I have been in Tokyo for 36 hours and so far I am LOVING it!
Based on what I have done so far I am likely to come home very fat and with a lot of Japanese friends.
For example, I went to a sushi restaurant yesterday evening, and had not looked vaguely confused for longer than three seconds before a young woman sitting near me took me in hand. She couldnt (I have so far been unable to find apostrophes on Japanese keyboards btw. They have a lot of information on every key) have been more charming and with her help translating between me and the chefs ended up having a right old selection. Sea urchin roe – delicious. Sea eel – even more so. I discovered that she and her friend worked in a kaiseki restaurant, which for those unfamiliar with the word, is the serious top end haute cuisine of Japan. What’s more (found it!) he was the chef. So they really knew their food.
Next they decided to order a particular type of fish called kinko, a speciality of Hokkaido that was very rare, they said. Endangered? I didn’t like to ask. Either way, they had also decided that I would be sharing with them, and soon after this weird looking red fish arrived, in a sweet soy-based sauce with Japanese mushrooms and herbs. The kaiseki chef then took over, expertly dissecting the fish using only chopsticks and serving us small, beautifully arranged portions. I would’t be surprised if it was endangered because it is unbelievably delicious.
It all felt so comfortable, sharing food with these kind people, and as far as I can tell it is nothing out of the ordinary. Three seconds seems to be the average time for looking slightly confused about what to do next before someone will come up and ask if you need any help. OK so assistance provided by the slightly pissed low-ranking manager from the Asahi beer company wasn’t the most useful in the world, but he went out of his way to help me find mine, and it was a lot more fun.
Did I mention the food is really good too. Next post might be on breakfasts. I will try and sort photos soon too