Gaijin on Getas Blog

Posts in the ‘samurai tours’ Category

Everything you wanted to know about Okonomiyaki, but were afraid to ask

Posted on March 23rd, 2013 by Mike Roberts

Osaka-style Okonomiyaki

Osaka-style Okonomiyaki with Okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and dried green seaweed

I have heard Okonomiyaki called everything from Japanese pancakes to Japanese pizzas. It is hard to describe exactly what okonomiyaki is since there is nothing else like it outside of Japan. If you break down the name, it might help. “Okonomi” means your choice or you choose, and yaki means grilled. There are different types and styles of okonomiyaki found around Japan. For the purpose of this blog, when we refer to okonomiyaki, it will refer to the Osaka style of okonomiyaki as that is most common type found in Japan. In Osaka, okonomiyaki is very, very popular and could almost be considered another food group. As you walk around Osaka (especially South Osaka) it seems like every other restaurant is an okonomiyaki restaurant. Other, common types of okonomiyaki in Japan is “manjayaki” from Tokyo and “Hiroshima-yaki” from, yes you guessed it, Hiroshima. The ingredients used for all these are basically the same. The main difference is in how they are prepared. In Osaka style okonomiyaki, all of the ingredients are mixed together and cooked together. In Hiroshima style okonomiyaki, all of the ingredients are layered almost like a cake. Soba or udon noodles are also added to Hiroshima-yaki in another layer as well. (Although they do add noodles to okonomiyaki in Osaka. It is called “modanyaki” or modern-yaki.) Read the full post »

Driver’s License in Japan

Posted on February 23rd, 2013 by Takako "Tammy" Ota

Japan has one of the best, if not the best public transportation systems in the world. There are many, diverse means of public transportation in Japan. We can move around by bullet train, train, bus, streetcar, subway and monorail. But still, about 90% of Japanese adults have a driver’s license. We can start to drive at the age of 18 and many people go to a driving school to get a driver’s license after finishing high school. Read the full post »

Money Matters in Japan

Posted on February 3rd, 2013 by Rachel Moore

With exchange rates, international charge fees, and money conversion, it can be very confusing to know what the best way to pay for things in another country are.  Japan is very much still a cash society and you are expected to pay in cash most of the time, but you still have options.  Here are a few things to help you be more prepared: Read the full post »

Sumo

Posted on January 22nd, 2013 by Takako "Tammy" Ota

Sumo Ring

Sumo Ring

Sumo is a traditional Japanese wrestling which dates back 1,000 years, and started as a performance dedicated to the emperors and Shinto deities. Sumo wrestlers still follow religious rituals which date back hundreds of years. The basic rules of sumo are simple: the wrestler loses if any part of his body except the soles of his feet touches the ground, or if he steps out of the ring. Matches take place on an elevated ‘dohyo’ ring, and usually last only a few intense seconds. Read the full post »

Fugu (Pufferfish) in Osaka

Posted on January 9th, 2013 by Takako "Tammy" Ota

Fugu (Pufferfish)

Fugu (Pufferfish)

Osaka is said to be a ‘Gourmet Paradise’ for the Japanese and is famous for its specialties such as Okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) , Takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and noodles. Another specialty of Osaka, especially in winter is the poisonous fugu (pufferfish). Most of the fugu in Japan is caught in the Shimonoseki area (the water between the main island of Honshu and the southern island of Kyushu). But it is estimated that 70% of all the fugu eaten in Japan is consumed in Osaka. Read the full post »

Tokyo Retains its Title as the Gourmet Capital of the World for the Sixth Straight Year

Posted on January 5th, 2013 by Mike Roberts

Kaiseki-ryori Meal

Kaiseki-ryori Meal

Tokyo retained its title as the Michelin guide’s world gourmet capital with the latest version of the Michelin guides published on Nov. 28, although the number of three-star restaurants fell slightly. This is the sixth consecutive year the capital of food-obsessed Japan has been awarded top honors by the publishers of a guidebook regarded by many as a fine-dining resource. Read the full post »

Convenience Stores

Posted on December 26th, 2012 by Takako "Tammy" Ota

Lawsons Convenience Store

Lawson Convenience Store

Convenience store have become a part of our daily lives. The convenience store concept was first born in Dallas, Texas in 1927. The Japanese borrowed the concept from America, but just as with everything the Japanese borrow, we made it our own. Today there are more than 40,000 convenience stores, and they can be found everywhere in Japan. Known as ‘konbini’ in Japanese, they are clean, brightly lit and very convenient, are open for 24 hours and sell a wide variety of products. On average, every person in Japan spends 1000 Yen (about $12.50 USD) at a convenience store every week, and purchase 10 rice balls from a convenience store every year. In metropolitan areas, the average distance between convenience stores is 900 feet (about 275 meters). There are about the same number of convenience stores in Japan as there are schools and universities. Read the full post »

Dogo Onsen

Posted on December 23rd, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Located in the city of Matsuyama on the island of Shikoku, Dogo Onsen is considered to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest onsen in Japan. There are references to Dogo Onsen in documents from the 8th century. It is reported Prince Shotoku (considered to be the father of Japanese Buddhism) enjoyed the baths, and the baths are mentioned in the “Tales of Genji” written about 1,000 years ago. According to the legends, long ago many egrets lived in Dogo. One day, an egret who injured his leg was seen soaking its leg every day in the hot water. Eventually the egret became well and flew away. The people who saw this began to use the hot springs and their health improved. The news spread that the hot spring was beneficial for ones health, and the hot spring became popular.

Read the full post »

How much walking do we REALLY do?

Posted on December 21st, 2012 by Rachel Moore

Tour Group

Tour Group

Japan is so beautiful, and you seem to see more, take more in, and get more of a ‘cultural immersion’ experience when you travel by foot and public transportation.  Another common question that comes up when people are considering our tours is “How much walking is there, really?”  We have clients of all ages participate on our tours, and all are welcome, but you will want to be very comfortable with walking and staying on your feet for long periods of time.  We always suggest comfortable, broken in walking shoes to use on the tour.  We take public transportation everywhere. So we walk to the subway and train stations, then we walk to our destination which is always nearby, but may be a good 10-20 minute walk, and we are often on our feet going through wherever we are visiting.  We do encounter stairs, and while there are often elevators or escalators around, they are not everywhere and not always available. Read the full post »

There’s Something Fishy Going On With The Food Here…

Posted on November 23rd, 2012 by Rachel Moore

We will often get questions from people who are interested in taking our tours if it is possible to avoid fish in their meals.  There is so much more to Japanese food other than sushi and sashimi, but escaping fish all-together is near to impossible in Japan.  After all, it is a staple in Japanese cooking and the Japanese eat more fish per capita than any other country in the world!  You can avoid eating the actual pieces of fish, both raw and cooked, but there are so many things that you may eat and not even realize that there is fish in it.  I have enjoyed a lot of meals in Japan where they use fish broth and fish essence, and it often didn’t taste like fish was in it at all. By definition, here are a couple items that you may be unaware of. Read the full post »