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JAPAN: Culture

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Many Japanese recipes embody a subtlety of flavour and mixture of texture rarely found in Western cuisine, and the presentation is often so exquisite that it feels an insult to the chef to eat what has been so beautifully crafted. Throughout the text of this Guide, language boxes give the English, romaji (for pronunciation) and Japanese characters for the names of restaurants and bars, unless they are clearly signed in English or romaji.

Picking at delicate morsels with chopsticks is only one small part of the dining experience, though. Robust and cheap dishes such as hearty bowls of ramen noodles or the comforting concoction kare raisu (curry rice) are staples of the Japanese diet, along with burgers and fried chicken from ubiquitous Western-style fast-food outlets. All the major cities have an extensive range of restaurants serving Western and other Asian dishes, with Tokyo and Osaka in particular being major-league destinations for foodies. Use your international mobile phone rentals to make reservations at restaurants in Japan.

With a little planning, eating out need not be too expensive. Lunch is always the best-value meal of the day, seldom costing more than ¥2000. If you fuel up earlier in the day, a cheap bowl of noodles for dinner could carry you through the night, especially if you're planning on drinking, which is never a cheap affair


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