November 21st, 2020 issue

Historical Account of Edo Period Noodles and Japan’s First Floating Hotel

In this issue, we bring you a historical account of what Japanese noodles were like in the 17th century Tokyo (then called Edo), Japan’s first floating hotel, Toranomon activities, excellent craft beer, and a bakery built for a 13-year old kid with special needs.

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1. Noodles Have Been Popular Since At Least The Edo Period

Imagine it. It’s 17th century Tokyo (then called Edo). Little wooden food stalls popping up all over (called yatai) serving sushi, tempura, and a variety of Japanese noodles (soba and udon primarily).

Called nihachi back then, these noodles dishes were a staple food for many — especially single men. Much like one would visit a convenience store today — yatai offered a vital service for those who could not cook for themselves (or perhaps didn’t have time).

Ni-hachi soba: soba containing 20% wheat and 80% buckwheat;(en.wikipedia.org)

This article by Nippon.com is an interesting trek through history as it recounts the early recordings of a Japanese historian — who’s drawings and writings explain the noodle culture a few hundred years ago.

Soba noodles (buckwheat flour) — and the huge variety of ways it is used: toshi koshi soba, kitsune soba, shina soba, tsukimi soba, shinshu soba, and more. The soba yatai (aka soba ya) brought this versatile dish into Edo — setting the stage for modern soba shops of today’s Tokyo.

I absolutely recommend reading the article — the history lesson is fascinating, and it’s not a long read.

Some Prefer Noodles: Soba and Udon in the Edo PeriodIn the realm of food, and noodles in particular, author Kitagawa Morisada noted that there had been soba shops in Edo (now Tokyo) since the middle of the seventeenth century. At the same time, udon noodles were more popular in Kyoto and Osaka.” (Nippon)

2. Now There is a Floating Hotel in Tokyo

If you didn’t know, in downtown Tokyo there are waterway-like canals somewhat similar to what you can find in Italy. Of course, not that level — but they do exist. And you can go for a nice float around Tokyo if you so desired.

And now there is a new hotel — Japan’s first floating hotel actually — in the Tennozu warehouse district of Shinagawa. The area is rich with history and art. A fantastic place to stay to take in the surroundings.

The hotel is called Petals — apparently inspired by the the look of lotus petals floating on water. Okay, I’ll bite… that does sound like a lofty goal for a hotel to mimic. If you squint just right I guess you could say they achieved it.

But the rooms look nice and they have a great focus on providing all natural amenities. Plus it’s walking distance from Shinagawa Station. So yea, worth a stay if you’re looking for a hotel that isn’t run of the mill.

📍Map pin to Petals Tokyo

PETALS TOKYO: Japan’s First Floating Hotel Opens For BusinessTennozu is a warehouse district that has transformed into an art city. From here emerges PETALS TOKYO, Japan’s first floating boat hotel. It consists of four multi-coloured hotel boats anchored beside T-LOTUS M, an event venue on the Tennozu Canal.” (MoshiMoshiNippon)

Quick Hits

These are a quick list of more things we think you'll find interesting.

  1. Looking for something to do in the Toranomon area? TokyoCheapo has a nice guide to their pick of five things to do. The Okura Museum of Art is on their list and I highly recommend it (even if it does cost ¥1,000 to get in).
  2. Find a warm, relaxing atmosphere and some of the best craft beer at Craft Beer Tap Fam333 in Sendagaya Tokyo. #map
  3. Okay, this is not in Tokyo — but too good to not share. There is this new, teeeeeny-tiny bakery in the Shiga prefecture (near Nagoya) that was built for a 13-year old kid with a psychiatric disorder. For real, and the story is worth reading.

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