While we are on the subject of food…   We have discovered many interesting and new foods since we have lived in Japan. One of the most unusual is shirasu. Shirasu is also known as “whitebait” — and is the juvenile form of several fish species, including herring, anchovies, and sardines. These “baby” fish are harvested in large numbers from local coastal waters — including Sagami Bay southwest of Tokyo.

We first tried these tiny fish — usually only a one or two centimeters in length — when we attended a dinner at a local restaurant. When they brought out a salad, there were these tiny white “things” sprinkled on top. They were tender, and tasted mildly “fishy” and salty, and were not unpleasant at all. On close-up inspection, we found that they were in fact, tiny whole fish… head, eyes, tail, fins, and all!

In the supermarket, they sell plastic containers of these tiny fish — most of them cooked (boiled), but some raw, or dried, and they are relatively inexpensive. I have never actually bought these from the store, but plan to soon try my hand at making shirasu-don myself.

“Don” in Japanese means a bowl of rice. So, shirasu-don is simply a bowl of rice with shirasu on top. Usually there will be assorted vegetable or seaweed toppings, and grated ginger as well. Sometimes it will be served with fish roe or raw fish (sashimi) too. And a complete set meal –“teishoku” in Japanese — will be served with miso soup, and Japanese pickled vegetables — “tsukemono.”

We recently took a short day trip to Enoshima Island while our daughter was visiting, and stopped in at a local restaurant for their signature dish — shirasu-don. We enjoyed it very much. It was delicious — once you get past the knowledge that you are eating baby fish. Totemo oishii desu!

Enoshima Island — A short train ride down the coast from Tokyo. Enoshima, in the summertime is the quintessential “beach town” with surfing, swimming, and sun-bathing. 
The view from Enoshima Island. In winter, there is a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji from the island. In summer, the coastal haze and humidity usually obscure views of the mountain.

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My husband and I were both born and raised in Kansas, but for the past 20+ years we have been living in Atlanta, Georgia. Now, with our children grown and out of the house, we have the opportunity to spend two years living in Tokyo. My husband will be working with the Japanese counterpart to his American company. UPDATE 2023... After 4-1/2 years in Tokyo, we returned to Atlanta. Now we are heading to London for a three year job assignment!

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