Besides really obvious food choices in Japan like Sushi or Tempura, there is a lot to find and taste besides those mainstream choices. Take sweet food like those yummy looking, mouth watering manjū (pronounced mandschuu - at least for Germans...sorry, English speaking folks...) in the picture above. I can still almost taste them on my tongue. Well, almost.
Actually one can have quite western food, too. Like this super thick toast with butter and a hard boiled egg. The super thick toast always cracked me up. Actually I ate this at the Takeshita doori in Harajuku and it came as a bonus to my coffee - for free! It was the breakfast special. And once again I was amazed by Japanese service. But as a tourist you might want to search for more japanese food choices, like these:
Every tourist in Japan will take at least one of those pictures with wax models of the offered food at a restaurant. Well, this is obviously a bento shop, where you can buy your lunch and take it with you. For tourists in Tokyo maybe the cheapest way of getting something to eat besides buying onigiri - little rice balls with fillings - at a conbini (little convenience stores, open 24 hours). A bento can consists of almost any food the Japanese cuisine has to offer, but as the picture show, cooked rice is a major part most of the times. I love bento! I've bought and collected bento cooking books and have managed to make myself bento at some occasions now. But, obviously, it can never be the same as...
...sitting on a bench outside of Waseda University Central library and having a lunch box from the Waseda coop in the bright spring sun. And a matcha latte! Oh how I would kill to have one now. Even better and a major source for addiction when being in Japan:
The Matcha cream frappucino at S*****cks. I need to get one as soon as my plane has landed in Narita. Or at least I would if I had the time in Narita. But you know how it is...getting your passport stamped, getting asked what kind of illegal stuff you did in your past ('fun' fact: As a German you always get asked wether you participated in Holocaust activities during WWII. Most of the time this question makes me scream. In my head, not literally. Otherwise they would take me into custody.) and what products you are smuggling today. Expert advice: Say no. The above picture was taken in a S. coffee shop on the highest floor of a marui city department store in Ikebukuro. You must know it is actually really hard to get a free seat in a S. coffe shop between 2 and 6 pm. Half of Tokyo is accumulating there. Obviously this super secret S. coffe shop I found last year hasn't seen many foreigners yet and they were super happy having me there as I was even able to speak Japanese and converse in a civilized manner. They even thanked me in the cutest way. How can one not love Tokyo after this?
Well, Tokyo isn't everything Japan has to offer. (Who knew?) And every region actually has other delicious specialities for which some Japanese would travel very far. Well, for these delicious looking gyoza one just has to board a train to Utsunomiya (ca. two hours from Tokyo). I ate them at the train station, out of all places. Yeah, Utsunomiya's gyoza are famous and just looking at the picture makes me totally want to eat some. The set meal above cost about 4 Euros - it's totally affordable.
*The pictures above have been taken during my last trip to Japan in March 2010.