• 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.

  • Exploring the Hirosaki Castle Yuki-Doro Festival

    When most people are thinking of visiting the Hirosaki Castle, they think of cherry blossoms and springtime. However, while the cherry blossoms are certainly a major attraction, the castle is also home to the Yuki-Doro Festival that attracts visitors during the winter. Yuki-Doro Festival translates to Snow Lantern Festival, and it features lanterns built from snow by locals, as well as Japanese food vendors and snow-covered pines.

    The Yuki-Doro Festival at Hirosaki Castle takes place across five days each February and is one of the five major snow festivals in the northern Tohoku region. This part of Japan experiences harsh winters and heavy snow, and people travel from across the country to take in the winter scenery. The festival is free to attend and is easy to access from the JR Hirosaki Station.

    House of Genji might not be able to offer snow, but we do offer tasty Japanese food and fun Teppanyaki dining in San Jose for your entire family to enjoy. You can learn more about our menu and cocktail lounge by calling (408) 453-8120.

  • Sake Breweries You Can Tour in Japan

    For many people who visit Japan, drinking sake is an important part of experiencing the culture. Not only can you enjoy sake alongside Japanese food in most restaurants, but you can also get a behind-the-scenes look at how sake is made by visiting various breweries across the country for tours. Not all sake breweries allow visitors, but many welcome guests for tours and tastings. Note that most sake brewing happens during winter, because breweries rely on the cold weather to maintain the cold temperatures needed for the fermentation process. Here are some of the breweries you can tour in Japan to see how sake is made.

    Suehiro Sake Brewery

    The Suehiro Sake Brewery is located in Fukushima Prefecture, and it is one of the most popular sake breweries in the country. Suehiro sake has received many awards in Japan and overseas, which is why it is such a popular destination. They offer a tour of the brewery that shows how they use the Yamahai method to create their sake, though be advised that the tour is only offered in Japanese. If you don’t want to do the tour, you can still visit the brewery to see their museum, enjoy their tasting bar, and purchase sake from their gift shop.

    Sawanotsuru Sake Museum

    Located in Kobe in the Hyogo Prefecture, the Sawanotsuru Sake Museum offers both a historical look at the history of the beverage and a tour of the in-house Sawanotsuru brewery. The tours are free, but if you are coming with a large group, make a reservation to avoid missing out on a tour.

    Ishikawa Brewery

    The Ishikawa Brewery offers something for everyone, since they brew both sake and beer. On tours of the brewery in Tokyo, you will get to sample a variety of their products and purchase the ones you like. You will need to reserve a spot on the tour at least one day in advance.

    Sake is the perfect accompaniment to a variety of Japanese foods, and at House of Genji, you’ll find sake on our menu alongside beers and creative cocktails crafted in our cocktail lounge. Contact our Japanese restaurant in San Jose for more information at (408) 453-8120.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Must-Try Japanese Salads and Sides

    A visit to a Japanese restaurant is a feast for the senses. The aromatic sauces, delicious flavors, and pleasing textures combine to produce an exceptional meal. Bring your appetite, as there’s lots more to the Japanese dining experience than just the entrees. There are also plenty of delectable salads and sides to try.

    Seaweed Salad

    The next time you go to a Japanese steakhouse, consider starting your meal with a small seaweed salad. Seaweed is packed with nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that support healthy thyroid function, gut health, and even cardiovascular health. Salad recipes can vary from one Japanese restaurant to the next, but generally, seaweed salad is made from reconstituted, mixed seaweed and a dressing of rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and ginger juice.

    Edamame

    Edamame is a perfect appetizer or side. Edamame is young, flavorful soybeans. When served as an appetizer or side, edamame is typically salted and left in the shells. It may also be served with a dipping sauce. Although the shells are not eaten, you can place the whole shell in your mouth. You can then work the soybeans out of the shell, and you’ll get the flavor of the salt or sauce at the same time

    Tempura

    Tempura has been a traditional Japanese side dish since the 16th century. Its creation was inspired by the fritter-cooking techniques used by Portuguese residents of Nagasaki during that time. Tempura is usually vegetables and seafood dipped in a light batter and fried. If you’re a vegetarian, you may order only vegetable tempura.

    Asian Fusion Chicken Salad

    Some diners prefer a salad as their main entrée. This delicious salad offers protein and vegetables in one dish. Chicken breast is lightly battered and fried until crispy. It’s served over fresh greens, rice vermicelli, cilantro, and cashews, and tossed with an Asian-style dressing.

    You’ll find a full menu of delicious entrees, salads, and sides at House of Genji—a Japanese steakhouse in San Jose. To inquire about our hours, call (408) 453-8120. We’re open for dinner seven days per week!