“With its wide-open spaces, national parks, active volcanoes, forests of silvery beech, forlorn coastlines and remote fishing towns, Hokkaidō is ideal for road trips….”
Seriously people, there has never been a better time to visit Japan, with the yen as low as it is. Some tips to stretch your money even further, in the Independent.
Lonely Planet started a new series of cookbooks, called From the Source. The idea is to capture a place through its food, and include recipes from the best cooks who make the food — all with gorgeous photos throughout. This summer, editions for Italy and Thailand were released (photo above). I want to make everything.
Next up: Japan. I’m contributing the chapter on Tohoku & Hokkaido. The photographer and I are still in the process of sorting out our plans, but it looks like we’ll be road-tripping deep into Hokkaido. I can’t wait!
“Wagyu literally translates as ‘Japanese beef,’ but that translation doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s a word that calls to mind images of rural Japanese cows being fed beer and massaged daily, and richly marbled ruby-red steaks, shot through with fine ribbons of glistening white fat. . . . However, exactly how wagyu gets from the fattening farm to the table is more of a mystery.
“Tokyo’s municipal meat market — the last slaughterhouse in the city — hasn’t become the tourist pilgrimage site that the Tsukiji fish market has. In fact, most people, tourists and locals alike, wouldn’t even recognize the meat market if they saw it.”
Read the rest in the Japan Times.
The slaughtering of animals in Japan was traditionally carried out by the burakumin, a kind of “untouchables” class in feudal Japan. Many of their descendents still work in the industry and many still face discrimination. Mike Sunda has an excellent follow up story to mine that goes into more detail about this.
Published in the Dec/Jan 2015 issue of DestinAsian Magazine.
“If woodblock prints are to be believed, the metropolis was once awash in greens and blues. Reedy riverbanks, grassy hillocks and marshes draped with willows all feature in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, the 19th-century series of woodblock prints of the capital (then called Edo) by master artist Utagawa Hiroshige. Above all are the waterways, wide rivers and narrow canals colored a deep Prussian blue, crisscrossed by gently arching wooden bridges. Boats — cargo boats, piled high with barrels and steered by stooped men in sampans; pleasure boats, their blinds drawn on the courtesans and patrons within — make their way up and down these causeways. One hundred and fifty years ago, Tokyo, at least from the right angles, looked downright romantic. So the question is: What happened?”
Published in the Japan Times On Sunday Timeout section.