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Travel With Us to Japan!

Summer Series 1 - Week 1

Yōkoso! Or welcome, in Japanese, to our traveling summer blog. In this week’s edition, our next stop is Japan!

Japan is an island located in the Eastern Asian region of the world. An island is any land that is completely surrounded by water, like the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean. Most of the land in Japan is covered by mountains, roughly amounting to over half of the country, but they make the most of the land producing some of the worlds largest amounts of rice and other agriculture.

Some of the main foods in the Japanese cuisine are:

  • Rice

  • Fish

  • Seaweed

  • Sushi

  • Noodles (Soba, Udon, and Ramen)

  • Ginger

  • Sesame

  • Bamboo shoots

  • Soy products (like miso and soy sauce)

  • Tea

Like Americans, Japanese people eat 3 main meals a day, but make a point of having small portions of protein, vegetables, rice, and more with every meal. It is common to have rice included in breakfast too. Japanese pickles, called tsukemono, are also eaten typically with every meal.

There are over 4,000 different kinds of pickles in Japan today. To pickle vegetables in Japan is a bit different from the Dill and sweet pickles that are popular in America. To pickle a vegetable means to add one of the following, or a combination of such, to the vegetable in order to preserve and pickle it: salt (shiozuke), rice bran (nukazuke), sake lees (kasuzuke), soya sauce (shoyuzuke), vinegar (suzuke), and miso misozuke). Plums, radishes (daikons), turnips, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, and cabbage are common fruits and vegetables to pickle for a side dish in Japan.

The small portions are what keep the food healthy, and oftentimes are portioned in what’s called a Bento Box, which has multiple different compartments to separate and portion out the food. In Japan, "bento" is written as 弁当. and originates from the Southern Song slang term that means"convenient" or "convenience". This is also used for meals on the go, like bringing your lunch to school, so children in Japan bring bento boxes to school like lunch boxes. They can be used as commonplace as an everyday meals of: fish or meat, pickled or precooked vegetables, a Japanese omelette called Tamagoyaki, potato or pasta salad, fruit, dried seaweed, and rice.

Tea is also a common drink in Japan that is served with every meal. Two of the most common tea drinks are green teas and black teas which come in a variety of different forms. Green teas include ryokucha, matcha, konacha, hojicha, and genmaicha. Black teas include oolongcha, kocha, and jasmine-cha. Another popular drink is called royal milk tea, which can be found in vending machines, convenient stores, and more. What makes royal te special is that it is made with equal parts water to milk, and is simmered with either loose leaf or bagged tea, and it transforms into a creamy drink that is sweet and delicious, even kids love it! It can be enjoyed as is, or you can add honey to it too. It also comes in the form of instant, which makes the tea that much simpler to make. These teas are typically paired with different meals, but later this week we are going to enjoy instant strawberry, royal tea with matcha cookies! Consider this a Japanese inspired tea party, and get ready to enjoy the experience with your family.

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