Chef Toshio Tanabe serves up a a $110 dirt dinner at his French-inspired, Tokyo-based restaurant Ne Quittez Pas. CNN's Alex Zolbert digs in and puts the mud where his mouth is.
Bad news for food-obssessed travelers to Japan.
Unagi - the sweet broiled eel dish that's one of Japan's best eats - may soon be going the way of shark's fins and fish balls: it gets overfished (check), it gets put on an endangered list (check) and it gets banned from restaurants (maybe).
The Japanese Ministry of the Environment officially added Japanese eel to its Red List of endangered fish on Friday, reported Yomiuri Shimbun.
Read the full story - Japanese eel becomes latest 'endangered food' - on CNN Travel.
For Tokyo locals as well as visitors, Tsukiji fish market has long defined the heart, soul and, most importantly, the stomach of this hectic metropolis.
But after 78 years in operation, the beloved Tsukiji fish market will close forever after 2013.
The Tokyo metropolitan government recently released its design for a new wholesale seafood market set to open in 2014.
According to the Asahi Shimbun, the new market will be located in a few kilometers from the Tsukiji market in a complex in the Koto Ward and spread out over 408,000 square meters of floor space.
Read the full story on CNN Travel: "Iconic Tokyo fish market to close, replacement design unveiled"
What linked them, and other famous faces, was their promotion of Japanese whisky, each sipping it in TV advertisements like it was nectar of the gods.
Bill Murray's sardonic character in "Lost in Translation" may have mocked the image of sophistication that Japanese whisky manufacturers liked to portray from the 1970 to the 1990s, but since 2001, Japanese whisky has been steadily picking up awards and gaining the plaudits of international whisky connoisseurs without the need for a knowing smirk or wink.
Being waited on hand and foot now comes at an affordable price in Tokyo. A new butler-themed cafe in the Japanese capital is proving a hit with young females in search for a relaxing afternoon, an English lesson and just as importantly the chance to interact with friendly foreign men.
Shibuya's "Butler Cafe" in the heart of the city has surroundings that bring to mind a Victorian grandmother’s sitting room, with classical music, ample accents of lace and more hearts and roses adorning the furniture than can possibly be counted.
A chopstick making company has whittled down broken baseball bats so sushi can be shoveled with a swing.
Hyozaemon specializes in traditional hand-crafted eating utensils and in 2000 introduced their "kattobashi" chopsticks. The name is a play on words combining the Japanese word for chopsticks, "hashi," with a familiar chant heard at Japanese baseball games.
About 20,000 bats, used and abused by pro and amateur players, turn up at Hyozaemon's workshop each year. So it's a good bet the bats of Godzilla himself, Hideki Matsui, in his pre-Major League Baseball days, will have ended up on a Japanese dining table at some point over the years.
Some sushi lovers are extending their passion for Japanese cuisine into the world of arts and crafts. From clothing to candles and jewelry to children's toys, rice rolls and sashimi are inspiring all manner of crafty marvels.
Giulia Negro, a 24-year-old Italian, fell in love with sushi years before she tasted it. “I love sushi’s elegant shape and vibrant color. I decided to explore making bracelets,” she said.
Sarah Worley lived in Japan, but only when she returned to her native United States, did she find sushi that she had never seen in Japan - uramaki with rice outside the seaweed. Now, her handmade "inside-out" sushi earrings seem to have almost as many fans as the rolls themselves.
During a Japanese tea ceremony, remember to slurp the last drops of tea from the bowl.
Among all the etiquette and quietude of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, the slurping might seen out place, but it’s a more than acceptable way of saying thank you.
“Nosily drinking the last of the tea means that the guest has enjoyed it,” says Shirai Yayoi, a tea master for over 50 years.
Over that period she has perfected all the elements of “chado” that when translate to English is closer to “tea-ism” than tea ceremony. It’s more apt, too, as all the training of a tea master and the rituals of the ceremony date back to Japan’s medieval samurai society and are underpinned by four principles from Zen Buddhism: harmony, tranquility, respect and purity.