Japan still offers plenty of mystical oriental charm; from the etiquette demanded in social situations, to the minimalist décor behind rice paper screens, Japanese culture is alive and well. Our Flightie Leanna had an adventure in food when she recently travelled there and shares her experience with us:
I can’t even tell you how excited I was when I found out I had been selected to go to Japan (another amazing perk to working for Flight Centre). I have grown up with Japanese food, mainly sushi, being my favourite type of food. I’ve always been an extremely adventurous eater, partly because whenever my family would eat out at different restaurants, my dad would order the most unique thing on the menu, and make sure me and my brother at least tried it. We didn’t have to like it, but we did have to at least give it a chance. During these outings, it always ended up that the stranger the food was, the more I liked it.
In Japan, mealtime was always one of my favourite parts of the day; something I looked forward to and enjoyed very much! Each meal at every town and place we were at were very different from the next, yet some things remained the same. The way food was displayed was always very organized in an assortment of different sized dishes and always very colourful and nice to look at. The style of eating was very interesting as well; there were always lots of small dishes so at one sitting you were able to try upwards of 8-10 different things, and they were always accompanied by a small dish of rice. There were always a few dishes of mixed veggies, blended in ways I had never had before, but always very tasty! Lots of different fish always made it to the plate as well as tofu, made in lots of different ways. Most of the time I didn’t even know what I was eating but that didn’t bother me one bit because it was always delicious and very healthy!
One meal that was especially fun was when we went to eat at a Japanese Hot Pot restaurant. We sat with a big pot of liquid in the middle of the table, and were supplied with different ways to flavour the broth and then plate after plate continued to be brought to the table with an assortment of different vegetables, meats and seafood for us to cook in the hot liquid and dip in our sauces. At the end, we added noodles to the remaining broth, and ate it as soup. This was really fun!
At every dinner sitting, our meal would be accompanied with sake. This is when I discovered a type of apricot sake, which is a bit sweeter, called “Oo-ma-shoee” and both types can be served either cold or warm. I personally prefer my sake warm, and the apricot sake with ice.
At one particular meal, we even had the opportunity to each eat an abalone oyster, which we learned was quite an honour, as abalone’s are considered quite a delicacy and therefore, quite expensive. I believe they said one is equivalent to about $50. Two of our Japanese host’s who were accompanying us, told us that this was their first time ever having one. This made us feel extremely special, and I think everyone gave it a try, even the not quite so adventurous of eaters, because we were all aware of what a privilege it was that this was what was served for us. It was very special!
I am so glad I was able to take part in such an amazing trip! I loved the food but even more than that, the amazing and kind people who welcomed us with open arms! There is so much I could have talked about, that I loved about Japan but I decided to focus on the food because it is just so different then what we think of as Japanese food here in Canada. My tip when travelling to Japan is to keep an open mind at mealtime, and give everything that crosses your plate at least a try. There’s so much tasty food out there, mixed and blended in different ways, you don’t know what you could be missing!
Interested in learning more about Japan or culinary travel? Leanna Paakspuu is a Travel Consultant at our Penticton location in Pentiction, British Columbia and can be reached by E-mail or by calling 1-866-533-3680.