• 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 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 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!

  • Spotlight on the Mai Tai

    The mai tai is a delicious cocktail reminiscent of the tropics. Every talented bartender who works in a cocktail lounge should know how to make this drink. There are many variations of the mai tai. Some people like to add pineapple juice, for example, and some add a little rock candy syrup.

    As you’ll learn by watching the accompanying video, the base ingredients for the mai tai are Jamaican rum, rhum agricole, lime juice, and dry curacao. Mai tais should be served poured slowly into a full glass of crushed ice, and garnished with a fresh sprig of mint.

    House of Genji is famous for fabulous drinks, and one of our specialties is the mai tai. Call our Japanese restaurant in San Jose at (408) 453-8120 to inquire about our cocktail lounge or request a reservation for an authentic Japanese dining experience.

  • 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.


  • What to Wear to Happy Hour

    After a long work day, hitting a local cocktail lounge for happy hour is a great way to unwind. During happy hours, you can usually expect drink and food specials, so it’s a terrific chance to try out something new while spending time with friends. House of Genji’s cocktail lounge offers unique drinks and Japanese food favorites to share as you get rid of the stress of the day. Many people who want to attend a happy hour wonder what the dress code is. Whether you’re coming straight from work or dressing specifically to go out for happy hour, these looks will serve you well.

    Use a Blazer to Go from Office to Cocktail Lounge

    A blazer can be your best asset if you want to take a look from work-appropriate to cocktail lounge-friendly. Consider wearing a dress that is the right length for the office but that has some upper-level detailing, like a crisscross neckline or sheer neckline, which might otherwise be wrong for the office. Wear a blazer during the day to tone down the edgier details of the dress, and then leave the blazer behind to show off your style during happy hour. The blazer trick can work with lots of different looks, so you can transition from daytime to happy hour easily, without running home to change.

    Aim for Smart-Casual

    Depending on the dress code of your office, you can find a look that works in both environments by going for smart-casual style. With this look, skip the dress-downed jeans in favor of trousers, tuxedo pants, or slim-leg slacks, but top things off with a casual, patterned tunic, embellished top, or crisp T-shirt. Choose heels or ballet flats over tennis shoes for a look that works in your meetings and over drinks.

    Look to the Accessories

    Accessories can easily take your outfit from office to happy hour. Trade out your conservative earrings for chandelier styles and swap your simple chain for a statement necklace. Changing your shoes can also easily make your look happy hour-friendly.

    If you’re looking for a great happy hour, try the cocktail lounge in San Jose at House of Genji. You’ll love our drink specials and Japanese food and may even decide to stay for a teppanyaki dinner. For more information, call us at (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.