It would seem that my mother’s opinion of Japan has taken a drastic u-turn after she watched the Tokyo episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown.  I assured her that not all – in fact, I’d venture to say very few – Japanese women choose careers as skimpily-clad performance artists in robot theater.  Also, I had no imminent plans to join any sadomasochistic rope-binding clubs.  I’m not sure I convinced her though.  Yesterday, instead of ending our phone conversation with her customary “Have fun!”, she opted for the infinitely more foreboding: “Be careful!”.

Somewhat along the same lines…Did you know that it’s impossible to take a discreet picture with your cell phone in Japan.  The other night, my dining companion, Tomomi, expressed nothing short of awe at my ability to snap photos of the food without making a sound.  I explained that all she had to do was switch her phone to silent mode but, apparently, there is no such thing as silent mode in Japan.  When it comes to taking pictures on your cell phone anyway.  This fact was confirmed the next day at lunch when one of our fellow customers tried taking a photo of her sushi – and ended up drawing the attention of the entire room when her phone emitted a sound akin to a sound effect for fairy dust being sprinkled.  What gives?  Well, according to Akemi, perverts ruined it for everyone.  Isn’t it always the way?  Apparently, upskirt photos became pandemic that the authorities stepped in and passed a law to stem the flow.  Now, if you’re going to snap a photo of someone’s panties riding the escalator one floor up, someone is gonna know!  Unless, of course, you have one of those stealth phones.  Like I do.

Well, yesterday I spent the day with my friend Moro-san visiting Kamakura, a small and quaint city in Kanagawa Prefecture notable for its temples, shrines, giant statue, and the exact same chocolate cake with a side of whipped cream that is served at every restaurant and cafe in the area.

Four subway transfers later, I arrived!
Four subway transfers later, I arrived!
We had lunch a tiny Italian restaurant.  Check out the menu.  Decisions, decisions.
We had lunch a tiny Italian restaurant. Check out the menu. Decisions, decisions.
Ojizo-osama.  According to Akemi "Statues with different meanings.  Usually good luck thing I guess."
Ojizo-osama. According to Akemi “Statues with different meanings. Usually good luck thing I guess.”
The temple grounds.
The temple grounds.


According to Moro-san, they're especially fond of creampuffs.
According to Moro-san, they’re especially fond of creampuffs.
According to Akemi, this gets turned the 18th of every month.  Why?  "I don't know."
According to Akemi, this gets turned the 18th of every month. Why? “I don’t know.”
Kamakura.  View from the hilltop.
Kamakura. View from the hilltop.
That's what SHE said!
That’s what SHE said!
The giant bronze Buddha
The giant bronze Buddha
All aboard the party bus!
All aboard the party bus!

We stopped off for a pre-dinner snack where I enjoyed a very beery beer ice cream and a bite of Moro-san’s lavender ice cream that tasted like that time I was accidentally sprayed in the mouth while cutting through my local department store’s women’s perfume section.  Then, about an hour later, we had dinner.

We capped off our day with drinks at a bar called En in Yokohama. Owned and operated by master mixologist Endo, it’s a small place and homey watering hole with an astounding selection of booze.  We were the first ones in and, over the hour and a half we were there, a half dozen other clients made their way in – all regulars.  Moro-san introduced me and I ended up chatting with all of them, alternating between English and Japanese as I knocked back 12 year old Yamazaki and Four Roses Single Barrel.

Bar En: 4 Chome-180 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Yokohama.

Yokohama by night.
Yokohama by night.

By the time I got back to my hotel in Tokyo – a little over an hour later – I was exhausted.  But Akemi was on hand to greet me in her very special way.  With a welcome back hug?  A kiss?  Even better!  Check it out –

A Hattendo cream bun.
A Hattendo cream bun.

The perfect way to end my night.

5 Heartwarming Soldier and Dog Reunions in Honor of Veteran’s Day

18 thoughts on “November 12, 2013: Tokyo Day #7! Noisy cell phones! Kamakura! Beware of Kites!

  1. I think I would like to have a Hattendo cream bun. Any idea where to get one in Toronto? Ottawa? Montreal?

  2. You are very adventurous. I am not sure I would head off into the far reaches of a foreign country like you do. At least you were not alone.

  3. Okay, now that I’m done crying from all those dog reunions (especially that last one – omg 😥 ), loved your day 7 and all the great pictures. Would you please bring me back some of those Hattendo cream buns. Yum-me!!

  4. Maybe it’s just my mood, but I laughed out loud at almost that whole post, Joe. Great stuff. No “imminent” plans? Hmm.. 🙂

    Sounds like you had a great day of touring following the wedding. The beer ice cream sounds awesome! And the cream bun? I really want nay, NEED, to try one of those. What did Akemi do all day? Rest up from the wedding, I suppose.

    It was a busy but peaceful Remembrance Day for me here – went to the official ceremonies in Saint John (about 6000 people there) but not singing this time which felt a little weird, but kind of nice. Then went to the hospital to visit my step-mom who is still doing well, and still anxious to get out of there.

    Have fun on the rest of your trip!

  5. Will you get in trouble for your cell phone setting? Is it a law?

    Creeps ruin it for everyone. I suppose that is a universal fact.

    Mom’s always worry.

    A hattendo cream bun? That lady knows you well!

    Have fun and thanks so much for all the great cultural details.

  6. Hello from a long time lurker…I was in Kamakura earlier this summer (in time for the Hydrangea festival-recommend if you like hydrangeas and walking slowly up and down a lot of stairs). Love your pix. Did you happen to buy any of the Buddha shaped hard candies in Kamakura? They were surprisingly good, with a sort of vanilla-caramel flavor.

  7. …if you’re going to snap a photo of someone’s panties riding the escalator one floor up, someone is gonna know! Unless, of course, you have one of those stealth phones. Like I do.

    “Be careful!”



  8. Australia used to have similar regulations on phone camera audio, but they’ve apparantly been lifted somewhere between buying my previous phone 7 years ago and my new one 2 months ago.

  9. Thanks again Joe, I have gotten history, geography, booze, food information from todays entry, You make me want to look up all the things you talk about to learn more. And I found it most enlightening. Who knew the hattendo buns are made with no preservative and keep 2 days,refrigerate, so I would have to eat them fast, hmmm, don’t see that as a problem. And now I know where to find Four Roses in my area. Hope you are still having lots of fun and thanks for sharing!

  10. Now THIS I would be into. The statue of the three (people?) makes me feel joyful. The country is full of rich history. We don’t make things like that anymore, do we? What a shame.

    Akemi, secret wife or not (aw, come on, I have to keep teasing you for at least a FEW more days), is a blessing to you. As much a treasure as all those beautiful sites you visited.

    Where Canada had Remembrance Day yesterday (which is supposed to be our equivalent of Memorial Day but people forget that our Memorial Day is ONLY supposed to be about those who died in service of our country–a somber day, which is why “Happy Memorial Day” is a pet peeve of mine), our Veteran’s Day is on the same day as your Remembrance Day and we celebrate the service and sacrifice of all our troops in a joyful way. In my opinion, we should be celebrating the service and sacrifice of all our troops and their families EVERY day. But that is just me.

    Been trying to adopt a golden. It is proving more difficult than I thought.

  11. Love the pics thanks for sharing. And thank you for the cry fest while at work. LOL I so should not have clicked on that link.

  12. @TamDixon, I agree, please use a more revealing sound for your phone, like the soundtrack for Jaws or Star Wars, it’s only polite. 🙂

    The views of Yokohama are lovely but a little melancholic too; I’m sure there is a phrase in Japanese for it.

  13. I admit, I only figured out the whole silent picture thing when I got my iphone a few years ago. For some reason I never thought to turn the phone to silent on my However, having a noisy phone…I’m not so sure that’s the best deterrent for those upskirt shots. Or maybe it’s only Americans that aren’t embarrassed to be caught being a sexist pervert.

    That temple is beautiful!

    Your commentary on the lavender ice cream makes me laugh. I once ordered a pear/lavender cocktail and suffice to say – for the same exact reasons – I had no more than one sip.

Leave a Reply

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