Sunday, May 10, 2009

Random Japan Pictures

As promised, a photo of our sushi breakfast as Tsukiji fish market. We each had a combo plate, containing outstanding botan-ebi (spot prawn) and uni (sea urchin) amongst other things. The anago (second from the left on the bottom row) was a first for both of us: salt-water eel (as opposed to unagi, which is fresh water eel) with sprinkling of pink salt. Everything was so good, we chose to order a few additional pieces: toro (fatty salmon), oh toro (the fattiest tuna), and hotate (scallop) were all as great as you would expect. We also noticed something on the menu we've never seen, so we had to order it: kujira (whale).

It was...interesting, worth trying, but not something I would order again. The texture was not as pleasant as other sushi fish (a bit more like meat than fish), and there wasn't much flavor. After breakfast, we explored deeper into the market, where there were literally hundreds of stalls selling all manner of seafood. Definitely an exciting experience.

We're already nearing 1000 pictures, so here's a couple interesting ones to tide you over until we have time to write more:

Virtually every department store in Japan seems to have an enormous "food hall", typically covering the entire basement. In addition to groceries, there are dozens of stalls selling almost any kind of food you can think of. By far the most impressive we've seen was at Isetan in the Shinjuku neighborhood in Tokyo. I guessed that they had at least 1000 employees covering the assorted stalls. One meat counter seemed to specialize in what I assume was Kobe beef. 12,600 yen/100 g works out to about $570 USD/lb.

After four full days in Tokyo, we spent three days in Kyoto and Nara, which provided an extreme change of pace, especially since we focused on the older areas heaviest in shrines and traditional gardens. At Fushimi Inari, there is a literal avenue of torii, the red gates shown below. They say that there are over 20,000 gates. We took their word for it.

Finally, here's a picture of Michelle standing in front of a 15 m buddha statue at the Todai-Ji temple in Nara. They say that when they clean the statue, you can see up to 5 monks just standing in his hand.

1 comment:

Ben said...

That breakfast look pretty awesome! I ordered whale sashimi in Reykjavik for the same reason you guys did (when else am I going to have it?) and instantly regretted it. It was one of the few things I've ever tried that I just found inherently unappetizing. I know it's a mammal and everything, but compared to beef it's just a lot more.... purply-brown.