Japan is a country that was relatively late when it comes to eating beef, due to Buddhist tradition which forbade eating meat. However, during the Meiji era the country adopted a more Western-style diet as it aimed to modernize. Today, Japan is one of the best places to enjoy an excellent steak thanks to the generations of artisan cattle farmers who have carefully raised regional varieties of Japanese domestic cattle, known as “wagyu”.
The fabulous Okinawa Islands are located in the southwest of Japan, and are a popular tourist destination for their sunny climate, stunning beaches, breezier pace of life, and the traditional culture of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The Ryukyu Islands officially became a part of Japan in 1879 as “Okinawa prefecture”. However, the islands and their people have managed to retain their own unique character, charm, and cuisine. Here’s a selection of 12 restaurants that offer an authentic taste of Okinawan dining.
Nagoya is the capital of Aichi prefecture, and the largest city in the central Chubu region of Japan. Chubu, and the Aichi area in particular, is famous for its soybean farming and production of miso, a traditional Japanese ingredient of fermented soybean paste. Thanks to its location between Tokyo and Osaka, Nagoya has been influenced by the dining scenes of both cities, but it is also known for a number of local foods, including tebasaki chicken wings and hatcho miso (a type of red miso) which is used in various regional dishes.
Japanese fireworks, or hanabi (meaning “flowers of fire”), are a tradition that goes back several centuries. Arriving to Japan during the Edo period, the art of making fireworks has become a major artistic endeavor with master artisans crafting stunning spectacles to be displayed at the fireworks festivals known as hanabi taikai. While in other countries firework displays are typically held as part of holiday celebrations, in Japan, fireworks festivals have become an important summer tradition and usually take place alongside large rivers to help people keep cool in the heat. Read on for four of the most renowned Tokyo fireworks festivals of summer, along with recommendations for great places to indulge in great food and drinks before or after the show.
Kanazawa, the capital city of Ishikawa prefecture, is located in the Hokuriku region on the central coast of Japan’s main island facing the Sea of Japan. Historically, the city’s prime location, equidistant from Edo (modern-day Tokyo) and Kyoto, offered Kanazawa easy access to both cultures. Many areas throughout Kanazawa still retain a traditional look, so much so that it is often referred to as “Little Kyoto”.
Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish of a pork cutlet that has been coated in flaky panko breadcrumbs then deep-fried. Similar to a German schnitzel, tonkatsu was first served in Japan around the turn of the 20th century when Japanese restaurants began to offer more western-style food, known as “yoshoku”. Over time, tonkatsu has become one of Japan’s most commonly eaten dishes.
The Shinjuku district is one of the liveliest areas of Tokyo. A major commercial center, Shinjuku offers towering skyscrapers, massive department stores and electronic shops, and is also home to Tokyo’s metropolitan city government. Shinjuku Station is the most traversed train station in the world, and at night the district comes alive with neon lights and a bustling nightlife.
Tsukiji, located in Tokyo’s Chuo ward, was made world famous by the wholesale fish market located in the area. The district is also home to plenty of other attractions that make it a great day out in Tokyo for both residents and visitors. The elegant Hamarikyu Gardens nearby were originally a feudal lord’s residence and duck hunting grounds. The Tsukiji Hongan-Ji temple adjacent to Tsukiji Station is a Buddhist temple that dazzles visitors with its ancient Indian Buddhist architectural style. A stroll along the Sumida River is the perfect activity for a fine day, with view of several famous Tokyo bridges.
Curry is one of the most popular dishes in Japan that has been enjoyed since the early Meiji period. During that time, Japanese people started to eat British-style curry and other Western foods as a way to emulate modern Western culture. Over time the flavor of British curry, which is based on Indian curry, became sweeter with a more mild flavor to suit the Japanese palate, and the dish came to be known as a Japanese dish called “kare raisu” (curry rice).
The Asakusa district is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Although it’s located in the middle of Japan’s largest city, Asakusa, which was historically the town’s entertainment quarter, maintains the traditional “shitamachi” downtown vibe of old Edo, and it’s one of the few places in Tokyo where one can still take a ride on a rickshaw. The local landmark Kaminarimon is a massive gate that leads to Sensoji Temple, which is flanked by the Nakamise shopping street, a traditional market that has sold souvenirs and local snacks to visitors for centuries.