There are a grand total of three possible sleeping positions on an airplane seat and I exhausted all three today.

I quite like the timing of the flights both to and from Tokyo.  On the way there, the flight departs in the mid-afternoon, giving you plenty of time to sleep in and do your last minute checks and cross-checks before jetting off. By the time you get in, you’re thoroughly exhausted so that, once you’ve touched down, completed the 90 minute ride from Narita airport, checked in, and had a late meal, you’ll be read for bed – at about 9:30 – 10:00 p.m. local time – which is about 4:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.  If you keep to this schedule, you’ll be waking up at 6:00 in the morning every day, ready for a sushi breakfast at Tsukiji Market, followed by a nice full day and early night.

The return flight is not quite as great.  It leaves at about 7:00 p.m. local time and, after about nine hours of flying, gets in to Vancouver at approximately 11:00 a.m. The game plan is to sleep through the flight as much as possible and then stay up as late as possible on the longest day back to force your body back into a sleep rhythm. Taking a couple of melatonin pills before bedtime helps but, all the same, you’re going to come up against certain nights (actually early mornings) where you’ll find yourself, wide awake, at 4:00 a.m., wrestling with a powerful craving for sushi.

Speaking of which – for our last meal in Japan, I thought it would only be appropriate to go out for sushi.  We ended up at Dai San Harumi, a tiny, friendly little place in Shinbashi.  Some of the highlights –

Welcome to Dai San Harumi
The bonito (tuna) is seared over an open flame so that its exterior attains a certain smokiness while its interior maintains that mouth-melting high-grade tuna texture.
According to our chef, the restaurant only sources the best of these very best fresh, organic Japanese tiger prawn – about 1% of each catch.
Saba (chub mackerel), lightly cured with salt and vinegar.
Plump anago (conger eel).
And, for dessert, the tamago.
Thanks for coming!

An excellent final meal that made me kind of sad as a reminder of exactly what I’d be missing.

After lunch, we stopped by Akemi’s old workplace, the Pierre Marcolini Cafe, so that she could say goodbye to her old friends and co-workers – oh, and grab a dessert while we were there.

A role reversal for Akemi who finds herself being waited on instead of the other way around.

I had a marron (chestnut) parfait while Akemi had this terrific new addition to the menu –

It’s described as a dark chocolate drink.  It’s cold, bittersweet, and so thick and rich you have to eat it with a spoon.

Afterwards, we made one final trip to the Mitsukoshi department store and picked up some Christmas gifts, then walked back along one of Ginza’s main streets that is always closed to traffic on weekends.  On the way, we were stopped by a camera crew and asked to identify a couple of mysterious dollar store items.  We failed miserably as both of my guesses, cucumber zester and dog hammock proved incorrect.

It seems like there’s a camera crew parked every ten feet down Ginza dori.  Last time I was in town with Ivon, we were stopped and interviewed about the grand Japanese tradition of the Christmas sock.

The return trip was uneventful.  And this is what greeted us upon our return:

It’s funny but, by the end of our time in Tokyo, Akemi told me that she was actually happy to be leaving and returning to Vancouver.  Surprisingly, there was little wistfulness at our departure, just happy memories of our trip, the hope to return for an equally short visit some time next year, and an overwhelming desire to see Bubba again.

Soooo tired.

36 thoughts on “November 10, 2012: Sayanora Tokyo! Dai San Harumi!

  1. Akemi’s been assimilated? I’m glad you had a safe flight! Rest well and thanks for sharing your trip with 🙂 .

  2. Welcome home. Though it looks like the dogs want to interrogate you when you have rested up. Thanks for sharing your trip with us, and hope you get back into the proper time rhythm soon.

  3. Welcome back, and thanks for taking us along for the ride!
    The dogs look so adorable, by the way.

    Also, it’s surprsing to hear that Akemi is happy to be back in Vancouver, rather than miss Japan. They often say that it takes about 10 years for immigrants to be truly integrated into their new country, and finally relinquish any desire to go back to their home country (which seems to be true from my personal observation of friends who are immigrants). Akemi seems to have adapted far quicker than most!

  4. Welcome back! Great to have you guys back home, and it would seem the dogs agree. I (and they, apparently) assume you brought dog treats back!

    The first thing I thought of when I read you guys were home was this song (it was actually filmed in my home town of Saint John):

  5. Glad your trip was fun and safe! Clearly, the dogs are waiting for the presents you brought them. You did bring presents, didn’t you?

  6. Welcome back. The dogs look happy? Thank to both of you for sharing your trip. 😀

  7. Your kids are sitting there asking, “What did you bring us?”
    So, what did you bring them?
    Welcome home. While you were gone, the U.S. elected a president and weathered a monster storm.

  8. Welcome back, happy dogs, will probably sleep with you and then open presents,,like christmas.! Always nice to be home!

  9. Good God I’m behind once again. You’ve gone to Japan and back home again. I think it was my sister almost dying when I dropped off the map and then life got busy. I need to catch up and STAY caught up. Have missed you guys. Sister is fine now. Then Sandy happened. I was thinking of you guys in NJ and NY and kept saying I needed to get here to see how you all made out. My sis (the one not near death) was in Toms River. She had no damage and has power again. So things are settling down. Must get back into the habit of coming here daily. I’m going to work my way backwards from here.

    1. Thanks for the welcome back comments. My sister is going to have to stay on steroids the rest of her life. It is like Addison’s disease but not primary, so they are calling it secondary (not Addisons’s but I forget the term she used) but unknown reasons. If she gets sick (with a cold or flu, etc.) she’ll have to take additional steroids;; if she has surgery even something simple like a colonoscopy, they’ll likely have to give her steroids IV. This is the sister with lupus and myasthenia gravis. This past week was her first week back to her full-time nursing job. My North Carolina sister.

  10. Now there is a “so did you bring us snacks” look if there ever was one. I really like that “final”meal. Fresh sea food is the best. Welcome back.

  11. Lol your dog picture is kinda cute Joe, kinda like they’re saying Welcome home Daddy to you.

  12. Welcome home Joe!

    I’ve enjoyed the pictures and commentary even though I haven’t commented much…I’ve been too busy meeting customers and catching up with friends here in the UK. Right now, I’m sitting in the Gatwick departure lounge waiting for my flight to Naples (and then Milan on Wednesday and back to Chicago on Saturday).

    In terms of meals here, I had a proper pub lunch on Saturday (fish & chips) and a couple of British breakfasts (including Black Pudding), but I missed out on a high tea this time (no elderflower presse for me 🙁 ). Maybe next time.

    @Line Noise, sorry we missed each other this time, but maybe sometime in 2013? My family wants to come next time, so I might stay longer (taking some vacation time), and spend a little more time in the West Country then.

  13. Welcome home guys!

    PBMom, glad to hear about your sister in Toms River. We made out well down here in Berlin as well.

  14. Mmmm, tamago.

    Funny, we had a Japanese film crew shooting at Burning Man. They’re everywhere.

  15. Welcome home – Joe and Akemi.

    Puppies – PRICELESS look!
    Hope you are able to return to the Van time zone routine quickly cause we need more blogs on time.

    @PBMom – glad to hear your sister is okay.

  16. Next time, Joe, have your housesitter stock your fridge with snack sushi on your return day. ::lightbulb::

  17. Glad you are home safe and sound, happy Canada is feeling more like home to Akemi, and happy the dogs have their people back!

  18. Also glad to hear NY/NJ commenters OK. My home neighborhood was without power until yesterday–been monitoring via Twitter.

    Meanwhile, San Antonio temps due to drop to Mid-Atlantic /NE USA levels next three days. That’s what passes for Fall down here.

  19. ::lightbulb:: — failed emoticon attempt. Intended to show inspired thought.


  20. Maybe it’s “colon idea colon”

    Joe, feel free to NOT approve the emoticon comments.

  21. @ Joe and Akemi – Welcome back!

    @ PBMom – Welcome back, and glad your sister is okay, though it sounds as if she’s got a lot on her plate. Hope she’ll be okay.


  22. I just accidentally ruined my media fast. Oh well, in case anyone’s worried I missed anything important, I have indeed seen the new Patrick Stewart facepalm pic. All is well.

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