Things I miss about Japan – Traditional Healthy Treatments and Food (part1)

28 Feb, 2011


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Japan has a lot to offer, including delicious food! The Japanese cuisine offers a large variety of dishes. A lot to talk about!

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Acupressure And Shiatsu Massage Explained

For a little help with understanding body energies andsuch, I spoke to Jamie Bacharach, Licensed Acupuncturist and the Head of Practice at Acupuncture Jerusalem. While plenty of people harbor doubt in regards to the power of qi, there is no denying the relaxing effect of these comparatively gentle massage types. Both of these Asian techniques are similar and I’ve found both to be equally helpful.

Acupressure Massage, Bacharach explained to me, is “a traditional Chinese healing technique that is derived from acupuncture. It employs pressure, with the hand, fingers, elbow, or other devices, on acupuncture points rather than using the traditional needles, to stimulate the body’s natural self-healing abilities.” When acupressure points are pressed, they release muscular tension and help blood circulation and the body’s “energy” to aid in healing.

“In order to remedy the ailments of the body, energy flow needs to be regulated and restored to its proper patterns and levels,” Bacharach explains. “The process of acupressure, which abides by the same principles as acupuncture, is capable of righting the wrongs in energy flow.”

An illustration of Chinese medicine.


Shiatsu is a Japanese type of massage therapy that uses pressure specifically applied with the thumbs, fingers and palms. This pressure is applied to the same “meridians” (focal points) as acupressure but incorporates more stretching to balance between the points. It also includes techniques such as rolling, brushing, vibrating, grasping, and in one particular technique, pressure is applied with the feet on the persons back, legs and feet.

Actual acupuncture has never seemed to help me, but I did experience tremendous relief and relaxation with these methods. There is scientific evidence correlating body and mind, so if you are a big believer in Oriental alternative healing, that will most likely help increase the benefits from these two techniques.

Deep Tissue Massage Therapy

This is the most aggressive of the techniques I’ve tried and is certainly not for everyone. One can be left pretty sore after a session, prior to the longer term benefits kicking in. Deep Tissue Massage Therapy is a focused, or targeted, technique designed to relieve severe tension and lack of flexibility in the muscle and the connective tissue, and is often recommended for individuals who experience consistent pain, are involved in heavy physical activity, such as athletes, and patients who have sustained physical injury.

It is important to note that the term “deep tissue” is not the same as “deep pressure.” Deep tissue work is a separate category of massage therapy, employed to treat particular muscular-skeletal disorders and ailments, and uses a certain set of techniques and strokes to achieve relief. A therapeutic “deep pressure” massage can be any that is performed with sustained strong, occasionally intense pressure throughout an entire full-body session, but does not address a specific complaint like deep tissue does.

Anyone who’s been in Japan knows that there’s a lot of different fast-food chains, and I’m not just talking about the junkfood places like McDonalds or Burger King. These are shops with typical Japanese food. The food is cheap, it’s healthier than junk food and it’s fast! On average the waiting time is about 5 minutes until it’s served. Also, most of the shops are open 24/7! So it’s perfect after a night of clubbing. You don’t have to search long to find one, just like convenient stores…they’re everywhere!

This is one of my favorite fast-food dishes. The カツ丼, katsudon, a bowl of rice topped with a deep fried pork cutlet served with miso soup. This costs about 400 円 in total (€3,56)! It doesn’t look like much, but after this I’m always stuffed. Most of the time I can’t even finish it!

This shop is specialized in 海鮮丼, kaisendon. It’s basically a sashimi rice bowl; rice topped with raw fish.. Of course, any type a seafood dish in Japan is especially fresh and tastes amazing. You usually eat it with some soy sauce and wasabi, yummy.

This is Gyudon, a bowl of rice topped with onion and beef. This is very popular and inexpensive type of fast food. The most common dish served in these low-price fast food restaurants (like yoshinoya and sukiya). In my opinion the first few times is ok to eat, but after a while it’s just not that great anymore. It gets boring very easily. But I have to say, Remi still loves it even after so many times… And compared to the crappy fast food we get here in Holland, I’m secretly also craving for some Gyudon!

Miso soup, pork, coleslaw and “black” rise. Supposedly it’s very healthy (the rice).  Another set meal for a very reasonable price, about 680 円.

Another カツ丼, katsudon set meal, my fave. Always with a salad set to get enough veggies.

One of Remi’s favorite set meals at Sukiya. Maguro, shredded raw tuna with rice. Eat it like sushi, with soy sauce and wasabi. This place was a 2-minute walk from our house in Tokyo. Very convenient for those lazy I-don’t-want-to-cook-days.

My set meal at Sukiya, pork, rice, salad and soup. Cheap, fast, good!

Being away from home made me miss Chinese food a lot! So every now and then we went looking for our favorite Chinese food. This time we went to a food court in a department store in Shibuya. There is a restaurant which specializes in Chinese (Cantonese) food. When I saw this dish on the menu I had to order it! It’s rice porridge with 1000 yr old egg. It was pretty good!

Remi ordered his favourite Wonton-noodles.

On this picture we’re having diner in China Town, Yokohama. China Town is pretty big in Yokohama, which means there are a lot of different restaurants. But they all sell about the same food. Usually they offer set meals for about 2.000円 to 3.000 円 per person, which contains about 3 different dishes + soup + desert. And like always they serve too much food!

This restaurant was near our school at Suidobashi. We biked by this place on our way to school, and every time we pass this it’s always PACKED during the lunch break. So one time we went here during diner time to see what the fuss was all about. The food was pretty cheap and quality was ok.

I was also craving for dim-sum for quit some time, but I just couldn’t find a place to eat dim-sum in Tokyo. And this restaurant had something resembling dim-sum!! The sesame-balls on the top left corner of the picture I just had to order, it was the closest to dim-sum I could get. :)

We ate this dish at one of our regular (cheap) ramen places. It looks like a Chinese dish, with crispy noodles and vegetables with pork. Really nice!

Moving on to…Curry! Usually I wasn’t a big fan of curry dishes. I only ate the curry at 明治大学 (meji daigaku), a university near our school.  During my first semester (when I still had morning classes) we used to go to 明治大学 for lunch. The restaurant for students was located on the 19th floor (if I remember correctly..). So besides cheap-ass food we also had an awesome view of Tokyo.

This picture was taken at CoCo Curry house, read our review on CoCo Curry.

One time our friend Ninja took us to eat curry, we just thought it was normal curry but this was totally different! The restaurant had a type of Arabic + hippie style vibe to it. The type of curry they serve was a soup base curry with rice on the side. With chicken and veggies in the soup. Just dip your spoon with rice in the soup and eat. It was nothing I had tasted before, so different from normal curry. Kind of a fresh taste, and so damn good! There were different levels of spiciness, just like CoCo Curry. I, of course, had the non spicy curry, because I don’t like spicy food.

To be continued! In the next “episode”… ramen, udon, sushi and more!!


4 Comments to “Things I miss about Japan – Traditional Healthy Treatments and Food (part1)”

  1. 28 February, 2011

    Everything looks so good. Cant wait to go to Japan soon

  2. maGz
    1 March, 2011

    I had a huge craving for 星州炒米 when I was in Japan but didn’t find a place that had it…..but so far been pretty lucky since most of the food places I’ve encountered did serve decent dishes. Even the bentos from the “konbinis” have yet to fail my expectations. :)

  3. So-kwan
    1 March, 2011

    Ow my goodness!! This is soooo NOT good to look at during midnight!!! Gosh I am desperately craving for some GOOD Japanese food now!

  4. 19 May, 2011

    Japanese cuisine is simply my favorite.
    Japanese are known for their superb cooking technique,
    and it definitely shows on how their food’s look and taste.
    Haven’t tried this though, but would surely wish to get a bite someday.

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