I am the trip planner whenever J and I travel. I get a strange sense of comfort and satisfaction from reading guide books and ruminating over itineraries, maps, and hotels. This is especially true in the case of Japan, since I know (or more accurately, knew) my way around, and since I have a laundry list of places that I am aching to revisit. Within about a week of booking our trip, I had almost entirely mapped out our journey and finalized our hotels. You could say I was more than a little excited.
When it comes to food, however, I encourage J to do the research and tell me where he wants to eat. To him, every vacation is about food, first and foremost. And while the culinary experience is a big deal for me as well, I don’t quite relish the idea of reading through countless posts on Chowhound and the like in order to find the most beloved foodie destinations.
Putting aside the challenge of navigating Japan, and particularly the labyrinth of Tokyo, I created a Google Doc for us to collaboratively plan our adventure. I have filled in where will be each day, with a column for “activities”, and another column for J to fill in, called “eating”. Here he can pull together his sources for the best food in a given area. The challenge, of course, will be in our ability to find these restaurants once we’re there, but we’ll cross that bridge later.
J started his research with the cities of Kyoto and Osaka. So far, he has bookmarked a chain called Yubanzai Komame-ya, specializing in yuba, a delicacy composed of fresh layers of the skin of soybean milk (in other words, tofu skin);
and Giro Giro, offering a modern take on Kaiseki (a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner), which has been widely well-reviewed. People particularly are drawn in to watch the chefs at work.
Of course, we don’t want every detail planned in advance. I hope we can wander aimlessly and let our noses guide us to some great hole-in-the-wall places as well.