Japan 2012

Shimogamo Jinja, Kyoto, Japan

Forgive me please, for a brief diversion from our usual posting of recipes. I recently took two weeks off from cooking and blogging to travel to Japan, my first extended vacation in the nine years or so that I’ve been publishing this site. For those of you who might be interested in a peek at our adventure, I thought I might post a few photos of some of the highlights of the trip. (If you aren’t interested, just ignore, there will be a new recipe soon enough.)

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Kenninji Temple, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto, established 1202

First a little background about this trip. Twenty-three years ago, after graduate school, I lived in Kyoto, Japan for almost a year. I was there studying Aikido, a Japanese martial art based on conflict resolution, with the Kyoto University Aikido Club. Kyoto, if you have not been there, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. For almost a 1000 years it was the capital city of Japan, the site of the Imperial Palace, the residence of the emperor. It was one of the few major cities in Japan not bombed extensively by the Allies in World War II, and is home to over 2000 temples and shrines.

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Ceiling of one of the halls at Kenninji Temple

Over the years I’ve taken several trips back to Japan, mostly to Tokyo for business. For this trip I promised to take nephew (my sister’s son), 14-year old Austin, to visit Kyoto for his spring break. We were accompanied by my brother Eddie, and my honey Guy. After a week in Kyoto, Eddie and Austin returned home, while Guy and I continued on to Tokyo.

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Austin and Eddie enjoying a soba lunch in Gion, Kyoto

Every morning I roused the boys from their slumber and corralled them to breakfast at the hotel, where we enjoyed an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet feast. I’m still astounded by how much the guys ate, especially the Japanese dishes, including fried mackerel, rice with daikon pickles, miso soup, burdock and lotus root, mustard greens with garlic, udon noodles, along with western fare such as fresh baked croissants, muesli cereal, scrambled eggs, and breakfast sausages. But we worked it off, each day walking 8 to 10 miles a day, through hills and valleys and city streets, from one temple to the next.

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Buy your ramen tickets first, then get a seat. Shijo-Kawabata-dori, Kyoto.

Here and there we met up with old friends from Kyoto University, who treated us to ramen, okonomiyaki (shredded cabbage pancakes, tastes better than it sounds), and sashimi. I played tour guide the best I could with my limited Japanese, and we had plenty of help from our friends (thanks Kotaro and Gyobu-san!)

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That famous Zen rock garden at Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto

By our fifth day of walking, my companions were just about templed-out. I do thank them for indulging me in my temple visiting obsession. When I lived in Kyoto it was right behind the Shimogamo Shrine, one of the oldest, and most peaceful shrines in Japan. Every night I would walk or ride my bike home from Kyoto University, alongside the creek that runs the length of the shrine grounds. In early summer, hundreds of fireflies would light the walkway. There’s something about that place that has entered my bones.

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Tanuki statuary in Arashiyama, Kyoto

Do you like samurai movies? Kurosawa‘s Seven Samurai is practically required for anyone studying martial arts. I still love catching a random samurai movie on cable, even if it’s in Japanese and I can’t understand a thing. Kyoto, with all of its old architecture and temples and shrines, is the center of samurai film making. Occasionally when I would walk home through Shimogamo, I would encounter some actor fully dressed up in samurai gear, racing down the path on a horse, surrounded by a film crew. My nephew Austin was particularly delighted when we took him to Toei Kyoto Studio Park, a full-on old Japanese town replica, where they still do studio work for samurai flicks.

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Toei Kyoto Studio Park and Samurai cinema

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So, did we enjoy the kaiseki haute cuisine for which Kyoto is so famous? Uh, no. It was enough for the boys to load up on breakfast, sampling every single thing, and then walk for hours with a short break for lunch. By the time we got back to the hotel each day, we collapsed. That, and even though I can eat Japanese food for every meal for every day for a year without tiring of it, the menfolk in my life cannot. By day five Eddie and Austin couldn’t stop talking about the pizzas and burritos they would have when they got back home. I, on the other hand, feasted on radish pickles and takenoko (bamboo shoots) whenever I got the chance. Kyoto is famous for both.

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Elise and Guy next to pickles and takenoko in Teramachi street market in downtown Kyoto

Leaving Kyoto, we made a brief stop in Shizuoka to visit the family of Yuki, a home stay student of Guy’s, who treated us to a lovely homemade lunch (thank you!), and then on to busy Tokyo where we met up with former classmates from Stanford and more Aikido friends from Kyodai.

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Ginza, Tokyo

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Visiting Nancy Hachisu at her Japanese farmhouse.

The last stop on our trip was to visit my friend Nancy Hachisu, of the Indigo Days blog, and author of the upcoming stunningly beautiful Japanese Farm Food cookbook. Nancy lives about an hour away from Tokyo, in rural Japan, with her husband Tadaaki (a striking Japanese farmer who reminds me of the swordsman in the Seven Samurai), and two of their three sons, Matthew and Andrew. Nancy and her family live in an old Japanese farmhouse, with a Viking range and over a hundred shoji screens for exterior and interior doors. I love this house. It seems to have a spirit all its own, with its support beams that are two hundred years old, tatami mats, and beautiful shoji-screen filtered light.

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With Nancy we toured the local markets, got lessons in Japanese cooking from Nancy and Tadaaki, visited a small family-run shoyu (soy sauce) factory and a family-run handmade paper factory, and even a few antique stores. In the evenings, we curled up to sleep the old fashioned way, on futons rolled out onto tatami.

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With Nancy in her kitchen.

Well that’s it. I seem to have rambled on. Thank you for your patience. We’re back home now, and a week later I’m finally getting over the jet lag. By the way, I’ve had a sneak peek of Nancy’s book, and it is stellar! A visually stunning book with surprisingly accessible recipes. Keep your eye out for it when it is released this fall.

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159 Comments

  1. Rose

    Wow! Thanks for taking the time to share your trip stories and especially the pictures. How wonderful!

  2. Rachel

    What a lovely trip. Great pictures. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Celeste

    Hello, and welcome home. No need to apologize for time away and time off. The recipes posted in your absence were terrific, especially the asparagus soup. Taking time off is a good thing to do, however near or far one travels. Thank you for the stories and photographs. Looking forward to recipes with udon and soba and radish and seeing your friend’s cookbook, Japanese Farm Food.

  4. SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen

    What a special trip! Looks like it was a great time – thanks for sharing this journey with us.

  5. Zeynep

    I loved reading about your trip to Japan! One of my majors in college was Japanese, and I studied abroad in Kyoto for a semester. Since then, I have been back once as a tourist, but only to Tokyo. Makes me wish I could go back to Kyoto, Nara, and the countryside. :)

  6. fatim

    Whoa….A really nice place to visit, you are so lucky.

    Regards from Malaysia

  7. Lauren

    That looks incredible! My husband and I, along with a close friend, plan to travel to Japan later this year and I can’t wait to see Kyoto and Tokyo! I think I’ll be like you, I love Japanese food and could eat it all day every day. Hopefully my husband will be the same too!

  8. BMJ

    Super, super cool post! I loved this little peek behind the scenes. The photography are amazing, too! My favorite is the one taken in Ginza, Tokyo – it seems as if the whole world is bustling around you, with you in the calm center of the storm. :) There are many great recipe sites on the internet that I love, but yours is, by far, my favorite. Thank you for working so hard to create quality content.

  9. OlDave

    HAH! When I got to the end, I realized that my mouth was in the shape of the letter “O” and I had not been breathing for a while. Thank you. Maybe I just looked like a gold fish!

  10. Beth Sullivan

    I very much enjoyed your pictures and comments from Japan as they brought back memories of our own family’s stay in Yamanashi prefecture and Kyoto with our daughter-in-law’s parents. I’m sure we stayed in the same hotel near the station! I am a great fan of Japanese cooking and would love to see a recipe for okonomiyaki on this site!
    Thanks so much for sharing your lovely vacation with all of us!

  11. Nancy Singleton Hachisu

    Elise, it was lovely to see your trip unroll on these pages. I have only visited Kyoto once it is a fairly overwhelming temple experience. But I did fall in love with the Kenninji temple and could have stayed there for hours. It was fun to hang out with you in Saitama. Nancy

  12. Africanaussie

    I stayed in Japan for six weeks many years ago and enjoyed every minute. Okonomiyaki was our favourite meal! thanks for bringing back those happy memories. I am off to look at that indigo days blog – wow it looks amazing.

  13. Yoko

    I’m so happy to find out that you, my favorite recipe blogger, loves my home country, Japan! Kyoto is somewhat magical and special place for all of us Japanese. Living in Shimogamo for a year? – you must have more traditional “Yamato” (Japan in an ancient poetic way of saying) experience than I do!!
    Thank you very much for sharing your precious experience.

  14. Mom to 5 in Bntfl

    Lovely….thanks for sharing!

  15. Lori @ RecipeGirl

    I love that you took the time to share your trip! What a unique and fun experience for you. So nice for you to treat yourself after such an extended non-vacation. And you got to see Nancy and her life on a Japanese farm- how wonderful!!

  16. Cindy

    Great pics and history! Thanks for sharing your holiday! :)

  17. Jon

    Lived there for 2 years. Brought home more than a T-shirt. My beautiful wife and I now have a 17 month old that has been to Japan twice to see her Grandparents. Best country on earth!

  18. liloulivi

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful trip. I know from experience thata trip to Japan is an unforgettable experience, and one is lucky to be able to share the love of Japan with family and friends. Thx again!

  19. Margaret Marks

    Thanks so much for sharing such a wonderful trip.

  20. Lisa

    Lovely trip! I’m envious. I was lucky to visit Tokyo and Hokkaido way back in 1992 when a friend was living there and working for Sony. What a terrific cultural exchange.

  21. Kavey

    Lovely to read about your trip!
    I’m currently planning our first trip to Japan, having wanted to visit for so long. I have our itinerary set but our budget has shrunk so am researching hard to find affordable accommodation that is also charming, well-located and has private bathroom facilities. If you have any tips for such in Kyoto and Tokyo, I’d be so grateful.
    Thank you!
    x

  22. Jenny

    This is so incredibly amazing! Please do more blog posts :)

  23. Lyne

    What an amazing trip and thanks for sharing! Hopefully you’ll share some recipes from your trip, please?

  24. Savitr

    Thanks for the memories, new and old: We love Japan, and Kyoto is our favorite city in the world. Here’s hoping you bring back lots of exciting recipes to share!

  25. Kana

    Thank you for sharing your photos. I enjoyed all of them very much. I am Japanese and living in FL with my American husband. I am really missing Japan and Japanese food. I am very glad that your family and you seemed to love some traditional Japanese food such as Soba and Kaiseki. I wish that my husband would also enjoy some authentic Japanese food like you did. I’ll cook some soba for my lunch today, anyway. Thanks again.

  26. Donna Sibirsky

    Your photos and comments were so enjoyable. I felt as though I had taken the trip to Japan personally. It is a fascinating country and your blog made it ever so much more real.
    Donna Sibirsky
    Israel

  27. Diane Platt

    Thank You for indulging!!! I also practiced Aikido for 10 yrs in (Silver Lake)area of Los Angeles… under Rod Kobiashi. I greatly admire the path you were able to go and feel a connection to Kyoto that I was not able fulfill.
    I have lived in Pensacola, Fl for 10 yrs now and love your recipes~
    Domo Arigato Gozai Mashita

  28. Tina

    Thank you so much for sharing! Looks like it was an amazing trip. Of course, I’m selfishly glad that you’re back so we can get some more awesome new recipes! :)

  29. Karen

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your trip with us.

  30. sakura

    What a wonderful trip! Reading your most made me miss Japan terribly. I haven’t been to Kyoto since I was a child and wish I could go again as as adult so that I can appreciate it’s beauty properly. And the takenoko are huge!

  31. pat

    WOW..fantastic! I never got past Narita!
    Hopefully, soon I will!
    Thanks for sharing!

  32. Janet Van

    Looks like it was an amazing journey! Arigato for sharing!

  33. Lee

    Thank you for the photos and the memories. What a wonderful trip for everyone, especially your nephew. (Oh, and I agree with you. I could eat Japanese food for the rest of my life and be quite happy.)

  34. Caroline

    Of course we are interested! Thanks a lot for posting these beautiful pictures. I have been to Japan twice and absolutely loved it. Such a fascinating country. I am even learning a bit of Japanese for my next trip because communication is the only thing that was a bit frustrating for me during my trips :)

  35. Richard T.

    Thanks for sharing your amazing trip! I too love the Temples & architecture of the Old World. I’m glad you all had a great time and are all home safe.

  36. Katie

    Thank you for sharing – what a lovely place and what a fabulous trip! I have a dear Japanese friend from Kyoto, and you’ve reminded me to give her a call :-) So glad you had a great time, and what a wonderful experience for your nephew!!

  37. Ting

    Elise, this was beautiful trip and I feel love and warm through these pictures. Thanks for sharing your trip and experience. I see a the beauty of the city through your eyes.

  38. Tomas Jose V. Fresnido, Jr.

    Thanks, Elise. Your vacation pics and comments cemented my desire to visit Japan sooner than later. Been a Japanophile since high school and I love Japanese cuisine. Hope to see some more things Japanese in your blog. Thanks again.

  39. Margaret

    Thanks for sharing your trip. Lovely!

  40. June

    Great post Elise. Thanks so much for sharing your adventure with us.

  41. wendy whatley

    So amazing. Thank you for sharing. I leave for my first trip to Japan on Wednesday. We are doing a several days in Tokyo and then a full week in Kyoto —- we are beside ourselves with excitement!!!

    Enjoyed your photos and stories very much.

  42. Anna

    Amazing! I think it’s so cool that your nephew accompanied you. You all are beaming happiness in those photos – thanks for sharing!

  43. Linda

    I always love visiting other countries. Glad you shared your trip with us. I am sure you had a wonderful time. Looking forward to some new recipies from you.

  44. Sarah

    How funny!! I spent a couple of weeks in Japan in April, too, including a week in Kyoto/Osaka. And Kyoto’s okonomiyaki is one of my favorite things on the planet…that, and matcha-sakura KitKat bars. :)

    Glad you made it home safely!

  45. Mary

    You studied Aikido?! You have just gotten so much cooler in my book (you already were). I’ve been a karateka and more recently a kendōka. I can’t wait to visit Japan one day for that, the food, the motorcyles….yes it’s one of my dream places to go!

  46. Noriko

    Will we see any simply Japanese recipes? I enjoyed your pictures. Thank you for sharing.

  47. Andrea Kearney

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos and details of your trip.

  48. Alana

    I love love love that you were in Japan! I lived there for three years courtesy of the US Marine Corps. I am hoping my family will be able to go back there next year to live again. We lived in Okinawa, and I never got to travel to mainland. But I hope to someday soon. Youre pictures are amazing and make me want to go back again so badly. Japan will always have a part of me.

  49. Rabi

    Looks like you had an amazing time! Thanks for posting.

  50. Cheryl Lee-TalbertTalbert

    Thank you for sharing! I lived in Tokyo, Japan for three years and loved every minute of it. I love their culture and food! I too am planning on visiting again one day:)

  51. lynn

    Wow. I just discovered your website a couple of months ago (not sure what took me so long) and thought it was fantastic. Now I appreciate it even more!!! Thanks so much for sharing so much with us. You seem like a pretty awesome person w/ a great family. I’m hoping to be able to travel to Japan within the next few years & look forward to having an amazing time as well. Thank you.

  52. Mindy

    Amazing, I’m so glad you posted about your trip. Incredible to have a snapshot of going back in time, seeing old friends, and remembering- right down to your bones- your time there.

  53. Suelin

    Thank you so much for sharing your trip. I’ve never been to Japan, and it was a fascinating little peek into the country.

  54. Fran

    What a fabulous post and a fun look into your wonderful-sounding vacation. I can almost “feel” the way you experienced the trip through your words.

    How wonderful to have spent time with Nancy and I too can’t wait for her book to come out!

    Welcome home and the diversion was so much fun. I am an anomaly — I love looking at other people’s travel photos. :)

  55. Joyce

    This brought back wonderful memories of our adventures in Japan with Friendship Force Internationl. We stayed 2 weeks with local families experiencing their culture and lifestyle, and visited so many amazing places. I loved the generous and courteous people, the efficiency, cleanliness, beauty – and, of course, the food. There were so many special foods, but one of our favorites was okonomiyaki. It’s my intention to have an okonomiyaki party at home in Alabama! I hope you will expound on this at length in your blog. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

  56. Tami Fusco

    Arigato gozaimashita! Love this post, thanks for sharing!!! I love Japan, I think everyone should go at least once if they get a chance. And your description of okonomiyaki (translates roughly to “how you like it”) is just like mine! “Cabbage pancake with your choice of nom noms… uhm, you just have to TRY it! I SWEAR it tastes better than it sounds!” Oishii!

  57. Marichan

    Great photos and explanations. I haven’t been to Japan since I was 10 (38 years ago!), despite the fact that all of my mother’s family is there. You’ve inspired me to make an effort to get back there again soon. Thank you for sharing!

  58. Sonia

    What an interesting post! I’m in the middle of reading a series of books that take place mostly in Japan (with a slight detour to Washington DC and San Francisco in a couple of the books) by a British born (Indian father and German mother) and now living in the States author. Sujata Massey captures perfectly the life of a raised in the states Japanese-American who lives and works in modern day Japan. She is also very good about describing Japanese food…

  59. Melissa Subia

    Thank you for sharing your trip. Wonderful pictures.

  60. Ann

    Elise – You make me want to go there so bad! Can’t wait to see some upcoming posts – I LOVE Japanese food. Love, Ann

  61. Susan

    I spent a month there on tour with my husband in ’90 – this brings it all back – thank you!

  62. AnnaJennings

    Wow Elise, I’ve always wanted to visit Japan. Living on the east coast hasn’t prepared me for earthquakes and that is single handedly keeping me away. thank you for sharing your pictures and glad to have you back!

  63. Karla

    I love the pictures and have always wanted to visit Japan. My parents went there when I was young but I didn’t get to go. I am looking forward to some Japanese recipes Thank you for the peek at a beautiful city.

  64. merd

    Rambling? Hardly.

    My friend and his wife visited Japan and brought me back a really cool tenuki print. How fun! I heard stories of “Gaijin” being shouted from the streets with accusing limbs and visual shock. Oh to experience that history, culture, and food :) Looks like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing.

  65. Kalina Saraiva de Lima

    Dear ELise,
    i visit your blog quite often. i love your recipes. i have baked your banana bread twice. it is really good.
    i subscribe to your blog. what a great trip to japan!
    hugs from England [but i am Brazilian]
    Kalina

  66. Fren Dee Bee

    Nihon ga ii desu ne. Raishuu wa Nihon e ikimasu. Oh, I missed the sakura of Japan.

  67. Dawn

    Knowing I will never be able to travel to such places, Thank You for sharing your photos and tale so I could “travel” there, too. (Also love your recipes!)

  68. Debi

    Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it and seeing the great pictures. Sounds like the trip was a balm to your soul. You should go more often and write about it for us!

  69. Cheryl A.

    HI there – thank you so much for sharing. I am going to forward to my husband as he loves martial arts! Welcome back!!

  70. Tricia @ Saving room for dessert

    What a wonderful journey! Thanks so much for sharing it. I would LOVE to do that someday. My husband thinks Japan is beautiful and would love to go again. Take me! You look wonderful!

  71. Angela

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and experience while in Japan! I almost felt like I was “there” with your descriptions of your visit. What a true blessing to have the opportunity to go back again.

  72. Denise Comoli

    What delightful surprise and congratulations on taking time to spend with your family and friends. Lovely, thank you for sharing.

  73. Anne Rader

    Thanks for sharing!

  74. Mel G.

    What a wonderful trip!! I spent almost a week in Kyoto touring the temples and neighborhoods as well a few years ago and your photos brought back some good memories. How cool that you studied Aikido. Do you still practice? Anyway, I have some serious food envy … I too could eat Japanese 24/7. Welcome home!

  75. Emma

    I would also like to request a recipe for okonomiyaki if you’ve got one. My husband studied abroad in Japan twice and we have pictures together in many of the same places you do. I’d love to be able to recreate the wonderful food we had there!

  76. Jackie

    I lived in Japan for awhile many years ago.. It was wonderful. Seeing the photo’s and reading the description brought back tons of great memories. Oh the food! Good people, good food, good country to spend some vacation time in. Lucky you!

  77. idiosyncratic eye

    Thank you for sharing such an awesome trip with us all, it’s an amazing corner of the world. I’d love to visit. Your nephew is very jammy getting such a chance at 14! :)

  78. Sarah

    Wow! I loved your photos! It brings me back to the trip I took a few years ago to Japan, and reminds me of how much I want to go again. Definitely one of the highlights of my life. Glad you enjoyed such a culturally rich experience. And had your nephew along, too. What a wonderful thing to expose him to another culture.

  79. KevinH.

    It’s kind of funny that the present capital Tokyo has the same letters as the old capital Kyoto.

    When written in English, yes. In Kanji characters, the two cities share one character. Kyoto means “capital city” and Tokyo means “East capital”, The “Kyo” part is the same. ~Elise

  80. Rita

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful vacation with us.
    My daughter loves cooking Japanese food and we will be looking for the cook book in the fall. Thank you for this mini vacation.

  81. Peter Keim

    Thanks for bringing back a lot of increasingly (!) old memories, as I spent 2 years in Japan in the mid-’60s with the U.S. Army, and had the chance to see a number of the cities and towns, meet the people and sample the superb cuisine. Kyoto was by far my favorite place, but also got to Tokyo, Kobe, Nara, Osaka, Beppu, Nagasaki, Sapporo and a host of smaller villages on Honshu, Hokkaido and Kyushu Islands. Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to return. One large benefit to having been there way back then was the currency exchange was 360 Yen to the dollar, so things were quite inexpensive compared to today. I remember a Kobe Beef steak dinner in Kobe costing under $20, including beverages! One can only dream now….Thanks again for a great post.

  82. Jody

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip! Has anyone ever told you that you look like Laura Linney?

    I wish! ~Elise

  83. Ruth

    Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us, Elise. Wonderful stuff. And BTW, you DO look a lot like Laura Linney! Check out the next episode of Masterpiece Theater and see for yourself.

  84. Stephanie

    Thank You!! I enjoyed your pictures so much…..and learning a little about Japanese culture…..a delightful surprise. Send along the recipe for cabbage pancakes!!

  85. Wayne G. Carson

    Interesting. I spent a year in Japan in 1955-56 and enjoyed the changes. A beautiful country and wonderful people. Thanks for the blog. wc

  86. Christian Gehman

    Thank you for this! — Christian

  87. William

    Thanks so much for sharing your visit to Japan, it was wonderful to visit the country from the comfort of my den….. I loved every picture, every explanation…. thanks Elise

  88. judith scott

    thank so much for showing us kyoto from the inside.
    what a special place these seems to be for you and
    now my interest is peaked just a bit more for all things
    ancient japanese. i’ll keep my eye out for your friends cookbook.

  89. Hinano

    I love the simpleness of life in Japan.

  90. Mohamed Boukioud

    Thanks for sharing these lovely memories, never been to Asia! so i envy you in good way! you deserve it, hope you have lovely time and safe journey home, all the best….

  91. Marion

    Thank You so much for sharing your beautiful trip with us. Your photographs show not only your interest in what you saw and where you were but also your enjoyment while there.

  92. Mara

    Definitely no need to apologize for going on vacation! I am so jealous! My son is currently working at Disneyland in Tokyo for 7 mo. (does so every year) and I keep on telling myself that I should go visit…..well, your pics have really made an impression. He just might get a visit from Mom after all!

    Thank you for sharing and I will be looking forward to the Japanese cooking book!!

    P. S. you DO look like Laura Linney ;)

  93. Monica

    HI Elise, it`s wonderful that you shared this photos, I am so happy for you and your trip, a very well deserved vacation! Enjoy the place which looks awesome! i love your blog and posts! Thank you!
    Moni.

  94. Amelia

    Thank you for sharing! I have always wanted to visit Japan and now want it even more. Thank you!

  95. Sally

    thanks for sharing the lovely pictures! I hope you have a safe and fun trip! It looks like a lot of fun.

  96. maria raquel considera

    I just loved, congratulations you guys deserve this vacation and thanks for sharing with us.

  97. Penny

    Loved your post!! We were just there in March, and are anxious to return!

  98. renee

    Hello enjoyed your trip too Japan and all about the foods finding living in Hawaii long ago got too eat some Japan dishes, now i am into and alsways have been into the movies from their i like the lifestyles, romance ones and history when shown thanx

  99. Ann Hayes

    Loved your pictures Elise and would love to have been there with you. My son-in-law and grandchildrem are Japanese. so might get there yet. I always wanted to visit Kyoto, the old capital city.

    On another note, love your recipes. Now I have to watch my carbs a bit (found out yesterday) I have to start paying attention and not just eat what is delicious.

    I would love to buy that book mentioned, and have bookmarked it for later consideration.

    Thank you. I always enjoy reading your writing, hearing about your family and ofcourse your deeelish recipes.

    Cheers, Ann from Ireland/Canada

  100. Chris@WeLoveChicken

    What a fantastic trip! Japan must be a fascinating country, with a unique culture. And not to forget the delicious food they have. When will you post some recipe you’ve learnt there?

  101. JOHN

    thank you for letting me enjoy your trip with you, very interesting.
    again thank you

  102. Marta Mueller

    Thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures and all the comments, visiting Japan is one of my dreams.

  103. Marcus Hatch

    Hello,

    Out of jealousy, I hate you. :-)
    Looks like a great trip!

    Marcus

  104. Angela

    Great post! I’ve always been curious about Kyoto.
    Thanks for sharing!

  105. Andrea Fender-Longman

    Oh thank you Elsie! Such a lovely post…and no you did not ramble I wanted more.

  106. Carmen

    Great post! Beautiful pictures and thanks so much for sharing your adventure in Japan!

  107. Regina Ferri

    Absolutely overwhelming! That’s a country that I would love to visit. Thanks for sharing.

  108. Janet

    Great story and pics. Made me want/ need to travel to Kyoto. Thanks.

  109. DiliaLinda

    Thank you so very much for sharing the beauty, pictures, family and joy of your Japanese venue. It was a well appreciated “appetizer”. May you have many more enjoyable vacations.

  110. Arden Brink

    No apologies needed for your diversion from recipes — Unlike many of your other commenters, I don’t even have any particular “orientation” toward Japan, but I still thoroughly enjoyed reading about your trip and seeing your pictures. I think we all like your blog so much, it’s nice to get a little “peek” into your life. Your trip sounds great. Looking forward to future posts!

  111. perla

    Wow! Love all the beautiful scenario, thank you for sharing, can’t wait to read the creativity of all those ideas and odors that captivate your palate and, mind.

  112. betty

    Lovely trip!! Any Japanese recipes coming soon? :)

  113. LRM

    Thank you sharing and allowing us to take a peek into your vacation.

  114. Terry

    Hey Elise, that sounds like a wonderful trip. Thanks so much for sharing with us! Never apologize for a vacation-arent they over all to quickly? It’s also cool you took your brother and his son- what an eye-opener that must have been for him! Travel is the greatest thing in the world.

    Austin had a great time with his Aunt Elise, Uncle Eddie, and Guy, though I think he would have been just as happy with fewer temples! He was well fed, so that sort of made up for all the walking we made him do. ~Elise

  115. Kathy

    OH, I loved this!!
    Wonderful!!! Thank you!!

  116. Yuka

    That was a nice surprise to see my favorite city, Kyoto! As you described, it is one of the most beautiful place in the world. I am originally from Tokyo, Japan, and I have not gone back there (my family still live there) for almost 5 years. I don’t miss Tokyo so much anymore, but the picture of Kyoto made me homesick a little. Thank you for posting those wonderful pictures! I love your recipes, and I loved this post more!! :)

  117. Elaine

    Elise, the trip looks wonderful!
    I looked online at Nancy’s book, the cover is just divine. The release date of the 4th September can’t come soon enough.

  118. Diane Cooper

    Thanks for sharing Elise! Beautiful!

  119. Rich

    Elise,
    Thanks for sharing!
    I spent 20+ years of my life in the consumer electronics business with MANY trips to Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Your post brought back a lot of very good memories. Japan is a wonderful place, but can be a little intimidating to a “westerner”. Early in my travels I learned that many of the Japanese school children were learning english and enjoyed practicing their skills with me. They became my built-in tour guides when I had free time. Thanks again for bringing back some great memories.

  120. Rose M

    wow!splendid idea of including your wonderful trips and story in your posting.I always love to visit japan in the near future

  121. Randy Winkler

    Sounds and looks like a nice trip. Thanks for sharing.

  122. Ezra

    Just want to say it’s so heart-warming to see this nice family trip of yours.
    I have enjoyed going onto this website for many years, though most of the time I didn’t make the dishes by the recipes, the simple words, great photos and the wonderful creations have always inspired me and made my days, thank you, Elise Bauer and those who provided the recipes :) You did a great job there!

    Thank you Ezra! ~Elise

  123. Miren

    Elise,
    That sounded like my dream holiday!
    This is my first time writing here, but…
    Just reading about it made me feel a little bit like if I had been there too.
    Please, next time you go to Japan let us know, I loved reading about it. And by the way the pictures are really nice too.
    Thanks for sharing your experience :-)

  124. Miriam

    As a future host mom of a Japanese exchange student (she arrives end of July beginning of August for a year)I was thrilled to see your post. I have told my family after hosting 3 years of European exchange students this will be very different and our menu’s will change as well. So please post lots of recipes I can use, lol. Thanks again for a brief look into a world we know little of.

  125. Dominika Sousa

    Elise, I am glad you had such a good time in Japan! It would be wonderful if you could come up with some Japanese recipes, especially for fish, sushi included. Have a safe trip home!

  126. SueDoc

    I too appreciate your sharing the trip highlights and photos with us. It was fun for me to take a trip down memory lane too. I was in Kyoto back in 1987 when I traveled there with Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus . . . as a clown! How our lives twist and turn! And yes, I too remember Okinomiyaki fondly. Thanks, too, for a great blog and a wonderful resource for recipes.

  127. Hermien Braitsch

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience Elise. I am a big fan of yours and love your blog and recipes! Hermien

  128. Tonya

    I’m so hungry now. I love okonomiyaki! My husband is half-Japanese, and we’re fortunate to get it as an appetizer during the holidays. I wouldn’t mind seeing you come up with your own version here :-D

  129. Scott

    Never feel you have to apologize for having a life beyond a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon!

    I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Japan twice for a month each time. Ryoanji Temple always intrigued me, but my favorite memory is on the Ginza. I towered over everyone else (I’m a whopping 5’9) and just floated along on this sea of humanity, hoping they all knew where they were going because I surely didn’t. Your travelogue vividly reminded me of those times.

  130. Linda Pue

    I loved seeing the pics. I lived on Yakota AFB as a child and was able to go to Osaka as an adult as an airline employee. We took a day trip to Kyoto and I loved it. Recognized some of the pics. Thanks for sharing. I felt so comfortable in Japan and loved the smells I remembered from childhood.

  131. Arlen Nimchuk

    Next time come for a visit here in Naruto. Local specialities in this area include sweet potatoes, lotus roots and sudachi.

  132. Debra Kapellakis

    Thank you for sharing your incredible trip.

  133. Natika33

    I read your blog regularly (you’re a gadget on my igoogle) and I was surprised to see you were recently in my neck of the woods! I agree with you – I could eat Japanese food for years and never get bored. In fact, I just went to France for a week and couldn’t wait to get back to Japanese food! I even ate takenoko tonight. ha ha! I can’t wait to see if you got some good recipes while you were here…hint hint. Either way, I’m glad you had fun!

  134. Sam

    I’m really into Japanese food and culture at the moment, so it’s great that you’ve shared about your experience. I want to visit there someday!

  135. Terry in Colchester, VT

    Hi Elise – Let me add my voice to the chorus of those thanking you for sharing this wonderful trip. I love traveling in the far east. It looks like I’ll have to add a trip to Kyoto to my bucket list. Can’t wait to see Nancy’s book this fall.

  136. Vicky

    Sounds like an absolutely great trip! I’m going to Japan for the first time this September for 2 weeks (my boyfriend and I are starting off there for a 2 year backpacking trip through Europe and Asia and I couldn’t be more excited for the temples and the delicious food!

  137. michelle cudd

    Wow! wonderful trip. thank you so much for sharing & inspiring!

  138. SHELBY

    Enjoyed your Japan pics, good for you! Why do I see some Japanese recipes in the future? Honestly I love this site, so many great recipes, glad you are back and that you had a great time.

  139. Shawn

    Thank you for sharing your pics with your Simply Recipes fans, looks like a beautiful place to visit.

  140. Dede Loop

    Thank you for sharing your visit to Japan. The pictures are beautiful.

  141. Leighann

    Thank you so much for sharing your vacation to Japan with us. I love the pics & love how you took the time to explain each one. I always wanted to travel to Japan, but being a single mom of 3 kids it is just a dream of mine. Your nephew was very lucky & you’re a special aunt to have taking him.Be Blessed & again thank you for sharing your vacation..

  142. sally cameron

    Thanks Elise! Makes me want to go to Kyoto even more. Kent has been, but I have not. He too said it was beautiful. Looks like you had a wonderful time. Please don’t wait nine for years for another adventure! Life is too short, and there is too much wonder in the world to experience. Thanks for sharing with us another side of you. How neat that you got to live there for a year. Lovely photos, especially the one of Kenninji temple. And great you got to visit Nancy! Her farmhouse sounds fantastic.

  143. Grace

    Elise it sounds like you enjoyed a wonderful time. I am so happy you shared photos and gave us a glimpse into Kyoto. It’s always been a dream for me to travel to Japan. I’m still dreaming. I think I would be like you wanting to visit as many temples as possible. I’m sure you enjoyed catching up with friends and making new memories. Nancy’s farmhouse is beautiful and that kitchen – wow! Thanks again for sharing.

  144. Christina

    Lovely! My husband obtained a degree in Japanese, speaks it fluently, and has lived in Kyoto. He loves Kyoto as much as you do. He frequently makes okonomiyaki for us at home and I’ve grown to really love it! I’m forwarding this entry to him… I know he will enjoy it immensely! Thank you!

  145. Linnea

    Oh, I just LOVED Kyoto. It was fun recognizing the locations of many of your photos. Yeah, we hit a lot of shrines when we were there as well. Sounds like you had an amazing time and it will be fun watching the things you learned there with your friend creep into this blog.

  146. brandi

    It sounds like such a fantastic trip – thank you for sharing your pictures!

    I hope we get to chat at BHF next month; it was so nice to meet you in Orlando a few months ago.

  147. Dolly

    I haven’t traveled or got on a plane since 1975. Your pictures of Japan made it seem if I was on a trip with you. I really enjoy the visit.thanks so much.
    Dolly

  148. Kalyn

    I really enjoyed the photos and it looks like you had such a wonderful time!

  149. Sherihan

    Wow!! stunning pictures. Thanks for sharing Elise. I dream of going there someday. Japan is a beautiful country with a deep interesting history.

  150. Rose

    Loved this! My son lives in Osaka I visited him for three weeks in 2009. We also spent a lot of time visiting temples in Kyoto and Nara. Japan is so beautiful I loved seeing your pictures!

  151. hrl

    Looks like fun! I’ve always wanted to visit Japan. What an adventure.

  152. Rick R.

    My wife and I truly enjoy your recipies. Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us. I’m a Part time Photographer, so you know I enjoyed the photos. Keep up the great food postings. AWSOME SITE!!

    Thank you Rick! ~Elise

  153. Kate @eatrecyclerepeat

    I love this post! No need to apologize. I live in Japan, but I haven’t been to Kyoto yet. I’ll remember this when I do go. I’ve also never heard of Nancy Hachisu, but now I am really looking forward to her book! And your smoked salmon hash looks so delicious. Both your recipes and stories have value, so please keep it up!
    Best wishes,
    Kate

  154. susan

    fantastic, Elise! Thanks for making me feel as though I was right there with you!

  155. teresa

    Stunning photos and what an awesome trip. Your brother, nephew and you have the same eyes! I’ll have to show my son these photos. He is really into Japanese culture, aikido and 7 Samurai. Your visit to the set must be the Universal Studios theme park equivalent. Did did you get to see 13 Assassins last year? The set looks alot like it. BTW, my cousin attended Stanford and lived in Japan as an exchange student also.

  156. wiz

    Do ramble more. Love to read about your travels.

  157. Julie Kaffen

    Loved the pictures and commentary. What a wonderful vacation.

    Julie

  158. donutty

    Elise, have you tried making okonomiyaki at home? I found a couple recipes to inspire me online and tried it at home after falling in love with them at a street food fair. Of course, mine don’t quite taste the same as Gottsui’s, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. I just wondered if you’d tried them before and had any tips. Thanks!

    • Elise

      I have not yet, but there are plenty of recipes online if you want to give it a try!

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