Sometimes it's raw squid or raw egg -- we all have a favorite type of sushi or other savory dish.
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Sometimes it's raw egg and raw beef, as in this sushi and accompanying roll made of Hida beef from Takayama -- it cost the equivalent of about $8, and people were lined up to try it.
Food is one of the greatest pleasures in Japan, and what newly arrived visitor hasn't been intrigued by -- and dependent upon for ordering -- the plastic food models displayed in front of many restaurants. After reading Alan Booth's Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan, in which he praises the character and authenticity of Gujo-Hachiman in Gifu prefecture, I decided to explore it myself. A scenic town with carp-filled canals and a small hilltop castle, Gujo-Hachiman hosts the Gujo Odori, a summertime dance festival, and is also the birthplace of those ubiquitous plastic food samples.
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Giant-sized simulated rice and vegetable dish complete with raw egg "Cheeseburger, cheeseburger!" Cheese-stuffed hamburger patty with the fixins' -- looks good enough to eat Suspending one's belief in what's real: Delicate noodles over ice to enjoy on a hot summer day. A selection of desserts, with shaved ice and ice cream that defy melting
In Osaka Yuki and I visited a fish market -- a smaller version of Tokyo's Tsukiji -- where the variety and freshness were impressive. Octopus on ice, fish market in Osaka Freshly caught squid on ice, Osaka fish market Packaged dried fish at Osaka fish market
For lunch we went to the basement of one of the major department stores and selected our own personal favorites. Here's Yuki's Osaka-style bento, a colorful mosaic of dainty, easy-to-eat pieces of sushi.
I could spend an entire month in the department store basements without coming up for sunlight -- they have everything one could ever wish for in terms of food and beverages, all beautifully packaged.
Depending on where I travel in the world I don't always eat street food, but it's fresh, safe and delicious throughout Japan. Regional and seasonal dishes are special treats. My last destination was the ceramic town of Mashiko, about 2 hours from Tokyo; I happened to schedule my visit during their annual spring pottery fair. Although on the lookout for some small gifts for friends and family, I was constantly sidetracked by the street food vendors' fare.