japanese meal

habu port on izu oshima island

japanese breakfast

rice paper wall at japanese inn

view from the room at Hotel Kojoan







Japanese Ryokan Meals,
page 2

Our inn at Lake Chuzenji, above Nikko, sits on the shore of the lake with some of the most incredible views I have had from a hotel room anywhere. The hotel, called Hotel Kojoen, was more traditional Japanese, although our room had a western style bed. The children slept on futons the staff laid out for them each night. They would not “allow” four people in a room; a fairly common practice in Japan, as we found out. Fortunately, we were traveling with my brother and his wife, and the hotel put one of the futons in their room. (We moved it to our room each night, and returned it in the morning.) At our hotel in Tokyo, we registered in two rooms, one under my name with a child, and one under John’s name with the other.

Our room in Hotel Kojoen had a small sitting area overlooking the lake, with a rice paper wall and sliding door separating it from the bedroom space.  The onsen also overlooked the lake. I don’t know if they spoke any English, and they may not be fully prepared for gaijin who speak no Japanese. They did, however, offer us western style breakfasts with eggs and toast, which the girls were delighted to accept.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I did not know what we were eating most of the time at either place. There was fresh sashimi, small fish fried and served whole, and nigiri sushi. We left the heads of small fried fish served whole uneaten, but saw other people down the whole crispy thing. Seaweed salads came in many forms. In the states, the only pickled vegetable that seems to appear with Japanese food is the ginger, but in Japan there is an unimaginable variety, both in the produce itself and the brine and spices used in the pickling process.

One small dish did catch me by surprise. It looked like shredded daikon radish, and had a fresh ocean taste. It was really quite good. I was proud of the girls as they continued to eat it after we realized each strand had eyeballs, and was some sort of tiny sea creature. Another curiosity was the chopped lettuce with thousand island dressing. It was served at breakfast and dinner. We thought it might be an attempt to give us something western and familiar, but it was served to the Japanese guests, as well.  

Of course, every meal is served with rice, an option to fill the empty space in the tummy of a picky eater. I know my nephews, while living in Japan, would retreat to the rice alone from time to time. They told us that at one restaurant, the wait staff even thought this was some cruel plot by their parents to not feed them, rather than the accommodation of a ketchup fanatic. None of us ever went hungry on this trip, however. Far more often we left meals wondering if we would be hungry in time for the next one.

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Image galleries of Japan:
Izu Oshima Island

Other stories in this series:
Hungry Wild Things in Japan
Potty Talk: On Japanese Toilets

copyright© Eva Gill 2009 ~ Web design, photographs,text by Eva Gill, unless otherwise noted. Video by John Gill.