But more about the food.
So many different things are available in green tea (matcha) flavour. This baked cheesecake was worth a try. Green tea sorbet was definitely the best. I tried green tea icecream too, but the bitter taste of the tea went best with sorbet.
I promised a friend menus (or photos of them), started strong and then ran out of steam, oops! I know it's not a fancy look, but having photos on the menu was immensely helpful as we don't speak or read Japanese. And even cheap and cheerful places almost always served very good quality food.
I did like this regional menu/beer guide.
Fukagawa-meshi (rice boiled with clams). Not vegetarian.
I am actually not that fond of eggplant. (Call the vegetarian police!) Still, to be adventurous, on our second night in Tokyo I decided to try the Japanese pickled version. It was an alarming shade of blue. It tasted....ok. I did like the matching plate it was served on. Almost everywhere we ate, we admired hand made and/or hand painted dishes.
Seriously very blue.
More special plates, this time in Kyoto.
I did have some odd meals. I'm not one to order plain salad as a meal, but sometimes I didn't have much choice - it tended to be the easiest thing for the staff to recommend. These large raw chunks would have been a pretty unsatisfying meal usually, but it sort of balanced out nicely against my lunch that day. We had ended up in a somewhat western-style coffee and pancake place for lunch in Shimokitagawa. They were out of vegetable lasagne, the quiche had bacon in it...what could I do but order (delicous) custardy pancakes for lunch?
Egg sandwiches from the 7-eleven or coffee shops helped to supplement a few meals. We also found that a single hard-boiled egg from one of the ever-present convenience stores was the perfect snack for Mum when she abruptly ran out of fuel too far out from dinner. (I wouldn't say she gets 'hangry' but it is best to deal with it quickly)
Cold soba noodles - and a Miyajima pale ale. This was dinner after our afternoon on the beautiful island of Miyajima.
I didn'd end up trying the coffee in the can but my sister did. Unfortunately we didn't work out which button to press to get an unsweetened one. We also searched fruitlessly for the fabled can from the vending machine that heats the coffee for you. Eventually we asked a helpful lady at the tourist information centre in Hiroshima (hey! they are there to help tourists, we had needs) and she explained that the heated cans are most likely only put in the machines in the colder months. Oh.
In Kyoto there was a lovely little cafe near our hotel, which served Western-ish breakfasts. We went there twice - I was almost a bit disappointed the second time when they gave us forks instead of chopsticks.
Rice burger. It's a real thing. This was at Miyajimaguchi, while waiting to take the ferry to the island. And it wasn't mine (not vegetarian).
Along with cold soba, okonomiyaki was one of the foods I was looking forward to. Minus bonito (fish) flakes for me. We only managed to eat it once, in Nara, and it was pretty good. It was a tiny little family-run place which seemed to only have two tables. I think Hiroshima is really where we should have sought it out, but we only had two half days there, and weren't in town for dinner. So it goes.