March 12, 2008

Tokyo Trip, Acapella, and Spring in the air

Mike has become a veteran Shinkansen traveler and on Monday again day-tripped to Tokyo. While he didn't get to see much of the city (beyond subways and conference rooms), what he did see seemed very nice. The area he was in was somewhat New Yorky (think around 59th Street), with fancy hotels, a nice looking nearby park, etc. From the few moments he got to walk around, it seemed that there were many more gaijin in Tokyo than in Kansai. And a lot more English. Its funny, but we've gotten so used to being among the only non-Japanese on the subways and streets, that (somewhat strangely) it was a little weird. We'll be back to Tokyo in early May in a non-business capacity, and we are excited to get to explore the city.

Before heading back on the evening Shinkansen, as is the tradition for Shinkansen travelers, Mike purchased his "dinner box" (ekiben, eki = station, ben = short for bento box) and beer for the train ride home. But this time, instead of buying from the scores of bento box sellers in the station itself, he got a good tip on a Daimeru Department Store that is close to Tokyo Station, and got a truly extraordinary sushi dinner-in-a-box there. (We've blogged previously about the amazing selection of foods that graces the basement floor of the big department stores like Daimeru, Hankyu, and Sogo)
Before we came to Japan, we read of the hard-drinking Japanese post-work culture and that public drunkenness was more accepted in Japan. Turns out to be true. This was validated by Mike's train ride home from Shin Osaka to Rokko Island after arriving in Osaka. Let's just say that there were some seriously inebriated fellas on that train at 10 PM on a Monday night.

Tonight, at Canadian Academy, we saw an a-cappella performance by the Yale Alley Cats, who are touring Japan. Apparently, over the summer they tour Europe. Pretty nice travel perks! Why didn't we join an a-cappella group in College? It was a fun show.

In other news, spring is in the air!!! The weather is creeping up into the 60's and flowers are started to bloom. The air feels springy. And it happened virtually overnight. We are looking forward to the next month or so weather wise. Soon, the cherry blossoms (sakura) will begin to bloom throughout Japan. And everyone (we mean everyone) in Japan is very into flower watching (hanami) to enjoy this short-lived part of springtime. We already have trips planned to Kyoto and Himeji (two prime spots, we hear) during early April to check it all out.


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jmgesq said...

You getting blog-spam?? Yech! I think you guys are busier than Jack and I were during vacation. Great stuff.

I'm not surprised though about the department store food - think Paris' Bon Marche'; Macy's Cellar; Bloomingdale's food store; London's Harrods and many many more.

On thinking on it, department stores probably should be the first place to look for great food!

Mike said...

I guess department stores are pretty good food choices. But it's hard to describe the breadth and diversity of food in these places in Japan. And when's the last time you got the best sushi you've ever had from Macy's Cellar? :)

(darned Blog Spam!)

jmgesq said...

True true...but hey, can you buy good bangers and mash in YOUR local department store??!