One thing foreigners visiting Japan should be sure and try is "real" ramen. Thanks to its cheapness, virtually everyone in the world is familiar with instant ramen noodles like Cup Noodle, and I sure ate my share during my days as a poor college student. The difference between instant noodles and the real stuff found in Japanese ramen restaurants, though, is like night and day. Although you might think of ramen is being a Japanese dish, it originated in China around the start of the 20th century, and within Japan ramen is considered Chinese food, on par with gyoza dumplings and spring rolls. (They even write the name for it in katakana, as it's a foreign loan word.) Ramen comes in one of several basic soup flavors, with the most common being shoyu (soy sauce), followed by miso (my own favorite), shio ("salt" flavor), and so on. I love ramen now, but it took me a few months to work up the courage to try many different kinds of the noodles when I first got here -- I was bowled over by the naked variety of ingredients, many of which I couldn't identify, that it took time for me to take it all in. Although you can probably find a ramen shop within twenty meters of you at all times in Japan, I recommend you try a yatai, or outdoor ramen stand, which is a wonderful icon of Tokyo; it's fun to talk with the Master while you eat. If you fancy yourself a ramen fan, plan on visiting the Yokohama Ramen Museum next time you're in town. Besides various displays on the history of the noodles, you can wander a perfect recreation of a 1958 Tokyo street and dig your chopsticks into the noodles of a bygone era.
Would you like pickled bamboo shoots with that?