Kobe Beef – A feast for the palate

I wouldn’t exactly say that we here in Norway are spoiled when it comes to beef, or food in general for that matter. That is why we went totally berserk on the food front when we were in Japan, and, besides the hours completing the marathon, where I did not manage any intake at all, I think I was more or less stuffed the whole time. To sum it up, the Japanese knows food!

We did, however, save the best for last, namely the Kobe beef, known for being the most tender beef of them all, and it certainly felt like that. It was, of course, not the cheapest thing to buy, I would guess it had a kilo price equivalent to…. let’s say gold, but, man, it was worth it… I could actually go back to Japan just for another bite.

Tokyo – Tsukiji Fish Market

The day after Tokyo Maraton, in rainy weather and with sore muscles and tons of blisters, we decided to visit the Tsukiji Fishmarket we had heard so much about. The inner marked, where they in early morning hold auctions (e.g for tuna, which is worth its weight in gold obviously) is now closed for tourists, but visiting the outer market was more than enogh.

The outer market consists of a few parallell, narrow streets with street shops and small restaurant. Our umbrellas made it a bit difficult to navigate due to space issues, but we were able to taste some of the amazing street food they were selling, while standing up and holding an umbrella and a beer at the same time.

We also tried one of the many small restaurants that seemingly was just a hole in the wall, but revealed a long, narrow restaurant once inside. Let me just say, best sushi ever!

Asakusa – Where old times keep on living

Asakusa is a district in Tokyo where you really get the feeling that time has stood still for some centuries. The neighbourhood is full of narrow streets with local shops, rickshaws and, of course, both the old Sensoji tempel and the new Tokyo Skytree.

Asakusa can easily be reach through the Metrosyste (Asakusa Station) and you can easily spend several hours just wandering around in the streets, taking in the scenery.

Tokyo – Fortune telling at Sensoji temple

While wandering about in the sacred shrine of Sensoji in Asakusa, I came across a omikuju-place. Omikuji is a strip of paper that predicts your future when you majke a prayer to the gods and Buddhas of a given temple or shrine (source: matcha-jp.com). Well, my fortune prediction was not good and it basically told me to go back to my homeland.

But, there are always ways to neutralize bad omens and I tried them all (and seemingly succeeded).

Tokyo – Sensoji Temple

Sensoji is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa and is one of Tokyo’s most colorful and popular temples (source: japan-guide.com). It is easily reachable through the metro system (Asakusa Station, exit 1), it has free admission and is well worth a couple of hours of exploring. Just a tip, though… Stay away from the Omikuji Paper Fortune if you cannot handle the outcome.. Just kidding, there are ways to neutralize any bad fortune you may be predicted.

Shinkansen- Bullet Train of Perfection

Being from Norway, I am not exactly used to speedy trains and if the train is not (for some reason) replaced with bus-for-train, it often does not depart or arrive on time….

Entering Japan, the birtplace of punctuality, where the top leader of the train company has to officially apologize if the train is ever late (which is as good as never). When I was in Japan in March, I took the bullet train and instantly fell in love with this mode of transoportation. Standing on the station, we were almost blown away by the sound and preassure of trains passing by with a speed up to 320 km/h. The inside was immaculately clean and the seats were spacious and comfortable. If we had more of these, I would definitely switch from flying to taking the train.

The Black Egg of Owakudani – Will add 7 years to your life, but with a cost…

About a month ago I was in Tokyo and one day we went on an excursion to (among others) Hakone and Owakudani Valley, the latter s vulcanic valley with a spectacular view of Mount Fuji in fair weather and with hot springs “en masse”.

Earlier this valley was called “Jigokudani” or “The Valley of Hell” due to the sulfuric smell that hits you the minute you approach. But the view was amazing and the hot springs quite amazing, so the stink was totally worth it.

In Owakudani Valley they have a very special kind of egg, the black Owakudani-Egg. The unique color is due to it being cooked in natural spring water containing sulfur and iron and legend has it that if you eat this egg, you will add 7 years to your life. Well, I did not find the egg very tempting, so on a pure gut feeling, I chose to skip the whole eating experience…