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Cool Japan / Japan wants cuisine listed as UNESCO heritage

Japan wants cuisine listed as UNESCO heritage
AFP - Mar 9, 2012

("Washoku" or the Japanese diet, is traditionally based on rice, fish and vegetables)

Japan said Friday it was applying to UNESCO to have its cuisine listed as a global cultural treasure as part of a bid to restore global confidence in its food after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Tokyo is to ask the UN's educational, scientific and cultural arm to register "Washoku: Traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese" as part of the intangible heritage of humanity, the foreign and agriculture ministries said. The government said washoku was characterised by respect for nature and the importance placed on the way in which dishes are served as well as the quality of ingredients used. (AFP)
Old-fashioned eats: Japan's soul food
CNN - Mar 9, 2012
http://i.cdn.cnngo.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/article_large/2012/03/07/soul_food-main.jpg
(With looks like these, you know only the real thing is waiting inside.)

We know it's obvious, but Tokyo is home to the best Japanese restaurants on the planet. Countless thousands of them, in fact. So many, it's hard to know where to start. From the outside everything seems so sleek and modern, you feel you could be anywhere. Behind its modern facade, though, Tokyo still has many restaurants where tradition rules, both inside and out -- in the kitchen, on the table and in that unmistakable ethos that you can only find in Japan. Here are five all-time classics to try if you want to sample Japan's true soul food. (CNN)

Negative: Nothing - Step by Step for Japan
negativenothing.com - Mar 9, 2012

March 11th marks a turning point in the life of Swiss travel agent Thomas Kohler. After the Tsunami and the nuclear disaster in Japan he loses all his customers, and eventually his job. Nevertheless, giving up is not an option. He decides to walk through Japan, 2900 kilometers from north to south, in order to show that not all of Japan is Fukushima. A trip of a lifetime starts through a country trying to cope with its biggest crisis since the end of World War II, but never losing hope for better days. The documentary film 'negative: nothing' is a journey that changes the life of a travel agent forever and gives hope and strength to a nation. Even the longest journey starts with a single step. (negativenothing.com)

Tourism spending in Japan expected to rebound
Los Angeles Times - Mar 8, 2012
http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2012-03/68642603.jpg
(A view from the tourist class carriage of a Panama Canal Railway Co. train in Panama
City last year. The global travel and tourism industry is expected to grow by 2.8% in 2012.)

Almost one year since a devastating earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck Japan, a global travel trade group predicted that the island country's tourism industry would make a full recovery in 2012 amid a global rise in travel spending. An economic analysis issued Wednesday by the World Travel & Tourism Council predicted that international tourism would generate $129 billion in spending in Japan in 2012, compared with $128.5 billion generated in 2010. The earthquake, which struck March 11, 2011, triggered a tsunami and ensuing fears over damage to a key nuclear power plant in Japan. Tourism spending in the country fell by 3.9% to $123.5 billion for the entire year, according to the tourism council. (Los Angeles Times)

How Starbucks tries to fit in on a sacred street
Asahi - Mar 7, 2012

When it decided to open its first outlet close to the entrance to a shrine in Japan, Starbucks Coffee Co. adopted a sound strategy: It toned down its presence in the culturally sensitive neighborhood. Worshipers on the main street leading to the Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, could be forgiven for thinking the building with traditional woodwork has some connection to the centuries-old site. The building is the work of renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Even the everpresent green sign with the siren is tastefully tucked away inside. It is a formula that has been used by Starbucks and other fast food outlets in other countries. (Asahi)

Don't break the bank: Japan's superb cheap eats
CNN - Mar 7, 2012
http://i.cdn.cnngo.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/article_large/2012/03/02/cheap-eats-main.jpg

Eating on the cheap in Japan doesn't have to mean scrounging for samples on the food floors of department stores or surviving on convenience-store onigiri rice balls -- though these are time-tested options for those who find themselves cash-strapped and famished. There's plenty of great Japanese food that does not require taking out a second mortgage, if you know where to look. What applies in Tokyo generally follows in the rest of the country. Food prices reflect real estate overheads. Taking Tokyo as the first stop for most tourists, you're far more likely to find affordable fare in the blue-collar areas to the north and east of the city (such as Ikebukuro, Ueno, Senju), districts with high concentrations of students (Yoyogi, Waseda) and suburban shopping streets with old-school mom-and-pop diners. (CNN)

Tokyo to drop fugu license ordinance amid decline in fatal diner poisonings
Japan Times - Mar 5, 2012

Fugu, a fish delicacy usually offered to discerning diners at expensive Japanese restaurants, may become available at cheaper eateries in Tokyo in October if the metropolitan government allows unlicensed chefs to process and sell the poisonous puffer fish. The move may be welcomed by stingy Tokyoites, but cautious consumers are likely to keep going to restaurants where licensed professionals prepare the delicacy. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is set to enact a bill to revise the ordinance on regulating fugu trade by the end of the month. Any revision will likely take effect in October. (Japan Times)

Why it's cheap in Japan
Manila Bulletin - Mar 4, 2012
http://blogimg.goo.ne.jp/user_image/6d/52/2e0f2a9695d2885dfbf9285f56d3ac9d.jpg
(Omukae dolls at the entrance of Tenjinbashisuji)

In Japan, dining can be an overwhelming experience as there are over 30 Michelin three-star restaurants all over the archipelago. But if your stars are down and you are on a budget, there is Depachika, the basement food hall of department stores where you can find counters after counters of food products ranging from lunch boxes, sandwiches and pastries (you can't miss out on these light, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth semi-sweet creations). To get a 50 percent discount on your food purchase, go before closing time. There is also the Kombini, or convenience store, that offers a reasonably-priced meal and it can be found practically all over Japan. (Manila Bulletin)

Japan: A mind-opening adventure
philstar.com - Mar 4, 2012

(The author at the Shibuya Station, with Hachiko, the world’s most loved dog.)

The only thing I planned for my first trip to Japan was to recreate Scarlett Johansson's crossing the Shibuya in Lost in Translation. I did buy the requisite travel guides, bookmarked links on must-see's, but decided to junk all that at the last minute, because I wanted Japan to surprise me. I knew it'd be a strange adventure. I never thought it would be life-changing, especially for a Filipino. I did get to cross the Shibuya, bathed in neon on a very cold February evening - three times. I was in a sea of Tokyoites, all clad in black winter wear. The Shibuya crowd was a big fraction of the 13-million Tokyo populace. Yet, no elbows rubbed against mine. Not one shivering pedestrian pushed me in a rush to get to a heated enclosure. The Japanese are big on "sense of personal space," it seems. (philstar.com)

By TS on Mar 14, 2012
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