Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kobe: How Do People In Japan Stay So Slim?

There's food everywhere you turn.

You can't walk twenty paces in any direction without arriving at a bento vendor or a vending machine. On the JR (Japan Rail) trains, quiet girls with ready smiles push carts stuffed with snacks and beer down the aisles. Business meetings often seem to be centered around the activities of eating and drinking.

Yesterday, we took the bullet train from Tokyo to Kobe, where we met up with National Association of REALTORS leadership, as well as our group of Washington REALTORS leadership and staff. Once we checked in to our hotel (We have a beautiful room at the Portopia Hotel; see our view above), we headed out to a casual restaurant where we were treated to a multi-course dinner, served in the manner we call "family-style" in the States. You know, where there are large portions served in the middle of the table, and everyone helps themselves? Anyway, the Hyogo REALTORS had made the reservation for us and planned the menu.

Since I'm vegan, I knew I wouldn't be able to eat a lot of the offerings, so I made an instant meal at the hotel and ate before we left. BIG MISTAKE. Once the restaurant hostesses saw my appetizer sitting there, untouched, they asked one of our interpreters why I wasn't eating. I'd prepared a list of foods I couldn't eat, and Kat (she's a REALTOR in Portland, Oregon but grew up in Kobe and is here visiting family) communicated what my restrictions were. The staff then began bringing me all manner of vegan edibles, and I had to ask Kat three times to ask them to stop bringing me food.

There was a lot of food. I mean, there were twelve of us, and we couldn't finish it off.

This morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. One of the things I'm enjoying is having a wide variety of foods at breakfast, and staying away from Western standards like cereal and toast. While Mr. Wright was having sausage and eggs this morning, I ate all of this:

Coffee; tomato juice; a salad with wild greens, seaweed and sesame dressing; grapefruit juice; miso; edible wild plants with soy sauce; burdock and carrot broiled in sugar and soy sauce; a selection of Japanese pickles, including pickled plums, pickled Chinese cabbage, pickled cucumber, and nozawana; fresh grapefruit, pineapple and lichi.

This afternoon, we're going to a ceremony for the Hyogo Real Estate Association's 50th anniversary. Oh yes, there will be food.

Did I mention everything seems to revolve around eating?

1 comment:

  1. I know I'm going to butcher this, because it's been awhile. I took a cultural sensitivity course during my studies in business, and we learned things like which companies think it's rude to be late, on time, or early, e.g. So, are there any customs you had to observe in Japan? You know, along the lines of, finish everything on your plate or risk offending someone..that kind of thing? Love ya, sis!