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Food can also be placed into two categories: Traditional Japanese food, and food that was introduced into Japan from other cultures. When dining in traditional Japanese restaurants you may come across, not only foods you have never seen or tried before, but some things that you never knew were food! I have listed a few here and included photos where possible. Too many times I just ate things without asking what they were as long as I had a beer to wash 'em down. I have since learn a valuable lesson.
The other category is just as interesting because as with all other things I have seen imported into Japanese culture, food too must be "improved" or go through the processes of assimilation into Japanese culture. Pizza is topped with octopus, squid, sliced hard-boiled eggs, teriyaki chicken, Mayonnaise and corn, and seaweed. Italian restaurants serve spaghetti topped with seaweed and served with Japanese pickled vegetables. Hamburger is served with a side of rice instead of a bun. Salad is served in hotels with the "western breakfast". Salad is often topped with mayonnaise. And this is just to name a few of the transformations involved.
This mayonaise and corn pizza (junk-mail menu) looks like an inocent cheese pizza.
Fugu (poisonous blowfish)
Fugu has to be the freshest food I have ever eaten. The raw blowfish as see in the photo was already cut into handball sized pieces when it arrived at our tablel and all the pieces were throbbing independently. We put about 1/2 the plate into the pot of water along with vegetables and tofu. 20 minutes later while I was eating, I was watching the other half of the blowfish pieces still throbbing. Now that is fresh food!
Hoto, a Yamanashi speciality
Yamanashi prefecture is famous for a dish called Hoto. If you say, "hoto" Yamanashi comes to mind. Hoto are noodles that are prepared as a kind of stew. There are various types of Hoto dishes with Japanese pumpkin being a very popular variety. This photo is Hoto I made after learning from a Japanese friend. Besides the Hoto noodles, I used pork, Japanese pumpkin, onion, Japanese radish, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes to make this Hoto.
tai fish head
This tai fish head I was told is a meal served during celebrations such as weddings. I asked what the rikon sakana (divorce fish) was but I was told there was none.
I found this Lobster Catch game downtown Kofu. The game is for real and the lobsters were (semi) alive. I have since seen this game in other game centers in Kofu and one in the States in FL. If you look at the lower left of the game in the left photo you will see the tongs to retrieve your catch and the plastic bags to bag it for the trip home.
Sashimi (raw fish)
Sashimi including (far left) shako (mantis shrimp) which looks like a sea-roach, sazae (turbin snail), maguro (tuna), among others.
Two fish deep fried and eaten as is. I don't remember what the fish on the left was called. The fish on the right is karei (flounder). Both are deep fried and you eat the entire thing including the bones, head, scull, teeth, eyes, everything!
Negi Yakitori (grilled chicken with green onions)
omacha is a special type of Japanese Green Tea. Below it is mitarashidango which is balls of mochi covered with a sweet sauce. Mochi is a special rice pounded into a sticky paste-like texture. Since gren tea is not sweet, it is often served with a small sweet snack.