Japan is a country that seems almost ahead of time. It is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, yet it still has an indisputable charm, where retaining tradition is still a significant part of daily life.
One of the ways that the Japanese celebrate their culture is through food. Japanese food is very different to the rest of the Orient. Being an island, seafood is a dominant feature of most dishes, as most parts of the country are not too far from the sea.
Here we take a look at a number of our most recommended Japanese dishes that you can sample on a trip there this autumn:
One of the most famous foods to leave Japan and explode in the Western world, certainly in the past 10 years, is sushi. Traditionally in Japan, sushi is a combination of raw fish, rice and vinegar, sometimes garnished with eye-watering wasabi and soy sauce. Sushi rolls traditionally do not have the rice on the outside, this is primarily a western creation and was solely for aesthetic reasons. Westerners aren’t so used to eating seaweed so it was concealed. In Japan you are more likely to be sampling seaweed wrapped rolls and fresh sashimi (sliced raw fish). From top end restaurants to street side vendors, you can get your authentic sushi fix wherever you go!
Tempura is a popular Japanese dish of battered vegetables and seafood, served with Tentsuyu (a delicate dipping sauce made with soy and ginger). It is thought that tempura was first brought to Japan way back in the 16th century by Portuguese settlers. Since then it became popular in both Japan and Western countries. It is a simple, yet tasty and filling dish.
Noodles are a firm favourite in Japan and are a staple food in the Japanese diet. There are various types of noodles that are served in a number of ways. Udon are thick wheat flour noodles and are often served as part of a soup or broth. The flavours and toppings vary by region. In Western Japan, the broth is light brown and uses light soy sauce. In Eastern Japan it is darker and uses dark soy sauce. Another popular and tasty option is Ramen; these are Chinese style wheat noodles served in a soup flavoured with soy or miso, accompanied by meat and sometimes fish with onions and other diced vegetables all thrown in. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour which is gluten free, low calorie, yet filling. They can be served in both hot and cold dishes, but are best served in soups or in stir fries and are seen on many menus.
So whatever your preference, Japanese food offers plenty of variety to suit the majority of palates. The key is to be adventurous, take a gamble and try something new!
Health in Japan
Overall, Japan is a very safe country with a low-risk to health. Their hospital care is good, but ensure you have full travel insurance, in case you need to access medical treatment abroad. If you don’t, you may be hit with a hefty bill!
All visitors should ensure they have their childhood vaccinations (MMR, TB and Tetanus) up to date. Anyone intending to spend extended periods in the countryside, and particularly in rice field areas, may want to consider the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine. This is spread via the bite of infected mosquitoes. The vaccination schedule is a course of 2 that need to be done at least 7 days apart.
Although Japan is safe and generally very clean, visitors may still find they get an upset stomach due to the change in diet. It is a good idea to carry some Imodium and rehydration salts to treat minor bugs. In any of our 8 London clinics we also sell high strength medication to treat stomach bugs, and these are particularly useful if you are prone to stomach problems.
Visit our travel clinics as early as possible to ensure you have time to protect yourself thoroughly.