Two wonderful places to eat:
- Inakaya: A delightful Robatayaki restaurant (literally ‘fireside cooking’, left above). The cooks sit in the middle of a semicircle of tables, a buffet of raw ingredients spread around them. Point to what you want, they cook it. The food is served by the chef on long wooden paddles, extended across the room. (Beers are served the same way, it takes a lot of arm strength). The theater is the announcing of the various dishes and services by the whole staff, shouting in unison(Very samurai). On a good night, the drinks flow, the shouting increases, the place rocks. Watch out for the fish dishes that can add thousands of yen to your tab.
- Izuei: An amazing traditional Japanese experience (upper right). A dozen courses, taken slowly with discussion. Elegant presentation of the history by the owner. A geisha for conversation and dance. Eel as the main; truly fine sake to toast with. An absolute delight for the whole evening, everything prepared and presented to perfection..
A wonderful place to sit:
- Any night-time bar overlooking the city. It beats Karaoke, which is still everywhere. (Pokemon, however, seems to have totally disappeared).
- Wandering into a random store is a lot like entering US store, only with neater shelves, better presentation, and much more compartmentalization and signage.
- The key with Sake is to learn the numbering system that spans the spectrum from dry to sweet. Then you can triangulate a decent bottle by type and price, rather than packaging and color.
- Electronics stores are still wild and crazy fun but there’s not the same sense of being able to discover some wonder that won’t make it to world markets for another five years..
- Cash machines are dedicated to Japanese debit cards. For foreign cards, the only outlet is a 7-11 store. No other.
- There are still a surprising number of rickshaws around.
- The Japanese take care of the children: building custom goldfish bowls seems a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
- Mimes, like business meetings, are everywhere the same.
But I love the graciousness if people in shops, restaurants, and on the streets.
Everything is still amazingly clean.
And there was never a moment that the streets didn’t feel safe.
- The architecture is creative and fun, especially at night when things light up in every direction. Especially in the Ginza.
- Remember how we used to smile at the way Japanese tourists always took pictures everywhere they went? We’ve outpaced them now.
As always, more pictures at my Flickr page