Japan is a country full of fun. Many people think of it as a country with big buildings, millions of lights and bajillion people crowding the streets of Tokyo. That’s just a small part of Japan. In actual fact, the island country has amazing history, nature, culture and food.
My human bestie and I are in Chirihama, about 270 miles Northwest of Tokyo. The region is known for the sandy beaches, but what makes Chirihama famous is that it is the ONLY beach where you can vroom-vroom on the sand in your car. On a bright summer’s day, the beach is blue and beautiful.
There are lots of yummy food around the area too. I had my first sushi and miso soup. What is sushi? Well, it is a type of bite-size dish where a small handfull of vinegared rice is shaped into a sausage shaped lump that is topped with a slice of raw fish. You dip it into soy sauce. For those looking for a stingy nose burn, add some wasabi, a green horseradish paste.
Sushi’s history dates back to about the 8th century in Japan. Before the day of supermarkets and refridgerators, ancient people used clever ideas to preserve their food for times when food was harder to get. Japan, being surrounded by sea, fish was an important food source. To keep the fish from rotting away, they salted the fish and rapped it in fermented rice. This preserved the fish for months. Sounds pretty strange, right? When time came to eat the salted fish, the fermented rice and salt were washed off and discarded. The fish was an important source of protein, but this type of sushi was really stinky.
Later on in the Edo period (1615-1868) the Japanese discovered that it was pretty yummy to eat the fish while it was still fresh from the sea and on top of rice. They called this type of fresh sushi the haya-zushi (or ‘fast’ sushi). This idea stuck and the sushi we see today is this type.
Japanese meals often come with miso soup. Miso is a paste made of fermented soy beans. It comes in light or very dark brown shade and is a taste that is hard to describe, but like many soups, miso acts as a base. How to make miso soup? You first boil some water and add the bits and bobs to have in the soup (the picture shows that my miso soup is a clam miso soup). When the bits and bobs are cooked, you turn the heat off and gently dissolve a lump of miso paste into the soup. Voila! Yum, yum.