• Your Guide to Japanese Tea Ceremonies

    Tea is integral to Japanese culture, and it is often enjoyed in the formal setting of a tea ceremony, which is a common practice in tea houses across Japan, particularly in the larger cities of Tokyo and Kyoto. Attending a tea ceremony can give you a greater sense of the rituals and traditions of Japanese culture, but there are some facts to know before you attend one—or plan one in your own home.

    Ceremony Origins

    Tea ceremonies celebrate the beauty of routine life, and they have very specific steps involved. These ceremonies are influenced by Zen Buddhism, and they provide an opportunity to appreciate life in the moment, since so much attention and full participation is required during the ceremony.

    Steps and Etiquette

    There are formal and informal tea ceremonies, known as chaji and chakai, respectively. Both have specific etiquette procedures to follow, but the chaji is much more elaborate and may actually last several hours. With each ceremony, there is a tradition of waiting for the host to serve you food and saying “Osakini itadakimasu” before accepting anything. This phrase translates to “excuse me for going ahead of you.”

    Following the food, the tea is served. With chaji ceremonies, there is a thick tea and a thin tea. In chakai ceremonies, only thin tea is served. When drinking tea, you should raise the bowl with your right hand and place it in the palm of your left with the design facing outward. Take a sip from the bowl, then wipe the rim and pass it to the next person.

    In Japan, choreographed rituals are a part of daily life. To experience a small taste of Japanese culture and customs right in San Jose, visit House of Genji for your next dinner out. We are a Japanese steakhouse and cocktail lounge offering a uniquely different dining experience for dates, large groups, or any other special occasion. Make a reservation at (408) 453-8120 or visit our website to browse our menu.

  • Drink Ordering Etiquette

    Bars can be busy places, and sometimes, it’s not clear how to get the bartender’s attention or how to order the drink you want. However, you should have a fun and relaxing experience at the bar of your choice, and you can plan for that with some simple drink ordering etiquette.

    This video can help you have a better bar experience with some helpful tips on getting the bartender to notice you and making sure that you get your order taken care of quickly. Simply making eye contact with the bartender is an easy way to get his or her attention and having your money ready to pay the tab will help the line move quickly.

    When you want to enjoy a cocktail in San Jose, visit House of Genji for some sake or other spirits in our cocktail lounge. When you want to make an evening of it, book dinner reservations at one of our teppanyaki tables. For more about us, head to our website or call (408) 453-8120.

  • Spotlight on the Japanese Raindrop Cake

    In Japan, food is not just something you eat. Preparing food is an artform, and each dish is therefore a work of art. As a result of this emphasis on visual details in food, some Japanese dishes are more about the presentation than the flavor. The Japanese raindrop cake is a perfect example of this trend.

    The raindrop cake is not much of a cake by traditional standards. It takes its name from the piece of nature it represents: a raindrop. It is completely clear and evaporates in just 20 minutes. The cake is mostly composed of water and is a largely flavorless dish, but it is usually enhanced with a bit of soybean powder and brown sugar syrup to make the dessert more palatable. Often, there will be an edible flower or pieces of fruit inside to add to the stunning visual appeal of the dish.

    If you love to have a visual experience along with your meal, then check out House of Genji in San Jose. We provide an exciting tableside hibachi experience, so you can enjoy your food being prepared as much as you enjoy eating it. Visit us online to learn more about our menu, or call (408) 453-8120 to make reservations.

  • The Sapporo Snow Festival

    There is no bad time of year to visit Japan, because there are annual festivities and traditions that take place throughout the year. If you are planning a winter visit to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, then you will not want to miss the Sapporo Snow Festival. This festival showcases a winter wonderland of whimsical ice and snow sculptures displayed throughout the city in three distinctive sites.

    What is it?

    During the Sapporo Snow Festival, the city is filled with snow sculptures, some of which tower overhead at 15 meters high and 25 meters wide. You can see the sculptures during the day, but you should also plan on a nighttime outing, as sculptures are lit each evening of the festival, which begins on February 4th and ends on February 11th.

    Where does it take place?

    There are three sites of the Snow Festival. Odori Park, where the festival originated, is where you will find the largest and most elaborate snow sculptures. You can see them up-close, but many visitors will choose to take a trip to the observatory of the Sapporo TV Tower for a more complete view. Ice sculptures can be seen at the Susukino Site, which is the city’s entertainment district. Finally, the Tsu Dome lets you get in the snow yourself and take a trip down huge snow slides at this family-friendly location. This site opens a little earlier on January 31st, so you can start enjoying the festival before it officially kicks off. Odori Park and the Susukino site are centrally located within the city, and a shuttle is available to take visitors to the Tsu Dome site, where parking is not readily available.