Japan Gourmet Expedition

20th - 29th October 2000

Matt Wegener & Masayuki Arai

Shiokara Natto Uni Octopus
Tendon Soba Ramen Oden
Korean BBQ Reimen Curry Bento
Yakitori Breakfast Sushi Shirako

Map of Japan   KyotoKyotoYonezawaNikkoFukiage and TokyoTokyo and YokohamaTokyoTokyoFlight to Tokyo Narita AirportClick on a button

The Idea

The aim of this expedition was to primarily taste a whole range of Japanese foods
and secondarily to see some of the main sights in Japan all within 8 days!
A Whirlwind Tour!
Therefore, we have taken photos of the food so that everyone can see what it looks like.
The expedition was carefully planned by us to optimize the variety of food eaten and places seen.

Pre-Expedition Planning (Düsseldorf & Tokyo):

We started planning the trip 8 weeks in advance. I checked return flight prices from DUS (Düsseldorf Airport) to NRT (Tokyo International Airport at Narita) on the Internet and booked the flight at http://ba-ticket-direkt.de/ for DEM 1,085 (which was cheap). I chose British Airways (via London Heathrow), since it was cheaper than Lufthansa or KLM. I also bought a 7-day Japan Rail Pass (DEM 600) exchange order at a local Japan Airlines Office which I then exchanged for the actual Japan Rail Pass once I got to Tokyo. This is only valid if one's passport is stamped with "Temporary Visitor". We drew up a tight schedule and Masayuki booked the hotels and decided on the food.


Day 1 (Friday 20th October) (Düsseldorf)

The expedition started at 08:45 when I left home for Düsseldorf (DUS) airport in a Taxi. It was misty and rather cold: 8°C. I was traveling light with only a small pack, still permitted as hand luggage (9 Kg total weight). I flew via Heathrow (LHR) to Narita (NRT) airport in Tokyo, 1.5 hours to LHR and then 12 hours to NRT. The British Airways 747-400 plane was excellent, since the economy class section had individual LCD screens so I choose to watch Shanghai Noon and Erin Brokovich from a selection of 12 different channels! Much better than Lufthansa or KLM! The food was also good (for airlines), as was the 1999 Cuveé Heritage Bordeaux.

British Airways Boeing 747-400  Inside the BA 747-400: individual screens in economy class  The BA wine

Day 2 (Saturday 21st October) Tokyo

The flight arrived on time at Narita airport NE of Tokyo at 09:10. I couldn't sleep on the flight, and waiting 15 minutes at Foreign Passports was rather annoying. After a quick customs questioning I came out and met Masayuki. The weather was sunny with 24°C, really nice. In the car park I tried to guess which Masayuki's new car was. I guessed wrong, he has a Toyota Aristo (Lexus GS300) with electric everything, including voice navigation system with TV. We drove straight to the Takanawa Prince Hotel in Shinagawa Tokyo (took 55 minutes). After reorganizing and showering we headed out to explore Tokyo via train. The first stop was the Ginza shopping area, where all the expensive fashion shops are. We went in Mitsukoshi a posh department store, with a huge food section downstairs. I have never seen such a large section of different types of fish. Also in Ginza I was surprised to find a German restaurant/pub!
The Asakusa (Senso-ji) Temple, one of the largest in Tokyo, was our next call. Near there, in front of the Senso-ji temple, we had Ten-don (a rice bowl with tempura (fish/prawns/veg in a fluffy non/greasy batter) topping, salt/sweet) in a traditional wooden style restaurant called Daikoku-ya. Tempura (fried in batter) of prawn, small fish and scallops - tasted similar to fish & chips from England. With that we had a glutinous soup with yellow stringy egg sprinkled with ginger bits + Asahi beer.
Afterwards we bought some rice crackers (Sembei) from one of the many market style stalls/shops near the temple, some were very spicy/hot. There was a huge selection of different flavors to choose from.

All our travelling was via the Yamanote local train or via the subway train. In Akihabara there were 100s of small and also some very large electronic shops spread out over about 1 km. After that we stopped off at the Enoteca wine shop where we had a glass of Taillevant Champagne. Nice. We had Oden as dinner, at a small hidden away restaurant in west Ginza called Otako, where they cook various types of fish cake and tofu fresh in a soup in front of you at the bar. We also had as side dishes: soy sauce flavored soup, raw chicken breast bits, Shiokara: slimy stringy squid strips in innards sauce, mini octopuses and boiled squid leg/suckers. Pretty extreme! But not bad.

In the evening we had a Starbucks coffee near the Yurakucho station and then headed back to the hotel. At the shopping arcade toilet there was an extremely efficient hand drier, which really does get your hands dry in 15 seconds. The best one in Germany takes 60 seconds.

The Takanawa Prince Hotel  The luxury bathroom at the Takanawa Prince Hotel  Our room at the Takanawa Prince Hotel  Ginza area of Tokyo  Inside a typical train in Tokyo  Inside the Asakusa market  The Daikoku-ya restaurant  The Ten-don food  Vending machines  The Senso-ji temple  The Pagoda at the Senso-ji temple  Hundreds of pigeons at the Senso-ji temple  The Akihabara electronics shopping area  Enoteca wine shop  The Oden restaurant: Otako  Oden: fish cakes and tofu  The chef and menu on the wall  Raw chicken breast pieces  Octopus and squid  Me eating a mini octopus  Shiokara: raw squid in innnards  High speed hand drier

Day 3 (Sunday 22nd October) Tokyo

We left for the Shibuya area at 10:30 via train, a trendy young fashion area. We looked at the most famous dog statue: Hatchko - a place where everyone hangs around waiting, i.e. a general meeting area for trendy young people. We checked out several shops and department stores. One was called Tokyu-Hands where we saw a wall clock where the numbers were substituted by models of different types of Sushi! I want one!! It was JPY 24000 so I didn't buy it. We did come back later after lunch and I got myself some bandannas.
At lunch time we found a Japanese curry place called Pakumori, whose chef has been on television. The curry is molded and sits as a half dry pat on a tall plateau of rice. It tasted different from Indian curry; it was superb, fairly mild. The restaurant is also hidden away down some steps. We checked out Tower Records, a large CD shop. The average price for a new CD was JPY 2000, so I didn't buy any, since they are 40% cheaper at home in Germany.

We headed back to the hotel and then to Yokohama via train, to china town. The buildings were all lit up with neon and the temple style arches were very picturesque. We had dinner at a recommended Chinese restaurant called Saikoh Shinkan, where we had to queue for 20 minutes it was so popular! We had Ten-shin set meal with 11 different dim sum style bits, hot Chinese rice wine was a good idea. It tasted like medium dry sherry to me, it was a clear brown color. Grilled pork and pickles started off the meal, followed by a high viscosity shark fin soup. Next were garlic flavored king prawns, then fried prawn spring rolls, boiled dumplings of pork and shrimps. Continuing with steamed dumpling things filled with grilled pork. Finally steamed bread, which was soft and sticky, filled with pork. For dessert we were served with tofu pudding - a sloppy white soya bean tasting jelly in wallpaper paste texture with jasmin tea.

Earlier at Yokohama station we exchanged my Japan Rail Pass voucher for a rail pass and reserved some seats on the Shinkansen to Kyoto for Thursday. We were lucky since the issuing office shut at 17:00, just after we got there. Almost every restaurant in Japan has wax models of the food on display outside which were extremely realistic. Obviously useful for foreigners who have no idea what on earth the symbols mean or what the food looks like. Very noticeable in Japan is that on every street corner there were loads of vending machines selling various soft drinks (and outside liquor stores, also beer), especially different types of cold coffee drink.

The ticket machines at the station  Hatchko the dog statue and trendy young people at Shibuya  Shibuya square  Crazy teenagers dressed up for a photo shooting  A Shibuya street  Lots of vending machines  Japanese curry  China Town in Yokohama  Me eating dim-sums in the Chinese restaurant  The Chinese rice wine (warm)

Day 4 (Monday 23rd October) Nikko

We left the hotel at 08:00 and set the navigation system in Masayuki's car for Nikko. Heading north we circled the Emperor 's Palace and then went on the motorway. The weather this morning was crap. We listed to my music compilation of pop that I had put onto CD for Masayuki. Some of them were good, the rest was just noise, he said. It started raining from about 9:00 onwards, 15°C. We reached Nikko at about 10:30 and we checked out the Tosho-gu shrine and then the three monkeys (they signify do not speak, do not see, do not hear - then you won't have any problems). We also saw the sleeping cat - sculpted by an ancient artist. It was raining heavily and there thousands of local tourists there, a lot of old people. In one of the annex temples we saw the barking dragon (echoing off the ceiling). Which was nice.
Then we drove up this cool hairpin steep road up to 1350 m where we had lunch near the Chuzenji Lake. We had soba (buckwheat noodle) with yuba (Nikko specialty, topping for soba), which was made from soya milk, which was really good. The side dish was only for advanced users: miso-oden: boiled konnyaku with miso sauce. It was pretty gruesome ands tasted of floppy milky jelly. Not compatible with most Europeans. We then got back into the car, it was still raining, 11°C. The navigation system got us to Aizu-Yunokami-Onsen (Japanese style privately run hotel with hot spring). En route we stopped off at a 7-Eleven. Japan has hundreds of 24-hour stores where people can buy everything. We bought snacks, some jars of Sake and some cans of Sapporo beer. Good.

We easily found the Minshuku (small family run hotel) called Hoshinoi. Our room was a typical small Japanese room with tatami (reed) mats. Our shoes were left at the threshold and we donned some house slippers. We had to share the mixed toilet and washing sink with everyone else in the corridor. In the toilet room one leaves one’s slippers at the door and steps into the cold plastic toilet slippers. We changed into our Yukata (Japanese night gown) under which you usually wear your boxer shorts or something. We went into the Onsen, hot spring bath (communal bath), basically they are big hot rock pools, 42°C. You wash beforehand at mini showers with low stools for sitting on next to the hot spring pool. No soap or dirt is permitted in the Onsen. We had tiny towels to more-or-less get dry with afterwards.

At 18:00 it was dinnertime in the big communal dining room (which hi-tech laser-disk karaoke set). We sat with crossed legs on cushions on the tatami mats at low tables. In total there were 40 guests there. I was the only foreigner (especially since this hotel is not in any guide books). The dinner was superb! To start with we had kiku flower petals (Chrysanthemum) with mayonnaise - outstanding! Also sashimi of salmon, carp and scallop, yama-imo with okura: stringy slimy snotty thin strings of potato - nice. Continuing with aubergines (egg-plant) with miso topping and noodle soup. As vegetables we had incredibly good potato (100 times better than potatoes back home) with warm radish and tofu (the latter was the only thing that got less than 6/10 on my rating scale). Butter sautéed mushrooms and vegetables were good. The highlight was the raw horse slices with miso-garlic paste. Which tasted like very tender game. Awesome. A hollowed out crab shell was filled with a creamy crab paste - nice. For dessert we had persimon, a yellow Japanese fruit, jolly nice. After the meal some drunk older people started singing Japanese Karaoke, which was rubbish. The hotel smelled of hydrogen sulfide due to the Onsen / volcano nearby. On television later on we watched Mito-Komon a very popular program. The hero, the 3rd vice -Shogun Mito Mitsukuni, beats bad men (scoundrels); stories in the Edo period.

Masayuki's car navigation system  Masayuki's car: Toyota Aristo  Nikko: entrance to the shrines  The 3 monkeys at the Tosho-gu shrine   The famous cat at the Tosho-gu shrine   The Tosho-gu shrine  Colorful Sake (rice wine) barrels  A Pagoda at the Tosho-gu shrine  The Tosho-gu shrine  Lunch at 1000 m: Soba noodle  Soba noodle and Yuba jelly  The mountainside with autumnal leaves  Me in our room in the Minshuku  Me in a Yukata in our room  Me at dinner time sitting on the floor  Dinner time  The raw horse meat  Masayuki and I in the hallway  Me collapsed on the beds on the Tatami floor  The most watched Japanese soap opera called Mito-Komon

Day 5 (Tuesday 24th October) Aizu-Wakamatsu, Yonezawa

Masayuki got up much too early, i.e. at 6:00 in order to take an onsen (hot spring bath). I got up at 7:30. Breakfast was at 08:00 back in the communal dining room. We had cold half raw slimy egg (Onsen-tamago), which was grim. Also we had kiku (Japanese purple flower petals, Chrysanthemum) in mayonnaise, which was really nice, and grilled salmon, nori (mini sheets of seaweed) that we wrapped round the rice. Also miso (soya) soup with tofu, and natto - very very slimy and unbelievable stringy fermented soya beans which had a burnt slightly coffee like taste. The weather this morning was superb, blue sky and sun. It reached 23°C at lunchtime. We drove to Tsuruga-jo castle at Aizu-Wakamatsu - a large town in the valley surrounded by mountains. We saw hundreds of small school children on day excursions. At the castle we had macha-tea in traditional tea garden. The tea looked green and frothy and tasted slightly like mushy peas. The view from the top of the castle was spectacular.
We then drove to Kitakata, famous for Ramen Noodle. We queued for 10 minutes to get into a tiny restaurant called Matsu where we had Chashumen: ramen noodles in soup with tender grilled pork slices. They have to be drawn into the mouth with the chopsticks with air to cool them down with a loud slurping noise. Outstanding! (8/10). I need to practice my slurping though; I took twice as long as Masayuki to eat it all. 100s of Japanese tourists were wondering around this town and they were queuing at every Ramen restaurant. We got back into the car and programmed the navigation system to take us on a scenic route around a lake (Goshi Kinoma) in the Ura-bandai area on windy mountain roads. Masayuki was testing out his tiptronic style semi-automatic gearshift. At the lake viewpoint I bought a packet of boiled/fried tsukudani (grass hoppers) to take back to Germany. I have now tried these and they are crunchy but ok to eat. They basically taste of the dark sauce they are grilled with, a bit burnt/corn like.

We arrived at the Azumaso Ryokan (Japanese hotel) at 16:00. At the entrance one takes off one's shoes and changes into house slippers, which are supplied. We were led to our room, which had tatami mats (like normal) so one takes off the slippers. Only bare feet or socks are allowed on there. The hostess served us with tea at the low table and chatted a bit. This Ryokan was much better than the previous night in the Minshuku, since we had our own toilet and washbasin and mini?bar. Great! The room was also much larger with a separate sitting area with a view of the mountainside. Later we went into the Onsen (hot spring pool), which was even hotter than the previous place, i.e. 43°C!

Dinner was served in our room. The main course was sukiyaki, raw beef slices with mushroom, cabbage and tofu, all this is raw and we cooked it in the pan in the middle of the table on a gas burner with soy sauce with sugar in. The cooked beef is then dipped into raw egg and eaten. I was rather skeptical about this raw egg, but I was fine and didn't feel ill afterwards. As accompaniment we had charcoal grilled iwana trout, matsutake mushroom soup with a small bird's egg and mushroom with ground radish. To dink we had Kirin and Asahi beer. Nice (7.5/10).
After dinner was cleared away, the futons were brought out and made up. We watched Japan vs. Iraq play soccer on television.

Breakfast  The Hoshinoi Minshuku from the front  The village where we stayed: Aizu-Yunokami-Onsen  The main road through Aizu-Wakamatsu  A traditional toilet at the castle car park  Tsuruga-jo castle at Aizu-Wakamatsu  The tea ceremony house  Macha-tea (green)  Me in the tea garden  The castle in the background  A large colorful spider, there were hundreds of them  A view of Aizu-Wakamatsu from the top of the castle  School children on an excursion to visit the castle  Ramen noodle with pork  The small Ramen noodle restaurant in Kitakata  The autumn leaves in the mountainside  The autumn leaves in the mountainside  View into the valley from 1400m, near Yonezawa  Our luxury room at the Azumaso Ryokan in Yonezawa  Masayuki preparing the Sukiyaki (beef)

Day 6 (Wednesday 25th October) Yonezawa, Gyoda, Tokyo

I got thrown out of bed when the maid bloke arrived to fold and stow the bed away at 07:30. The low table was put back in the center of the room and breakfast was served, beautifully presented on a large tray (each). As usual we had green tea to drink. The breakfast was similar to the previous day; it tasted much better though.
We left at 09:00 and set the navigation system for Gyoda. En route in the mountains we stopped off to take a few more pictures of the autumn leaves and we stopped at a roadside market stall to buy some mushrooms for Masayuki's parents. It took 3 hours to get to Fukiage (next to Gyoda) where we went to a large shopping center. We had lunch in a sushi circle where you take a plate from a conveyor belt. I've done this before several times at home in Düsseldorf and London, but this was much better. The conveyor belt was totally full with 10s of plates of a whole variety of sushi and a few small deserts. All the dishes were the same price (JPY 100) each, i.e. very cheap. The sushi tasted outstanding and was extremely fresh. Sitting at the bar there were several hot water taps for making your green tea. Chop sticks, soy sauce and a pot of fresh pickled ginger slices were in front of us.

After lunch we looked round the shopping center, particularly the massive supermarket. Compared to German supermarkets the main differences are that in Japan the fresh food quality is much better, obviously there is a huge selection of fish and seafoods, all the tills are opened to avoid the build up of queues, the cashiers are pleasant and friendly, they are open until 20:00 each night and also on Sundays. I bought some items not available in Germany: anti-crease clothes spray, an anti-fluff sticky roller and inside/outside car wipes. We also went to a DIY store to get a multi-charger, since my PSION REVO (a PDA) was almost out of battery and the charger I had with it does not run on 100V, what a load of rubbish! We found a suitable one thankfully.

We stopped off at Masayuki's house nearby to drop some stuff off. His parents were not there, but his dog was there outside. Its name is Yasokichi, a shiba-ken dog, it was very polite and well behaved. It took 2 hours to get into Tokyo by car. The distance is only 60km, but we were stuck in Tokyo traffic for 45 minutes before we reached the Takanawa Prince hotel. In the evening we met one of Masayuki's friends, Minori, near Tokyo station where we went to a trendy Japanese pub (an Izakaya) called Ban-ya. Shoes were placed in mini wooden lockers and we were led to a table. The tables are normal height and were in small booths separated by wooden beams. The pub had a comfortable "snug" feel about it. For dinner we ordered salad with carpacio style red snapper fish (thin slices), mixed yakitori (wooden skewers with meat on), fried pork with miso (soya bean paste), assorted sashimi platter, raw horsemeat slices, big yakitori meatballs, shiokara (raw squid in innards again) and fried shrimps. We also tasted several different types sake (Japanese rice wine).
We took the train back to the hotel in Shinagawa fairly drunk (took only 10 minutes).

The breakfast  Natto (fermented soya beans)  The inner courtyard of our Ryokan in Yonezawa  Me and the tree covered mountains  The highly realistic wax models of food at Fukiage shopping mall  The Sushi circle restaurant at Fukiage shopping mall  Masayuki's home in Fukiage  Masayuki's well behaved dog: Yasokichi  The Sashimi salad and Yakitori in the Japanese pub  The Sake tasting session at the Japanese pub  A menu with pictures helps if you can't read Japanese symbols  Me, Minori and Masayuki in the pub

Day 7 (Thursday 26th October) Kyoto, Osaka

This morning we boarded the Hikari Shinkansen at 07:21 at Tokyo station bound for Kyoto (a high speed "bullet" train). Beforehand we bought some Bentos (specialty lunch boxes), which we ate on the train with cold green tea. The Bento had clams (extracted from their sea shells) and a small piece of chicken on rice. Tasted better than it looked. We arrived 10 seconds early at 09:59 - the trains are incredibly punctual! Outside the station were hundreds of school kids on organized excursions. A small group of 14-year-old schoolgirls came up to me to practice their English. We got some tour info from the tourist information office and then walked the 20 minutes to our hotel - the Kyoto Tokyu hotel. The weather was fine with some sun and 21°C.
After reorganizing we walked back to the station and went on a sightseeing bus tour to the Nijo castle and Toei-Uzumasa-Eigamura Movie-land Park. At the Nijo castle, which was built in 1603 for the 3rd Shogun Ieyasu, we walked inside the large wooden structure Ninomaru palace and then the gardens. The inside decorations were gold paint with various drawings. At movie-land, which was partly an actual film set for the Japanese movie company Toei, we walked round the sets and saw some Ninjas performing a stunt fight show. There were loads of souvenir shops where I bought some Ninja throwing stars and a beer bottle opener.

We got back to the station at 16:40 and got on a train to Osaka and then changed to get to Tsuruhashi station from where the Korean restaurant Soeul-ja. It took about 45 minutes in total. We went to this recommended Korean barbecue restaurant where one grills the pieces of meat on the gas grill built into the center of each table. We had ox tongue to start with; it tasted very tender and extremely good. Following that we grilled several different small pieces of beef, such as carbi (on the bone), Kim-chi, Na-mul, and also intestine, the latter was rather tough in texture. All the meat comes in a sesame, soy sauce, sugar and garlic sauce and is subsequently dipped into a similar sesame sauce before eating. As accompaniments we had namuru (mixed vegetable) and kimuchi (sour hot spicy pickle). The next 2 courses were Bibim-bpa rice and ice-cold noodle soup - reimen. It was rather strange eating cold noodle soup, since I have had similar things always hot.

Our hotel room had a small bathroom with a luxury toilet with built in bidet and bottom shower. Which was interesting.

The Takanawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo (front view)  The Bento lunchbox shop at Tokyo station  The Shinkansen high speed train to Kyoto (and Osaka)  The sign at ones seat in the Shinkansen (notice the instructions for mobile phone etiquette)  The Bento lunchbox with clams and rice  Kyoto station  Me with some schoolgirls at Kyoto station  The small bathroom with high-tech toilet  Our room at the Kyoto Tokyu Hotel  Nijo Castle  Nijo Castle  Movie-land Park  A Ninja Warrior !  The entrance to Movie-Land  The Korean BBQ  The cold Reimen noodle soup

Day 8 (Friday 27th October) Kyoto

We bought a one-day bus pass at the hotel lobby, which was only JPY 500, which was good since a single would have been JPY220! We looked on the bus-map and made our way to the Kinkaku-ji temple. A spectacular gold foil covered temple (a pagoda). You can't go in it but we could walk all round the gardens and up to the higher bits. Here were several souvenir shops where we bought some tacky items, such as a golden temple key-chain.
Then we took the bus to the city center in Kyoto. In the Shin-kyogoku promenade and surrounding area it was souvenir heaven! Hundreds of souvenir shops, other trendy clothes shops and restaurants. We ate at an Okonomiyaki restaurant; we were led upstairs where we sat on tatami mats. Each table had a large central hotplate on which the Okonomiyaki are cooked. Okonomiyaki consists of a batter mix of wheat flour, egg, water + cabbage, seafood and meat. The liquid mixture is poured onto the hotplate and turned over when done on one side. When it's ready you pour/brush the special Okonomiyaki sauce over it + seaweed, dried bonito flakes + mayonnaise. It tasted like a delicious pancake/omelet.

After lunch I bought some more tacky souvenirs; a mini temple with thermometer, mini pen sized Ninja and Samurai swords (paper knives). Then we got back on a very packed bus to head to the Kiyomizu-dera temple. We walked up a steep road with souvenir shops on either side, selling every conceivable souvenir. Crazy, but nice. We reached the temple - a large wooden Buddhist temple built on the side of the mountain overlooking Kyoto. A brilliant view. Next to the temple we had sweet food for teatime consisting of zenzai - azuki beans and mochi (texture like hot-melt adhesive). In the evening we went to a huge food complex at the top of the Isetan shopping center at Kyoto station. We chose Ten-ichi a luxury tempura restaurant. We sat at the bar where we could directly see the chef preparing all the food. We had various tempura (pieces of anything in batter) with were dipped either in a small amount of salt, curry powder or soya type sauce/soup with ground radish in. After loads of different bits we had even more with rice. I couldn't eat anymore! Apparently the rice is just as important as the fish or meat so it should all be eaten up, otherwise it's rude / insulting to the chef, who might think his rice didn't taste nice.

Me inside the lobby at the Kyoto Tokyu Hotel  The Kyoto Tokyu Hotel  Kinkaku-ji temple  Kinkaku-ji temple  Me eating Okonomiyaki  The road full of souvenir shops leading to the Kiyomizu-dera temple  The bell tower at the Kiyomizu-dera temple  Kiyomizu-dera temple  A Pagoda at Kiyomizu-dera temple  Silhouette of Pagoda at Kiyomizu-dera temple with Kyoto in background  Outside the Tempura restaurant

Day 9 (Saturday 28th October) Tokyo

Reveille was so early again to get the 07:41 Shinkansen to Tokyo. It was very fast and got in at 10:17, only 10 seconds late this time. We took the local train to our normal hotel - the Takanawa Prince in the Shinagawa area. We went to a restaurant near Shinagawa station for lunch - tonkatsu (Japanese style schnitzel (breadcrumb covered meat)). With special sauce, strips of cabbage and rice. It tasted excellent, rather Western! With it we had pickles and miso soup (tofu and seaweed soup).
Then we headed to Ueno where we checked out the old wooden Kan-eiji temple. One can't go in, but it's not bad to look at and has a large bell thing out the front. Back past Ueno station was Ameya-yokocho (Ame-yoko) road where there are hundreds of small shops and gangways selling everything from food to watches to knifes and BB guns at reasonable prices.

In the evening we went to the Enoteca wine bar again in Yurakucho where we had a glass of 1994 Chateau Haut Brion, and a 1983 Chateau Haut Bailly. The first one was outstanding with a hint of blackcurrant and a tiny amount of chocolate/coffee taste (8.5/10). Then we met Midori and Yoichi, friends of Masayuki, to go sushi eating. We went to Edogin a high quality sushi restaurant in the Tsukiji market area. To start with we had assorted sashimi (raw fish without rice) including toro (belly of tuna), bonito, scallop, crab, red snapper, sweet shrimp and octopus. Next was Shirako that looked like monkey brain (well actually it was cod fish sperm sacs). It looked like gooey white beans. In the mouth these beans burst easily to a slimy creamy texture. The taste was ok. Next was liver of monkfish. Following that - shiokara (squid in innards sauce) which I knew well by now. Then various sushi including uni: sea urchin (the most expensive sushi in the restaurant). Really nice.

We went to Starbucks after dinner where I had a caramel frappucino - nice.

The Shinkansen arriving at Kyoto station  Tonkatsu (breadcrumbed meat)  Masayuki and I at Kan-eiji temple in Ueno  Masayuki with a glass of Haute Brion at the wine shop  1994 Chateau Haut Brion, and a 1983 Chateau Haut Bailly which we drunk  Midori and Yoichi with the tacky souvenirs at the Sushi restaurant  Shirako (front right), Shiokara (front left) and Sashimi (rear)  The Sushi menu  High quality Sushi  Uni: sea urchin, very expensive sushi  The last drink at Starbucks

Day 10 (Sunday 29th October) Tokyo, London Heathrow, Düsseldorf

Masayuki came with me to Tokyo station from where I got the Narita Airport Express at 09:00. It took 59 minutes to get there. The flight back was again in a luxury BA 747-400, with personal displays in scum class. It took about 12 hours to Heathrow where the landing was rather scary since there was a 40 mph side wind from the south. The onward flight to Düsseldorf was also delayed due to the bad weather; it was 2 hours late! I took a taxi back to my flat and eventually got home at midnight, extremely tired. It was back to work in 7 hours time!

That's it, we had an excellent time on our whirlwind gourmet expedition. Masayuki was excellent at choosing good places to visit and interesting/extreme food to eat!

The http://www.travel-library.com/asia/japan/ web-site has a list of other peoples travelogues and useful travel information.
The japan-guide.com website has loads of useful information and a food guide.
The Japan guide from About.com is good for planning the trip.

If you have any comments or questions please e-mail me at:
E-Maile-mail: matt.wegener@web.de

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