Actually, this meal wasn't in Tokyo. One day of our Tokyo trip was spent in Iwate prefecture, visiting one of the Yakult factories, several hundred kilometres north of Tokyo. On the bullet train this takes just a couple of hours through the countryside.
Before the factory visit we were taken to the Chuson-ji temple in Hiraizumi. It's a famous Buddhist temple in very lovely grounds, and it attracts lots of tourists thanks to the 12th-century 'golden hall' - a mausoleum containing the remains of ancient leaders. I'd love to say I had a very lovely spiritual experience here, but unfortunately it was such a busy, touristy place, and we were herded around from place to place so quickly that it felt a little bit blank.
Lunch, on the other hand, was a definite bright spot in the proceedings. In touristy places around the world, finding good food is definitely a hit and miss affair, with more frequent misses. But in Japan good food is everywhere from train stations to fine hotels (it reminds me of Italy in that respect, where we ate splendidly one day at a truck stop on the motorway). So it should not have been surprising that even an organised group lunch in a touristy restaurant with gift shop attached would be delicious.
This meal was presented bento-style, all at once. As usual I felt a sort of food ADD... not knowing where to start or look first. So much demanded my attention. Here's the meal.
Clockwise from the left we have:
Salted fish with pickles (it was an oily fish, perhaps mackerel?)
Some yummy little tofu puffs with green beans
Sashimi salmon, shiso leaf and daikon
Cold noodles in broth
Also off to the right was a steaming little hotpot with a flame underneath it. In this pot was an assortment of vegetables and mushrooms in a flavoursome broth, and some wide sheets of what looked and tasted like rice noodle.
Everything was very simple but beautifully done.
Doesn't this all just look delicious? I got back on the bus happy.