Semester at Sea is not a cruise, it is not a vacation: it is a voyage. And, during each port, I have come across ‘mini voyages’ within, one of those being a two-hour adventure through the Nishiki open food market in Kyoto, Japan. After a long day of touring temples and gardens, I went to the market with friends for a snack. As one can imagine, I got a lot more than a snack.

 The Nishiki Market stretches multiple blocks of the streets of Kyoto, selling everything from tourist samurai headbands to freshly cracked open sea urchins. Wondering through the stalls, there were tables of freshly caught fish and other sea creatures for as little as a dollar. You could also buy a variety of fried delicacies, gourmet snack nuts and crackers, and matcha ice cream. Although I gave the daunting sea urchin as well as some questionable takoyaki octopus dumplings a try, my favorite find was fatty tuna. An older Japanese man sliced off three sashimi-style pieces of tuna and handed it to me with a small cup of soy sauce and a pair of chopsticks. The tuna melted in my mouth; it was so fresh and lacked the fishy taste that I have often come across in restaurants in the U.S..

Something I came to appreciate as I examined each of the stands was the generous amount of samples and encouragement to try new and interesting looking foods. The market was full of traditional Japanese dishes, many of which looked as though they should not be put in your mouth; however, I’m glad I felt bold enough to try a few plates. What’s the strangest food you’ve ever tried?