One of us comes to Japan on a a regular basis because he enjoys the food so much.
The other one (me) comes to Japan to accompany her husband so he won’t have to eat alone.
Since many Japanese restaurants are quite small, one of us makes reservations at the restaurants he wants to try, long before we arrive, so as not to be disappointed at finding them full.
The other one takes delight in her husband’s foresight.
Both of us take pleasure enjoying Japanese cuisine. All kinds of it; soba, udon, tofu, sashimi, yakitori, kaiseki, izakaya, and washoku. For both of us, it doesn’t get better than this. Glutton heaven. From morning to night.
The expertise and dedication of the chefs insure that this playing field is not for amateurs, but for highly trained professionals. They wield a mean knife, using it as quickly and deftly as a hummingbird’s wings. They are experts in knowing how to present a course of food so that the visuals are as appealing as the taste. Seasonality reigns. The chefs can suggest sublime sake choices to accompany their food, which always helps to increase the pleasure quotient.
In other words, the chefs are masters. We are their awed students, grateful to have a seat at their table.
There are double the amount of people working in the kitchens of restaurants in Japan. This means that all preparation and presentation is backed by a well rehearsed division of labor.
It’s always a flawless performance.
Traditional Japanese restaurants serve many small courses, so that a meal is an adventure.
If you sit at a counter, which is likely in the small restaurants, you enjoy jovial banter with your neighbors as well as the staff behind the counter. This adds another dimension of enjoyment, making the evening a social outing as well.
All said, dining out in Japan makes for a most satisfying experience. The setting might be slick or traditional, but the meal itself is fleeting, as the sakura, and therefore treasured and appreciated.