Nara – more tips

Like Kyoto, Nara is known for the Tsukemono, pickled vegetables, they have wonderful traditional shops in the main street for this with all sorts of pickles and employees preparing them in the back of the shop, enjoy, there are worth the taste

 

Japan also produces Manju – biscuit filled with An, a red bean (asuki) paste, the shape varies with the season, it is always a delicious break

 

Rice

Kikuchi rice is the rice from Kumamoto, I quite like it. So far, the entry level for rice for someone like me, ignorant, is koshi-hikari. I tasted it in Niigata and since I can read Hiragana, I am able to buy it, it cooks quick, it is firm and the rice grains are rich.

Now, I suspect it is not really natural and these rices are results of genetic, hybrid, tests of all kinds. I got told that in the history, Japan had to feed his people and after WW II, they decided to find ways to guarantee productivity so that food would simply be there available, hence Koshi-Hikari.

This year, I heard too that there is a new brand available as Japanese were getting bored and a company thought there was demand for new product, taste, etc. I have not tried it yet but maybe one of you knows more and can elaborate or comment on this?

Valentine’s day in Japan

Here the tradition is that Japanese LADIES offer chocolate to their Valentine.

Men do nothing, just receive!

this turns into a massive commercial opportunity. look at the metro corridors in Ebisu this Tuesday evening, just before the big day, shops all along, ladies queuing and buying!

Fuku Bukuro

January is a fun moment in Japan as well. as of January 1st, shops displays Fukubukuro (lucky bags). For a cool price, the bag comes with all sorts of things. this creates massive queues depending on the shop.

My neighbor who sells carpets, even has these bags available for JPY 7000.- this year

 

https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/84405

 

but this is only available until January 3rd, after that, things go back to normal (and people to work)

Christmas Shopping

Christmas is not a bank holiday here but still a nice opportunity to celebrate and shop. People shop and celebrate just about anything here!!

Takashimaya, large luxury shop, located in Nihombashi is a fabulous building in itself, great architecture to admire and the traditional window shopping

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But of course the must is Ginza with the famous brands, and Mitsukoshi, this year the avenue has Christmas trees all along, impressive

 

A taste of Ginza

The Ginza area is a hot spot if you want to show off, go shopping and buy luxury goods, a lot of department stores are regrouped there, there is even a metro stop called after one of them (Mitsukoshi mae).

Just like the Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, it took a massive fire at the end of the XIX century for an architect to redesign the area. gradually it became the place to be seen for the Tokyoites until the great earthquake in 1923. The area, guess what, was rebuilt one more time and again regained its fame for nice buildings, high end shopping.

After the war, the reputation came back and nowadays, Ginza is packed with Chinese tourists coming for luxury goods, so much so that restrictions are in place in most shops that the Japanese themselves can get access and stock of those, should they want to buy any.

Nightlife is trendy there, although very expensive. however, if you go down the avenue towards Shimbashi, then, it becomes food paradise, plenty of izakaya, all types of bars and cafes. Ginza Corridor for brasseries, oyster bars, etc.

 

Supermarket

This very basic chore never stops to impress me, every time I go for groceries, I discover new items, try out new food, here are some differences

Beer – Coming from Belgium, I thought we had a huge choice of items in a long shelf, well, here, all beers are stored in fridge sections, in a long shelf, but 90% comes in cans and you get god knows how many different type of strength, color, flavour, mostly from a couple of brands!! I only recognise one so far (Asahi grey can) and only this one comes in 4 different formats, S, M, L and XL

Fish – as you would guess, there is plenty of choice, one thing to remember, in Japan, sushi are displayed in the ready-meal section while sashimi come in the fish area, it sounds logical but good to know. Fish is almost always great value for money and much cheaper than in Belgium or Europe in general. To give you an idea, I can get a large sashimi plate with 12 to 15 pieces for 400 Yens (3.50 euros), 2 portions of salmon fillet would come around 300 Yens (2.50 euros)

 

One thing that I enjoy a lot here are the pickles, they are healthy, tasty, not to vinegared and there are so many different choices. for a guilty pleasure and more quality and taste, I pay trips to Isetan monthly to buy the best of all

Rice is still very difficult to choose and it comes better from a rice cooker, which I have not got yet. So, I buy a different one each time and make notes to be able to discern (maybe one day). During my trip to Niigata, where rice is at its best, I could really taste the difference, it is excellent up there, trust me!! try it!

choix de riz

 

so, all in all, nothing to do with what we are used to, here is how a typical shopping day looks like