• 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.

  • Cultural Advice for New Travelers to Japan

    Traveling to Japan gives you the opportunity to experience authentic Japanese dining, customs, and entertainment. Before embarking on your trip, find out which Japanese restaurants and attractions you won’t want to miss. You should also take note of these common cultural customs you may encounter.

    Japanese Dining Customs and Table Manners

    Whether you’re eating at someone’s home or in a Japanese steakhouse, there are certain Japanese dining customs you’ll need to follow. For instance, don’t take a sip of your drink until everyone has been served. Once everyone’s glasses are full, someone will raise his glass for a toast, and everyone drinks at once. Japanese restaurants provide wet cloths for washing your hands before eating, and these shouldn’t ever touch your mouth or face. It’s customary in Japanese dining for guests to slurp their soup or raise bowls of Japanese food to their faces to make eating with chopsticks easier.

    Eating With Chopsticks at a Japanese Restaurant

    Japanese restaurants always provide chopsticks to their Japanese dining patrons. The majority of Japanese food, with the exception of soups and rice, is very easy to eat with chopsticks. Before leaving for Japan, practice eating a variety of Japanese food with chopsticks, including rice, sushi, and teppanyaki or hibachi style chicken and beef.

    Expectations About Tipping for Service in Japan

    No one who works in the service industry in Japan expects to receive a tip from a guest, including servers in Japanese restaurants, bartenders in Japanese cocktail lounges, cab drivers, or hairdressers. In fact, trying to tip someone is typically seen as insulting in the Japanese culture. The price listed or given to you is the extent of the price you’re expected to pay.

    For authentic Japanese dining in San Jose, visit us at Genji Japanese Steakhouse and Cocktails. Our expert chefs have created a varied menu of traditional Japanese food, including teppanyaki style meats prepared right in front of you on a hibachi grill. To make a reservation at our historic Japanese restaurant, call us today at (408) 453-8120.

  • Round Out Your Meal with These Specialty Japanese Side Dishes

    If you enjoy Japanese food, you should explore some of the delicious specialty dishes that Japanese restaurants have to offer. Japanese dining offers an array of healthy, yet savory side dishes and appetizers that will prove to be a delightful complement to your main course.

    Before eating teppanyaki-style chicken or beef, order an appetizer of deep fried pot stickers, served with soy sauce and rice vinegar for dipping. If you opt for the seafood combo, which contains fresh sea scallops, buttery lobster tails, and grilled prawns, consider a side dish of sliced, seared Ahi tuna. The ginger-soy sauce that lightly coats the tuna will be a surprising burst of flavor that nicely complements your seafood platter.

    If you’re looking for an amazing Japanese restaurant in San Jose, visit us at Genji Japanese Steakhouse and Cocktails. We serve authentic Japanese food in an elegant dining atmosphere, and our extensive menu includes appetizers, entrees, sushi, cocktails, and desserts. For more information, or to make a reservation, call us today at (408) 453-8120.

  • The History of the Cherry Blossom in Japanese Culture

    If you visit Japanese restaurants regularly, you’ve probably noticed that many decorating motifs incorporate cherry blossoms. The importance of the cherry blossom in Japanese culture can be traced back hundreds of years, and it symbolizes the fragile and beautiful nature of life. If you enjoy Japanese food and culture, keep reading for a brief history of the cherry blossom.

    Early References to Cherry Blossoms
    The earliest references to Japanese cherry blossoms are connected to Japanese folk religions, when cherry blossoms were considered a symbol of fertility and new life. People would travel into the mountains in the spring to worship the cherry trees. The first written reference to cherry blossoms can be found in the Kojiki, which describes the cherry blossom ceremonies and celebrations that began during the Tang Dynasty.

    The Cherry Tree as a Gift of Friendship
    In 1912, the cherry blossom was used as a symbol of friendship when Japan gifted 3,000 cherry trees to the United States. The Japanese government sent the cherry trees to Washington, D.C. to show the country’s respect for U.S. president William Taft. Since that time, the Japanese government has sent cherry trees to Brazil, China, Germany and Turkey as gifts of friendship.

    Cherry Blossoms as a Symbol of Hope
    In 2011, a tsunami and earthquake ravaged the Pacific coast of Japan. Thousands of people were killed, injured, or missing after the natural disaster. The growth of cherry trees in the region after the tragedy was seen as a symbol of hope, rebirth, and renewal. It encouraged the country to rebuild after the devastation and destruction.

    For a unique Japanese dining experience and authentic Japanese food in San Jose, come see us at Genji Japanese Steakhouse and Cocktails. We have been providing delicious teppanyaki-style Japanese food to the Silicon Valley area since 1971. Enjoy our fresh sushi in our cocktail lounge during happy hour, or have your next dinner party in our elegant Japanese steakhouse. For more information, or to make a reservation, call us today at (408) 453-8120.

  • A Guide to Visiting Sapporo

    Sapporo is the capital of the Japanese island state of Hokkaido. This vibrant, colorful city is home to many exciting cultural attractions and modern entertainment. If you visit in the summer, you can enjoy the city’s annual beer festival. In the winter, you’ll catch their amazing ice sculptures.

    Watch this video to learn more about Sapporo’s attractions. This travel guide highlights Odori Park, Tanukijoki Shopping Street, the Sapporo Beer Museum, the Central Fish Market, and Ramen Alley.

    Genji Japanese Steakhouse and Cocktails is the prime destination for Japanese dining in San Jose for anyone who is interested in Japanese food and culture. We offer authentic teppanyaki-style Japanese cuisine cooked right in front of you on a Hibachi grill. Come visit us for a meal, or call us today at (408) 453-8120 to make a reservation.

  • A Closer Look at Etiquette in Japan

    One of the most exciting parts about visiting an authentic Japanese restaurant is witnessing and participating in the customs of Japanese dining. You can watch chefs prepare delicious teppanyaki-style Japanese food on a Hibachi grill right in front of you. If you regularly visit Japanese steakhouses, take a look at these interesting rules of etiquette in Japan before your next Japanese dining experience.

    Chopsticks Japanese Dining Customs
    In Japan, slurping your noodles or soup is an expression of satisfaction. However, you should never belch while enjoying Japanese food, as it is considered very rude. To show your respect for the chef, you should eat everything on the plate, and put your dishes back into the position that they were originally served in. Each piece of sushi should be consumed in one bite. While most Japanese food can be eaten with chopsticks, you can pick your bowl of soup and drink from it.

    Beverage and Cocktail Lounge Manners
    According to Japanese dining customs, it is impolite to pour your own beverage. You should pour drinks for others in order of seniority, and another guest will pour your drink for you. Everyone should take their first sip together as a sign of respect, after which you can toast each other. On special occasions, the youngest member of the party serves the guests.

    Dining with Chopsticks
    When dining with chopsticks, you should always place the pointed ends of the chopsticks on a chopstick rest next to your plate when they’re not in use. Do not stick the chopsticks into your food, or place them crossed on a table. When sharing food with others, use a new, clean set of chopsticks to get food from the communal dish.

    If you’re looking for authentic Japanese dining in San Jose, come visit us at Genji Japanese Steakhouse and Cocktails. Our extensive menu of Japanese food is prepared right in front of you by our experienced chefs. For more information about our cocktail lounge and distinctive Japanese dining experience, you can visit our website, or call us today at (408) 453-8120.