When I woke up this morning, my eyeballs felt like desiccated husks swarming with fire ants.  Compounding the issue was the fact that “morning”, in this case, was 3:37 a.m.  Following a series of travel-related delays, we didn’t end up checking into our hotel until 9:00 p.m. local time.  After grabbing a quick meal, showering, and trying unsuccessfully  to get a wireless connection in my hotel room, I turned in for the night a little after 11:00 p.m. – which was a little after 6:00 a.m. Vancouver time, meaning I’d been up for approximately 24 hours.  Following an early start to my day, I was greeted this morning by my very first earthquake (apparently there have been three successive shakes today).  It was a weirdly disorienting experience. Even though it was more of a sway than a shake, I felt off-balance, as if I’d “caught a touch of the vapors” as they used to say in the old days.  Akemi shouted “Earthquake!”.   I stepped out of the bathroom and insisted it was impossible.  I was sure I’d checked off the “no earthquakes” box when I checked in yesterday.

Anyway, here I sit in the business centre, updating today’s entry.  In an hour, I’ll be meeting my friend Keiko and heading out to Le Salon de Chocolat over at the Shinjuku Isetan.  Good times, but I miss my Tokyo wingman, Ivon Bartok.  Star Bar won’t be the same without him.

Thank you again to everyone who has left comments and touched base with me re: Maximus.  I do read all the comments, once when I moderate them and later at night, and truly appreciate your taking the time to write.

I leave you today with some travel photos:

Hmmm. When I got on the plane, I found this sitting by my seat. P. 12: Window of seat 1A keeps coming loose and getting sucked into left engine along with occasional occupant. Double-check on next flight.
I always enjoy the "if this plane has to make an emergency landing on water" announcements. Yep. We'll just land on that nice patch of ice down there. The secret is too think warm thoughts when treading water, waiting for rescue.
Akemi gets right back into Japanese fashion. This is a look I'd love to see Ivon rock the next time he's in town.
They say that nothing quenches your thirst like a nice hot can of corn soup.
We had a late dinner at one of the hotel restaurants. Among the many terrific items we sampled were these two interesting grilled selections: Japanese shisito peppers on the left, and chicken butts on the right (what my father would fondly refer to as "the Pope's nose"). Thought the latter would be a little meatier.
When we got back from dinner, there were a couple of surprises awaiting me. One was a designer belt and cashmere scarf from Akemi's father (domo arigato gozaimasu!). The other were these Dark Matter Kit Kats Akemi created and ordered prior to our departure. Pretty cool, no?

Speaking of my comic book series, Dark Matter, I did an interview with Bloody Disgusting over here: http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/news/comics/1870

And the awesome Garry Brown makes the Best Covers of January list for his work on Dark Matter #1: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/01/26/best-covers-ever-this-month-january-2012/

56 thoughts on “January 28, 2012: Tokyo Day #1! Earthquakes, interviews, and chicken butts!

  1. Where do we line up to sign up for – the T-shirt, the Kit Kats?
    Guessing we have to wait for the Joe’s Vancouver Foodie Gathering, eh?

    Ok…have to be honest, I also pinched a few Max photos from the blog.

  2. My mom LOVES chicken butts.

    I prefer hawt guy butts. 😀

    Re: Earthquakes. I experienced my ‘first’ earthquake a few months ago – the big one that hit the east coast. I thought I had a touch of the vapors, too, and went to get a phone to call for help, when I realized the whole house was moving. Very strange feeling. (It was really my second, but I was young with the first one and just remember glasses clinking together – I don’t remember how it made me feel.)

    Sounds like your trip is off to a good start…I mean the food, the scarf, and the WAY COOL Kit Kat bar! Akemi rocks! But please explain the surgical mask…


  3. Hello Joe,

    I just read the entry about Maximus, and was sorry to hear about his passing. I wanted to offer my condolences, and say thank you for sharing your and by extension his (and the rest of the pugs) life with us.

    Best wishes to you and everyone who Maximus brought joy to.



  4. Awesome Dark Matter Kit Kats 😀

    Looking forward to your daily photos and adventures in Japan. It’s always a nice treat that you share with us. Does Akemi love coming home or is Vancouver now more like home to her? What does she miss the most about Japan?

    Thanks Joe, have a great time 🙂

  5. Dark Matter Kit-Kats? A sure fire it that should go country-wide! They would have to use dark chocolate, of course.

    I do remember having a series of tremors here in New Brunswick back in the 80’s – like you say it just felt like you were having a dizzy spell, kind of off-balance. They were generally pretty small. Hmm.. we haven’t really had any since then.

    Where were you flying over that had so much ice? Did the plane head North? I remember when I went to Nepal that on the way to Hong Kong, the flight went from Toronto right over the pole and then “down” past China. There’s a lot of ice at the North Pole!

  6. Well FINALLY!!!!!! I see some food that I can identify with… pope’s nose!! Loved it since I was little. I take it as a personal affront if it is missing from the chicken I buy… nicely crisped, with a little salt and garlic powder, mmmmm

  7. I love those KitKats! How unique!

    And yeah, I know that feeling with earthquakes. They terrify me far more than tornadoes. Hopefully there aren’t any major ones!

  8. In Hawaii, there were a number of Japanese tourists wearing the masks. Think they don’t want to catch someone’s cold/flu. LOL, I had a mask for the my flights because of the plane cabin dry air. But, it is not really easy to breath through these things.

    I experienced my first earthquake in Hawaii in another lift, when there was a land shift on the Big Island that rocked the entire chain of islands. Living on O’ahu at the time, but slept right through it during the day because of midnight shifts. Did find all my books on the floor – in fact everything that was on shelves managed ending up on the floor. Highly recommend sleeping thru these things, you get to avoid that kinda sick to your stomach feel like when riding a ferris wheel and there are movments when gravity seems to stop.

  9. I did not know you could customize Kit Kats. I thought it was just M&M’s. That’s true love.

    Earthquakes? No thank you. I’m glad I didn’t experience any when I was at the American Idol finale in LA in May.

    Try to have a good time. Hope those eyes are feeling better soon. <>

  10. Kat Kats: Akemi never ceases to amaze me. What a clever and resourceful woman!

    The earthquakes are just Japan’s way of saying it’s happy to see you. I was greeted by one my first time in Tokyo in 2005. Followed a few days later by a typhoon. Good times.

    Pope’s Noses: must be an Italian thing. My mom calls them that, too.

  11. Those kit kats are awsome. Um whats with akemi and the hospital mask please explain in normal fashion? Chicken butts?

  12. Hi, Joe,

    Just caught up on the last couple days entries and i wanted to say how sorry I was to read about Maximus. It is so hard when the time comes to let go.

  13. EWW! chicken butts, I giggled when i read that, I guess I am not very adventurous in my eating choices,,but the peppers look tasty.
    Love the Kit Kat bar, how cool is that and you can use the scarf and belt, how thoughtful her dad was to do that. I read somewhere that when you visit Japan, you are supposed to take gifts, I bet you did that also. I have seen a few people do the surgical mask look here, some in casinos. germs everywhere I guess. And I believe Ivon could rock it also. Take care of yourselves and have a wonderful time. Keep sharing all your fun.

  14. I bet Akemi is very excited to be back home again. Glad she can break out her masks and not be out of place. I wish I could wear a mask and tell people to keep their germ ridden cooties away from me! Japan is still having earthquakes?! Oh my gosh! Can you show us a picture of Akemi’s parent’s house. I wanted to see what they looked like. All I know is the Hollywood image. (doors that slide sideways, pillows for chairs, eating on a low table while sitting on a pillow, etc) Love your Kit Kat! Would love to eat it too!

  15. cool kit kat wrapper, there’s a few odd flavors of those over there if i recall. a quick google search proves i’m right;

    if you’re looking for stuff for the weird food purchase of the day i had my brother ask about possibilities on an anime bboard he goes to;
    someone recommended ramune that comes in different flavors, like curry or wasabi. it’s usually available at village/vanguard (that’s the name, it’s not 2 places) and there’s the chance to find a strange soft drink or 2 at 7-11 or family mart type places.
    brief research on ramune brings up more odd flavors;
    kimchi, octopus, chocolate, flaming, sour, sweet & mystery. the wasabi flavor is available at tokyu hands. there’s a store in the ginza area (marronnier gate), shibuya, shinjuku, ikebukuro, lalaport toyosu, ktasenju and machida. not sure where you are in tokyo this time.

  16. @Cookie – My kids had the Berry Banana flavor of Fruitables juice boxes today. Yeah, that’s the one you get the check for because your picture’s on the package. The kids still thought they were getting a “sometimes food” treat even though the juice tastes like metal. It turns out the reduced sugar and smaller portion sizes don’t prevent kids from getting the sugar bonkers if they drink more portions. I ain’t complaining though because my toddler finally ate a full meal of solids when she came down off the sugar high.

  17. Being a California native, I’ve experienced my fair share of earthquakes. Every single time I thought I was just having a dizzy spell. Though from now on I think I’ll use your wording.

  18. Ya I totally hear you about the earthquakes especially the ones that are just big enough to feel but not cause any damage. The first and only one, I felt about 7 years ago in the midafternoon in what was at the time my 9th floor coquitlam condo. It felt like a sudden onset of nausea as the world began to sway like one feels after drinking enough to become “tipsy”. This went on for like 30 seconds and I only realized it was earthquake after I noticed my towels swaying on the towel rack and got all excited/scared/freaked out all the same time for a) being the first earthquake I felt and for b) what might come next… Fortunately that was the end of it and I don’t ever want to feel that again!

    The only thing I’m missing now is to be almost struck by lightning and experiencing a hurricane. Been through hailstorms, blizzards so bad you could see more with your lights out in the middle of the night than with them on, near miss of two very powerful tornadoes strong enough to put a single piece of straw through a telephone pole with the straw sticking out either side, and -40 weather with a -50 windchill topped off with a power outage. Nature is a powerful beast, that is for sure.

    Awesome Kit Kat!!

  19. Way to go with the kit kat….every time I watch Tokyo eye on NHK world I think of you walking around and wondering which parts you have been to.

    They visited a part where they have shutter art….making the place look great when the shops are closed apparently they open later…it is sort of a market area can’t remember its name but looks like a place you would love!

    Have fun!

    Kriss 🙂

  20. Have a great time Joe and Akemi. Looking forward to the Tokyo blog, possible weird purchases of the day, Akemi’s parents. Love the Kit Kat.

  21. I started reading your 27th blog at work and had to stop because I started tearing up again. Throughout his life and in the end, Maximus was in loving hands. And that says everything.

    Glad to hear you made it safely…and about that quake. You know I can’t help myself, so here I go. I actually had wanted to mention the quakes in Japan, but you’d been going through so much I didn’t want to add to your stress. It’s more than likely you’ll be feeling more of them. What you felt was an aftershock to the big quake in March. And a 5.5 will have it’s own aftershocks. But the shear waves were pretty much petered out by the time they got near Tokyo. That’s why it felt like you were on a boat in gentle swells. This one was on the mainland instead of offshore as so many other aftershocks have been, and it’s likely there was some damage with cracked walls and stuff falling off shelves at the epicenter. If you’re close to an epicenter it’ll feel like a jolt and then intense shaking. I feel so sorry for the Japanese people. They will be having years of this. Just remember – no doorways! If you’re outside of big buildings, get inside, it’s safer.

    I finally got a chance to read Dark Matter. It’s interesting and different. But being a newbie with graphic comics I’m a little lost in what to think. The story did pull me in, and it definitely had a cliffhanger ending that begs one to buy the next issue. But for me, I think I need to wait and read the series from start to finish in one read in order to really get a feel for it.

    Have a great time, butts and all!

  22. The KIT KAT idea is so cool!

    That was such a great idea, Akemi!

    ….wait a second, is this a hint about the storyline …is the big twist going to involve chocolate????

    The trade paperback is going to be scratch & sniff isn’t it

  23. Enjoy your trip! You’ll probably acclimate to the time change just as you’re leaving to return home.

    The Dark Matter Kit-Kat is COOL! WTG Akemi!

    As das said, I experienced my first earthquake here in NJ last summer. My office mate and I felt it, looked at each other, noticed everything in the office swaying and simultaneously got the F out of Dodge. Right out the front door. Everyone else in the office just kind of sat there in disbelief as we warned them to get out. It’s only a one story building, so we considered it safer outside.

  24. Morning here on the east coast…just getting up. *stretches like a putty tat!*

    Just want to wish you and Akemi a good…*checks interwebs for Tokyo time*…evening. And, Joe? Don’t eat too much. I know how you get in Japan. Macarons, ice cream, weird crap in cans, cod sperm…it’s like you turn into a human garbage disposal! So, be careful ’cause you don’t wanna ruin your girlish figure. (Because yes, those gigolo jeans of yours WILL make your butt look big!) 😀



  25. Does Akemi have a cold?

    People in Taiwan would wear the masks when they had colds or the sniffles (and sometimes in traffic to avoid car fumes). It was usually a sign they were sick (or thought they might be coming down with something). Not knowing any better, I would offer to shake hands, which was politely refused…it took me awhile to figure why 😉


    And here I was thinking the British “Fried liver and onion” potato chip flavors were odd…

    I re-read a lot of the comments about Maximus yesterday; for a small dog, he has had a large and wide impact on people’s lives. Joe, you were blessed to have him (and he was blessed to have you).

  26. @JeffW – Yum! I didn’t know they had that flavour, “Fried liver and onion”. Gotta find a friend in England….


  27. I grew up in California, so minor shakes and quakes don’t bother me. They were a regular part of life. I now live in tornado alley. Good grief. Tornadoes … {{{shudder}}}. Akemi is the best! That Dark Matter Kit Kat is awesome. I’m always bemused by the airplane emergency instruction of putting your head down near your knees. I always think it is less about survival, and more about being in a better position to kiss your posterior good-bye. I hope you two have a great time on the trip. I look forward to seeing photos from your Le Salon de Chocolat repast.

  28. Love the pictures! How cool is Akemi for that Kit Kat bar? Uber cool, Spamochi cool!

    I’m so glad the earthquake didn’t cause any damage. Was it an aftershock? I’ve only felt one earthquake and it was nearly 20 years ago in Memphis, TN. Memphis is built on a fault line, so everyone is waiting for the “big one” to hit there. Ironically, one of my friends moved to Conway, Arkansas. Conway has been getting a lot of earthquakes, up to 5.0 on the scale and nearly every month for a year. The news hasn’t covered their earthquakes because, I suppose, it hasn’t caused any damage yet?

    Have you thought about any kind of memorial for Max? A photo album/donation to a pug rescue or something of that nature. Just a thought.

    JeffW: you asked about Coolio and the Celebrity cook off? Sometimes they post recipes online at http://www.foodnetwork.com/rachael-vs-guy-celebrity-cook-off/index.html
    I check those out often. I did read Coolio has a cookbook and went on Amazon to look at it. The cookbook has some the recipes he is using on the show like his Soul Rolls. It seems he does a cooking show somewhere but has stated he wants a show on Food Network. I hope he gets it because he is good. I’d definitely look at a cookbook by L. D. P. . He did a turkey slider last week that looked very good.

  29. Joe, my belated condolences on Maximus. I understand what you are going through as my 15 year old cat has been ill lately and I’ve been bracing myself to have to make a choice in the near future. I’ve also had to make that decision twice with my two previous kitties. It is never an easy decision to make and to this day, many years later, I sometimes wonder if it was the right decision. I don’t know if regret will ever go away completely but just try to take comfort in knowing Max is no longer suffering.
    Best wishes to you, Akemi, Fondy and Jelly, Bubba and Lulu.

  30. Hi Joe-
    I have been trying to leave a comment for a couple of days but can’t see the screen for the tears. I am so sorry for your loss. It breaks my heart reading about Maximus. My thoughts are with you. I am sure the other pups are missing their friend as much as you are.
    Be safe in your travels.
    Much love,

  31. Akemi rocks! Dark Matter Kit Kats are the awesomest gift ever. Yesterday I had a lump the size of a golfball in my throat as I read your post but thankfully my office mate was gone so that I could dab my tears in private.

    The weather here is dreary so I’m glad you are in lovely Tokyo.

  32. Sounds like you are having all sorts of fun already. Love the pictures.

    Short notes from me…I fell getting out of the tub…and my right side took the worst of it. I can’t do much…but recline or lay in bed. I have a sling for my hurt shoulder…arm and hand. The bruised ribs are the worst. Doctor thinks I’ll be mostly better in a week. Yay me! 🙁

  33. I know that you won’t be able to stop thinking about Maximus, but I hope you and Akemi will still be able to have a good time. BTW, love the Kit Kat wrapper.

  34. Mr. M, I’ve only just read of Maximus’s passing, and I am so sorry for your loss. Dogs are love and joy on four legs, they bring so much happiness into life. And you brought so much love, joy, and happiness into Maximus’s life, no dog parent could have done more. Deep condolences to you and Akemi.


  35. The Dark Matter Kit-Kats are fantastic!!! Did Akemi use a website somewhere that personalizes candy wrappers? They look fantastic!

  36. Heeeeeeyyyyy Everybody.

    Well, while you are in Japan I did go to Bremen to find a nice new place for me for the internship in April.
    To put it simply… I felt like puking while the following actions. Looking for different advertisements, choosing between them, notifying the advertiser and getting all the ‘yes we still got a room for you’ and the ‘ no sorry, but the room is taken’.
    Seriously, I’m not made for this kind of thing, because what if I didn’t find a place on the weekend. I’m having exams soon and no time for this at all. And I spend about 130€ just to get there. To put it simply: I was so nervous about the possibility to fail that I couldn’t eat breakfast and lunch. And then one landlord wrote me a message at 10pm the day before departure, that she had given the room to someone else. My possible places shrunk from 6 places to 5. ‘Still a good number’ you might think, but hey! You got nerves for times like these to tell you HOW F**** WRONG you are. (lol)
    But to make a long story short. The same evening I managed to contact 4 more people from which one turned out to be the best place so far and my most likely choice.

    Sorry if this whole text is a bit confusing, but I am really worn out. (Writing from the hostel)
    Anyway, the kitkat from Akemi is most awesome. What a cool girlfriend you got there 😉

    I hope you enjoy your stay in Japan, return home safely and I swear to you, I will not come home without a new place to stay in Bremen! v(°A°)v

    I will go sleep, now.


  37. I believe you are 15 hours ahead of me here in Texas. That means it is 8 a.m. there. So . . .


  38. Hi Mr M

    Just heard about Maximus. I am very very sorry to hear this news. As a long time bloggee, and dog lover, I know how difficult this has been for you.
    Suffice it to say, we are all thinking of you here.

    Best to you, Akemi and all


  39. Hey Joe, please send Fondy our condolences, She must be heartbroken, as well.

    Been through lots of earthquakes in my time, the worst one being back in 1976 in Guatemala City. I’ve heard it was a 7.5, then an 8.3, but whatever it was, it was scary and seemed to go on forever. This one shook everything violently, and it sounded like a freight train coming through. It left about 20,000 dead and who knows how many homeless in an already impoverished country. Thousands of aftershocks followed, and I remember sleeping in the living room (not about to go back upstairs) in a sleeping bag. When I put my ear to the floor, I could hear the suckers coming! During the big one, I had to get 5 dogs on leashes, then try to maneuver downstairs and outside – it wasn’t easy! I threw the dogs in the car and drove to my mom’s to check on her (and it kept shaking every so often while I was driving). The streets were littered with live wires and collapsed buildings, and people in different stages of undress (it hit at 3 or 4 in the morning). A few months later, I moved to Miami. Twenty years later, we got nailed big time by hurricane Andrew. Oy. 😉

  40. So, so sorry to hear about Max. Letting go is such a personal decision and I hope you have found some peace. Have a wonderful time in Tokyo and know that you’ll have eager four-legged friends waiting for your return home.

    Rest in peace, Maximus. You’ve earned it.

  41. Good morning Joe and Akemi!

    In honor of your Japan trip I taught my daughter Jackie how to make sushi (California) rolls. She made six rolls and did a pretty good job.



    How about these? Cajun Squirrel Potato Chips?


    @Tam Dixon:

    Thanks for the link; I’ll check it out… I did make a pesto Artichoke, Mushroom and Asiago Cheese Pizza (JimFromJersey inspired me 😉 )


  42. Hi Joe,

    I know I don’t post here often, but have continued to keep up with your blog entries.

    I just wanted to take a moment to offer my condolences. Max will be remembered fondly by not only you and your family but by thousands of blog visitors who have followed him through the years like myself.

    Enjoy your time in Japan =)

  43. Ah, I missed this blog yesterday!

    Our little Japanese house used to chatter the shoji before a quake could be felt, an early warning system of sorts. The house had no foundation, the posts simply sat on large stone blocks, so it danced a bit. Doors which opened easily would be stuck a bit more, the doors which had been hard to open would glide smoothly. Shelves had ropes or fences to keep things on them, and bigger pieces of furniture which could topple were attached to the walls with brackets or leashes. You get used to it. That said, I live darn near on a fault here in Utah, I’m screwed if we get our Big One.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.