Author Topic: A Taste of Japan at Shoe-String Budget  (Read 11024 times)

icy

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A Taste of Japan at Shoe-String Budget
« on: November 03, 2013, 03:58:10 AM »
PENNY-PINCH

Kyoto, Japan, is a joy to walk around and its beautifully presented streets, shops and many temples don't cost a yen. Get a flavour of old Kyoto along narrow Nishikikoji-dori, crammed with stalls where you can get a hot bean-paste bun ($5) for breakfast, before heading to parallel Shijo-dori, the main shopping drag, for a modern contrast. Lunch on udon noodles at Omen (omen.co.jp; $12), then head to the Golden Pavilion (shokoku-ji.jp; $5), a samurai villa turned Buddhist temple covered in gold foil. From here, walk through suburban Kyoto to the zen rock garden at Ryoanji Temple (ryoanji.jp: $6), where you can have a delicious tofu and vegetable dinner ($17) by a stream under the maple trees. Stay in a tatami room at Budget Inn (budgetinnjp.com; $66), where very friendly owners are full of useful information.

Attached is picture of Kimono-clad women at the Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Photo: Alamy

icy

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Re: A Taste of Japan at Shoe-String Budget
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2013, 04:28:31 AM »
Mochi Lover

While in Japan, if you are an ardent mochi lover do stopover at  Tacoma Buddhist Temple’s Fall bazaar.

Mochi is the unsung darling of the confectionery world. In restaurants, you might find mochi ice cream in flavors such as mango or green tea. There’s another style of mochi that needs to be on your radar – daifuku mochi.

The bite-sized confections filled with sweetened bean paste will be for sale Sunday at the Tacoma Buddhist Temple’s Fall bazaar, alongside a menu of Japanese favorites, such as sushi, udon, teriyaki and kebabs, priced $1-$9.

Tacoma Buddhist Temple members assemble by hand the two-bite-size daifuku mochi during the weeks preceding the temple’s annual food and arts event. Temple members pound the dough flat, then shape it into thin, chewy skins that are stuffed – assembly-line style – with a mixture of red beans simmered with sugar and reduced to a delicious paste. The resulting confection has a pleasant tug. The dense bean filling provides a balance to the dessert’s gummy jacket.

If you’ve not yet discovered Japanese confections, you have a wide world of exploring to do right here in the Tacoma Buddhist Temple’s bazaar on Sunday is a good place to start for daifuku mochi. Also, grocery stores specializing in Japanese ingredients carry all kinds of mochi, as well as other Japanese sweet treats. Four you should try:

Daifuku mochi: Thinly pounded dough made from glutinous rice flour. The thin skins are molded around small balls of sweetened red beans.  The texture is chewy and creamy.

Frozen mochi: A ball of ice cream wrapped in a thin layer of mochi dough. Should be eaten frozen, but I like mochi best after resting at room temperature for 10 minutes.  The rice skin is chewy, but breaks to a velvety interior.  For mango or green tea varieties, try the Mikawaya brand. For strawberry, I prefer maeda-en. Find mochi ice cream in the freezer case.

Manju: There are many styles of manju, but what locals will find labeled as manju at bakeries inside grocery stores such as PalDo World and H-Mart are mini baked pastries filled with sweetened red beans or ground chestnuts. The exterior texture can range from a consistency similar to pastry or a doughnut, the filling is creamy with a slightly grainy texture.

Yokan: A thick jelly dessert made of sugar, bean paste and agar.  The texture is thick and gelatinous. Like most Japanese treats,  it is lightly sweetened. (Slightly harder to find than mochi or manju).

Rihanna

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Re: A Taste of Japan at Shoe-String Budget
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2013, 08:11:36 AM »
Eat noodles: Throughout Japan you will find a variety of noodle dishes and restaurants. In my experience, the best noodles are found at the small traditional shops that are usually hidden away in alleys or between buildings. A yummy bowl of noodles will cost you around 500 yen.


Visit a Shinto shrine: Most temples and shrines in Tokyo are free to visit. The more famous ones will charge an entrance fee but this is usually as little as 500 yen. Various religious festivals are held throughout the year, with the shrines themselves being a major attraction. Colorful features and intricate detailing can date back hundreds of years to when the shrines were first built.

Imperial Palace gardens :Located in the heart of Tokyo, the Imperial Palace is a must see tourist attraction, whether you’re traveling on a budget or not. Visit the magnificent gardens surrounding the home of Japan’s emperor and imperial family. It is an easy walk from Tokyo Station and entry is free.


fruven

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Re: A Taste of Japan at Shoe-String Budget
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2013, 12:35:07 AM »
Japan is expensive, not just for foreigners, but also for the locals. Traveling expense do take a big cut of one's budget unless you are mega rich as my friends who have traveled to Japan due to work told me their experiences there.

Talking about food it is very hard to get meat-free dishes if one chooses to dine in in Japan. They even serve horse meat!  :o

Jessie Fong

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Re: A Taste of Japan at Shoe-String Budget
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2013, 09:47:18 AM »
Japan is expensive, not just for foreigners, but also for the locals. Traveling expense do take a big cut of one's budget unless you are mega rich as my friends who have traveled to Japan due to work told me their experiences there.

Talking about food it is very hard to get meat-free dishes if one chooses to dine in in Japan. They even serve horse meat!  :o


I too have heard that the cost of living is high in Japan.
Just like in most countries, it is easier to find meat-contents meals rather then vegetarian meals. However, Japan is not short of meat-free food; it is just not so common.


http://www.seejapan.co.uk/JNTO_Consumer/experience/gourmet/gourmet-for-vegetarian-dining

Shojin ryori and macrobiotic restaurants are great for vegetarians visiting Japan. Primarily eaten by Buddhist monks, shojin ryori prohibits the inclusion of meat, fish, onions, leeks, and garlic.Vegetables and fruits are used, along with soy beans and nuts for protein.  Temples and restaurants serving shojin ryori are mainly found in cities with a large number of Buddhist temples, for instance, Mt. Koya, Kyoto and Nagano. If you decide to go a temple to sample shojin-ryori, advance reservations are recommended.For more on temple stays and shojin ryori on Mt. Koya, visit eng.shukubo.net/vegetarian-cooking.html.
Shojin ryori and macrobiotic restaurants are great for vegetarians visiting Japan. Primarily eaten by Buddhist monks, shojin ryori prohibits the inclusion of meat, fish, onions, leeks, and garlic.Vegetables and fruits are used, along with soy beans and nuts for protein.  Temples and restaurants serving shojin ryori are mainly found in cities with a large number of Buddhist temples, for instance, Mt. Koya, Kyoto and Nagano. If you decide to go a temple to sample shojin-ryori, advance reservations are recommended.For more on temple stays and shojin ryori on Mt. Koya, visit eng.shukubo.net/vegetarian-cooking.html.


icy

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Re: A Taste of Japan at Shoe-String Budget
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2013, 01:46:05 PM »
For our only Sunday here in Tokyo, Adriana and I decided to take a day trip out of the city and make our way to the coastal town of Kamakura (referred to as the “Kyoto of Eastern Japan”) to visit the Zen Buddhist temples there as well as the Great Buddha statue. Darion suggested this city to us and we are very grateful for his advice. The train ride down was really easy so we had a lot of time to explore. After our full day in Kamakura, we made our way back into the heart of the mad fun to have dinner in Shibuya. On the advice of my friend Katie (who lived here in Tokyo for many years), we chose The Lockup themed restaurant for dinner. The place is kinda like a prison … kinda like a haunted house … and totally fun!

maricisun

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Re: A Taste of Japan at Shoe-String Budget
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2014, 03:58:42 PM »
Even on a shoe-string budget Japan is still the most expensive country to visit. But I have to say that it is also one of the most beautiful country in the world.
The country is so clean and the people well mannered too. Food wise there are lots of varieties apart from meat. The noodles taste delicious. Not that I have been there but from friends who have visited Japan.

icy

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Re: A Taste of Japan at Shoe-String Budget
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2014, 07:10:13 AM »
North of Tokyo, Exploring the Sacred and Scenic

This serene glen, Kanmangafuchi, which in English goes by the forbidding name of the Kanman Abyss, is in Nikko, the temple town of the great shoguns. Tour buses roll up to Nikko’s dazzling shrines — Japan’s most lavish and elaborate — and re-enactors stage grand annual processions on its 400-year-old avenues. But Kanmangafuchi, a secondary attraction that doesn’t make it onto most day trippers’ agendas, is hidden and magical, a key to understanding why the shoguns built their monuments in this place and why Buddhist monks had put down roots hundreds of years earlier. Here, by the Daiya River, it was easy to feel the magnetism of the steep verdant hills, waterfalls, hot springs and volcanic mountains. Throw in a taste for the mystical, and Nikko would be a perfect place to seek enlightenment — or to enshrine yourself as a god.

An easy two and a half hours north of Tokyo by train, Nikko is a small mountain town at the edges of both a cultural Unesco World Heritage site — the 126-acre Tokugawa shrine complex — and a 443-square-mile natural reserve, Nikko National Park. The combination pulls in Japanese tourists by the millions. Yet relatively few Western travelers seem to be among the crowds, even though the list of those who have made the trip stretches back to Ulysses S. Grant, who arrived in 1879. Those who do come here often sign up for day trips organized by Tokyo-based tour companies, giving them enough time to see some high points of the intricate shrine art and architecture and not much else.



The Sacred Bridge arches over the Daiya River in Nikko

bambi

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Re: A Taste of Japan at Shoe-String Budget
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2014, 03:14:24 PM »
I have yet to go Japan for a visit but I have heard that it is an expensive place to go. I read about this place where you don't have to spend much and you can spend time living together with the monks in temple at mount Koya.

http://www.neverendingvoyage.com/sleeping-with-monks-a-night-in-a-japanese-temple-in-koya-san/

We visited Koya-san, the respectful name given to Mount Koya, to experience traditional Japan. The secluded temple town is located high up in the forest-covered mountains of Kansai and was founded 1200 years ago by Kobo Daishi to spread his teachings about Shingon Buddhism. One temple has grown to over one hundred and the town is now an important Buddhist centre. It is also one of the best places to stay in shukubo, traditional temple lodging to get a taste of life as a monk including sampling shojin ryori, vegetarian monk’s cuisine and rising early to participate in the daily chanting and meditation ceremony.

Klein

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Re: A Taste of Japan at Shoe-String Budget
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2014, 10:06:30 AM »
Shrines and Temples

Japan contains a plethora of religious architectural structures—Kyoto alone is believed to have more than 2,000 shrines and temples. But it is not only in the big cities where you can find majestic Buddhist temples and shrines; nearly every Japanese village has its own shrine or temple. Famous temples usually charge admission fees and close by 16:00. Most Japanese shrines and temples are set in beautiful gardens and are often connected to local festivals.

Meiju Jingu Shrine (????)



One of Tokyo’s most famous shrines, the Meiju Shrine is a striking contrast to the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, with more than 120,000 evergreen trees blocking the city’s noise. If you are in Tokyo, make sure to see this shrine. Not only is the Meiju Shrine readily accessible through Harajuku Station; it’s also near the city’s fashion capital. At the northern part of the shrine’s grounds, you come across the Meiju Jingu Treasure House, a collection of some of the personal belongings of Emperor Meiju and Empress Shoken.

Sensoji Temple (???)



Also known as Asakusa Temple, Sensoji is a popular Buddhist temple built in the early 7th century. Along the temple walkway, visitors pass by the famous Nakamise, a shopping boulevard of local snacks and souvenir items. After reaching the Hozomon Gate, guests are greeted with the sight of a five-story pagoda and the main hall. Various events are held in Sensoji all year round. People flock to the place during the Asakusa Shrine Festival and the Sanja Matsuri.

Kotoku-in Temple (???)



The Kotoku-in houses the Great Buddha, an outdoor bronze monument of Amida Buddha that dates back to 1252. The temple buildings were destroyed several times by tidal waves and typhoons in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Great Buddha statue weighs around 93 tons and is 13.35 meters high.

Hase Kannon Temple (?????????)



Officially known as Kaikozan Jishoin Hase-dera, the Hase Kannon Temple is situated on a hill in Kamakura with a magnificent view of the sea. It is home to the giant statue of Kannon, the Japanese deity of mercy. The statue itself is considered one of the biggest wooden monuments in Japan, at 30 ft. tall. The statue’s eleven heads symbolize the phases of the Buddhist enlightenment process. Jizodo Hall features small monuments to Jizo Bodhisattva, who is believed to help the souls of children reach paradise.

Toshogu Shrine (???)



Nikko’s main attraction, the Toshogu Shrine was built in honor of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the country’s most powerful shogun. Faced in sheets of gold-leaf, this World Heritage Site is considered one of Japan’s most opulent and elaborate shrines. Unlike other Shinto shrines of minimalist architectural style, Toshogu is an intricate mix of gold, color, and carvings, with dancing maidens, sages, birds, and flowers chasing one another along the building walls.

icy

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Re: A Taste of Japan at Shoe-String Budget
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2014, 04:16:26 AM »

When visiting Japan, there are unexpected places for vegetarian food in Kyoto that you must visit.

Buddhist Dining in Unexpected Places

BY ANANDA JACOBS
AUG 26, 2014

I’ve been aware of sh?jin ry?ri (traditional vegetarian Buddhist cuisine) for some time. I’ve had in my mind the image of a Buddhist practitioner painstakingly preparing the seasonal vegetarian dishes, mindful of each ingredient. And from time to time I have vaguely recalled that if I wanted to try it I could do so at a handful of temples around Japan.

But never being one for planning, it was only during a spontaneous stroll through Kyoto that I thought, “Right! I’m going to try sh?jin ry?ri at once, this evening, before heading back to Tokyo!”

My brilliant idea was almost thwarted after not one, not two, but three places had either already closed for the day (it was 4 p.m.) or would only accept reservations at least one or two days in advance.

Now, I did eventually eat dinner that day, but first, the missed encounters:

One of my favorite temples in Kyoto, Ryoanji (of the famous Zen rock garden), has a restaurant called Seigen-in near the end of the walking course around the nearby pond (Ryoanji Goryonoshita-cho 13, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi; 075-462-4742). Seigen-in specializes in yud?fu (boiled tofu) and has a set vegetarian meal for ¥3,300. However, it is only open for lunch, and I was met with the “closed” sign promptly at 4 p.m.

Not to be swayed in my dining decision, I looked up some nearby temples and discovered that Daitokuji also has a sh?jin ry?ri restaurant, Daitokuji Ikkyu (Murasakino Daitokuji-shitamonzen-cho 53, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi; 075-493-0019), and accepts customers until 6 p.m. for a dinner course from ¥8,000.

Another option was Kasuian (Hayashi-shitamachi 400, Chion-in, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi; 050-5570-3795; www.kurochiku-s.jp/kasuian.html), a restaurant that is not in a temple but offers sh?jin ry?ri dinner courses for around ¥6,000-8,000. Alas, both of these places required reservations in advance.

All but giving up on my quest, I decided to wander around the temples near Higashiyama. Soon weary from walking the steep footpath leading up to Kiyomizu-dera, I stumbled into Nichi Getsu-an (Kiyomizuzaka 2-232, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi; 075-561-0077; www.nichigetsuan.com). Nichi Getsu-an is a course-menu restaurant that accepts hill-trekking customers until 9:30 p.m. The signpost outside mentioned nothing of sh?jin ry?ri, but when I asked if they had anything vegetarian, the staff happily and promptly replied that two of the menu options — the yuba (tofu skin) and yud?fu sets — could be prepared specially in sh?jin style.

The dining atmosphere was casual, and the sh?jin courses surprisingly only ¥2,000. I was even asked whether I’d prefer to replace items such as dashi or egg with alternatives. The set included vegetable tempura, several kinds of tofu, a hot-pot, rice, pickles and dessert, and it was here that I happily ended the day.

There are a lot more places specializing in sh?jin ry?ri throughout Kyoto, but given the city’s strong Buddhist presence, it’s not so surprising that vegetarianism has found its way into more casual dining spots too. Ask and you might just find your spontaneous meal wish is granted.