Sunday, February 22, 2009

A final word on FOOD

A final word on the food in Japan. Which has been so so awesome. Great eats, fresh food, and the most stupendously awesome seafood.

Everyday on our way to the train station, we'd walk through a department store food hall. It struck me how the food hall can be found in Asia and Europe, but not the US. Ah, the Americans don't know what they're missing out on! And the Japanese food hall is the best of all... all kinds of fresh food each day, from bento boxes, to custard puffs, to tonkatsus, to bread, to... well, it's endless, really.

On the basis of recommendations, we also checked out some great ramen and tempura places around Tokyo. Here's a pic from Menya Musashi ramen, my favourite of the ones we'd tried.

Even fast food was great - Pepper Lunch had this item on the menu (see pic). Cubes of marbled beef that melt in your mouth. Aaah.

I only had one or two missteps. Mostly cos I would try stuff without knowing what they were. This noodle sandwich was not good.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Studio Ghibli Museum

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Studio Ghibli Museum. Home of Totoro!

The place was a real delight. Great for kids and Miyazaki fans of all ages. The entrance was built kind of like a tree stump and all around the museum were great detailed touches that evoked Miyazaki's style. No photo taking was allowed inside, so only photos of the outside, I'm afraid.

Inside, they had exhibits that explained the process of how an animator works - entire workspaces and desks were reproduced, showing the work tools of an animator at work, etc. Sketches were plastered all over the walls of characters like Totoro, etc. in development. What struck me was that at every work desk they showed, it seemed to be important for there to be a ashtray stuffed with cigarette butts! Kids, copious smoking is an important part of the creative process! Ha!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shibuya, Harajuku

Oops, I kind of dropped the ball on my Tokyo blogs for a while there...
(disclaimer: i don't think the first photo is of either Shibuya or Harajuku... but look at the pretty lights!)

We headed to more touristy spots after the first few days. Shibuya. Harajuku. Lots of people and great neon lights, etc. At Shibuya station, there's a monument to Hachiko, a beloved dog who used to wait for his master at the station every day when his master would return from work. As the story goes, one day, his master (a professor at a university) suffered a stroke at work and died and so he never returned. But the faithful dog still returned every day to wait.... for something like the next 10 years! So, anyway Hachiko because famous and beloved and there's a monument to him here now.

And can Hollywood just leave this heartwarming tale alone to the Japanese people? Nooo! Hollywood has to make a Westernised version of the Hachiko story, starring Richard Gere!! ARGH.

So anyway, Shibuya and Harajuku were very young and hip places, so I felt a little old and there was no way I could even shop there. (Though I hear Madonna does!) Went to the famous Starbucks at Shibuya (on the second floor) and took an obligatory photo of the famous crosswalk...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Japanese Beer Review #2

Clear Asahi.

Good beer! Refreshing, a little dry and... with a nice, sharp taste. Smelled good too.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Japanese Beer Review #1

Draft One by Sapporo.

Let's see, how shall I describe this? This beer goes down easy - smooth - but is not a worthy beer. Nothing special at all, kind of too sweet, no kick to it, and the it kind of smelled like... a foot.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Tommy Lee Jones is the Boss. At least of this one vending machine...

Tokyo is a very well-mannered and quiet place. Even on the plane on our way here, everyone was very well behaved and quiet. All day long I was overly-concerned about making social faux pas. Oh, you know, things I am likely to do, like talk loudly, blow my nose, eat while walking, etc. And I was already guilty of one repeated offence: I kept handing cashiers my money instead of PUTTING IT ON THE TRAY! Argh.

But the food, oh the food. At the airport, I had the Best Katsu Don In My Life, followed later that day with the Best Tempura Don I've Ever Had.

Next up: Beer reviews.