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6.26.2009
Tokyo Culinary Adventures

Tokyo Culinary Adventures

Even without a foray into fugu or aburi toro-basashi, Tokyo still offers a cornucopia of culinary adventure. Blowfish and seared horsemeat sushi, respectively, are not worth attempting to sell to a 17-year-old daughter who, to her credit, did acquire a taste for fried octopus during her 10-day stay with a family in Fukuoka before our rendezvous in the capital city. That said, deep-fried cardboard would probably taste divine smothered in tartar sauce. Fish is the fulcrum around which the Japanese diet turns. One visit to the vast warehouse that is the Tsukiji fish market with its army of vendors and […]

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6.12.2009
Akihabara and Anime

Akihabara and Anime

Akihabara is ground zero for anime. There are umpteen places selling electronics too in this northeastern part of Tokyo, about five minutes from the Tokyo subway station, but 17-year-old Katie is here for the anime and she is not disappointed. Anime is Japanese animation. It’s something more than simple cartoons. There are numerous genres. Shojo, for example, is the trials and tribulations of pretty teenage girls. Shojo is so big its subsets have become new genres.  One is Magical Girl. Sailor Moon would be in this category, for those familiar with the anime art form. Vishoujo is a spicier, more […]

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6.11.2009
Of Asakusa, Grandmothers and Plastic Food

Of Asakusa, Grandmothers and Plastic Food

Asakusa is a quiet, traditional Tokyo neighborhood — once the tourist-fueled pandemonium of Nakamise Dori and the Senjoi Temple are escaped. Stepping out of the subway onto Kaminarimon Dori, the main drag, persistent salesman hawk rickshaw rides. “Empty,” one entrepreneur gestures quite accurately to the traditional human-powered transport. The whole scene screams tourist trap. But it’s a mere foretaste of what’s around the corner. Hunger drives the first few moments in this neighborhood in the northeast part of Tokyo. A visit to the Tokyo National Museum in nearby Ueno Park lasts too long. There is a screw-up on the subway […]

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6.10.2009
Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market

Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market

The action is starting to wind down at Tsukiji fish market. It’s around 7:30 a.m. Not winding down, really,  just morphing into a new style of frenzied mojo. Catches of anything imaginable aquatic – from cuttlefish to sea cucumber – have arrived three hours earlier, been auctioned off and now merchants in the cavernous girder-latticed warehouse are packing up product for existing buyers or talking up their wares to potential ones. Its delivery time, now. There are so many deliveries being conducted in such a rush that a police officer mounts a built-in platform to whistle order to the seemingly […]

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6.09.2009
Sending This Out To Mrs. Lucas:

Sending This Out To Mrs. Lucas:

“I want to be with you forever though the grasses of the whale-hunting sea come to shore but from time to time.”                     – Nihon Shoki song, translated by Janine Beichman  (Editor’s Note: Apparently this poem was left by hotel staff on our chief correspondent’s bed in Tokyo. His unprintable response is best translated as: “Damn those lousy whale hunting sea grasses!”) -30-

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6.09.2009
Editor’s Note:

Editor’s Note:

(Not surprisingly, our chief correspondent refuses to adhere to management’s directives. While in Tokyo this week, he was instructed to present impressions — with luck, insightful – of one the world’s great cities. Instead, his latest missive relates to toilets and, therefore, in the interest of family values, is being filed as an “Angry Man” screed. Management’s hope is that discriminating readers will not click on the “Angry Man” prompt in the left-hand column of this site and ignore the report altogether. Please be assured another letter of reprimand graces the personnel file.)

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6.09.2009
Tokyo Offers Some Opportunities for California

Tokyo Offers Some Opportunities for California

One of the aspects of Japan that feels particularly alien is the toilets, which appear to have recently seen duty on the U.S.S. Enterprise. On the first model closely encountered, along the right edge is a six-button control console. Beginning nearest to the wall, a button allows the seat to be heated. Next, a “stand-by” button lights as water gurgles into the bowl in preparation. Then comes a series of small horizontal hash marks which light to show if the level of water pressure has been raised or reduced. This becomes important with the next two functions. On a button […]

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6.07.2009
After a Day or So in Tokyo…

After a Day or So in Tokyo…

It’s hard getting used to the medical facemasks. Particularly when they’re worn by a team of guys in goggles, gloves and scrubs — one cousin removed from HAZMAT — who board the plane when it arrives at Narita Airport. They check for viruses, epidemics and inquire if anyone might have influenza.  Immigration officials are masked, as are the quarantine officials encountered first. Custodial staff at the airport, some flight attendants, renters of airport limousines, sellers of train tickets – the front line of possible infection. Many masks. The masks are common sights on subways. All the masks are white with […]

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