most famous Japanese festivals celebrated every year from the 1st to the 15th of July in Hakata Ku, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka prefecture in Northern Kyushu Island.
This grand event, more than 750 years old, attracts more than a million spectators every year and was designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property in 1979.
Moreover, the sound of the Kaki Yamakasa has been selected by the Ministry of the Environment as one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan.
Its rites are centered on Kushida Shinto Shrine/Kushida Jinja/串田神社.
In fact the official name of the Festival is Kushida jinja Gion Retsu Oomatsuri/櫛田神社祇園例大祭.

Now, you need not worry if you cannot visit Fukuoka City during the first two weeks of July as the giant floats are on constant display for all to enjoy either under roof along the Nakagawa River at a walking distance from Hakata JR STation or inside Kushida Shinto Shrine!

Festival Floats exhibited along the Nakagawa River:

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Don’ forget you can see both sides of the float!

The Yamakasa floats come in two categories, namely, colorful floats for decorative purposes called kazariyama, and floats to be carried in the festival known as kakiyama. The decorated floats are set up on the street corners on July 1st for display, and you can take a look at them while strolling through the city. They are almost 10 meters tall,  and are decorated with samurai or popular anime character dolls produced through the expertise of master Hakata Doll craftsmen. Formerly, men used to run about carrying these tall decorated floats, but because they would get stuck on electric cables and lights, it was decided that they were more suited for display purposes only. The floats exhibited at the Kushida Shinto Shrine and along the Nakagawa Rivercan be viewed all year round.

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The kazariyama floats are truly enormous and you had probably better take photographs at different levels for more precise viewing: bottom part!

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Middle part!

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Top part!

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One full space is dedicated to the history of the Festival and the tools needed to drive the floats!

These poles are placed under the kakiyama, “Yamakasa/Festival Floats” and over the shoulders of  carriers running at full speed in the streets of Hakata! Bear in mind that each float weighs at least a ton!

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The back side, or “river side side” of the same float!

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The bottom half!

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The top half!

Festival Floats exhibited at the Kushida Shinto Shrine:

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These are exhibited all year round under special covers with explanations Japanese and English!

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The bottom part!

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The top half!

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The very top!

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The second float!

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The bottom part!

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The middle part!

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The top part!

The carried floats are borne by the men from the 10th and the festival culminates in excitement on the 15th. Early in the morning, at 4:59 on this final day of the festival, the first float sets off at the signal of beating drums. This is a contest in which men compete on the time taken to race along a 5 km course, over more or less 30 minutes; although speed is important, they are also required to maintain a graceful and heroic style as they run carrying the floats on their shoulders.

The interesting thing about this festival is that the citizens of Hakata refrain from eating cucumbers during the festival period. Even if they happen to find slices of cucumber in a bowl of salad, they will pick them out. This practice is said to derive from the fact that the pattern of the round cucumber slices resembles the emblem of the festive deity called Gion-sama enshrined in Kushida Shrine!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Follow the “Jouren”(常連)/Regular Customer at Japanese Restaurants!

At Yasaitei,….

The Japanese are in perpetual search for harmony.
This constant pursuit of “wa/和” preoccupies them not only at the office with their fellow workers, at home with their family, but also, and probably most, when taking a pleasurable respite at the table or counter of their favorite restaurant or bar.

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At Uogashi Sushi Restaurant…

Whereas in many other countries patronizing the same establishment on a regular basis might be considered at best as an ostentatious show, and a disreputable habit at worst, eating and drinking out in Japan is a sine qua non prerequisite to a successful life, both professional and social.

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At Kasuri…

“Jouren” (常連) can be loosely translated as “regular customer”, although the term does not give justice to its real meaning.
The jouren is an essential feature at any establishment worth its salt. He/she will usually sit quietly at the end of the counter if he/she is the only one present at the time, or next to another regular.
Now, if you observe him /her carefully (unobtrusively) you will notice that he /she is served food and drinks without orders or enquiries. There is a clear reason to that: the oyakata/chef or ofukuro/lady owner knows what the jouren likes to eat and drink within a tacitly agreed budget.
The jouren is not necessarily a well-off person, but he/she is a vital actor in the gastronomic theater because he/she will occasionally come out of hi/her reserve to gently recommend a dish or concoction when he/she notices a new customer experiencing some difficulty in choosing from an unknown menu. Very often a Japanese client will (politely) ask the local jouren for advice and enquire on the very food he/she is eating or on the best drink available.

At Tomii,…

Another peculiarity you will not fail to mark is that the jouren usually takes his/her leave without paying. He/she simply has a bill in the books that he/she will pay at a more or less determined date away from the inquisitive eyes of other diners and drinkers. This last arrangement is more practical for the owner’s accounts and tax returns. You will know that you have become a jouren the day or night the owner tells you to pay later, which of course means that he/she expects you to grace the place again soon!

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At Minato Machi Okamura Ikichi…

Be it a posh kaiseki restaurant, an expensive sushi bar, a simple but popular izakaya, or a late night cocktail lounge, the “rules” are the same.
The jouren possesses an unfailing instinct as to the timing of his/her visits. He/she will avoid the really busy period of the evening, and will retreat with a smile and wave when his/her favorite haunt is unseasonably busy. He/she will also take leave when other customers start flowing in. On the other hand, a jouren will get full satisfaction and no questions asked if h/she requests a few seats for a party or some friends. Simply put, he/she is priority.

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At Kawasaki…

Jouren usually has his/her “bottle keep”, or own bottle of favourite spirits in situ, although the notion can be double-edged. Some izakayas or Japanese restaurants and bars make it rule for all customers, regular or not to acquire their own bottle with the attached condition that it must be consumed within a certain time limit. But a real jouren at an establishment worthy of its salt will probably keep a hard to find whisky or an extravagant shochu for his/her sole usage. On the other hand, if the jouren kindly offers you a glass of his/her own nectar, you may assume you will be part of the selected clientele very soon!

At Ekimae Matsuno Sushi,…

Japanese owners value their jouren very much for another reason.
In a tightly preordained world where the customer and the owner/chef are literally sitting on either side of a rigid fence, the jouren becomes an indispensable interlocutor you can talk shop with or even ask for advice. Japanese chefs have very little free time to spend outside work and take the pulse of their society to keep in touch with the prevalent trends of their fellow citizens. The jouren will bring in the news and information on any subject and the answers to questions that the chef will not hesitate to ask.
It works both ways: high-class geishas in Kyoto, who are not mere entertainers, do make a point to read at least two or three daily newspapers every morning, including one financial tabloid to ensure they can not only follow their clients’ conversations but give their own advice when solicited.

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At Anchorz…

The nationality of a jouren is of little importance. Being a Japanese fluent foreigner is actually an advantage as some social restrictions inherent to the Japanese society can easily be circumvented.
As a case in point a great majority of celebrated resident foreign chefs spend most of their free time patronizing local sushi and kaiseki restaurants for the dual purpose of relaxation and study in great company!

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At Sushi Ko…

As a final word do not think jouren are exclusively male clients. There are certainly many ladies among them, although they will generally patronize a different type of establishment. But the same “rules” and traditions apply!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Local Reasonable Wagyu Beef at Sumpu No Nikudokoro Restaurant in Shizuoka City!

Service: Friendly, attentive and smiling
Equipment & Facilities: Great cleanliness overall. Beautiful and modern gender-separated washrooms
Prices: Reasonable (wayuu is not cheap anywhere!)
Strong points: Almost completely local ingredients. High class beef and pork. Great local sake and shochu list! Non-smoking at lunch time!

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I had been curious for some time about a new restaurant which had been opened three years ago above a convenience store of all things this year when the far corner across Cenova Department Store in Aoi Ku, Shizuoka City, was reclaimed for development.

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The name of the restaurant is “Sumpu No Nikudokoro/駿府の肉処”. Sumpu stands for the old name of Shizuoka City and Nikudokoro means “the Place for Meat”!
Pity they don’t take the pains of at least writing the English pronunciation when you hear that Shizuoka Prefecture and City have recently declared to promote tourism more actively…

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I had noticed this advert for a single donburi/bowl dish priced at 800 yen/8 US $/6 Euros for quite a while and I had thought that the place was maybe a very reasonable and simple restaurant subsidized by the Shizuoka Prefecture Government, the Agriculture Department in particular. I was proved slightly wrong!

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Frankly speaking the lack of explanations and introductions on the ground floor was a bit frustrating and I was somewhat surprised to find out after climbing nondescript stairs to stand in front of small but elegant entrance!

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An the surprises only continued after I had stepped inside!
Wow! Special Wagyu certified from Shizuoka Prefecture!
Actually no less than 12 breeders have been awarded the distinction in our Prefecture!

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They were not shy about exhibiting the meat used in the restaurant, a sure sign of superior quality!

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Then I started to understand!
Wagyu is horribly expensive in Japan, wherever it is produced and moreover if it has received the label ‘Special Choice” by the Government!

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The restaurant is owned and run by the Shizuoka JA (Japan Agriculture), the biggest Agricultural Association in Shizuoka Prefecture (and also heavily subsidized by the country!)!
Now, I knew why the prices were still comparatively reasonable, even for local products!

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The establishment is absolutely spotless clean with a direct view into the kitchen! Talk about superior hygiene!

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Not only the meat, but most of the sake and shochu are also brewed in Shizuoka Prefecture!

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There are three types of seating: A counter by the window, very practical for individual guests or couples, benches and tables for 4 people apiece and a dig-in kotatsu Japanese room you can partly or completely reserved for a meal away from other guests’ sight (500 yen extra per person in that case). The Japanese room can be completely reserved for up to 8 guests. Otherwise parties up to 26 guests are accepted. Total reservation can be insured for up to 66 guests.

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The sliding doors of the private Japanese-style room.

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My first visit was for lunch at which you can a choice of single bowl dishes between 800 and 980 yen (very popular with office workers and doctors working nearby!), and three meat lunch sets between 1,200 yen and 3,000 yen. I chose the latter, which at 25 US $ is still very reasonable!

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Next time I will strongly suggest that they write an English translation!

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Not only the wasabi (of course!) but even the salt is local!

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Supreme fat to coat the BBQ plate with before grilling the meat and vegetables! Extravagant!

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Absolutely beautiful!
Now, what do we have?

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Two kinds of Wagyu Beef and Kinton-o Pork form Shizuoka Prefecture!
Actually our Prefecture is nationally renown for its supreme pork!

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They need to translate that, too!
It does make for good reading, actually!

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In the bckground lean Wagyu Beef and in the forefront Kinton-O Pork!

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Great attentions to detail: served with grilled garlic slices and chopped thin scallions!

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Naturally the vegetables are exclusively local!

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Local vegetable salad and Shizuoka green tea as a bavarois with jelly!

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Shizuoka-grown Koshihikari rice! A real beauty!

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They should translate that too in English:
Shizuoka Koshikari rice is the earliest to be harvested in the island of Honshu: planted in April, rice grains appear in July and the rice is harvested end of August!
It is nicknamed “Pearl Rice”!

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A light soup, perfect to wash all that good food down!

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100% Shizuoka orange juice! The real article!

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You grill everything at your own pace and order!

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So tender and so juicy Wagyu Beef!
What else can you ask for?

Look forward to more reports as I want to investigate some of the ridiculously cheap meat bowl lunches and of course a full dinner with local sake and shochu!

Sumpu No Nikudokoro
Shizuoka Sodachi
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Oote Machi, 2-15, MRK Bldg., 2f (across Cenova Dept. Store above 7 eleven convenience store)
Tel.: 054-251-4129
Opening hours: 11:30~14:00, 17:00~23:00
Closed on third Wednesday of each month
Credit Cards OK
Reservations highly recommended for dinner!
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Sushi & Sashimi: A Basic Introduction

All original pictures taken in Shizuoka Prefecture!

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Sushi for vegans and vegetarians!

Next time you visit Japan and Shizuoka Prefecture I suppose that the first thing you might like to check if you are a sushi lover is the “real article”!

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The ubiquitous “Hon Maguro Nigiri” or “Blue Fin Tuna on a rice ball”. In this case marinated beforehand!

If it your first visit to Japan you might also be in for a surprise as you will discover that the varieties of sushi are practically unlimited!

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“Katsuo/Bonito) & “Kinmedai/Splendid Alfonsino” sashimi assortment!

Sashimi or thin slices of fish when put onto some rice could be called “sushi” as long as rice vinegar, salt and sugar have been added to season the rice beforehand.
On the other hand it does not have to be sashimi as almost anything could be used for making sushi: fish guts, roe, shellfish, meat, vegetables. etc.
Even the word “sashimi” does not actually apply to fish only as its meaning is “thin slices” (debatable).

There are 3 basic kinds of sushi:
“Nare Zushi”, or pickled fish sushi.
“Nigiri Sushi” or “Edomae Zushi”,or sliced fish et al onto small balls of rice.
“Oshi Zushi” or “Osaka Zushi”, or sliced fish et al pressed onto rice inside a wooden box or mould and then cut into equal-sized pieces.
Of course the three above kinds can be divided into numerous sub-varieties.

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Home-made “chirashi zushi”!

One important variety is “Chirashi Zushi”, basically all kinds of (available) ingredients, preferably small, strewn on a layer of rice inside a bowl or shallow Japanese dish. This last variety is commonly encountered at home meals when it is more practical for a housewife to serve to a whole family.

“NARE ZUSHI”
This is the original form of sushi in Japan. One way to preserve fish was to gut it, slice the meat with or without the skin and pickle it (ferment it) in rice. The fish could then always be presented at meals after having taken it out of the pickle jar, cleaned it and served it on a dish as an accompaniment (or main dish) to the usual Japanese fare of rice, miso (fermented beans) soup and pickles.

“Nare Zushi” is slowly disappearing in japan due to better and safer transport of raw fish. One still available is “funa zushi/crucian carp sushi”.
Then one day, somebody selling fish in Edo (old Tokyo) struck on the idea to serve it wrapped around balls of rice to which vinegar, salt and sugar had been added for preservation. These balls were 2 or 3 times as big as nowadays and 3 balls would be enough for a meal.
This form of sushi is rarely encountered or available these days.

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“Katsuo/Bonito”, “Shake/Salmon” and “Hon Maguro/Blue Fin Tuna”, all marinated beforehand, that is in “Zuke” style.

One modern extension of this technique is “Zuke” whereas tuna (“maguro”) or other fish has been first dipped in hot water for a while, then transferred into iced water to stop it cooking and finally marinated into a pickle brine (“tsuke shiru”) for a while. When cut, the surface is cooked and slightly harder while the inside is still soft and comparatively raw. If it is not dipped in brine it becomes “tataki”.
(Note: “Zuke” also means leaving the fish slices in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin and sake for about a certain amount of time before making any kind of sushi. Each restaurant has its own original secrets and recipes.)

“NIGIRI ZUSHI EXAMPLES”

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“Amaebi/Sweet shrimps” nigiri!

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“Botan ebi/Large sweet prawns” nigiri topped with their roe!

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“Shita birame/Sole” nigiri!

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“Tachiuo/Scabbard or Cutlass Fish” nigiri in “Aburi/seared” style topped with “momiji oroshi/grated daikon seasoned with chili powder and chopped scallion!

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“Hotate/scallops” nigiri!

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“Kawahagi/Filefish” nigiri topped with its raw liver!

“BOGATA SUSHI”

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“Aji/Horse Mackerel” bogata sushi!

“Bogata” style is a variant of Osaka Oshi Zushi style by wrapping a fish over or a pressed “baton” of sushi rice and presenting it cut!

“GUNKAN”

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From top and left: “Uni/Sea Urchin”, “Sakura ebi/Cherry shrimps), “Uzura/Quail egg” with seaweed and dry bonito shavings, “Shirako/male cod milt”, and “Negitoro/Grated tuna” gunkan!

“Gunkan” means “Mothership” and consists of a small ball of rice laterally wrapped in a thin band of dry seaweed and topped with various ingredients!

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“Ankimo/Steamed monkfish liver in Japanese sake and preserved like a terrine” seasoned with momiji oroshi and chopped scallion! “Ankimo” is also called “Japanese foie gras”!

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A rare “Oyako/Parent and Child” rendition of “Ikura/salmon Roe” gunkan with its two “kids in the form of small gunkan with raw salmon wrapped around minuscule rice balls!

“MAKI ZUSHI/SUSHI ROLLS”

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“Natto/Fermented beans and Ika/Cuttlefish” thin sushi roll!

The ever popular (especially overseas!) sushi rolls come into two basic types: thin, or called “hoso maki” and thick, or called “futo maki”!

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A “California roll” made with spicy raw scallops and cucumber!

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“Rainbow Roll”, a very thick futo maki with no less than 15 ingredients wrapped in sushi rice and dry seaweed!

“DONBURI ZUSHI/SUSHI BOWLS”

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“Ikura/Salmon roe” ko donburi with sliced cucumber and grated fresh wasabi!

“Donburi Zushi” is a big or small (in the latter case called “Ko Donburi”) filled with sushi rice and topped with one or many ingredients! The variants are unlimited!

“FANCY SUSHI”

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Flower Millefeuille Sushi!

Young chefs do experiment with shapes and appearance, but such “fancy sushi” are rarely introduced on menus, therefore the need to become a regular customer at at least one sushi restaurant!

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“Happy Birthday Millefeuuille!

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An extravagant “Piece Montee”!

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And don’t forget the sushi for vegans and vegetarians! It is possible!

This article is only an introduction to what you may encounter during your trip! Do not worry too much about etiquette, the Japanese will have the pleasure to teach you!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City