More than a year has gone by and things in Japan do not feel so confusing. Walking into a Japanese restaurant that does not have a English menu or the more common “picture menu” is no longer a big deal … just start spurting out “grilled-fish” or “tempura” and there is a high probability of getting a good lunch.

I still remember my first time with a machine like this. It was in a park and the no-English speaking lady at the counter was a great help trying to figure things out.

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In a culture that is crazy for automation and vending machines, this is a logical next step. It is a restaurant ordering machine. You pick what you want, the meal or drink – including choices such as sake (bottom left), and out pops your chit. Walk over to the window and a few moments later, your meal is served.

I like the process because it has pictures.



It seems to happen to us every once in a while. It happened in Rome; we walked out of the hotel on our first night, wandered down the street and ended up in a tourist trap restaurant that cost an incredible amount with really bad food.

The same thing happened on one of our first nights in Tokyo. We took a walk and ended up in a touristy type restaurant that was obviously trying to drag in English speakers. An hour later we walked out $150 lighter with a consensus that the dinner sucked.

We are determined to avoid that in Tokyo from now on (thank-goodness for their picture based menus). Last week we were out with our orientation guide (who was explaining the area to us) and we walked past a little hole in the wall Japanese restaurant a few blocks from our house and we asked her about it as a lunch destination. She looked incredulous, “No I don’t think so, it is very local. Very Japanese” We all said excellent, lets go in.

Not a single English word in the place, tiny and filled with locals. The food was amazing and reasonable (set menu – 900 yen each). When in doubt, go local.

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I had a sashimi dish. Fish on the top, seaweed toppings and a poached egg. It was amazing.

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