外国人の日本体験 Experiences in Japan
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FOOD AND SHOPPING
by Louise Richardson (Australia/Italy)
Two things that I really miss about Japan are the food and the shopping. Both are truly unique. I've been to Japanese restaurants in Italy, Germany and Australia but nothing compares to eating Japanese food in Japan. I've shopped in many cities around the world too, and Tokyo is very special indeed.
I can't write about Japanese food without mentioning sushi. I particularly liked the sushi bars in Tokyo. The sushi was delicious and the atmosphere in the bars was wonderful with the sushi chefs preparing food right in front of the customers. I liked the fact that the customers could choose the food by sight - this was especially helpful for foreigners like me who had trouble understanding Japanese menus.
One time I went to a sushi bar with a teaching colleague near the school where I worked. It was the first time for my colleague at a real Japanese sushi bar. She was very excited to be there and very eager to sample the sushi. By accident, she selected one of the artificial models of sushi from the conveyor belt. With some difficulty, she raised the plastic model to her mouth with her chopsticks. Only when she put the imitation sushi in her mouth, did she realise her mistake. Naturally she was very embarrassed!
I was also very fond of the restaurants where customers could cook their dinner on a hot plate in the centre of the table. I visited such a restaurant with some other teaching colleagues (not the one who tried to eat the artificial sushi!). We had a difficult time deciding what to order and operating the hot plate was also a little difficult. The results, however, were very good. The meal was excellent - delicious thin strips of meat cooked quickly before our eyes and the aroma from the cooking was very pleasant. We enjoyed the experience.
With some Japanese students, I went to a similar restaurant. This time, the students took charge. They explained the menu and they showed me how to use the hot plate correctly. Once again the meal was mouth-watering. I really appreciated the kindness and hospitality of these students. It was an enjoyable evening and one that I will never forget.
There is another dining experience that I will never forget either. My beautiful Japanese teacher, Chizuko Kitajima-san (who is an excellent teacher, by the way) invited my friend Paul and I to her house for lunch one day. She prepared a superb Japanese meal which was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Thank you Chizuko-san! You were an excellent host.
I have to say that I think the Japanese diet is very healthy: rice, fish, vegetables, tea - I loved it! Japanese people are lucky to have such a lovely cuisine. My hope is that the American fast food places such as McDonald's, etc., do not displace too many traditional Japanese food outlets.
One of my other great passions in Tokyo was shopping. I was mad about it! I just couldn't believe the range and variety of items for sale from super-modern cellular telephones to paper products to tea! Actually, I didn't buy very much; most of the time I just looked because I lived in a small room and I prefer to live an uncluttered life! Alone or with friends, I passed many pleasant hours browsing in department stores, markets and small shops. People say that New York, London and Paris are great cities for shopping but as far as I'm concerned Tokyo is at the top of the list.
I live in Italy now which is famous for its food and shopping (think
of all those famous Italian fashion brands) and I really do appreciate
these aspects of Italian life. Every now and then, however, I like to
close my eyes and imagine that I am back in Tokyo. In my mind I remember
the delicious things I ate and the truly incredible things that I saw
in the shops. What a fabulous experience it was to be there!