Z is for 材料

Z is for zairyou, or the Japanese word for ingredients. Life in Japan can be a wonderful experience, but not everyone who comes here loves it, or understands it. Beyond the obvious language and custom barriers, there is also the physical barrier (if you look foreign, then you will always be foreign) and social barrier. Some people find it exceptionally easy to make friends and fit in, and others swear that they are unable to make any sort of lasting relationship. I personally think it’s all about what you put into it.

Japan loves subtlety. It’s in their language, in their mannerisms, and in their food. As an American living here, I often find the most traditional foods of Kyoto lack any real flavor “punch”. The beauty is in the presentation of the food; the ingredients are simple, visible.

I think on its most basic level, communications in Japan are like this. Soft, pleasant, not overpowering.

However, go to different regions, like Osaka, and all bets are off. Osaka likes its food fried and loud, with cabbage cakes (okonomiyaki) and fried octopus balls (takoyaki) being its signature dishes. The people here are boisterous and friendly, eager for a party.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: if you want to know the people, know their food!

Images hosted on Flickr.

First Snow in Kyoto

https://flic.kr/p/pw2Rtc

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https://flic.kr/p/pNBmQ9

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https://flic.kr/p/pNN4jK

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https://flic.kr/p/pwCw1q

Takaragaike Picnic

Arima-onsen, White Day

IMG_4431 Osaka with Taisuke 17

And so ends, Blogging A-Z in April 2015! Woo! What a ride! Thank you to everyone who visited me this month. Be sure to check out my Reflections post later, in May. I hope to continue seeing you all around after the event. 😌

50 thoughts on “Z is for 材料

  1. I have certainly enjoyed your A-Z, Alex. In addition to superb photography, I have gained a lot of information about Japan, its people and culture that I would not otherwise have been exposed to. For that, I thank you.

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  2. I echo the thoughts from above. I have thoroughly enjoyed your theme. The entertaining way you shared your experiences; the culture, the colour, the history and beauty of Japan. It’s been a marvellous journey 😀

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  3. It was a wonderful trip, reminding me of everything we loved about Japan.. but the food! I’m salivating this morning because the food was a major character in our experience! Thanks, Alex!

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  4. I think that’s an astute observation–“if you want to know a people, know their food!” I love all the photos too. The contrast between the elegantly displayed dishes, the cute donuts, and wild-looking drinks says something about the culture too.

    I haven’t caught all your A-Z posts, but admire you’ve done with this challenge. I don’t think I could have done this at all

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  5. Some of the best curry we’ve had in our life was in Tokyo. And naan as big as your head. Andrea loved that you could find crepes on every corner, and was fascinated with the obsession with putting eggs on everything. Thank you for allowing me to live vicariously through you and dream of a day when we can go back.

    And congrats on finishing A to Z!

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  6. Bravo, Alex! This was a great way to end your A to Z Challenge. It sums up what you’ve learned and now know about Japan. Very fitting.

    Not to mention ALL THE FOOD PHOTOS. 😀 I have to ask what some of them are, just because of I’m curious:

    – 3rd photo: That looks good. It reminds me of beef stew because of the mix of meat, rice, and vegetables.
    – 4th photo: They’re so cute! What are they? (A dessert or pastry, I’m assuming?)
    – Long piece of flatbread(?): That’s crazy!! What is that? And what’s in the bowl in front of you? A soup, or a dipping sauce for the bread?
    – Last two photos: Mmmmmmm, those look good, too.

    Thanks for giving us such a vivid and personal look into Japan! I’m so glad we met because of this, and I look forward to following and communicating w/ you in the future. 🙂

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  7. The food, I think, would be my real barrier in Japan. I just don’t want to eat anything with tentacles.
    Yes, I know it’s irrational, but knowing doesn’t make it go away.

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    1. Hahah, there are plenty of options with no tentacles. 😛 even no fish! They have lots of pork, beef, chicken, and vegetarian dishes, too. 🙂

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  8. I loved every post you had in this series (even though I didn’t always have time to comment!). Thank you for the trip to Japan 🙂 I will definitely continue to follow along on your upcoming adventures 🙂

    Now I want Japanese food. 😀

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  9. strange, ordinarily doughGNUTZ “look” the delicious-est, but the table laden with a veritable trip/stumbullNfawl down the wrabbit-whole of cornicorpulescent sooshi and such — that’s CRUEL to show to a hungry man stuck in his office !

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  10. Congratulations on finishing the challenge!
    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. Your wonderful photos often remind me of the beauty of Japanese culture, which I’m not always aware of.

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  11. What a feast to finish on! Thanks so much for this wonderful exposition, I’ve learnt so much, but need to come back for more! Well done on blogging through the alphabet, and also for your support, too!

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  12. I learned so many new kanji this month 🙂 Thank you for all your wonderful stories and pictures, I’m so glad I found your blog!

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  13. Congrats on reaching the A to Z finishing line, Alex!
    Thanks for your wonderful & entertaining posts!
    I’m just sorry that I didn’t come around as often as I would have liked to…
    Keep in touch! 🙂

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  14. It was such a pleasure getting to know Japan through your words and wonderful photos! It was nice to meet you in the A-Z Challenge and looking forward to reading more about your future adventures 🙂

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  15. Congratulations on completing the challenge! I really enjoyed your posts, and loved your pictures! 🙂 And thank you for all the visits too! Looking forward to your reflections, and let’s keep in touch! 🙂

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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  16. I am super excited (and okay, maybe a little bit scared too) about all the food possibilities to be had when Nutty Hubby and I go over in October, and this post is making me even more impatient to get on that plane!

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  17. Hi Alex,
    Great to meet you, even though it is after the challenge. The photographs of the food you ahve provided are stunning and remind me of what can be done with decoration. I am a good and inventive cook but often cooking meals for the family on the run and I try to bake biscuits for friends and scouts etc. They’re very popular.
    I was interested to see the bottle called Thorpedo. I’m sure it must be endorsed by our Australian Olympic Swimmer, Ian Thorpe who is known as the “Thorpedo”. xx Rowena

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Rowena! I appreciate you stopping by. 🙂

      That may just be where it came from! I kept thinking of Thor, haha. It makes me giggle every time I see it. 🙂

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  18. You know, I absolutely agree: know people through their food. But then, I’m Italian, so you should expect this from me 😉
    And you got me hungry with all those pics. I wish I could tast some of that.

    Congratulation on completing the challenge. Yes, it was a ride, but what a ride!
    I enjoyed your posts about Japan a lot. Maybe one day I’ll be able to go (my friend is asking me every year) but at least I had a very good taste of it from your posts.
    I’ll sure stick around 🙂

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  19. Okay, you do realize that you’re going to have to do this for Canada too now, right? You’re going to have to eliminate the stereotype that the only thing Canadians snack on are bacon strips and jugs full of maple syrup and then wash this down with some sort of drink that brings out affable good will. I want to know as much about your new home as you’ve been able to offer about your current one.
    You have this uncanny way of inviting people into your posts and pictures and wishing they were right beside you enjoying the moment.
    Your A-Z posts were extraordinary, Alex. Well done. Now rest.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No rest for the wicked! 😉 but I am planning to do the very same to Vancouver and beyond. The adventure bug is something wicked, but I’m so glad to have it in my life. Thanks for your comments, as always, Shelley! You’re the blogger I look up to most on WP, so it means a lot to me. ❤

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  20. I’ve heard people raving over your blog in the Reflections, and I see why. What a lovely, compact yet beautifully crafted post with GORGY pics! I am supposed to be #amwriting… instead #amreading… but I will be back for more. — Jeri from Storytellingmatters.wordpress.com. So sorry I missed it, bookmarking now… 🙂

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  21. Alex, this was such an incredible series. I know I’m going to continue to go back to this. Thanks for sharing all your experiences! It’s been a wonderful ride. Hope you are now getting some well-deserved rest. 🙂

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