Things to do: Have your dinner blessed by a Koyasan monk

Things to do: Have your dinner blessed by a Koyasan monk

Posted on Sep 18, 2013 in History of Japan, Japanese customs, Stories about Japan, Things to do, Where to eat |

Monks have taken over the menus at restaurants in the posh Shin-Marunouchi building in Tokyo to offer real soul food. Throughout the weeklong Koyasan Cafe event, diners can fill their stomachs and their spirits with Buddhist-inspired dishes. Koyasan Cafe takes its name from the spiritual center of Japanese Buddhism, Koyasan in Wakayama Prefecture. Also known as Mount Koya, it is the last resting place of the eighth-century monk Kukai, the headquarters of the Shingon sect he...

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How to drink… Shochu (Japanese gin or vodka)

How to drink… Shochu (Japanese gin or vodka)

Posted on Sep 16, 2013 in History of Japan, Japanese customs, Japanese technology, Things to do, What to buy, Where to drink |

While sake is familiar to millions outside of Asia, shochu is the drink of choice amongst the Japanese. Since 2003, shipments of shochu within Japan have outstripped sake and the trend shows no sign of reversing. Shochu can be made from barley, sweet potatoes or rice and is distilled like whisky, unlike sake, which is brewed similarly to beer. The shochu is then aged in oak barrels giving the drink more kick (it averages around 25 percent alcohol, rising to 40 percent for...

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