Hi all, I'm planning a trip to Japan in September. This is my second trip there-- I last went when I was 18 with my mother, which was 11 years ago, now.
Last time, we were staying with old family friends in Tokyo-- they are a mixed family-- so we had them to help us with the subway as well as all translation and menus. They were wonderful and took us by the hand and we did ALL the big Tokyo attractions, including all of Izu. I rarely had to think or read anything for myself. Though we had a wonderful time (that's why I'm going again), it was stressing-- the father was very controlling in regards to our activites, and they're having even more marital problems now they're older, so we're probably going to avoid all that stress this time around and do our own thing with hotels and stuff.
So. We are on our own. This time it's just me and my brother -- neither of us speak Japanese beyond phrasebook level.
So long story short. I went to the Tsukiji fish market way back when, but my mother couldn't stomach the thought of raw fish (sashimi?) so we had none in the whole trip. I'd really like to eat actual sushi (sashimi) done the right way, when we go back this time. I already know from reading around that the two most recommended places in Tsukiji are the ones with the queues, Daiwa and Sushi Dai-- that are amazing for the price (which is what we want).
My question is about the menu at these two places. Obviously, it won't be in English. How hard is it to order? How hard is it to be understood? I'm a newbie to sashimi/sushi so with a fairly delicate palate, and I don't know what to get (or what they all are) and pointing randomly and hoping that it's something I want worries me. Is it hard to order from traditional places with no english on the menu? It was a long time ago so I don't remember if most places had photos or not. Should I research and print out the names of what I want or something? Also, what's a good day to visit? I checked the Tsukiji calender and we'll be there from 3rd Oct to 7th Oct. What day would maybe be less busy? And what time?
I'm also going to be in Kyoto for 5 days and Osaka for 5 days-- we could possibly eat some sashimi there instead if there's anywhere someone recommends? But I'm guessing it's going to be more expensive. But if there's somewhere better out there definitely worth visiting, I'm all ears. I'd really like to change my brother's mind about liking sushi by giving him the real delicious stuff and not fishy Cali rolls.
I also have a question of good, gaijin-friendly places for Kobe beef in Osaka and Kobe, but I'll ask on another thread since I'm too verbose as it is. Sorry everyone and thanks.