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Soft serve ice cream is big in Japan and the flavors go well beyond vanilla, chocolate, andmatcha. Some soft serve shops have extensive menus with flavors that range from the enticing to the interesting to the downright bizarre. Here are 10 of those unique flavors you might want to give a try.

The regional ramen of Japan, known asgotōchi ramen, are a shining example of how one can travel through food. Across the 47 prefectures of Japan you’ll find local styles that transform the dish into something unique.

The iconicnigirshi sushi, with its simple slice of fish nestled atop a ball of rice, andmakizushi,rolls of ingredients wrapped up in rice andnoriseaweed, are fairly common nowadays, but those two styles of sushi don’t capture the full range of preparations and styles of sushi in Japan.

The history of modern-day sushi is thought to date back to the Edo period of Japan when there were few methods of preserving the fresh fish that came in from the Edo Bay, or modern Tokyo Bay, each day.

Sushi has become one of Japan’s more famous culinary exports that has influenced cuisine the world over. It is now so ubiquitous that it can be found packaged and sold at convenience stores and supermarkets. Here is a list of some of the most popular toppings, orneta,used in sushi:

Rich, salty, creamy, savory, smooth, and addicting. When it comes to ramen, it’s easy to see why so many people have embraced the dish across the world. Consisting of a steaming, fragrant broth holding a tangle of noodles and a heap of toppings nestled over it all, ramen is young enough in the culinary world, at least compared to other traditions in Japanese cuisine, to still be growing and the flexibility of the broth, tare, noodles, and toppings. make it perfect for innovation.

After a day of eating and bento making in Kamakura, delicious quick bites, and visiting sites, here are some local souvenirs to pick up while in Kamakura.
After a day of eating and bento making in Kamakura, visiting sites, and picking up souvenirs, here are some delicious quick bites to enjoy while in Kamakura.
Located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Kamakura is a historic coastal town only an hour away from Tokyo. Known for its well-preserved historical buildings, the ancient city attracts an average of 20 million visitors annually from Japan and abroad. In recent years, it has become a destination for young people and families to escape from the crowded city of Tokyo and to relocate to a mid-sized town with abundant nature within walking distance from the city center. 

When you begin to venture deeper into the world ofwashoku(Japanese cuisine), however, you might want to expand from the basics ofany kitchen and into the essentials of a Japanese kitchen.

MSG, monosodium glutamate. Most of us are probably aware of it and have some associations tied to it. MSG is a food additive meant to boost theumami of a dish and is known asaji-no-moto in Japan. For those of us who prefer to avoid food additives wherever possible (and note that all our products at Kokoro Care Package are chemical and MSG-free), here are a few common products that may contain hidden MSG we should keep an eye out for.

Being vegan anywhere in the world presents its challenges, but for the most part, the lifestyle has become fairly accessible in the Western world. When looking to Japan, however, things can get a little tricky. While larger cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto have plenty of vegan options, that isn’t necessarily so elsewhere. But fear not! Japanese cuisine traditionally focuses heavily on many key ingredients found in a vegan diet, namely vegetables, mushrooms, rice, soy, and noodles. So, when looking to be vegan in Japan, here are a few things to keep in mind.

With centuries’ old history rooted in the forges of swordsmiths, Japanese knives are revered around the world not only for the craftsmanship, but also the shapes and styles of blades available.

With over 40 varieties produced domestically, the number of citrus fruits cultivated in Japan is staggering, with certain regions renowned for their citrus production. In Japan this area is known as thesetonaikai, the area surrounding the Seto Inland Sea. It consists of parts of Kyūshū, Shikoku, and the coasts of southwestern Honshū where the climate is perfect for citrus cultivation. Here are some of the most popular and interesting citrus fruits in Japan.

Looking like a rougher, more dimpled cousin to the lemon,yuzu is a small yellow fruit about the size of a regular orange that has a taste somewhere between a grapefruit and a mandarin; tart with a hint of sweetness. Its thick skin, which is usually mottled with the bumps and divots, holds the rich oils that makeyuzu so aromatic and fragrant.

Although it may be known for its namesake soup, misois an umami-rich ingredient that has a place in anything from stews to salad dressings. It has a deep, savory flavor with a fermented salty-sweet tang that can act as a base for any dish.
We are all generally familiar with the five sense: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. While it might seem simple however, the idea behindgokan is rather profound.

Eating is an experience of all five of senses, not just taste. Even so, one might argue that taste is the most important of the five. For without it, even the ripest fruit and most artfully presented array of dishes would be little more than pretty objects, albeit ones we can eat.

When thinking of food, it’s quite possible to overlook the importance of color in how we experience a meal. However, color is a strong consideration inwashoku, Japanese cuisine, for color enhances the appearance of a dish, stimulating the sense of sight, and in turn helping to excite one’s appetite.

Without knowledge of the five basic methods of cooking, it would be much more difficult to prepare a meal that invokes the five senses and inspires the five tastes. The five basic cooking methods can be broken down intonama(cutting),niru (simmering),yaku (grilling),musu (steaming), andageru (frying).

Essential to the foundation of Japanese cooking are the five ingredients that serve as the building blocks ofwashoku,or Japanese cuisine. They’re easily remembered by the five sylablles:sa,shi,su,se,so. These translate to sugar(satō), salt(shio), vinegar(su), soy sauce(shōyu/seuyu), and miso(well… miso.)

Kansai is considered to be the cultural and spiritual center of Japan. It’s home to many historical sites, ancient temples, and two of Japan’s ancient capitals: Kyoto and Nara.  Another distinctive characteristic about the Kansai region is its love for food. In fact, it is home to what many call “the nation’s kitchen” - Osaka. However, Osaka isn’t the only place to find uniquely Kansai food.

With a culinary history as deep and established as washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine), certain herbs and spices have been used in Japan for thousands of years. And although there might be a larger variety available today, their uses and applications have remained rather constant. 

With Japan’s proximity to the sea and lush greenery, the concepts of umi no sachi (bounty of the sea) and yama no sachi (bounty of the land or mountains) have had a great impact on the way Japanese people view food and cooking. Herbs and spices are often used as a complement to the main flavors of dishes, accentuating the characteristics of the other ingredients rather than changing their innate flavors.

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