Nihon ryōri: how to make salsa in Japan

Tsukemono assortment
Nihon ryōri, or Japanese cuisine, is more than just fish and rice. A pickle vendor at a fish market in Tokyo sold just about every sort of tsukemono, from cucumber to lotus root to radish to turnip to tomato to myoga. If it was a vegetable and you could pickle it, it’d be here.

While it’s easy enough to locate pickled cucumbers, ginger, cabbage (and kimchi), or fermented soybeans (nattō) and miso, sometimes a girl wants a little spice in her life. Hot foods are a little harder to come by in Japan, but you can still find stores selling “spicy things”, as the kanji on the giant chili pepper reads. (They also had giant sticks of cinnamon for sale!)

Spicy stuff shop
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Takao-san: climbing down through temples

The lab PI carefully instructed the graduate students I’m working with to show me around Tokyo, to take me to locations off the beaten track whenever possible. Last week, they took me to Jindaiji, the second-oldest temple in the Tokyo area, about 1400 years old.  None of them had been there before, so it was a fun break to explore a quiet forest surrounded by urban Chofu.

On Friday, three of us played the Japanese equivalent of hooky (現実逃避, escapism) and met at the base of Mt. Takao (or Takao-san) to climb up the 599-meter peak. About 25 kilometers west of downtown Tokyo and a 35-minute train ride for me, Takao-san is a quasi-national park nestled in the verdant green hills.  Did I mention it was green and had trees?  I was reminded of the Bear Valley Trail in the Point Reyes National Seashore, but even more densely wooded.

Into the woods

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