First Taste of Japan

Trip Start May 20, 2010
Trip End Sep 09, 2010

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Flag of Japan  , Kanto,
Friday, May 21, 2010

Having a great time!  Being one for culture Noriko decided
that our first taste of Japan should be the traditional side of  her country so after
a leisurely start to the morning with a family breakfast we set out for Narita city ( home of the International Airport where we had arrived the night before) .  Narita station is about
1hour of travel, catching a bus & 2 trains, from their home in
Chiba. Our destination was the Naritsan Shinshoji Temple but the journey took us past many  places of interest. Noriko gave us a
wonderful experience today of a quiet side of Japan despite the fact
we were in Narita City.

The first port of call was the Narita
Youkan Museum – home of the Japanese sweet bean jam. The founder of Youkan was the first to begin making these traditional Japanese
sweets from soybean as the base product and over time flavors have been
added to the range.  It  is very, very sweet so can't  be eaten in
large quantities but naturally we had to try some. And everything is so immaculately packaged and presented.

From here we followed several
captivating narrow streets (I have since found that all streets are
narrow unless they're highways) , the first being lined with carved
animal sculptures representing the 12 animal years. This street
lead to another relatively steep one way street (once again narrow)
lined with traditional stores. Some owners were carrying out their
own particular craft including basket weaving, making rice crackers
for sale and one preparing eel , “ ynagi”, for sale on the
restaurant menu. On one brochure the street was named “ eel
street”, with an eel running the length of the street, because it
is famous for the number of restaurants serving eel on their menu.

The restaurant we lunched at had a
traditional upstairs area entered by climbing the steep stairwell
with shoes removed and seated at low tables on cushions with tannami
,bamboo mat floor covering. Not being as nimble as I used to be, it
took a bit of manouvering to get down on that cushion but I couldn't
kneel like Noriko. As soon as we sat down we were served with a
cool wet washer for wiping hands and a cup of green tea which is so
refreshing. The meal of grilled eel served on a bed of rice with a
sauce and a clear eel liver soup was delicious. The “ ynagi”
couldn't have been fresher as it had been prepared at the front
entrance. The old chap was so efficient with his moves as he cut the
throat, sliced, gutted and removed the backbone. Another old chap
walking by said that every part of the eel is used, nothing being
wasted including the backbone which he said was the best part. When
dried it is crunchy, tasty and full of calcium! Leave that to the
old chaps!

This street was completely different to what I expected into another world and I could have spent so much  more time exploring but we were still on the way to our destination for the day.

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Brice on

Hi Arja,

Obviously, you're not enjoying yourself much....much.

Stay safe

Brice & Fran

Lea Sisko on

What did eel taste....slippery? There must be so much culture to soak up.... enjoying following your trek.... I'm catching up with your blogs you've got a fourth entry that I need to have a squiz at - going to check it out now bye, love Lea

Megan Winter on

YUMMMM!!!! Very jealous. Sounds AMAZING! Love you xoxo

mumnrina on

Eel wasn't slippery at all - just like a mild fish. Very nice I think as long as it is fresh.

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