Among my (Japanese) Souveneirs

Having decided that sentimentality has to give way to practicality when one has downsized and lacks room, I am making strenuous efforts to clear away the bits and bobs that one brings back from one’s travels.  I’m not talking the sort of souvenir that one puts on the sideboard or has pride of place in the hall, I’m talking about things like programmes, tickets and other ephemera.

And none that I have short-listed to be disposed of are causing me such a problem as these below.

The Menu on the right is not crumpled, it is the style of paper on which it is printed.

Hand-painted menus are a feature of most of Japan’s Ryokens (traditional Japanese-style hotels) and it was one of the pleasures of the meal to be presented with these delightful examples of Japanese art.  Not only were the delicate floral designs lovely to look at but the papers were all of a high quality, often marbled or embossed.  The smaller paper was usually the actual menu, folded and tucked inside the larger menu page.

The dishes on which the food was served were equally beautiful, dainty, thin porcelain bowls and plates on which the food was arranged so artistically it seemed wrong to disturb it just to satisfy hunger.  I will confess, I didn’t always enjoy the food.  There was an amazing amount of small dishes but the texture of so many seemed slimy (an overabundance of abalone in many cases), and when I did get a dish I could enjoy it was of minuscule proportions.

However, here are some pictures of the food.  Enjoy these while I try and decide whether I can throw away these lovely menus, or if I can think of another use for them.

All these pictures were taken by one of my travelling companions, Steve Moore, who enjoyed the food on every occasion.  I think it shows in his compositions.

There was usually one dish that had to be cooked personally, so a miniature barbecue or a dish of oil would be on the table (one for each person).  Nothing too difficult, small pieces of Kobe beef, fish fillets, that sort of thing.

As the menus were in Japanese we were never sure of what we were eating.  The waiter/waitress took great care to explain each dish but sometimes there was no translation for what we were faced with, something very pink turned out to be ginger, something that looked like a bean was a paste formed into the shape of a bean.

Imagine the time it took just to arrange these items on the plate.

And now, for something completely different.

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10 thoughts on “Among my (Japanese) Souveneirs

  1. I feel for you, Mari. I have half a drawer full of tickets and such, though nothing so lovely as these. I always half intended to decoupage a coffee table with them but I haven’t got there yet. 🙂 🙂 The food looks interesting but I doubt I’d be a fan.

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    1. The real thing is a far cry from the sushi and sashima stuff served outside the country. Isn’t that always the case though. I’ve never been a big fan of Japanese food but that didn’t stop me going there and I loved the country.

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    1. I don’t think I can. The more I look at them the more I like them. Maybe I’ll just keep them tucked inside a notebook – they won’t take up much room. With you on the slime – I’ve never even conquered my dislike of oysters enough to swallow them although I like them cooked.

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  2. No reply button on Jo’s Comment above, but just to let her know that she couldn’t afford a kimono (unless she was really going to push the boat out). They all seemed to cost in the region of £90 unless you want the nylon satin ones which you can even buy here in the markets. A nice kimono costs money, that’s why most Japanese hire them for special occasions.

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  3. My friends have placed menus/postcards and bits into frames and placed them on their shelves – it’s a nice way to keep them in sight!
    They’re very lovely – and that food is making me wish to go to Japan right now!

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