Basic survival-- food!
When I went to check some other travel blogs I noticed that many of them had lovely displays of food pictures. As in "Here's what I ate in this terrific restaurant". It seems I have a lot to learn about blogging since I only took one photo of food in Japan!
Onigiri, the most common Japanese food to eat when on the go. It's a childhood staple for when students go on excursions (field trips for North Americans!) and when adults want a quick snack. Onigiri for Japanese children are the equivalent of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich for North Americans or the Vegemite sandwich for Australians, the Marmite sandwich for Brits.
They can be bought from any convenience store, it's crisp nori, with rice and then a different centre depending on which one you buy. I've been through the experimental phase when I lived in Japan so now I just buy this one it says "meyonesu shi chikin" as in mayonnaise sea chicken. Sea chicken (or shi chikin) is cooked tuna, so the centre is tuna mixed with mayonnaise. There are other centres the one I really dislike is the ume boshi which is sour plum, it's just a preserved plum in the centre of the rice. The other flavours (?) are written in Kanji (the Sino-Japanese characters used in Japan) and I've never memorised what the different ones are but I did learn katakana very quickly and so can read it and therefore always get an onigiri I like!
Onigiri are cheap and filling, the price is on this one its 110 yen, about $1.00.
Next universally loved by non-Japanese reading westerners.
The plastic food displays outside restaurants! Just point to what you want to order as you're illiterate and can't read the Japanese menu. Some more tourist friendly places do have English menus or picture menus, but I still love the plastic food displays.
Japanese shopping trolleys (shopping carts for North Americans, this is a linguistic tutorial!) never fail to raise a smile with me. Another thing from Japan that I love, to me they're just like little toy trolleys that children have. It amuses me to potter around the supermarket with one.
The concept of doing one large 'shop' of weekly groceries is not something that is common in Japan. Most women (and it's 99% women, it's very rare to see a male in a supermarket) shop every 3 days, freshness in ingredients is important to Japanese. (There are practical reasons as well, small homes so little storage) Therefore the shopping trolleys are small, you fill up one basket generally that's enough for a family for a few days and then shop again for the next few days worth of fresh ingredients. It is possible to use 2 baskets, one goes on the bottom, one on the top.
The basket has 'daiei' written on it as that's the name of the department store I was in, the bottom 3 floors was where the supermarket could be found. This was in the city centre part of Kobe, my local supermarket on Port Island was just one level with a few speciality stores in the strip mall you passed through to the supermarket.