• Japanese Good Luck Charms: Maneki Neko

    Maneki Neko—sometimes called Fortune Cat—is a staple in many Japanese restaurants and stores. Maneki Neko is supposed to bring good luck to its owners, which is the reason for its popularity. The waving cat is often found by cash registers in order to attract fortune.

    Maneki Neko literally means beckoning cat in Japanese. In English, in addition to Fortune Cat, it is sometimes called Welcoming Cat, Lucky Cat, and Money Cat. If the cat’s left paw is raised, Maneki Neko is said to attract customers. If the right paw is raised, it is said to attract money. Sometimes, both paws are raised, which is said to attract money and customers and to offer protection. The colors on the Maneki Neko also have special meanings. For example, red is for success in love and green is for good health.

    If you love Japanese culture, why not enjoy some Japanese food at House of Genji? We offer teppanyaki, hibachi, and much more at our Japanese restaurant in San Jose. For more information, call us at (408) 453-8120.

  • Celebrating Spring with Bunkyo Tsutsuji Matsuri

    Japan is home to many springtime festivals, and Bunkyo Tsutsuji Matsuri, or the Bunkyo Azalea Festival, is one that attracts people from all over the world. This festival is one of five flower festivals held in the residential Bunkyo ward in Tokyo, and it is packed with a variety of attractions, from Japanese food stalls to an antique fair. Here is what you need to know.

    Nezu Shrine’s Azalea Gardens

    The Bunkyo Azalea Festival takes place at the Nezu Shrine in Bunkyo. The shrine was built over 1,900 years ago by Yamato Takeru-no Mikoto, and the azalea garden was established about 300 years ago. There 100 different species of azalea plants in the garden, which consists of approximately 3,000 plants in total. Among the azaleas are some very rare varieties of the plants, Karafune, which has black flowers, Hanaguruma, which has flowers that look like pinwheels, and Fuji-tsutsuji, which has flowers that are about the size of a bean. There are also seven different structures to explore on the site, which are all designated Important Cultural Properties of Japan.

    Festival Attendance

    Although the specific dates of the festival change annually, it is always held between April and early May, when the flowers are in peak bloom. In addition to exploring the grounds, there are plenty of festival stalls on site with different wares, including Japanese food such as manju dumplings. Amazake and green tea are also typically available. There is an antique fair on site and viewings Sanjuroku kasen-e paintings twice per day. The festival is open from 9 AM to 5:30 PM daily, and there is a small admission fee to walk through the garden.

    At House of Genji, we give you the chance to experience Japanese traditions a little closer to home at our Japanese restaurant in San Jose. We offer teppanyaki dining at lunch and dinner, plus a variety of other Japanese entrees. You can learn more about our menu by calling (408) 453-8120.

  • What Is Breakfast Like in Japan?

    When most people think of Japanese food, they picture things like teppanyaki, ramen, and sushi, but they seldom think of breakfast foods. What exactly is breakfast like in Japan? As it turns out, the answer varies greatly, depending on location and preference. Here is what you need to know.

    Japanese Hotel Breakfast

    Most hotels in Japan offer what they refer to as a traditional breakfast. When staying in a hotel, you will likely be offered grilled fish, rice, nori, onsen tamago, and a selection of Japanese pickles. This breakfast is increasingly less common outside of hotel settings however, particularly because of the amount of time it takes to prepare. Some hotels are also starting to move away from this traditional breakfast towards more modern offerings.

    Breakfast at Home

    At home, breakfast in Japan looks very different. Most people eat thick slices of toast with butter instead of rice, especially young people. They accompany it with ham and eggs, and often, a green salad is part of the meal. Salads are a very common part of breakfast in Japan. When a salad is not served, another vegetable is usually served instead. People who do have rice for breakfast at home still usually accompany it with a salad, eggs, and ham. Other breakfast meats, including sausage and bacon, are also sometimes enjoyed instead of ham. In some parts of the country, natto, or fermented soy beans, are eaten with rice instead of eggs, ham, and vegetables.

    Breakfast at Coffee Shops

    Going to a coffee shop for breakfast is very popular in Japan. The meals served in the coffee shops depend on the region, but they often include udon, buttered toast, toast with azuki paste, mochi, and various tempuras. Some places also serve salads and even hot dogs, and of course, coffee is an important part of the meal.

    At House of Genji, we have your Japanese lunch and dinner covered, with our full menu of Japanese food favorites, from teriyaki to teppanyaki. Whether you need a business launch with your co-workers or a fun night out with friends, you’ll love the menu of classic dishes at our Japanese restaurant in San Jose. Call us at (408) 453-8120 with your questions about our menu and more.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A Look at the Awa Odori Festival

    In Japan, the Obon season in mid-August is marked by dance festivals across the country. One of these festivals is Awa Odori. “Odori” means to dance and “Awa” is an old name for the Tokushima Prefecture, where the dance festival is held. It takes place from August 12-15. Thousands come every year to enjoy the “Fool’s Dance.” There are lots of activities during the daytime, and you can expect to find many Japanese food stalls scattered throughout the area.

    The main dance event takes place during the evening hours. Groups of dancers, called “ren,” wear colorful uniforms and play musical instruments as they dance in a procession. The city center of Tokushima is turned into a huge dance arena with multiple stage platforms. Paid seating areas are for viewing professional groups of dancers, while free seating areas are for watching more casual dancers. If you plan to travel to Japan for the Awa Odori festival, you should book your hotel reservations months in advance, as this festival is very popular.

    Even if you can’t travel to Japan, you can still enjoy authentic Japanese food right here in San Jose. Call (408) 453-8120 to request reservations at House of Genji, which offers teppanyaki.

  • Exploring the Beautiful Art of Japanese Calligraphy

    Writing is usually only considered to be an art form when one is discussing works of fiction. But in some cases, the letters and words themselves can become dazzling artworks. The art of Japanese calligraphy has been practiced for centuries by people of all ages, of all social classes, and from all walks of life.

    The High Regard for Accomplished Calligraphers

    The Chinese and Japanese cultures alike regard calligraphy with great respect. Some hold it in higher esteem than sculptures and paintings. Pablo Picasso once said that if he had been Chinese, he would have become a calligrapher instead of a painter. And according to the China Institute, an ancient Chinese scholar is recorded as having said, “Calligraphy is images without real features, music without real sounds.” In Japan, you’ll find many homes with sets of calligraphy tools. In primary schools, calligraphy is a required subject. In Japan, calligraphy is regarded as being a practice of philosophies as much as an art form.

    The History of Japanese Calligraphy

    Japanese calligraphy is referred to as “shodo,” which means “the way of writing.” Shodo was introduced to Japan from China during the fifth century. Calligraphy became more widely used with the introduction of Buddhism, as it was used to print the Buddhist sutras. Copying these sutras by hand, rather than merely reading them, was used as a form of meditation. During the Heian Period, from 794 to 1185, shodo began to evolve and look distinctive from Chinese calligraphy. This deviation continued and expanded during subsequent centuries.

    The Styles of Japanese Calligraphy

    Three primary styles of shodo are practiced today. Kaisho is the standard or square style. It features “blocky” characters that most closely resemble Chinese calligraphy styles. Since it’s the easiest style to learn, most beginners start with kaisho. The second style, gyosho, is semi-cursive and more artistic, with strokes that flow together. Sosho is cursive and abstract. The strokes are done quickly and gracefully. There is an emphasis on aesthetics over legibility.

    You can experience Japan’s rich cultural heritage at House of Genji. Join us for delicious, expertly prepared Japanese food in San Jose. If you have questions about our hibachi grill, cocktail lounge, or teppanyaki, call (408) 453-8120.

     

  • Why Shouldn’t You Stick Chopsticks Upright in a Bowl of Rice?

    Every culture has its own dining etiquette rules, and Japan is no exception. One important point of etiquette to remember when dining in Japanese restaurants is to never put your chopsticks pointing upwards in a bowl of rice. For people who are not accustomed to eating with chopsticks, this can seem like a natural thing to do, but it is actually a faux pas in many Asian countries.

    Putting chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice is done at a person’s deathbed, just after their death, or in front of a picture of him or her at a Buddhist alter. The tradition, called tsukitate-bashi, is meant as an offering to the person’s soul. It is also considered to be bad luck. Note that placing chopsticks in rice this way is also an etiquette faux pas in China.

    Test out your knowledge of chopstick etiquette while enjoying delicious Japanese food at House of Genji. Get more information about Japanese dining in San Jose by calling (408) 453-8120.

  • What Is the Holiday Season Like in Japan?

    Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, but plenty of Americans celebrate the holiday in their homes, or at Japanese restaurants. Japanese New Year is celebrated from December 31 st to January 1 st , just like in America. Here is a look at the holiday season in Japan.

    Japanese Christmas Traditions

    Both Japanese and American people celebrate Christmas in Japan, though they do it in different ways. Americans may hold traditional Christmas parties, dinners, or gift exchanges in their homes, or at a Japanese steakhouse or cocktail lounge. Japanese people have adopted many American Christmas traditions, but have modified them to be uniquely Japanese. They celebrate Christmas Eve by eating Christmas cakes, or having a romantic date at a fancy Japanese restaurant or hotel. Japanese businesses decorate with trees, ornaments, and lights.

    Typical New Year’s Eve Activities

    New Year’s Eve, celebrated on December 31 st , is one of the most important holidays in Japan. It’s customary to visit a shrine or temple in Japan on New Year’s Eve to pray, eat, and socialize. The temples ring 108 bells at midnight to symbolize the 108 human sins. People may travel to visit loved ones and be with them on New Year’s Day. Children are traditionally given small envelopes of money. Families may hold a banquet or luncheon in their home on New Year’s Eve.

    New Year’s Day in Japan

    Most business close on December 31 st , and reopen on January 3 rd to allow families to spend time together. Families eat traditional Japanese food and socialize in their homes. On January 2 nd , it’s tradition to watch the Emperor of Japan speak at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The palace is only open to the public on January 2 nd and December 23 rd .

    If you’re interested in experiencing Japanese customs, Japanese dining, and authentic Japanese food in San Jose, visit us at Genji Japanese Steakhouse and Cocktails. We serve delicious Japanese food, from traditional sushi to teppanyaki-style meals cooked on our hibachi grill. To make a reservation at our Japanese restaurant, call us today at (408) 453-8120.

  • Understanding Forms of Japanese Cuisine

    If you enjoy fine Japanese dining, you may be interested in learning more about the delicious Japanese food you eat so often. Authentic Japanese food is flavorful and varied, and a traditional Japanese restaurant should provide typical Japanese dishes that are infused with the chef’s own personal flair. Here are descriptions of Japanese food that is commonly found on the menus of respected Japanese restaurants and Japanese steakhouses.

    Authentic Japanese Sushi

    Authentic Japanese sushi is only made from the finest, freshest raw fish that has been delicately and expertly prepared by a master of Japanese food. Traditional sushi ingredients include tuna, squid, and prawns. Sushi is often served next to or on top of vinegared rice, pickled ginger or radishes, wasabi, cucumber, or a sweet egg omelet. Raw fish that is served without a garnish is called sashimi. Sushi can also be prepared by wrapping fresh fish or vegetables and vinegared rice in dried seaweed.

    Traditional Teppanyaki-Style Japanese Food

    Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese food that utilizes a hibachi grill or teppanyaki grill to cook meat, eggs, rice, and vegetables. Chefs at Japanese steakhouses will prepare and cook a variety of Japanese dishes on a teppanyaki grill that is directly in front of the diners’ tables. Teppanyaki dishes include beef, shrimp, scallops, lobster, chicken, and vegetables that are grilled with soybean oil. The dishes may also include rice or noodles cooked in vegetable oil or peanut oil.

    Japanese Soba and Udon Noodles

    You will often see soba noodles and udon noodles on the menu at traditional Japanese restaurants. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, and udon noodles are made from wheat flour. Both noodles are typically served in a flavorful pork broth along with eggs and fresh vegetables, or are stir-fried with vegetables and meat.

    The next time you’re craving authentic Japanese food in San Jose, visit us at Genji Japanese Steakhouse and Cocktail Lounge. Our menu includes fresh sushi, teppanyaki-style Japanese dishes, savory appetizers, and delicious cocktails. To experience Japanese dining at its finest, call us today at (408) 453-8120 to make a reservation.