Given that my dad has been living in Japan for a long time now and because this was my first ever trip to Japan – I was beyond excited!And would you believe, this is actually my first trip. Something you may not know about me is that my dad lives in Japan, and has done so for 28 years! Japan, therefore, has a very fond place in my heart and I studied Japanese at school so I know a little about the language and culture. That being said, this is my first time and I have to say I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the land and the people and the fact that it’s impossible to have a bad meal in Japan. I flew to Tokyo where my dad met me at the airport and thank goodness because it’s quite difficult to figure out the trains. We set on our way to Odawara, south of Tokyo, to the town where he lives. It was so quaint and had quite a European feel to it.
It’s a beautiful area known for the natural onsens and also near to one of the most famous areas of Japan, Hakone. Hakone is a top tourist destination in Japan and I could totally see why. We travelled up, all the way to the top of the Hakone mountain which is the strangest feeling going from an onsen to the contrast of seeing snow and having a snowball fight!
We went sailing on my dad’s yacht to a small island of Odawara and had what I’d say is one of my top 10 meals of my life. A small Japanese restaurant tucked away on the island, run by a husband and wife. He’s in the kitchen and she’s on service. I was lucky enough to jump in the kitchen with the chef and learn directly from him. I’ll be sharing some of these recipes with you very soon. (Please google the small island off Odawara!). On to Tokyo from here, staying in Ginza. Great spot as it’s a hub of great restaurants and so close to everywhere interesting! One of my favourite things to do when I reach a city is going for a run, I ran around the Emperor’s palace (Tokyo Imperial Palace) and was stunned by the grand building and delicate cherry blossoms. (Please google the park – emperors palace – chiyoda hitostubashi).
Next stop was Nihonbashi Teppanyaki Toyo at Chuo, Ginza. This is such a fun experience as you get to watch the chef make the dishes right in front of your eyes and learn from the master. I tried out a Michelin star restaurant speciality – eel. The dish I ate was anago eel and it was one to remember. I also had ramen and it blew my mind, to say the least!
In every country I go to I like to bring something back with me, for my home and on the hit list for me was a Japanese knife. There’s a whole street in Tokyo called Kitchen Street and it’s literally just that. It has everything you can ever dream of for the kitchen. The best knife shop in town is also there called Kamata Hakensha knife store – I’d heard a lot about Japanese knives and had to see it for myself! They are 100’s of fine layers of metal pounded together so that when sharpening you can get the sharpest of edge and I bought myself a new chef’s knife in my favourite shape. I recommend once you find a shape blade you like, stick to it as the knives to a chef are their tools and it makes all the difference in your technique.
I also loved that with mostly every meal they have tea because I’m totally obsessed with tea. One of the main ones that are free at restaurants is the matcha tea. This is a high-grade ground green tea. Simple to make, only a quarter a teaspoon in a cup of hot or cold water. No brewing required. I have totally adopted this into my every day and am drinking hot and cold matcha teas throughout the day, even while I’m here in India. Refreshing, cleansing and also gives a little kick as it has a slight amount of caffeine.
Shochu was my alcoholic drink of choice. It’s interesting as in every other country we hear all about sake and believe it to be the most common drink when in actual fact the most common drink is shochu in Japan. It’s a rice-based liquor with a strength of about 25% or so somewhere in the middle of vodka and wine. You basically drink it like you would vodka. 1/3 shochu and 2/3 ice and water or the Japanese actually love to drink 1/3 shochu and 2/3 iced green tea – and let me add absolutely no sugar at all. So even after quite a few of these, you wake up hydrated – not sure if I should be mentioning this haha..but it’s truly a great way to drink and stay hydrated.
Japanese breakfast is almost a main meal – they eat a very wholesome breakfast and can sometimes even be the leftovers from the night before dinner. They eat a variety of small things. A pickled vegetable (cucumber), a seaweed salad, a piece of fish, a bowl of rice, a lightly poached egg, miso soup, so you eat a very balanced breakfast of protein, carbs and fat.
If you want to drive at all in Japan you have to get an international license. The reason why I know is that they have this really cool thing where you can dress up as a Mario kart character and drive go-karts through Tokyo city I so wanted to do it but couldn’t because I didn’t have an international licence. It would have been so much fun! Nonetheless, my trip to Japan was incredibly fun & memorable! Thanks, dad!❤️
Nihon ni arigatō!! Here’s a big shoutout to you Japan!!🤗