Since the 17th century, soba (buckwheat) noodles have been a staple in the Japanese diet. These tasty noodles are as thick as spaghetti and are eaten either in a hot broth; or chilled with a dipping sauce. Throughout Tokyo, you’ll find soba noodles in a variety of settings - from fast food shops to expensive specialty restaurants. The most traditional soba dish is mori soba, which features chilled soba noodles with chopped green onion, wasabi, and tsuyu (a dipping sauce mixture of soy sauce, soup stock, and a rice wine called “mirin”). Eat soba like a local – use your chopsticks and slurp the noodles noisily to enhance the flavors!
Developed in the 3rd century, sake (Japanese rice wine) is Japan’s national drink and an important part of the country’s culture. Sake has evolved over time, but in its most basic form it’s produced by fermenting rice, water, koji mold, and yeast, then filtered to render a clear (sometimes yellowish) liquid. The flavor profile of sake is relatively mild, but can be crisp, rich, and fruity as well. Today, there are roughly 10,000 different varieties made by 1,800 Japanese sake brewers. The Japanese drink sake to commemorate important events such as holidays, births, deaths, and other formal ceremonies, and they also pair it with most meals. Enjoy a cup of sake hot in the winter or cold year-round.
Did you know, Japan is the only country where you can see professional sumo wrestling? Considered a Japanese martial art (gendai budō), sumo wrestling is a competitive full-contact sport where a rikishi (wrestler) tries to force their opponent out of a dohyō (circular ring) or attempts to throw, push, or shove their opponent to the ground. At Tokyo’s indoor sporting arena, Ryōgoku Sumo Hall, you can join some 10,000 sumo fans to watch the country’s national sumo tournaments each year. The arena also offers museum tours where you can learn about this ancient form of wrestling.