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Help identify a mystery gift from Japan

It is Sonogi-cha (local green tea) from Nagasaki. Make sure your hot water is only around 60 to 70C when you make it.

Here's a webpage showing how one maker grows their tea:

Nov 19, 2014
Hiyodori in Japan

What's with all the lining up for hours for miserable, crappy food?

Yes, and they're fantastic! Even our esteemed Uncle Yabai had this to say:

Uncle Yabai Jul 13, 2011 03:03 PM

Well, I was in Paris recently and tried kouign amann at a number of places, including the much heralded (and rightly so) breakfast room at the Park Hyatt Vendome, and I have to say they were excellent... But not as good as Viron's in Tokyo!

Sep 24, 2014
Hiyodori in Japan

Shokuyoku no Aki -- Delicious Autumn

I've found that they go well in a salad with arugula, roasted bacon, and a balsamic vinegar dressing. Optional small amount of the strong cheese of your choice.

I've also had good results with these two recipes, the first of which is for normal pears, but worked great with nashi.

Of course just eating one that you just picked yourself, with the juice dripping down everywhere, is heaven!

Sep 18, 2014
Hiyodori in Japan

First time in Japan (Opinion on my list of places to go to)

For something a little different, there is a beef (gyuu) katsu shop only a 100 meters or so from where Houraitei used to be, called Gyuukatsu Motomura.


Sep 08, 2014
Hiyodori in Japan

First time in Japan (Opinion on my list of places to go to)

I wanted to visit Houraitei again when back in Shibuya recently (used to work near there, not anymore). It's unfortunately closed now, as of the end of 2013 according to their website.


Sep 08, 2014
Hiyodori in Japan

MATSUMOTO & GIFU - Hikariya Nishi + Ishii Miso + Michiya-Zushi Okimuraya + Yamatake-Shōten

I'm not sure which location you are referring to, but Morihachi is still doing business at many different locations. Here is a list of their shops in Japanese, including many in Kanazawa:

There is even one in the middle of Tokyo, near Yotsuya.

Aug 29, 2014
Hiyodori in Japan

Wine bars in Tokyo

You can find it at Spade near Azabu Juban station in Tokyo. Note that I have never visited this wine bar, but a slightly more well off friend of a friend frequents the shop.

Aug 19, 2014
Hiyodori in Japan


Minmin, part of a chain, has fairly good gyoza, and is just around the corner from Toranomon Hills. Well, within 2 or three minutes walk.

Aug 17, 2014
Hiyodori in Japan

My plan for the sidetrip to Kyoto is finished

It appears that they only have "course" (i.e. fixed menu) plans for parties, aside from having an all you can drink "course" option.

So unless they serve you some insects as an "otsumami" when you first sit down, I suspect you won't receive any unless you order them yourself. I bet that the prime season for grasshoppers would be right now in mid-summer in any case!

Aug 03, 2014
Hiyodori in Japan

My plan for the sidetrip to Kyoto is finished

There is a photo of one of their menus on Tabelog:

The reviews (kuchi-komi, 口コミ) there would suggest that it is only a la carte.

Aug 03, 2014
Hiyodori in Japan

My plan for the main trip to Tokyo is finished

You also may want to note that most ATMs in Japan do not accept non-Japanese issued credit cards / bank cards for cash advances or withdrawals.

The ATMs at the numerous 7-11 convenience stores are on international networks, however. As are the ATMs at all Japan Post Bank locations (basically inside all post office locations within Japan). Both have instructions available in English.

Aug 01, 2014
Hiyodori in Japan

Ordering in Non English Sushi Restaurant in Tokyo

Well, there's nothing wrong with being polite!

It may be helpful to not accidentally mistake politeness with humbleness, though. Omakase wo onegai-shimasu does not mean "I most humbly leave it up to you." It just establishes that you are polite, you want to eat some good sushi (or whatever the shop specializes in), you'll take the freshest / best / in season options (not necessarily the most expensive) that the shop has on offer that day, and you trust the chef.

That said, there's nothing wrong with just saying "omakase!" "omakase wo" or "omakase shimasu" with a smile and an expectant palate. Only the chef is going to say "omakase kudasai" to a customer who's really unable to decide what he wants.

I agree about the stranger on the Internet warning, and if you read Japanese, there are an amazing number of questions posted around dealing with language use in a variety of situations, especially in the service industry. The native Japanese speaker answers are not at all standard either.

Anyway, I've lived in Japan half of my life, almost completely in a Japanese language environment all day, every day situation, and when I first came here I was really surprised to hear random Japanese say onegai-shimasu when they put their basket on the counter at the convenience store. Just my opinion, and certainly true in my case, but I think that language learners over think things and place too much faith in what their textbook states.

Nov 10, 2013
Hiyodori in Japan

Ordering in Non English Sushi Restaurant in Tokyo

Onegai-shimasu is simply polite, not humble or honorific, and there is nothing awkward about using it when you want/expect a person to do something for you, especially as an opening.

You would use different vocabulary and grammar if you wanted someone helping you to bring out a larger clothing size.

Don't worry about the chef's importance since onegai-shimasu doesn't affect your social status relationship. It just let's the chef know that you're polite.

Nov 10, 2013
Hiyodori in Japan

Kumamoto, Aso, Takachiho Gorge, Kurokawa Onsen, Usaki, Beppu, Yufuin, Hakata/Fukuoka

Well, considering that we found an opened jar of homemade yuzu kosho buried deep in the bowels of a friend's refrigerator, were able to figure out that it was at least five years old, and it still tasted wonderful, I'd say for quite a long time!

With all of the salt and spicy pepper inside, I'd personally not worry about it unless there was a visible mold growing on top, or it had an unusual smell. Okay, different from it's normal unusual aroma!

Aug 08, 2013
Hiyodori in Japan

Caramel macarons?

For those who can read Japanese, or get by with a google translation, this is one of many interesting blogs by macaron connoisseurs (fanatics?) in Japan. Around 500 shops reviewed.

Jul 10, 2013
Hiyodori in Japan

10 days to eat our way through Japan: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Tokyo...Please help!

I haven't been to Kinkakuji in a couple years, but there is a place to have matcha green tea and a traditional Japanese sweet along the path that goes through the gardens.

Jun 02, 2013
Hiyodori in Japan

7 nights in Tokyo - Please help me chose and refine my list!

Silverjay makes an excellent point that people visiting Japan might find beneficial -- Tokyo is not like San Francisco when it comes to eating.

Apparently San Francisco comes out on top in the US for number of restaurants per 10,000 households, at over 39. See:

Digging around in Japanese, figures from around 5 years ago show that in Tokyo, there are around 116 restaurants per household. In the central areas of the city, the amount just boggles the mind.

I can walk for 5 or 6 minutes from my office, and reach well over 150 restaurants! Including at least two Michelin starred places, a shop specializing in sausage, an old, tiny family run yakitori shop that seats around 7 or 8 people at most, with a stand-up only outdoor bar next door with only two "barrels" for tables, and on and on. Part of the enjoyment in dining in Tokyo is the atmosphere of the place, the care taken (or not) in arranging the food so that it's as appealing to the eyes as to the palate, and the personal interaction with the chef / staff due to the intimate (OK, sometimes tiny or cramped) layout.

I realize that you're on your honeymoon, and price is no object, and I hope that you completely enjoy yourselves! But for your next trip, remember that part of the fun of Tokyo, even Japan in general, is finding a place you didn't expect, in a strange location, that turns out to better than anything written up in travel guides, blogs, newspapers, whatever. One of the best meals of my life was at a seafood izakaya somewhere on Izu many years ago after playing golf. We happened to notice it in a taxi early in the morning, and stopped by around 5pm on the way back to the station. Sometimes those experiences turn out to be a bust, but when it works, it's something that you'll truly remember for years and years.


May 01, 2013
Hiyodori in Japan

ISO Knife Shop - Osaka

That's the well-known crab sign (restaurant) near Nanba Station in the center of Osaka. Here's a link to google maps with street view:

Mar 27, 2013
Hiyodori in Japan

Torishige - Shibuya(Tokyo) Yakitori contact info?

The Torishige posted is technically in Shibuya Ward due to their address, although they are located almost next to Shinjuku station.

Mar 11, 2013
Hiyodori in Japan

Where can I buy Unagi Pie (Pai) in Tokyo?

The Shizuoka Prefecture "antenna shop" located in the Tokyo Koutsu Kaikan building (Yurakucho) started selling them in December of last year. Here is their announcement, in Japanese:

Look for the interestingly named "Shizuoka Mt.Fuji Green-tea Plaza" in the basement.

google map:

Jan 27, 2013
Hiyodori in Japan

Help identifying / naming a food product we encountered in Japan

You may have heard correctly. "Imo-mochi", made with "sato-imo" potatoes and regular rice, is made in a number of different part of Japan, including Gifu, but usually doesn't resemble the mochi in your photos.

E Eto may be right too, regular mochi made with "mukago", though I've only ever seen them mixed in with rice, not in a mochi rice cake.

It may help to try a google image search for "mukago" and "imomochi".

Of course the best way to find out what you ate is to make a return visit next year around the same time!

Dec 06, 2012
Hiyodori in Japan

Help identifying / naming a food product we encountered in Japan

Mochi itself is not sweet unless you mix in sugar etc. when making it.

Your first photo shows "Mame mochi", which is made with whole soy beans mixed into the mochi, often black soy beans.

Your second photo appears to show a couple different varieties of mame mochi sold together in one pack.

The mochi on the right hand side of your second photo are "Egoma mochi", and likely have some shiso leaves mixed in.

Dec 05, 2012
Hiyodori in Japan

Kyoto-style Iced Coffee

I don't have any personal knowledge, but a Japanese colleague mentioned the following two shops in Kyoto:

1) Maeda Coffee,


2) Inoda Coffee, (better than their site at


Their summertime "Cole Coffee" (cold coffee?) is made with ice from the South Pole(!) They have a shop in the Daimaru department store at Tokyo station, on the 8th floor.

Oct 15, 2012
Hiyodori in Japan

Canned pumpkin

Alternatively, you could make your pumpkin pie using the Japanese kabocha pumpkin. This recipe is amazing:

Oct 04, 2012
Hiyodori in Japan

Filming Locations of "Tampopo?"

Apparently the model for the Tampopo ramen shop was 佐久信 (Sakushin) in Ogikubo, Tokyo, which no longer exists. Filming was done at 春木屋 (Harukiya) in Karuizawa, which also apparently no longer exists. Both ramen shops served "Ogikubo Ramen", and Harukiya still has shops in Ogikubo and Kichijouji in Tokyo.

All in Japanese:
Harukiya website:
Tanpopo trivia:
Ogikubo ramen:
Japanese Wikipedia Tampopo web page:

Aug 30, 2012
Hiyodori in Japan

Buying Japanese Whiskies (To Take Home) + Visiting Distilleries

If you're going to be in Kyoto, you can get a factory tour and tastings at Suntory's Yamazaki Distillery, located only 14 minutes away from Kyoto Station on the JR Tokaido line. Japanese website:

There are a variety of different types of tours, and they may fill up ahead of time.

Aug 05, 2012
Hiyodori in Japan

Skate in Sushi or Other Restaurants?

I've had it before in nimono (stewed) dishes, like Robb S. mentions, as well as at a French restaurant named キャノン (Canon?) years ago out in Ushiku, Ibaragi Prefecture, about 50 minutes or so from Ueno in Tokyo, that appears to be temporarily closed right now, so it can be found. It was somewhat similar to the photo on the link below (just some random person's blog), though with a clearer, vegetable and tomato broth at the bottom of the dish.

Look here to see how dried skate may be cut:

Nov 13, 2011
Hiyodori in Japan

Hot peppers in Tokyo?

This is the wrong season for fresh hot peppers, but they are available in Japan. Online, check out the following link for starters. All of the fresh peppers are out of stock at the moment, however. Info in Japanese.

I've seen fresh habaneros in my local supermarket in late summer, and all kinds of unusual hot peppers in a local farmers market, also during the summer. They're mostly grown in Japan by contract with a restaurant or food manufacturer (loads of habanero potato chips and other snacks of late). You can sometimes get lucky at "Michi no Eki" locations, at which individual farmers cart in their wares each morning. But again, during the summer.

If you like the regular thin hot peppers used in Chinese cooking, usually sold dried at the store, just let me know and I could send you a couple hundred from my garden in September!

Feb 15, 2011
Hiyodori in Japan

2 or 3 star Michelin restaurants near our hotel Tokyo?

Um, actually it is. In Shibuya Ward, though of course very close to Shinjuku station.

Strange as it may seem, everything on the south side of the main street between the South and New South exits to the station is in Shibuya Ward (e.g. Kinokunia bookstore, Takashimaya department store, Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku hotel....)

Feb 05, 2011
Hiyodori in Japan