Onsen rules, seasonal flavors, and Australian Rugby Cuisine

Updated September 14, 2019

Issue #4: 4 September 2019

1. If you have ever bought soba noodles at a convenience store in Japan, did you ever wonder what that “loosening water” is that comes with it? Well, the mystery has been cracked. In 7-Eleven stores it’s simply water. In others, there is added sodium and amino acids. Which is better? Who knows, up to you right?

“Trying to look inconspicuous nestled among the other individually wrapped plastic packages such as the cold tsuyu broth, the wasabi, the thinly shredded strips of nori seaweed topping and the chili pepper mix, you might find it there.” –Grape

+If you aren’t sure what soba noodles are, check out my complete guide, “What Are Soba Noodles? Japan’s Yummy Traditional Noodle Dish” that will show you everything you need to know.

+If you’d like to try your hand at crafting soba noodles from scratch, check out this fantastic instructor-led class that’s getting amazing reviews in Asakusa, Tokyo.

2. Does the idea of a nice hot spring soak sound good, but don’t understand the cultural “rules” around it? No worries, there’s a sweet beginner’s guide that will get you past your initial fears and turn you into a Japanese onsen master.

“Japan is a cluster of islands that is situated in a volcanic zone on the Pacific Rim of Fire. Therefore, there are plenty of natural hot springs from volcanic activity. Bathing in these hot springs (or onsen) is an integral part of life in Japan as it is the best way to unwind and refresh the mind, body, and spirit. And of course, it’s an excuse to hang out naked in public (excuse the pun).” –CityCost

3. Japan is famous for cuisine, but did you know there are some out of this world delicacies found here too? How does a black wasp mochi cake sound? Or maybe “Turkish rice” that, well, isn’t very Turkish at all.

“I was surrounded by locals who were making gohei mochi – a kind of skewered rice cake smothered in a sweet miso sauce, sometimes also with peanuts, sesame or walnuts added as extra flavors. The special ingredient in this case? Black wasps.” –TokyoWeekender

4. If you’re a gourmand, you’ll know the seasons heavily impact the flavor of ingredients found in the best dishes. Japan is a country where all four seasons have very distinct flavor profiles – of course, based on the freshest ingredients found during the season.

Autumn in Japan is a special time. The food takes a big leap up in quality compared to Summer because the plants are shedding their bitter flavor and ripening perfectly.

Check out my guide to the seasonal foods to find what’s “in season” right now.

5. Bonseki is so interesting and cool when you see masterful works of art. Bonseki is that art where the skilled artist “draws” raked Japanese gardens, streams, etc. onto a black lacquered plate — using sand, pebbles, and rock.

“Miniature landscapes are skillfully drawn inside a lacquered black tray, with extreme finesse, using fine grains of sand and small pebbles.” –MuzaChan

6. Are you on the hunt to find the coolest places in Tokyo to snap some photos for your Instagram feed? CultureTrip has your back. They crafted a list of ten spots in Tokyo where they think you’d find something interesting to add to your feed.

“Visitors to Japan’s capital will find there’s no shortage of beautiful scenes to photograph and picturesque backdrops to take advantage of. Both man-made and natural, new and traditional, these are Tokyo’s most Instagrammable spots.” –CultureTrip

7. Are you craving some Australian cuisine while in Tokyo? Yes, there are some here! SavvyTokyo has a very nice article going through several fantastic restaurants — especially great timing with the Rugby World Cup coming up. And c’mon mate, who doesn’t love the incredible Ironbark Grill in Ginza?

“Luckily, Tokyo is home to exquisite Australian dining that doesn’t disappoint. Whether you’re craving a high-quality burger, dying for an Australian dinner and wine pairing, or just need a break from the standard Japanese noodles and sushi diet, you can get your Australian food-fix right here in Tokyo.” –SavvyTokyo

In the news this week

And that’s a wrap. Unfortunately, this is the last issue of TS:Weekly (for now). With so much other content to create for you, there’s just not enough time to continue this.

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links for products/services I honestly recommend. If you use them to make a purchase I will earn a small commission — and you will forever have my gratitude for supporting TokyoSpark.