Japan: Fushimi Inari Shrine


inari (4 of 20)My favorite place in Kyoto is the Fushimi Inari Shrine — the most popular shrine dedicated to Inari (Shinto god of rice).  Stone fox status can be found everywhere as they are Inari’s messengers.

inari (7 of 20)

But what stands out the most are the thousands of orange/black torii gates.  These gates are funded by donations from individuals and companies.  The donations starts around $3,000 for a small sized gate and increases to over $8,000 for a large gate.  For what they had to pay, it is quite surprising visitors don’t have to pay a single yen to enter!  🙂inari (10 of 20)

Japan: Yoroniku

One of the most amazing meal I had in Japan was with our Tokyo experts Peter and Diana at Yoroniku, a yakinuku restaurant (grilled meats).  Wow!  I can confidently say that meal has surpassed everything I’ve ever experienced…and mind you, not the individual meats (which were very high grade), but the entire meal.  It has been meticulously orchestrated to absolute harmony.  The progression of boldly flavored meats with the carefully balanced lighter sides leaves you feeling just full while still refreshed…not something I’d expect from a meaty meal.

Japan: Izakaya

izakaya (14 of 14)

Continuing our journey through Japan, Kenta’s dad generously treated us to one of his favorite meals at a local Izakaya.  Izakaya literally translates to “i” (to stay) and “sakaya” (sake shop), which is a place to grab a light meal and drinks.  Here are some of the highlights:

izakaya (13 of 14) izakaya (12 of 14)

Motsunabe (もつ鍋) – Intestine pot made from beef and pork tripe or other offal.   It’s actually quite a warm and homey taste,  and great with beer during the winter times 🙂


Japan: Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake. The name is derived from the word okonomi meaning “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki meaning “grilled” or “cooked”.  It is extremely popular in Osaka.

I had the pleasure of trying Kuro-Chan’s okonomiyaki during my first trip.  His shop is a hole in the wall in a residential area, and extremely hard to find.

Japan: Monjayaki

monjayaki (4 of 6)

Most tourists in Japan will likely try the popular Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) and Takoyaki (octopus balls), but will not have even heard of Monjayaki.  Thanks to our Tokyo expert Kenta and his mother Mami, we got to experience this unique Tokyo dish.  So what is it?

Monja (short for Monjayaki) first gained popularity during World War 2, because it did not require too many ingredients (only flour and cabbage) and was filling.  Originally made as a snack for poor children, it has since evolved to include additional toppings and paired with beer to cater to adults.  While it won’t get points for its looks, it will fill you up and keep you warm all night.

Trying to find food in a barren land…