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First trip to Japan

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I'm heading to Japan in May, and I'm extremely excited. I just found out today (it was a surprise Christmas present) and I'm starting my research on day 1, even though I have 5 months!

I've read that Jiro only accepts Japanese reservations at the original location - is this true, or dated information?

I'm also wondering how much of a barrier not speaking Japanese will be, and whether I should start learning it asap (if that's even possible!).

I've started researching the Japan board and I'm also looking at "first visit" threads, so I apologize if this has been asked before. Just my way of starting to collect information.

Also, my SO has a shellfish allergy. Will that be a great issue in Japan? Will communicating that also be a significant issue? I'm going to make certain that she brings a number of Epi pens regardless.

My SO loves Tempura, I'm a fan of sushi and ramen, so those are the types of places I'll be researching. Of course, somehow being able to go to Jiro would be the highlight of our trip. I understand they only take reservations for the following month a month prior.

I would also love to have a great steak and visit *the* fish market as well.

I'm gathering that I should eat at:

Ryugin
Mikawa Z
Mizutani

(so far!)

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  1. Tell the SO they've got 5 months to take care of their allergy :)

    1. Justxpete: for what it's worth, I have a daughter with a fin-fish allergy (she can eat shellfish without problems), and she lived in Tokyo for 5 years without issue. Other countries, different story. And she was surrounded by people who ranged from competent in Japanese to fluent. But again -- zero problems. As long as you explain it, and as long as you enjoy the ebi and so on while she looks on disapprovingly, should be ok. I would have someone write it out in Japanese for you, but most places will know the basic allergy profile (musician Mike Doughty told me the only Japanese he knows is "I have a shellfish allergy" and it works for him). Ok, now on the main question -- I have always loved Ryugin and highly recommend it. For tempura, I always direct people to Hatanaka, which for me is the right mix of neighborhood place and high end. As with all recommendations, YMMV, but I love that place and have gone maybe 20 times. And in Tsukiji, what I tell all visitors is to evaluate the line at Sushi Dai, and if longer than 20 people go to Ryu Zushi (this link explains I think http://www.tenkai-japan.com/2012/12/0...) and I generally get raves from visitors. On everything else, the others on the board are just plain better than me at directing and recommending.

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      1. re: VCB133

        Thanks comforting. Thanks VCB!

        I saw another post on the main page about someone travelling with an allergy - I've decided to both bring laminated written and picture cards - just so that we can avoid any incident as much as possible. I was forunate to have found this so quickly - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9246....

        Thanks for your advice on those restaurants. Will definitely check out both.

        Many thanks.

        For now, the research continues!