Here I’ve been wracking my brain, wondering how I could make a living if moved to Japan – when, suddenly, opportunity comes a-knocking: Japan suffers sumo wrestler shortage.  The way I’ve been eating of late, I figure I should be ready for action in about two months.

As much as I’m enjoying myself here in Tokyo, I do miss the dogs back home.  Fortunately, I’m receiving daily updates on the gang from our dog-sitter, Christine – daily updates in the form of email, texts, and, best of all, the occasional pictures…

Jelly. In there somewhere!  Apparently, she’ll head out, rain or shine – provided there are treats involved.
According to Christine, Lulu’s initial enthusiasm for walks has waned as the rain has gotten heavier.
Bubba is apparently just happy to tag along wherever they go.
Hanging out.

We’re slowly adjusting to Tokyo time here, sleeping through most of the night and waking up at a not ungodly hour.  One more week and we should be perfectly synced – just in time to head back home to Vancouver.  Anyway, we went for another morning walk through Ginza.  We had lunch reservations in Roppogni at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (Akemi likes it for it’s “cost performance” – in other words, it’s a great deal) for noon.  Rather than walk around for two hours on an empty stomach, decided to pick up a little breakfast.  And by little, I do mean little – specifically a little katsu burger:

Taaasty! I could have eaten a dozen of these. Hey, I’ve still go time.

I picked it up in the basement of the Mitsukoshi department store.  If you’ve never been, you have got to check it out.  The entire floor is packed with sweet and savory ready-to-eat food items, from the casual aforementioned mini katsu burger to high-end pastries.  Just grab your take-out and head up to the ninth floor snacking area.  It’s incredibly child-friendly as well.  Kids even get their own bathroom:

We headed over to Roppongi Hills for another fabulous meal.  Some of the highlights:

My sea urchin gelee/panna cotta.
The sanma (Spanish mackerel) mille-feuille.
My salmon tartare. Akemi changed her mind and proclaimed THIS the best dish of the trip so far.
Foie and fig.
Akemi’s outstanding white fish and mushroom main.
Sea urchin spaghetti with egg yolk and cream.

Foie, double sea urchin, cream – Akemi expressed concern about my high cholesterol meal.  I explained that I actually suffer from low cholesterol and actually need to eat like this to stay healthy.

The chocolate souffle with mint ice cream (that nobody ate. It was so minty, I felt like I was brushing my teeth.)
This super-chocoatey chocolate dessert even outdid the soufflé!
Our lunch guest on this day, Akemi’s friend, Nihei, who graduated from University in Oklahoma.  Oklahoma?

As I familiarize myself with more areas of the city, the pieces of the puzzle slowly fall into place, giving me a fuller picture of Tokyo.  Last night, for instance, I accompanied Akemi to Daikanyama (I call it Dogkanyama because it seems to be pooch central) and happened across Tableaux, one of the very first restaurants I visited on my very first trip to Tokyo some five years ago.  Back then, I had no idea where the place was located – and neither did our cab driver who had to stop and consult a map.  As it turns out, it’s just a few blocks around the corner from the subway station.

A large part of the familiarization process requires me to walk everywhere.  And such was the case later in the night when, after dropping Akemi off for her dinner with the gals, I headed to Omotesando for dinner with my friend Tomomi.  She suggested I take a cab but I decided to hoof it instead, relying on the seemingly crystal clear directions offered up in a Japan Times review of the restaurant.  Use the B1 Exit out of Omotesando station and walk down Aoyama dori, then hang your first left at the lights on Kotti Dori and walk for ten minutes until you hit Roppongi dori.  Take a left at the Fuji Building then wind right down the side street and L’Effervesence will be on your right.  Great.  Except that, in Tokyo, you’ll be lucky to find a street sign, much less an actual address.  Which way was “down” Aoyama dori?  Was that first street actually Kotto dori?  Which street was Roppongi dori?  Miraculously, I managed alright (although, to be precise, the turn is “before” Fujifilm rather than the more nebulous “at”).  I soon found myself walking down a dark alley.  Headed toward me was a middle-aged woman pushing a baby stroller.  If I was writing the horror movie, she would approach me and ask me to help her baby.  Then, the second I approached, a small man who leap up out of the stroller and pierce my eye with a knitting needle.  End scene.

Fortunately, my night was much less harrowing.  I dare say, it was downright amazing.  But the details will have to wait as I’m off to catch the bullet train to Osaka.  Wonder what they’ll serve?

Finally, my sis makes the hard decision for her sweet dog, Aspen, soon.  Sending positive thoughts their way:

19 thoughts on “November 4, 2012: Tokyo Day #7! On the home front! L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon! Pieces of the Puzzle!

  1. More amazing looking food, but it does seem to be tending to the “rich” side. I sort of share Akemi’s concern. The dogs at home are looking good – but if that’s your yard it looks like you’ve got some pretty serious raking to do when you get home!

    I’m sending the most positive of thoughts to your Sis and Aspen as well. It’s never an easy time.

  2. So very sorry SIs has this moment to deal with.
    Big hugs to you Sis!
    Remember the good times and simple times, and Aspen will not be forgotten.

  3. There are plenty of public family restrooms around here. They usually have facilities for adults, too, or just a stool so the regular-sized fixtures will work for anyone.

    However, they still put the outer door locks where kids can reach them and provide no harnessing devices for the children so I don’t see how an adult could use the facilities if they also need to restrain children from opening the door.

  4. Did I miss a day or did you? Day 7 already? Where have I been? And we turn the clocks back tonight. Just to confuse me even more.

    Keeping Sis and Aspen in my prayers.

  5. My thoughts are with you, Andria. Never an easy decision, but whatever you decide to do, we know that you love your beautiful Aspen and want what’s best for him.

    Joe, that picture of Jelly is beautiful! Love all the maple leaves! It’s like Canadian confetti. 🙂


  6. The food (as always) looks delicious! You’re a pretty good navigator if you can find your way around Tokyo with “directions” since so many of the streets are unmarked and just plain confusing.

    So you and Akemi checked out the kid’s potty together? Oooookay…

    I opted for an easy dinner: frozen mattar paneer and a Dirty Bastard Scotch ale.

    I’ll add my positive thoughts to yours and send them on to Sis and Aspen.

  7. @Joe on navigating the streets of Tokyo:

    I could set you up with a GPS with Tokyo maps…let me know 🙂

    Sorry to hear about your sister’s up-coming decision…we’re sending prayers her and Aspen’s way.

  8. Beautiful picture of jelly on the sidewalk with the leaves. Looks like she is standing in flowers. Lulu is so cute and that is a great picture of Bubba on the leaves.

    Great food pictures. Do they not eat eggs and bacon for breakfast? They eat little burgers, or is that just you? Is Akemi in the little boy’s bathroom?

    Aspen’s video woke up my sleeping beagle. She jumped off the couch and came over to my computer. I guess she thought another dog had stolen one of her squeaky toys.

  9. I can’t imagine what poor Sis is going through. My heart goes out to her and sweet Aspen.

    My last day was today in Vancouver. I’m hitting the road early tomorrow to northern California, then SoCal on Monday. I want to drag this wonderful cold, rainy weather with me. It’s fricking 90 degrees at home, just like when I left. And we still haven’t had any significant rain since May.

    I had a fabulous time with friends, interesting conversations, and some great meals. I’m going to miss the beautiful fall colors too. I think I love Vancouver the way you love Tokyo. I’d love to move here, but my job is in *gag* Woodland Hills. Although, from what I’ve seen of the housing market in Van, or anywhere else here, I’d be living in a tent in Stanley Park.

  10. @wondering how I could make a living if moved to Japan

    Simple Joe, learn the language, find an editor/magazine to publish your stuff and write, write, and write some more. You could always use a pen name too.

    Wouldn’t be a fantastic style of living at first il’d imagine but as you work your way up the ladder you’d be fine.

  11. If you want to be a sumo wrestler, better get eating! Sounds like a good excuse, yes?

    Your pet sitter is a pretty good photographer. I loved the dog pictures 😀 .

    I’m enjoying all the food pictures also. I would love to try some of those dishes. Have fun!

    So sorry for your Sis. Prayers and hugs going to her this difficult weekend….

  12. My sympathies to your sister and Aspen. I can only hope a pleasant miracle occurs for her.
    More delicious looking food, though for some reason i cannot wrap my mind around eating sea urchin, much less in multiple dishes. And as usual, all the dishes are presented so well it seems a shame to destroy them by ingesting them.
    Hope you enjoy the bullet train ride, and have a great time in Osaka. And I still submit a book, movie, or tv show about “Akemi-isms” would make you all the money you need to stay in Japan. Or at least to buy a place there for a few months of the year. (I think I am going to remember “cost performance” for a long time)

  13. After reading your blog, sometimes I think I could navigate my way around Tokyo. Which would be amazing, since I can barely navigate my way around my own small city.

    Sending positive thoughts to your sister as she has to make this difficult decision.

  14. You could blog about the stuff there is to do in the Japanese neighborhoods. Local word of mouth of what to do is filtered through other people’s ruts. I don’t know how high-expense blogging translates into making a living, though.

    It seems like a connected writer would have the easiest time picking up where he left off career-wise in this age where so much work can be done via the cloud. Or was that just a lead-in to your sumo joke?

    The downside of having creative team members spread across the globe is wondering what happened to them when they stop answering their emails. Did he die in that surgery he said he was having? Did he take his first paycheck and spend it on drugs and shady hookers? It’s a bit of a loose end for his boss wondering how to Paypal the last paycheck to ukraine4evah417’s widow.

  15. I’m so happy. I just realized I’ve forgotten enough of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies that I can watch them again almost like for the first time. I thought excessive memory was a life-long curse, but it looks like it’s finally worn off. Nobody spoil them for me!

  16. Hey Joe and Akemi! 😀 Good to see the both of you are having a good time in Japan. Love kiddie toilet and urinal! Too cute! 🙂 All the food looks scrumptious! Good to hear your doggies are doing well. 🙂

    Well…just got back from church (St. Luke’s, Toms River, NJ) which had no power. So…we had Mass by skylight and candlelight. It was a full packed church and it was the only church in the area that was celebrating Mass. So many people still have no power. And…lots of people with no home. The whole Jersey Shore (from Atlantic City to Spring Lake) is flattened and homes completely demolished Especially…Long Beach Island…Bay Head…Mantoloking…Seaside Heights…Point Pleasant…Belmar. It’s just so devastating. 🙁

  17. Oh, Sis — Am fighting tears, unsuccessfully. Glad that you have a sweet, funny video of Aspen playing with one of his favorite toys. Hug him extra tight. Bury your face in his fur. Remember what he smells like. He will always be your very own, very special, puppy boy.

    ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

    Just love these pics of Jelly in the fall leaves. Bubba and Lulu, too. You can tell they miss you guys as much as you miss them. Their eyes don’t twinkle as much. Great photos for a photo album. You have a wonderful dog sitter!

    Really enjoying all the stories and dinner pix. The sushi was “wow.” Will probably have to go get some pretty soon. Is everything there beautiful? Seems that way. Have you seen any funny street signs lately?

Leave a Reply

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