We started the day by checking out the surroundings – and it don’t get any closer than the Imperial Hotel itself. We strolled through the shops on the basement level where we happened across a place called Shokendo, a shop that sells and displays antique Japanese swords. Mrs. Aota struck up a conversation with the sales associate and, before I knew it, we were getting a fascinating history lesson on the evolution of the Japanese sword. It was like taking an informative museum tour without ever leaving your hotel. I asked our affable host if it was okay to take a picture of the samurai armor on display. Well, not only was it okay, but he insisted I actually get in the picture…samurai-style!
Anyway, if you’d like to order your own Japanese sword (they deliver!), check out their website here: company:sokendo
For lunch, I paid a return visit to one of my favorite restaurants from my last trip: Nodaiwa, a 160 year old establishment known for its eel. For the record, I don’t think it was always located at the bottom of an office building.
So many times you make a return visit to a place you loved and it never lives up to the memories. Well, my lunch at Nodaiwa was just as wonderful as the first time I went. I suppose it helped to go in the company of two first-time diners (Akemi and her mother) who were expecting it to be good, but still had the meal surpass those already lofty expectations.
All three of us went with the set menu as it allowed us to sample a variety of preparations accompanied with soup, pickles, rice, and various toppings (I’m a huge fan of the sansho (Japanese pepper) and slivered yuzu peel). I also ordered a couple of appetizers to start…
After lunch, we strolled the streets of Ginza –
I stopped at the ever-busy Manneken for what I call a “wafflu” but Akemi insists is pronounced “waffle”. Of course, she also claims that Sta-buckoo is actually pronounced “Starbucks”.
Then, it was off to Shinjuku were Akemi and her mother stocked up on kitchen essentials at the local Isetan and Takashimaya: nori, spices, miso, and assorted other items I didn’t recognize. I lasted an incredible two hours before running out of steam and heading back to the hotel. Akemi and her mother were worried about me taking the metro alone (seriously). I assured them I’d be okay, asking them to point me in the right direction and then confirming I should remove my shoes before boarding the car.
On the way up to my hotel room, I stopped by the Gargantua shop in the lobby and picked up a little snack.
A wind-down, some photo uploading, and I was ready for dinner. It was a return to another old Ginza favorite – Faro, on the tenth floor of the Shiseido Building…
For dessert, we chose from the dozen selections on the rolling dessert cart. I went with the chocolate-orange mousse cake. And the house Mont Blanc. Uh, and the Savarin (that was far superior to the one I’d eaten two hours earlier). And, once we were done with dessert, we were served…dessert.
So, last night, more weird dreams. I think it has less to do with the fact that I have more strange dreams while I’m here than it does with the fact that this bed in the Imperial Hotel is so uncomfortable, I keep waking up in the middle of the night – and remembering them. For instance, last night I dreamt I was in a plane that went down over a busy expressway. I could see the cars getting closer and closer and I was thinking “Okay, he’s going to pull up. He’s going to pull up. Okay. He’ll pull up. No. He’s not going to pull up…” And then, waking up with a start. So dream experts, need any reference material to figure that one out?