Hey, I hear what you’re all saying.  There’s a big difference between visiting a place for two weeks out of the year and actually living there, however I am a creature of habit.  I adjusted quite quickly to Vancouver after the move from Montreal and then adjusted to life alone with the dogs.  When Akemi came to visit – and ended up sticking around – I adjusted, and I was even able to adjust to life in Toronto last year.  In fact, by about the middle of August, I was, admittedly, enjoying myself (Miss you, Buca!).  So I imagine that if I moved to Tokyo, I would adjust in time.  Sure, there would be things I’d miss (ie. friends, English, clothing my size) but I’m sure I would readjust.  On the surface, money would seem to be the biggest hurdle but I’ve given it some thought and, even in the event that I don’t work for quite some time, after selling the house in Van I could get an apartment here and live quite comfortably for a good long while.  Nope, the biggest issue is still the dogs – not only getting them here but finding a Tokyo dog-sitter in the event I ever want to take a vacation.

Anyway, at this point this is all just fantasy given that I have some plans for a few projects this coming year.  First and foremost is my comic book series, Dark Matter, that launched last month and that, if all goes as planned, will make the transition from the comic book page to the small (depending on the size of your t.v.) screen.  The second issue hits the shelves this Wednesday (February 8th!) so be sure to pick it up and be the first to know what the pilot episode will be about (including the shocking last minute reveal).

Check out a sneak peek at the first six pages of Dark Matter #2 here: SNEAK PEEK: Dark Matter #2 | Major Spoilers – Comic Book Reviews and News        

And a great review of the second issue here: Review – Dark Matter #2 – Rebirth Part 2 of 4 | BAMFAS.com …

I’ve also good a horror script to finish up (hopefully by month’s end) and that historical mini-series I should get back to researching (and, eventually, pitching).

But all that’s for Vancouver.  Here in Tokyo, I fast approach the end of my vacation.  I’m thinking that, depending on my schedule, I may come back in September.  My new buddy, Koji, gave me a link to a place that rents furnished apartments.  I perused the site and realized that renting a place for a month would actually be less expensive than staying at a hotel for two weeks.  What better way to get a feel for life as a native than by having to make your own dinner reservations?

Today, I did something I’ve never done in Japan: eaten at a Chinese restaurant.  Akemi felt like Chinese food (specifically, mango pudding) and booked us lunch at the famed Fook Lam Moon.  I’ve been to the one in Hong Kong and, gotta say, the one here in Tokyo is better.  We ordered a set lunch and were stuffed well before the arrival of the sticky rice purse.  We started with some of the best barbecued pork chau siu I’ve ever had, then followed with Peking Duck, four kinds of dim sum, a scallop and noodle dish, some curry rice with almonds and raisins and, for dessert, that mango cake for her and some peanut and sesame balls for me.

The chive dumplings
The siu long bao.
Daikon mochi!

After lunch, we split up and went our separate ways – she to Shinjuku, me to Ueno and a return visit to Akihabara.

I'm not sure I get it.
Is that guy on the tracks dazed, drunk or both? As for jumping into the path of an oncoming train to save someone - yeah, won't have to worry about me ever breaking that particular rule.

I went to Ueno Park because the Tokyo guide books say it’s always packed with all manner of weird-looking individuals on Sunday afternoons.  Sadly, on this day, it was unremarkable – not a weirdling in sight (present company excluded).

Ueno Park
Who says the Japanese don't like whales?
Apparently, hot sweet potato vendors are fairly common.

I wandered the busy side streets.  Check out this guy shilling his wares –

Eventually, I was done with Ueno and hopped on the subway.  Two stops later, I was back in Akihabara.

The wide open streets (on a Sunday anyway) of Akihabara!
One of the many multi-level complexes packed with everything from anime-related merchandise to videos of models in small, ill-fitting bikinis.
Check out the line-up outside the Gundam Cafe. You'd think Amuro Ray himself was pulling barista duties.

Anyway, I walked around and blended in with the geeks, becoming one of THEM for the two hours I was there.  At one point, I think a couple of them got suspicious of me so I purchased some otaku goods to throw them off:

A new Neon Genesis Evangelion cover for my iPhone, a Gintama t-shirt, and the first issue of some manga called Baby, Please Kill Me about an elementary school assassin.

So I head back to Akihabara station and I’m walking along when I happen to notice a little dessert shop called Hattendo selling the most delicious looking cream buns.  I had at least a three hour window either way between lunch and dinner so I decided to sample one.

A revelation! The second I bit into it, it assumed a top five position in my Top 10 Foods I'd Bring With Me To A Deserted Island. Luscious chocolatey cream packed into a sweet bread, contradictorily light airy and airy, yet dense and chewy.
I was so excited that I picked one up for Akemi and brought it back to the hotel (where I ate half). My favorite dessert of this Tokyo trip! And only 200 yen (roughly $2) a piece!

For dinner, we once again met up with Akemi’s friends – minus the intriguingly enigmatic Ayaka who had to work…

Nanako
Hikari
Harumi

We went to a called Satouyousuke that specialized in Akita (“casual countryside” was Akemi’s definition) cuisine.  I had a few beers with Nanako (doing the gentlemanly thing since she didn’t want to drink alone) and sampled a wide range of interesting items – some of which I still can’t identify.  At one point, Nanoka was perusing the menu and came upon one of her favorites: the chicken sashimi!  Akemi was horrified and vowed not to eat it for fear it would make her sick, then encouraged me to try some for a long overdue weird food purchase of the week video instalment…

The chicken sashimi!

With most everything else shut down, we ended up settling for not-so-good desserts (stale pie and crystallized ice creams) at a cafe called Aux Bacchanales.  It was inching toward 11:00 p.m. and we were about to call it a night when a guy walks in (not Japanese – he looked mixed), holds out his hand for me to shake it, and asks (in English): “Do you remember me?”.  I stare back at him blankly, trying to place the face as the rest of the table falls silent.  “Do you remember?”he asks again.  “No,”I finally tell him.  And, with that, he turns and leaves the cafe.  “Maybe you did know him,”Akemi suggested, pointing out I’m terrible with names and face.  True, I conceded, but given my response, I would think that any normal person would have followed up with an explanation of who they were and how they knew me rather than simply turning and leaving.  Akemi realized I was right and then was suddenly freaked out because the mystery man had let the cafe and taken a left turn – toward our hotel!  I assured her it was an honest – albeit weird – mistake.

Anyway, we returned to hotel safe and sound and turned in much too late for our planned early morning Tsukiji sushi breakfast.

The Sony Building hosts some sort of Snoopy event.

Received a text from Robert Cooper informing me that I’m missing a Superbowl Chilli Cook-Off.  Damn!

GO GIANTS!!!

Today’s entry is dedicated to PBMom.

35 thoughts on “February 6, 2012: Tokyo Day #10! Still thinking about it! Dim Sum! Ueno! Back to Harujuku! Another night with the ladies!

  1. Maybe for the moment you can rent buy an apartment in Japan as a holiday home and then if the opportunity presents itself later on (and the airlines introduce a pet friendly policy) you could consider a permanent move. I’m sure you would find work quickly enough.

  2. @PBMom: I’m sorry to hear about your father-in-law. My condolences to you and your family. Safe travels.

    @Joe: I think renting an apartment in Tokyo for a couple of months would be a great way to help you make your decision about moving.

  3. Joe you missed a great half-time show with Madonna too. Glad to hear your football watching gang back home misses you. Something you would miss if you moved to Tokyo.

    @ PBMom – please give my sympathies to Mr. PBDad. He and family are in my prayers during this difficult time.

  4. From yesterday- great news about Akemi’s residence status. Im sure that’s a relief..

    and from today- どうもありがとうございました (I hope that’s correct) for indulging me and your faithful readers for a much coveted weird food purchase of the day. I absolutely love reading about your yearly sojourn.

    –Gina

  5. Glad to hear that everything is working out for Akemi to stay in Canada! Maybe this is a dumb question (or maybe I missed it), but how did you two meet? I remember her showing up at some point in your blogs and now I’m just curious (and a bit nosy, my apologies).

  6. @PBMom, i am so sorry. 🙁 \ Travel safely.

    This is a pretty hard month already– I lost my 38 year old niece on Wednesday. She had Downs syndrome, had been having back issues and problems for a couple of months but this was a shock and blow. I have cried so much I am sick and honest. people who tell someone who lost a child they know how they feel should be slapped unless they actually lost a child. I can only imagine as horrible as this is for me what my sister is going through.

  7. I like how Akemi uses Joe as one big science experiment. 😛

    Do we know what the symptoms of a salmonella infection are? lol

    btw, loving all the tokyo blogs. sounds like you two are having enormous fun and the food seems fantastic. i’ll have to pencil Tokyo in as one of the places to go in my lifetime.

  8. Your regular bloggers can judge how their lives are going based on the number of dedications you have made to them in your blog, me thinks! You are very kind. I was just about to go to bed after a very long day of getting my ducks in a row, shopping for a dress for the service and a better shirt for my black pants for the visitation, going through endless reservations to find a plane that had 3 seats in a row (and 2 at extra cost) on our flight out at (cough) 5:20 a.m. central time. We’ll have to be at the airport at 3:30, which means leaving my house at 3:00, the time I usually GO to sleep. We were going to stay later in the day Feb 14 on our return trip, but Jeff does not want to miss the demo of Mass Effect 3. I told him I would likely crash shortly after getting the boy to bed. Rented car, rented hotel, canceled Jeff’s other reservation, wrote emails, watched some of the Superbowl because I was on the phone for almost 2 hours with reservations. But my GIANTS won! The second nice thing that happened this month. As I was going to sleep, I thought I’d do a search for my father-in-law’s obituary and here it is:

    http://www.nj.com/independentpress/index.ssf/2012/02/obituaries_vincent_j_bowen_91.html

    His sisters left out the part about listing Patrick’s school as an alternative because they use their money wisely and are not-for-profit.

    We’ll have Patrick’s IPad with us and free wireless, so I’ll be checking some sites (maybe just not my email), from there, so I can keep up with the adventures while I’m gone. On tomorrow’s agenda: Laundry, calling Rover Oaks Pet Resort to tell them about dropping off Maddie on Tuesday and I won’t be able to pick her up until the following Wednesday.

    You are doing such wonderful eating and all the sights look pretty. I would definitely look into renting a place for a week. Sounds like a good deal. Looking forward to getting Dark Matter #2

  9. Sadly, the one thing that troubles me about the Japanese is their love of whales and dolphins – to eat. I’m wondering how often you may have eaten either, thinking you were getting tuna. According to sources I’ve researched, it happens even in the finest of restaurants.
    http://savejapandolphins.org/blog/post/the-cove-runs-red-again
    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1971807,00.html

    For the reasons noted in these sites, i will not personally purchase anything from Japan.

    Patricia

  10. @PBMom – Very sorry to hear your news. Safe travels.

    Joe, that’s Snoopy and Belle….it is almost Valentine’s day you know.

    LOved all the food….wish, we could sample. I might shy away from the chicken sashimi. Have had beef sashimi and that is quite good.

  11. Thanks Nanako and Joe for the return of the Weird Food Purchase of the Day. Thanks to all of Akemi’s friends for allowing themselves to be in the blog. 🙂

  12. Just a quickie…

    @ PBMom – So very sorry for your loss. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. {{{hugs}}}

    @ Sparrowhawk – Mebbe we should encourage Joeykins to move to Japan, that way he can post daily pictures of hawt, waifish Japanese dudes! And I like your idea about giving Akemi the camera, but based on her personal tastes (a.k.a. Joey), I’m guessin’ she’ll just snap pictures of hairy Italian dudes. 😀

    Okay – gotta run! Have a good night, J & A!

    das

  13. @ Debra – So very sorry about your niece. People with Downs are such loves, so I can only imagine how much it hurts right now to lose her. My deepest sympathies to you and your sister and all who loved your niece. {{{hugs}}}

    das

  14. I’m not sure about the raw chicken. You’re brave, Joe. But those dumplings look yummy. 🙂 Those cream buns look absolutely delicious. I could go for a hot sweet potato. I wish we had hot sweet potato vendors here.

    Great Super Bowl last night! My Giants WON!!! Woohooo!! 😀

  15. @ PBMom: Sorry for your loss…

    Chicken sashimi huh? Yeah, what the hell. I’d give it a go.

    And WOW! Nanako is absolutely gorgeous!

  16. That chicken made my stomach turn… I think that’s a first for photos of food from you Joe!

    (I don’t post a lot but I peek in every day for “photos of what Joe ate”)

  17. @Debra: My condolences to you and your family.

    @Joe: You will be pleased to know that your team won the Superbowl. And there was a great commercial with a pug racing against greyhounds! Saw it and thought of you and your pups!

    @das: Hmmmm. You have a point. Maybe we should go there and find Joe some examples instead of leaving it to Akemi!

  18. If you do move to Japan, will you wear a mask? A lot of big decisions and I wish you luck deciding. It would be great fun to live in another country but there are a lot of practical things to consider. I would love to relocate far away from here but with my mom getting older…I have to be within driving distance to her house.

    I went for a mom visit over the weekend. It is easier with my teen driving because we take turns. I got half way through The Hunger Games on the way back (good book). I finally found a Wi-Fi spot open Saturday to set up my brother’s kindle. Unfortunately, he needs a credit card to order ANY books. I got him a kindle gift card but they need a credit card on file. He has NO credit or should I say bad credit. I should have thought that present through. He’ll have to get a pre-paid credit card or something.

    This weekend I made my mom a pot of White Bean and Chicken Chili. I highly recommend that dish for a cold evening at home. I’m going to try the Krispy Kale that L.D.P. made in the competition next weekend. I’ve never had it before but it looked good. Too bad he didn’t post his lasagna recipe. L.D.P. needs to put a cookbook out!

    I’m loving the food pictures. That chocolate filled roll looked fabulous! You will definitely have to try all the flavors in that shop 😉 .

    So the picture signs would be for non-Japanese speaking tourist. What does the sign for “Take your shoes off in the subway car” look like?

    Debra: so sorry for your loss 🙁 .

    PBmom: have a safe trip!

  19. Akemi- Thanks for getting Joe to do the Weird Food purchase of the day. I miss those.

    Joe- I think you would make a great English teacher. You have a voice that is easy to listen to and just watching you on the videos, you have a nice delivery. And you have a great sense of humor…. Hey maybe you can teach English in Tokyo.Or with technology today you can teach online/ distance learning.

    Speaking of school … now that things have “settled” down after the move, thinking about going back to school. But where, there are just so many choices and what classes to take. Don’t they allow dual enrollment????

  20. My Hubby asked a question about the picture sign: “Is it ok to lay on the tracks? There is no crossed circle over the man laying on the tracks. So laying on the tracks must be ok.”

  21. Joe,

    In regards to renting a furnished apartment, beware that in Japan Landlords take you for everything they can. (Key deposit, all utilities, etc.)

    For my month in Japan, I rented a furnished apartment through Space Design.

    http://www.space-d.co.jp/en/

    They’re upfront with all costs, the buildings are very secure and well maintained, linens and cleaning are all done for you, most of the buildings are located very close to the train lines, etc.

    I’m looking at going back myself sometime in the next year, and will probably be using their services again after my first great encounter with them =D

    (Maybe when I come back you can have have Akemi introduce me to her friends if you’re living there at that point =p)

  22. I forgot to mention, I stayed in Ningyocho, which was such a wonderful neighborhood. You could easily walk to Ginza and Akihabara! (And there were around a dozen 7-11’s around too, very convenient)

  23. The raw chicken was scary to look at; I call that “ER” food. I love that t-shirt; I’m gonna have to check out Gintama.

    I think there is a story with the Ueno street hawker; he starts the film as a scrappy vendor of knockoff bags then rises through the ranks of the mob to become the right hand man of an aging gangster. But the gangster’s evil son has it in for him and he’s being pursued by a dogged yet sexy lady cop. I’m thinking The Departed meets Eastern Promises.

    We have family members that live half the time in the US and the rest in Europe; we see them all the time yet they still manage to spend months knocking around Europe. No reason why you can’t start by spending months at a time in Japan and working on a shorter series like the Brits do, six or eight eps with plenty of time off.

  24. Sorry, forgot to mention:

    Joe, you probably have thought of this regard selling your Vancouver home.
    Real estate is not so wonderful in my area, so a high end home may take forever to sell and/or may not realize the true value of the property.

  25. @PBMom & @Debra – my sincere condolences to you both. It seems this past year has been a time of loss for many of us.

    I wouldn’t mind trying most of those unusual foods, but I would have to draw the line at the chicken sashimi. I just wouldn’t be able to do it. The chocolate filled cream bun however, looks delicious!

    I would gather from that poster with the kitten that if you considered eating and drinking on the train that other passengers would consider you cute and cuddly? Another point, how many people fall onto the tracks there in front of an oncoming train that they feel it’s necessary to post a warning about not coming to their aid?

  26. Elementary school assassins? Those professional killers get younger by the year.

    Raw chicken. EWW. I mean, I eat raw cookie dough, but that’s the extent of raw things I dare touch.

    Perhaps you should set up a vacation home in Tokyo. 😉

  27. Instead of selling your place in Van., you could always consider renting it as well, and then use the proceeds to cover annual expenses for it, as well as maintain your posh lifestyle.

    From what i’ve read, your pad seems quite upscale, and with Van. always having this or that movie shoot on the go, you could likely rent it out to people in the industry and do well with it. It gives you a place to go back to if you wanted to stay in Japan for a year or two.

    Might be easier to do that, and put the bulk of your belongings in storage, versus selling your house at a time that may or may not be ideal from the marketplace standpoint.

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