The more I consider it, the more I think I could actually give it a go here in Tokyo. Of course, the move wouldn’t be as simple as just picking up and shifting my life over to the other side of the world. Some issues would have to be addressed. Chiefly: 1. What would I do with my days? 2. What would I do for work? 3. How would I get the dog shere? Well, last things first. I won’t compromise the safety of my dogs so flying them over from Vancouver presents a bit of a problem. I can’t see them flying carry-on, nestled under the seat in front of me for the 10+ hour flight, and given the horror stories I’ve heard about dogs flying cargo, I’ll dismiss that option outright. Short of chartering a private jet, that leaves me with no other options. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Air Canada adopts that pet-friendly policy I’ve been talking about for years now, and they suddenly realize the financial benefits of offering pet-friendly flights in which pet owners are actually permitted to purchase seats for their furry companions. In that case, problem is solved and we could all fly in style.
Which brings us to issues #1 and #2. Well, I’m sure I could always find something to occupy my time. I could look into the dark, mysterious and oft-frightening world of freelancing. Granted the type of money I’d make would be nowhere near the sum I could bring in show running, but certain sacrifices would have to be made. Hell, I’ve calculated that if I sold my place in Vancouver, I could make enough money to rent a very nice place and live comfortably for quite some time. QUITE some time. But that’s defeatist thinking. IF I can make a modest living, find a nice place, and can move my dogs without hassle, Tokyo could be a viable option…
In which I’d enjoy days like the one I enjoyed yesterday. Following a leisurely morning spent updating this blog, Akemi and I dropped by the Pierre Marcolini Cafe, her former haunt, to say hello to her former co-workers…
From there, it was a short, three-block walk over to my favorite sushi-ya: Sawada. It was my third visit there in as many years. The first time I went, I was blown away. The second time, I brought Ivon along and he was so impressed that he declared it the best meal he’d ever had. Yesterday, I brought Akemi along for my third visit and she was blown away by the quality of the sushi, the presentation, and Sawada-san who a delightful host – friendly, humorous, and full of fascinating information on the various ingredients and the painstaking process by which he produces his delicious creations. For instance, he had a special refrigerator to allow for ice-cooling, lets certain fish rest for days before serving, and prepares his rice thirty minutes to an hour before each service. Any rice that is left over after lunch is thrown out because he feels the flavor is compromised after an hour, and he starts from scratch for the dinner service. He served us two types of sea urchin and explained how he washes one with water from Hokkaido because that’s where that particular uni hails from, just north of the island where it feeds on its famed kombu (seaweed). He served us some otoro, aburi-style, and told us how it was the inspiration for kobe beef. And the taste, texture, and look of the aburi proved remarkably similar to the famed, well-marbled beef:
There was a strict no photo policy in place so as not to distract the other customers so I can’t offer the visual rundown I’ve done with previous restaurants, but suffice it to say we enjoyed yet another remarkable meal.
After lunch, I finally got to hit Akihabara, aka Electric Town, aka Otaku Central, home of the electronic deals, anime merchandise, and roaming geeks. On our way out of the station, we stopped by Doughnut Plant and picked up two doughnuts: the tiramusi and the vanilla. Fondy remembered these doughnuts fondly from her days in Tokyo.
The verdict? Meh. Even Akemi was somewhat disappointed, claiming they weren’t as good as she remembered. Alas, they never are. We gave the doughnuts to a homeless man and moved on.
After picking up a new Evangelion cell phone case for my iPhone (it’s nowhere near an effective protective cover as the one I was using, but it’s an Evangelion cover!), we headed over to the Sega centre where Akemi sought to recapture some more fond memories (these from her high school days) by doing some purrikura which, it turns out, isn’t a hallucinogenic but Japanese slang for “print club”. We went upstairs and entered one of the numerous little photo booths, then used to the touch screen to select our picture frames – something suitably saccharine – then posed for various shots. It took me a while to get the hang of it as there was a full one second disconnect between the sound of the click and the actual flash –
Once we were done, we proceeded to a second booth at which you input your various little doodles, comments, drawings, and symbols onto the picture. Once that was done, you proceeded to yet another booth at which you input your email address (so they could send you tiny, poor quality copies, natch) and printed up tiny, poor quality copies of your session.
I must say, I was dubious at first but I think it did a really great job of capturing my youthful exuberance and big brown eyes…
After that, we walked around Akihabara and checked out some of the shops (or, should I say, giant multi-level complexes). I’d like to bring a new anime series back to Vancouver with me but there are so many of them, I’m having a hard time deciding. Anyone out there know what’s new and great in the world of anime?
Well, I didn’t find an anime series to check out, I did come across plenty of interesting sights…only in Akihabara…
We ended up running out of time as we had to be in Roppongi to meet a friend of Akemi’s for dinner, so we hopped on the metro and caught the Hibiya line to Midtown. Inside the station, I snapped pics of some of the subway warnings. Check out the smart Japanese raccoons schooling the dumb foreigner…
Seriously. If not for stupid gaijin, these warning signs would be wholly unnecessary.
By the time we got to Roppongi, it was already dark.
We ended up meeting at the Jean Paul Hevin cafe. Dinner consisted of a chocolate extravaganza: four chocolate cakes, chocolate ice cream, and chocolate sorbet. Oh, and a Perrier for me as I’m trying to watch my girlish figure.
Akemi got the chance to catch up with her old friend and I even managed to catch a few words here and there. I think that the only way I’m going to improve my Japanese conversational and listening skills is by going full immersion. Similarly, I think the only way I’m going to really learn to read Hiragana and Katakana is by picking up some Japanese manga and going through the laborious process of translating each and every panel. It’ll be difficult at first but, eventually, much easier in time.
We left Midtown and Ayaka, then headed outside where we grabbed some dessert –
We were on our way back to the hotel when I received an email from my friend Moro-san. She was interested in hitting Star Bar after work. How could I say no? We met up. I had a couple of Moscow Mules. I practiced my Japanese and we were treated to a demonstration of ice craftsmanship:
Major D. Davis writes: “ALL THAT FOOD.”
Answer: Yeah. It’ll be oatmeal for breakfast when I return to Vancouver. By the way, Major, nice to have you back.
Lewis writes: “How different is the weather there from what it normally is in Vancouver this time of year?”
Answer: It’s actually much colder here in Tokyo!
JeffW writes: “I’m thinking about trying LDP’s Kale Chips this weekend.”
Answer: How does he make them? I like them oven roasted after being tossed in olive oil and a bit of sea salt.
Kabra writes: “The purple yam thing, hmmm can we get those here?? Are they really grown in that colour??”
Answer: They’re pretty damn purple naturally but I think that, in the case of the cakes, their color may have been enhanced. I think I’ve seen them in Vancouver. Akemi claims purple potatoes are healthier. As a result, I no longer feel guilty eating those cakes for breakfast.
for the love of Beckett writes: “Akemi, has Joe said anything funny or amusing in Japanese recently?”
Answer: Akemi says to stay tuned for her Shit My Canadian Boyfriend Says twitter account.
for the love of Beckett also writes: “Do you see many dogs strolling Tokyo? Any Shiba Inu?”
Answer: I’ve seen a surprising number of dogs strolling about, mainly small breeds (chihuahuas, shibas, a couple of french bulldogs yesterday) but a couple of bigger dogs as well (a doberman and a golden retriever).
Shiny writes: “I’m going to move to Japan and sell cute wool caps to all these folks wandering around in the cold with not hat on.”
Answer: Great. Let’s go into business together. It’s either selling wool caps or working at the Butler Cafe!
Kathode writes: “Anyway, my suggestion for another superhero-of-the-week movie would be “Super Fuzz.”
Answer: Why have I never heard of this movie? It looks absolutely dreadful – and thus perfect for our SuperMovie of the Week Club!
dasndanger writes: “Oh, forgot to tell you what the dream was about. You updated your blog saying you were back in Vancouver, and I was baffled because I never saw an entry saying that you had actually left Japan.”
Answer: Weird!!! Were you able to get back to sleep?
SebiMeyer writes: “The legends surrounding the Kappa are quite disturbing. It feeds on human large intestines, which it accesses by crawling up their butt. The cucumbers are just offered so if doesn’t do that to you.”
Answer: Thanks for that educational – and disturbing – tidbit.
Sue Jackson writes: “How do eat all this stuff and not get fat? Do you jog every morning?”
Answer: The secret is in walking everywhere. It just eats up the calories. One year of this and I’d probably be at my peak physical shape, ready to box Carl Binder for the championship belt.
ILyes D. Vex writes: “and the pudding cake thing, isn’t it called Anpan or something???”
Answer: Anpan is something different. I believe it’s a sweet bun filled with red bean paste.
max writes: “Has your dog-sitter mentioned if your other dogs look confused that maximus isnt around anymore?”
Answer: She says they’re doing great and don’t see to be acting or reacting any differently. Of course that may change when I get back. I took Maximus away with me for the Christmas holidays so they may well be expecting his return with mine.
Debra writes: “You can have a vacation home there, but we won’t get you back on US TV shows if you move there full time so not going to encourage THAT.”
Answer: I have been considering going the alternate route of simply getting a vacation place.
Pontytail writes: “What do you think Akemi’s mom thinks of you?”
Answer: She seems to think well enough of me to not force Akemi to pack up her bags and move to Osaka immediately. So far, so good.
Jenny Robin writes: “I’m so sorry.”
Answer: Thanks, Jenny. Long time no see. How’s the book business?