Posts Tagged ‘Tokyo’

Tokyo-Yokohama-Kyoto!

November 18, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been a nice three days since the last blog. Wednesday I woke up early in Tokyo and visited the Tsukiji Wholesale fish market (where they have the famous 4am tuna auctions).

wp_20161116_08_23_40_pro-1It was just two stops away from my hotel. I’ve come to love the Tokyo metro system. Of course the market was closed that day (they have one “set holiday” per month and this was it) but the restaurants in the outer market were still open. I tried steamed oyster with ponzu sauce, grilled crab in its shell with miso paste, and then went to a sushi counter for some pieces, and finished off the meal with a mochi with a strawberry in it.

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Then I had a meeting and worked the rest of the day. There were some stores I visited in Shibuya, which has a famous crowded crosswalk.

For dinner I visited the neighborhood of my hotel again, near Hamamasutcho and Daimon stations. I’ve decided that’s my favorite neighborhood now. It’s really low key, quiet, and the little restaurants are filled in the evenings with businessmen getting totally hammered!

wp_20161116_20_15_02_proI walked around to find a good atmosphere intending to eat whatever was good. I decided on a restaurant that, when I walked in, the manager beamed! So welcoming. It was small, just 8-10 seats or so. He was super animated, fun, and very slightly heavier than average and didn’t speak English. I asked for no smoking? he said “yes smoking!” but I still ate there because it seemed like this guy would take care of me. I let him know that i’d eat whatever he thought was good. There were all sorts of dishes including some potato salad with something on it, I had to ask. Kind of looked like a sausage. It was “fish eggs” but honestly it was like a whole womb. I ate it all because that’s what’s respectful. And I like salty foods, and enjoy trying to figure out why people like to eat certain things if at first I think they are disgusting. At that dinner I got to eat all sorts of “presents” like edamame and extra special sake.

wp_20161117_14_42_45_proThursday morning I woke up and had a meeting, the first one I was able to find on my own 🙂 and then took the train to Yokohama, which took only about 45 minutes. Yokohama is its own city but very close to Tokyo. Some people live in Tokyo and commute to Yokohama. Some people live in Yokohama and commute to Tokyo, but really only if they want their kids to go to the international school in Yokohama.

wp_20161118_10_34_57_proI had another meeting in the afternoon there, worked, walked around the main shopping street, ate dinner, not much else. This morning I finished work and took the Shinkansen, the bullet train, to Kyoto where I’ll be for the weekend. The bullet train is very cool, and obviously very fast. I’m staying in guest house here in Kyoto. It was a little difficult to find it, and “check in” but that was because I was a early for the reservation but the issues turned around quickly.

wp_20161118_16_14_54_proI went to Fushimi Inari shrine and had a “road soda” of Kyoto beer on the walk there:) and then stayed wandering around the shrine until dark. It’s on a mountain, which you can climb up and the entire way is covered with gates. At the bottom it was so busy, but at the top it was very peaceful. There must be at least 100,000 of the gates, so cool! On my way down I stopped for a matcha latte and then visited Gion area. There are a ton of shops and restaurants. It was a little busy for my taste at that point but I took a deep breath and appreciated it.

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I walked around for a while visited a “leek-themed” restaurant and sat at the counter and got more “presents.” The chef let me taste things when I looked curious. I’m always curious and tried things that were only on the Japanese version of the menu, not for English speakers.

Now I’m exhausted and excited to sleep on the Tatami mat.

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Hope you are well and have a great weekend!

Love, Annie

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Working Days in Tokyo: Rush Hour and Afterwards

November 15, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

The past two days have been great. I’ve just come from dinner of dumplings, radish salad, and sake.

wp_20161115_21_25_41_proYesterday I had the first experience with the metro at rush hour. It’s certainly crowded. At the entrance to some stations, the current of people is so strong it’s hard to get through. While the metro systems are pretty straightforward, addresses in Tokyo are not. Building addresses aren’t by number on street name, they are by section of block, which is not intuitive at all.

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There are many buildings in each block… I’m not sure how it works yet. Most of the streets don’t even have names. I was late for meetings yesterday and today because of this issue. For both instances I had to call the offices and someone came downstairs and found me. Fortunately, everyone understands the issue.

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After the meeting yesterday I had a lunch of eggs benedict at a fancy hotel, because that’s what I was craving. It’s survey, so I’m especially in tune to my own needs and cravings, and am in a pretty good position to satisfy most of them (the food ones, at least). I spoke to my sister during this lunch and she asked if Tokyo felt polluted. I said no (the city is very clean), but after thinking about it, I think there is notable air pollution. My eyes have been stinging. After lunch I priced the department stores in Ginza, the fancy shopping district.

 

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Everything is expensive in Tokyo except for panty hose. Really great quality panty hose from fantastic brands and tights are 1/3 of the Boston prices here. Even less, maybe. My excitement only partially translated to the employees at Mitsukoshi who helped me figure out the right size. I tested them out today and will head back to stock up before leaving the city.

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After the department stores I went on a search for Tempura. It was certainly a day of decadent foods. I found a corner bar and sat outside, drank sake, transcribed prices, and enjoyed the tempura. It started raining during the dinner, and the server/chef of the restaurant gave me an umbrella even though I told him he wouldn’t get it back. It was raining hard so I was thankful! Wow! After dinner I had a hair washing and drying appointment. They had warmed chairs. Mmm.

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Today I worked, ate chicken katsu for lunch, and then went to the Muji store :). Then I went back to the hotel and did some hand washing of my clothes. Then walked around the neighborhood of my hotel to find some dinner. I chose a place because of the atmosphere. Turns out it was a dumplings and chicken wings specialty bar so I’d eat dumplings. Yes, they were outstanding. I ordered the ones they recommend with three garlic icons on the menu and ate them with homemade spicy sauce mixed with soy sauce, as you do. There were some businessmen there getting so drunk! I didn’t get drunk, my plan for tomorrow is to wake up early and visit Tsukiji fish market for a sushi breakfast, then it will be a long day of work.

Hope you are well!

Love, Annie

Sunday: Ueno and Asakusa

November 13, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

Today was another big day. I woke early and walked to the Tokyo Tower area. There was a waiting list at the breakfast in my hotel so I ate rice crackers and bottled tea and espresso latte from Lawson’s to have something before a great option happened.

wp_20161113_08_52_33_proI visited a temple and then the Princess Park Tower hotel for work. I pretended to have work on the 33rd floor in order to go up to the sky bar and get a view. As you can see, worth it! After that, took the metro to Ueno. I walked around Ameyoko street, a market for cheap things and seems like a slightly shady area, and then around Ueno park. The park is huge. I ate some more gooey octopus pancake balls and tried some local foods from this Sunday event including a rice ball covered in sweet sesame paste.

wp_20161113_13_06_39_proUeno Park is home to the Tokyo National Museum so I visited that and saw among other things a special exhibit on Zen Buddhism. My museum stamina was low. It was crowded and it’s a lot to take in when already the entire city is like a museum where I’m constantly learning new things. Also, it’s hard to pronounce the names of the artists and subjects so it was hard to stay focused. But still I was there for a few hours and saw approximately 25,000 scrolls.

wp_20161113_14_11_24_proThen I walked to Asakusa, the next neighborhood over. The walk was through more local residential areas, which was great. Asakusa is fantastic. First I visited a tiny Isakaya bar and drank sake, did some transcribing work, and had small dishes including fried tofu with fermented bean stuff on top served with hot mustard. Then kept walking around through the kitchen-supplies sector, then towards the Sensoji temple.

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I had some matcha gelato from a multi-vendor complex that reminded me of Boston Public Market (so it was a little pricey not low-key, but awesome) and wandered around more. Asakusa is kind of far away, about 9 stops on the subway from my hotel’s stop, but without a transfer. I’d really like to go back there for some tempura over the next few days! It’s a really cool neighborhood with all sorts of low-key bars and shops.

It’s a full work day tomorrow and I begin with a meeting at 10:00am. I will try to go super early in order to avoid the rush hour metro traffic and find breakfast near the meeting. Hope you have a great Sunday!

Love, Annie