as detailed here (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1010952), we took a somewhat last minute trip to japan with little food research. happily we still managed to eat very well, even if we didn't get into the most rarified places.
day 1 (tokyo)
lunch - okonomiyaki at sometaro
dinner - kotaro
day 2 (tokyo)
bfast - some eel joint at tsukiji with this really crazy guy behind the counter (apparently the owner's son?) in the stalls near sushi dai. it was this place: https://plus.google.com/1080006972130...
lunch - rokurinsha honten
dinner - sushi iwa
day 3 (kyoto)
lunch - takoyaki on pontocho street
dinner - manzara honten
day 4 (kyoto)
lunch - shinpuku ramen. daiichi asahi next door was closed.
dinner - gion murayama kaiseki
day 5 (kyoto)
lunch - omen udon
dinner - kaiseki at ohanaba ryokan
day 6 (tokyo)
lunch - ichiran ramen
dinner - KAN izakaya
day 7 (tokyo)
lunch - butagumi
our two splurge meals (sushi iwa and gion murayama, each about $200 pp) were actually not our favorites. i'd say iwa was very good, but comparable to very high end sushi in the US, so it wasn't entirely mind blowing to us. murayama started out very strong, but flagged near the end of the meal. i think part of the problem might be that we just aren't that wowed by traditional kaiseki, having had it in the US as well (rosanjin in NY). it's elegant and simple, but possibly too unadorned in flavor for us.
kotaro and KAN were both excellent and tons of fun. loved both places and got a little bit of a kick being the only non-japanese in either place. outstanding sake at both, and varied and interesting food. highlights were the kotaro pork croquette and beef cheek in broth and KAN horse meat sashimi. kotaro was our favorite meal of the whole trip. absolutely loved that place and the staff treated us very well.
of the three ramen joints, i'd rank them shinpuku > rokurinsha > ichiran. of course the differences are small - all three were excellent.
okonomiyaki was a new experience for us, and we loved it and sometaro. and butagumi was just amazing. got one lean cut and one very fatty pork belly cut. great pork, excellent breading.
overall, a wonderful first trip to japan. our appetites are whetted for subsequent visits.