A selection of the evening meals that I was served at the Ryokan, Minshuku and Shukubou:
Top left: my first proper meal in Japan, when I ate small fish (in the top-left square bowl) by mistake, at Ryokan Kadoya near Temple 1
Top right: Drive In 27 Ryokan, near Temple 27.
Bottom left: one of the best meals, at Matsuya Ryokan near temple 43. I was eating fish by this point anyway, and had Sashimi - raw fish - here for the first time.
Bottom right: Shoujin Ryouri - vegetarian food typically eaten by monks - at Sanboin Temple, Koyasan.
Another photo of the food at Matsuya Ryokan near Temple 43. The presentation here was amazing and it seemed a shame to eat the sea bream and spoil the picture.
This photo is also at Matsuya Ryokan. This was the first time I experienced a Nabe - an iron dish - which is set above a flame at the table so that the udon noodles and other ingredients can be served extra hot. I didn't have a clue what to do with it, the server showed me how it worked, she lit the flame for me and explained that I had to plunge the noodles etc into the broth once it was very hot.
This is what greeted me in my room at virtually every Ryokan I stayed at: a low table with a pot of hot water, some loose tea, or tea bags, a pot and cup, and sometimes a sweet or a biscuit.
These vending machines were everywhere in Shikoku, even on quiet country lanes. I was so thankful to find one for a hot can of sweet milky coffee on the cold spring mornings.
Once I started to venture into restaurants by myself, I had the choice of attempting to decipher the Japanese menu with my electronic dictionary for half an hour, or, going to one of the many restaurants that displayed plastic versions of their dishes outside. It is much easier to look, decide and then point! At Kikugetsutei tea-house in Ritsurin Koen, Takamatsu City, I had a bowl of Matcha - posh green tea - with a small biscuit. It was expensive, but well worth it; the Japanese equivalent of taking Afternoon Tea at the Ritz.
Okonomi-yaki is usually a meat and vegetable 'pancake' but we persuaded the chef to cook us a couple of veggie ones. This was in Tokyo somewhere, I can't remember where, but I remember that I was watching the Okonomi-yaki being cooked I was convinced that I was going to enjoy it, and I did, It was the first, and only time I ate Okonomi-yaki, but it was one of my favourite dishes and I will definitely seek out the shop when I return to Japan.
|Step 1: on the left, freshly fried pancakes are placed on top of piles of shredded cabbage;|
on the right, piles of boiled noodles.
|Step 2: the pancakes and cabbage is placed on top of the 'disc' of noodles.|
|Step 3: a fried egg is added to the top of each pile.|
|Step 4: a special sauce (similar to BBQ sauce) is spread on top.|