The other day I had lunch at a demure little restaurant in Matsumoto called "Urashima". The restaurant is in a historical (circa 1863) earthen-walled storehouse ("dozou" or "kura" in Japanese). I personally love these types of buildings and was excited to see one getting put to good use as a restaurant (instead of being torn down and replaced by a prefab house like they do here in my city).
Urashima refers to a Rumplestilskins-type Japanese legend where the hero (Urashima-taro) wakes up from a nap to discover it's decades later. In the case of this restaurant, old Rump, err, Urashima would feel quite at home in its old-fashioned interior and historical exterior.
The restaurant's basic menu has simple meals featuring a lot of fish. I had the miso-stewed mackerel and it came with a salad, pickled vegetables and a bowl of miso soup.
I since found out this is the basic foundation of Japanese cuisine: "Ichiju Sansai", meaning "One Soup, Three Side Dishes". Japanese cooking at its simplest. Contrast that with American cooking which, when you get down to the fundamentals, is basically "Meat and Potatoes". That would make for a great Nichi-bei Kankei (American-Japanese Relations) research topic -- debating the relative advantages of Ichiju Sansai vs. Meat-and-Potatoes.
That will have to wait for another day. For today, it's simply to enjoy a basic, healthy meal at a 150-year old storehouse in Matsumoto.