Nadia Damaso travelled to Asia for SWISS where she fed her way through the Asian metropolises.
In the first post of her culinary journey, she presents you Japan.
A country full of clichés but more so of surprises! You simply have to have experienced it yourself to realise that the Japanese don’t just live on sushi; big cities like Tokyo are just as well-ordered and quiet as cities like Zurich on a Sunday; mouthguards are not worn because of smog, but first and foremost by women who want to cover their non-makeup faces; every toilet seat is heated, whether inside a shopping centre or outside at a park (this really has to be introduced in Switzerland!); fresh fish, for example, from the biggest fish market in the world – Tsukiji fish market – just melts on your tongue; the Japanese enjoy both the heart and insides of a fish alike; ramen soup has been almost naturalised in Japan although it originally came from China; freshly made soba noodles are the cream of the crop; the manufacturing process of sake – a Japanese rice wine – is comparable with beer brewing; green tea and matcha tea are second to none; the famous Onsen hot spring baths can only be used in the nude; sumo wrestlers are as flexible as a rubber band but at the same time as strong as Hercules and could eat as much as Obelix at every meal; beans are part of practically every dessert and besides all this yummy food, it’s quite simply an incredibly exciting, appealing and diverse country!
Not to miss
- Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo – the largest and most famous fish market in the world. More than 2,000 tonnes of seafood are traded a day.
- Kaiseki dinner with Onsen bath and overnight stay in a Ryokan – you can’t get more typical “Japanese” than that!
- Watch sumo training – and be both astonished and entertained at the same time.
- If you have enough time, travel on the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Itoigawa. Enjoy freshly caught crabs on the coast, then go for a 30 minute drive up into the mountains, which are covered in one metre of snow even in April.
It is important to know that..
- ..it is a huge advantage to have a translator as you won’t get very far with just “Konichiwa”.
- ..pushing is a completely foreign concept and you should never blow your nose in public.
- ..you should eat down to the last grain of rice as it is good manners.
- ..prices are similar to those in Switzerland.
- ..you can fly with SWISS directly and daily to Tokyo and the service is great!
- ..cherry blossom time, end of May/beginning of April, is one of the best – you are however surrounded by tourists.
- ..you should book hotels a few months in advance as it is otherwise difficult to get fairly decent accommodation.
- ..you have to take off your shoes before steps and landings (shoelaces are therefore not very good)
- ..you should try everything that smells good to you – only then will you know if you like it or not!
- ..you should take as many photos as possible – just as many as the Japanese take when they are in Europe!
Text: Nadia Damaso
Bild: Nadia Damaso & Tanja Wüthrich