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No.  No!  Day #7?!!!  It’s almost over!  In a matter of days, I’ll be back in Vancouver, scrambling to plan and pack and make my way to Toronto for a seven month stay – one month of advance prep in which we’ll be filling out the director’s schedule, approving designs, hiring DOP’s and editors, start the ball rolling on casting (October), a couple of months of construction on our standing sets (late October through December), prep on our opening two-parter (December), then production itself (early January to May), and the post wrap-up (June-ish?).  I suspect time will fly.  Paul sent me his first draft of episode #5 the other day, and it’s fabulous.  I suggested a few changes (minor) and now look forward to his draft of episode #6 (and Rob and Trevor’s drafts of episodes #7 and #8 respectively).  My draft of episode #9, meanwhile, is already done and waiting to follow suit.

Last night, Akemi and I were greatly looking forward to dinner at Esquisse, one of our very favorite restaurants – and, as always, our old friend Chef Beccat  mightily impressed.  The restaurant holds special significance for us – or, more to the point, its fantastic chef, Lionel Beccat because he was overseeing the kitchen at Michel Troisgros on Akemi and my very first date…five years ago!

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Akemi then.

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And Akemi now (or, more specifically, last night).

Some of the highlights of our fabulous meal…

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Bottled tea: jasmine and green tea.

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The ever affable Chef Lionel Beccat.

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Plump, creamy oyster with lemon gelee and fermented sake foam.

 1Cured toro (tuna belly) with tomato gelee.

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Grilled grouper with lily root puree.

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Spiced lamb with carrot puree.

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Sweet corn polenta with sweet corn soup an orange sorbet.

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The team: Takahashi-san, Beccat-san, and Ogasawara-san (our “sommelier”, not “the alcoholic” as Akemi mistakenly assumed his title to be).

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A tremendous meal.  Highly recommended.  If you’re uncertain about splurging on dinner, opt for lunch.  As Akemi says, it offers “good cost performance.”

This morning, we got up early and hit Tsukiji…

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Akemi picks up some bonito.

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Zoidberg has fallen on hard times since the cancellation of Futurama.

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Wagyu!

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For the bear who has everything…

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Godzilla vs. Girlfriendzilla!

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Tokyo is full of these little shops offering various foodstuffs from dedicated regions of the country.

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Akemi and her buddy take  break.

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Breakingu Bad-o.

And two more terrific meals: sushi at Ichiyanagi and kaiseiki at Uchiyama.  Both great places with wonderful, super-friendly customer service.

I leave you with Ginza at night…

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Seriously.  My vacation is short enough without my misplacing days!

Last night, Akemi and I hit the basement food level of the Mitsukoshi department store where we picked up a variety of tasty treats.

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Tokyo street fashion.  I gotta get me one of those for Toronto.

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Our dinner haul.  My favorite was the cutlet and egg sandwich (the round white thing at the top).  That gang from Maisen sure know their tonkatsu!

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And various desserts including a sweet potato pudding and a chocolate, caramel, and macadamia-studded cake in the shape of a popsicle from Sebastien Bouillet.

I woke up early this morning, hoping to hit the Tsukiji Fish Market for a sushi breakfast but, by the time we were ready to go, we decided it was too late for breakfast – and only slightly too early for lunch.  And so, we caught the metro to Ikebukuro where we met Akemi’s sister, Hiromi, and then headed off to Namco Namja Town in the Sunshine City Mall.

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These silly Tony the Tiger bags were on display at the Hibiya station – retailing for about 22k a pop!  Grrrrrreat for carrying your groceries!  Akemi says he looks like he’s had work done on his face.

We passed a display of the various subway etiquette campaigns over the years.  Some of the highlights:

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Do what exactly?  Try to swim through a door?

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Apparently, the Japanes are notorious for practicing their golf swings with wet umbrellas.

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Yes, at home where your wife and kids can deal with it.

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Okay, I’m going to admit I’ve been guilty of this – practicing my ring routine between stops.

Stop neglecting your facial muscles.  Pick up this ridiculous contraption!

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Finally – Namja Town!

Our first (and, in hindsight, only) stop was Gyoza Stadium, a food park with about a dozen stands each offering numerous gyoza varieties from throughout Japan.  Sadly, some of our favorites from our last visit – the garlic gyozas, the kimchee gyozas, and the ash gyozas – were no longer available as they’re apparently always featuring new gyoza artists.

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We ended up sampling about 15 different types of gyoza.  My favorites were the cheese gyozas and the mentaiko-topped versions.

From there, we headed off to Ice Cream City with its 300+ flavors of ice creams ranging from the bizarre (octopus and curry) to the breathtaking (sake!) – only to discover it no longer existed.  Instead, ice cream city and its 300 flavors have been contracted down to a tiny stand and 30 rotating flavors.  We settled for a fairly unremarkable trio that included a charcoal ice cream that, while dark, really just tasted like vanilla.

To top things off, I lost the bag holding my sun glasses and the chocolates Hiromi had gifted us.  We retraced our steps but came up empty.  If we were anywhere else, I would have shrugged and written them off – but this is Japan and I figured chances were good someone probably turned them into the Lost and Found.  So we check with information and -

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Cha-daa!

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A maid drumming up business for her cafe.

Akemia and Hiromi headed off to Shinjuku to do some shopping and I hopped a metro to Akihabara – got turned around – twice – and by the time I finally made it, I was exhausted.  A little browsing and I headed back to the hotel to gather my strength for tonight BIG dinner!

Today, I leave you with one more subway warning:

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Note the look of sheer terror on the guy’s face.  Woman down!  He hits the button!  The train is coming!  And…?!   AND…?!!!!  Stay tuned!  I’m heading back to the station tomorrow to read the final instalment!

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On our last night in Osaka, we joined Akemi’s family for dinner at Le Comptoir de Benoit, an Alain Ducasse restaurant on the 33rd floor of the Breeze Building in Nishi-Umeda.  We had counter seats which allowed us an unobstructed view of the open kitchen, allowing us to take in the culinary theatrics while we enjoyed our meal.

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The open kitchen.

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Akemi’s brother (Haruhiko) and sister (Hiromi) ready for some eating action.

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Akemi’s mom and dad – focused!

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A foie gras gelee topped with shaved truffles.  Incredibly aromatic, all of its components melted in your mouth.

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Langoustine and basil spring rolls with a romaine dipping sauce, creme fraiche, and caviar.

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Abalone and escargot with parsley, garlic, and a delicious Japanese green whose name escapes me.  Have never had abalone and escargot together, but they were a perfect combination.  My favorite dish of the night.

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A bouilliabaisse of mussel, clam, octopus, squid, crispy red seabreem, and saffron mashed potatoes.

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Tender duck in porto sauce, beetroot, corn karaage, and a basil and ricotta ravioli with curry oil.

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A raspberry cheesecake served with a side of yogurt sorbet.

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And a few mignardises to end the meal.  That matcha chocolate was delightfully intense.

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The gang with Chef Soshi Ueno.

Chef Ueno thanked us for coming and informed us that, sadly, the restaurant would be shuttering its doors at month’s end.  He has yet to make any decisions on his future but I do hope to track him down, wherever he lands, the next time I’m in town.

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Somebody enjoyed just a little too much champagne.

This morning, we checked out of our hotel (The Intercontinental was fabulous by the way), and took a stroll through the nearby mall where Akemi spotted a Hattendo cream bun stand!

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Under normal circumstances, with lunch a mere hour away, I wouldn’t have snacked…but it was Hattendo cream buns!  With a seasonal chestnut cream flavor!  I took one to go and ate it, surreptitiously, as some Japanese frown upon the consumption of food and drink in public places.

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Mission accomplished, we caught the metro to our lunch destination.

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Since we were traveling off-hours, I got to ride in the famed Women Only compartment where I sprawled out on a chaise longue and was served a cosmopolitan.  The rumors were true!

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We disembarked and I consulted this handy map.  Then, we were on our way…

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We came across this interesting company logo.

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And this even more interesting building face.

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Finally, after Akemi almost got run over by a rogue cyclist, we found the place, Fujiya 1935, so named because it’s been open since 1935.  Its present Chef, Tetsuya Fujiwara, has been running the kitchen for ten years now and has earned the restaurant 3 Michelin stars three years running.

Some of the culinary highlights from our final meal with Akemi’s family on this trip:

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A silky sweet butternut squash soup with grape sorbet.

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Fluffy fresh-baked chestnut bread topped with whipped ricotta.

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Tai (red snapper) sashimi served with a tomato consomme gelee, gingko, basil oil, shiso flowers, olives, and okra flower.  Akemi’s favourite dish.

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Crisp confit ayu (sweetfish) served with a sauce made of river seaweed.

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Pasta with roasted mackerel.

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3 month-aged beef served with a raw porcini sauce and accompaniments.

Unfortunately, we had a shinkasen to catch so we missed dessert which, by all accounts, was spectacular.  Maybe next year!

Back to Tokyo!  We’ll be getting in at around 6:30 p.m.  By the time we check in, it’ll be around 7:30.  Rather than make a reservation somewhere, we’re planning to hit the basement level of the nearby Mitsukoshi Department store which offers several hundred varieties of delicious dining options, from sushi to pork cutlet sandwiches, steamed buns to pastries.

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Finally, if you’re a fan of the Stargate television franchise, you might like to check out this article by long-time Stargate science consultant Mika McKinnon:

http://space.io9.com/cryptography-embedded-in-stargate-universe-is-a-lesson-1634445198/1634612853/+rtgonzalez

Tomorrow, I plan to hit Tsukiji Market for breakfast, peruse Akihabara (Electric Town, Anime Geek Central), and visit my old friends at Ginza’s Pierre Marcolini Cafe, before heading out for our most anticipated meal of this trip: dinner at Esquisse.

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Last night, I turned in at a nice and early 10:00 p.m.  As a result, I woke up this morning at a less nice and early 3:50 a.m.  I dozed on and off, cobbling together about another hour in catnaps, before sitting bolt upright at 8:15 a.m. with the realization we had a tea ceremony to attend!

Mrs. Aota runs the show!

Mrs. Aota runs the show!

Akemi’s mother teaches tea ceremony and, once a month, hosts a special event for her students.  And the odd daughter-dating foreigner.

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We walked into a vestibule, removed our shoes, then walked through the partition to an adjoining room where Akemi’s brother, Haruhiko, dressed in a men’s kimono, greeted us.   Akemi’s brother is awesome.  Every time I see him, he never patronizes me with that sloooow enunciation usually reserved for equally sloooow foreigners.  Instead, he speaks to me in rapidfire Japanese, no doubt assuming/hoping I’ll eventually learn.  I love his optimism!

So far, so good...

So far, so good…

I was asked to sign my name and, even though I haven’t practiced since last year, I availed myself nicely.

The house is older with a very low ceiling.  According to Akemi, it was designed this way to discourage guests from engaging in sword fights – which is a shame because I was really feeling the urge.  Instead, I kept my head down and said my hello’s to the gathering, then followed everyone to an open garden, donning the world’s most uncomfortable sandals enroute and almost sliding off the stone path into the tiny fish pond.

After crossing the garden, we ducked into another room where ten of us were seated in a semi-circle.  I tried kneeling like everyone else but only lasted some five minutes before my knees gave out.  I opted for the slightly more comfortable but uncomfortable nevertheless cross-legged sit.

Akemi's sister, Hiromi, makes the matcha.

Akemi’s sister, Hiromi, makes the matcha.

Tea ceremonies are surprisingly complex affair and I like to think I did alright for a Canadian who had never taken part in one before.  We were presented with a bowl of wagashi (Japanese rice sweets) and I was instructed to help myself – in very intricate fashion.

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I had to take the chopsticks with my right hand, then adjust them at the midway point with my left hand, then use my right hand to transfer the wagashi to the tiny serving paper I’d been given.

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After eating the wagashi (Akemi informed me I didn’t have to eat everything but I wanted to be extra polite so I ensured there were no leftovers), I was presented with a bowl of matcha (ceremonial green tea).  I had to bow, pick up the bowl with my right hand, set it down in front of me, then set it down to my right, then set it down to my left and exchange bows with the person sitting beside me, then pick up the bowl with my right hand but slip my left hand underneath to support it, then rotate the bowl two or three times (this was a point of some contention), then drink.  Once finished, I rotated the bowl counter-clockwise and set it down.

While we sipped our tea, various antique plates and bowls were passed around for our inspection.  Akemi was understandably anxious every time I picked something up and palpably relieved whenever I’d pass it safely off to my neighbor.

Another round of matcha, then we retreated back through the garden in our unwieldy sandals, and back to the main room where Akemi reconnected with old friends and neighbors while I feigned a rudimentary understanding of the conversation.

While Akemi’s mother, brother and sister greeted the next round of tea ceremony students, Akemi, her father and I went to lunch at Uoi, a popular eel restaurant.  We got there early to beat the line – but had to stand in line anyway because we were TOO early:

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Then took our seats at the counter and enjoyed one of the greatest unagi meals I’ve ever had.

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Apparently, Tokyo and Osaka unagi-yas prepare their eel differently.  One slices from belly to back while the other cuts from back to belly (not sure which).  Also, one steams their eels before grilling (again, not sure which).

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Tasty eel guts!

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Eel-stuffed omelet.

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Sweet eel with rice.

Sadly, no unagi ice cream. :(

After we were done, one of the chefs took us on a little tour of the “unagi room” where they keep all the eels.

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The eel are kept in stacked pails that are continually showered with a steady stream of cold water.

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Who’s hungry?

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Our affable guide, host, and chef.  It was super kind of him to offer to give us the tour.

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On our way back to the hotel, we stop off for a snack.  Pictured: me with my matcha latte and chocolate cream donut.  Not pictured: me after I dribbled matcha latte down the front of my jacket and then inadvertently dusted that with powdered sugar.

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Who wants to ride the Ferris Wheel?  Not me!

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Where Springstreen got his start.

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Whale watching in Osaka.

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Hey, it’s the Lupin live-action movie!  I’ve got to convince Akemi to go with me!

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The breathtaking harrowing view from out hotel.

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The hotel garden.

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Sassy hotel model.

I leave you with this informative tutorial on proper bowing etiquette…

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There are three “can’t miss” restaurants I HAVE to visit every time I come to Tokyo.  The first is Sawada sushi – which, sadly, is closed during this two week stay.  The second is Esquisse, a brilliant French restaurant headed by Chef Lionel Beccat – which we’ll be visiting in the coming days.  And the third, is L’Effervesence, with its delightfully inventive menu c/o Chef Shinobu Namae – which I visited last night with my friend Tomomi.

It was a night of consistent culinary highlights.  Among the highlights of the highlights…

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Apple Pie #16 is the sixteenth version of Chef Name’s signature pie inspired by a certain McDonalds menu item.  This version is compromised of foie gras, fig, and a touch of basil.

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In my bid to not go a day without sake, I decided to go with the sake pairing which offered up a wonderful variety ranging from peach sweet to smoky dry.  I was offered my choice of cups to get me started.  I opted for the Mt. Fuji, bottom left.

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With a little Mr. Fuji inside.

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One of the menu items that never changes is this incredible turnip dish.  It’s cooked in a warm bath for 4 hours, then lightly roasted and butter basted.

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The chef chooses lean deer from Hokkaido that is roasted for 10 minutes, then allowed to rest, returned to roast for another 10 minutes, then set aside to rest.  The process is repeated until the eat is perfect, then served – here with local peppers, pumpkin sauce, and a reduction.

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The salad is comprised of 51 fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.  I’m not a big fan of salad but this one was a lot of fun, offering a myriad of complimentary and contrasting flavors and textures.

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My lovely hostess, Tomomi, shows off the Sirene chocolate I brought for her.

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Tonka bean mousse, barley ice cream, and a Chinese fruit – whose name escapes me.

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Our third dessert was a plate of fun mini-bites including a tube of lemon curd I used to spell out my guest’s name.  Impressive, no?

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After the meal, Chef Namae came by to check in with us and see how we’d enjoyed the meal, something he does with EVERY table.  I honestly told him that every meal I’ve had at L’Effervesence has never failed to impress.

By the time we wrapped up, it was almost 11:00 p.m.  Between the sake and the jet-lag, I was thoroughly exhausted, but I decided to forego a cab and walked back to Ometesando Station, then caught the metro back to the hotel.

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Passed by this interesting-looking eatery.  The spicy pad-thai is like a roundhouse kick in the mouth!

By the time I got in, I was ready for bed.  I had a relatively deep sake sleep, punctuated by weird dreams involving the French counryside and brain surgery, then woke up at 7 a.m.  Rather than hit Tsukiji again for breakfast, we packed up, checked out, placed our luggage in storage, then caught the shinkansen (bullet train) to Osaka.  On a Saturday!  On what appears to be a holiday weekend.  We just managed to snagged seat – but, sadly, weren’t able to grab a bento box for the ride.

 Osaka Station was super-busy, crowded and crazier than I’d ever seen Tokyo.  Akemi’s dad suspects it’s because of the many visitors who have taken advantage of the long weekend (Monday is, of course, National Old People’s Day) to visit the new Harry Potter theme park!

No Harry Potter for us though.  After meeting up with Akemi’s dad, we grabbed a quick lunch -

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Sashimi.

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Tempura.

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Stewed fish head.

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And shirasu (that’s what the little fish are called) salad.

Then, for dessert, we met up with Akemi’s friend, Ayaka, for chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate (and pistachio) at Au Palet d’Or…

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As it turns out, Ayaki is an avid reader of mystery novels (averaging a respectable ten books a month) and so, afterwards, we too a walk down to the nearest bookstore where I bought her…

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The Japanese edition of Gone Girl.  She was super-pleased.

We’re staying at the Intercontinental Hotel in Umeda and it is beautiful…

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Er, interesting art work.

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The room.

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And, to Akemi’s delight, a nice, deep tub.

Akemi and I had dinner reservations at a popular izakaya called Nagahori.  Her dad was hoping to join us as a late addition to our table for two and accompanied us to the restaurant.  Sadly, they weren’t able to accommodate him -

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He was disappointed.

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Akemi took the news a lot better than he did.

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Father and daughter, in happier times (ie. before he received news that he wouldn’t be dining with us).

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Me and my lemurs (?) – also in happier times.

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Okay, enough chit chat.  Time for dinner!

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The hairy crab was, thankfully, a lot less hairy than I feared.

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The sashimi plate.  Ooooh, check out all the sea urchin!

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Steamed abalone with abalone gut sauce.  Highly recommended.

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Deep-fried anago (sea eel) and yuba (tofu skin) – Akemi’s fave.

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Tasty grilled chicken guts!

1And, for dessert: Kasu panna cotta with eggplant ice cream.  I’m a big fan of kasu desserts but have to admit – I’ve never met an eggplant-based dessert I’ve liked.

We caught a cab back to the hotel.  If you ever visit Japan, here’s a word of warning: Learn the Japanese name of your hotel.  Japanese cities are confusing enough as it is and, fully half the time, the cab driver won’t know where he’s going.  Chances are he also won’t know the English name of your hotel.  For instance, in Tokyo, if I tell them my destination is “The Imperial Hotel”, they’l  stare back at me blankly.  But if I tell them I’m going to the “Teikoku Hoteru” (Imperial Hotel in Japanese), I fare much better.  On this night, we told the driver we were going to The Intercontinental Hotel.  He’d apparently never heard of it.  After some discussion with Akemi, he apparently figured it out and got us there in record time.  And by “there”, I mean another hotel.  But close enough.  It was only a five minute walk to our actual hotel from there.

Enroute, we cut through a mall…

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For all your chopstick needs.

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This robot promised to do something cool – and then tried to sell us a phone plan.

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I spotted my old friend Doraemon.  He was obviously drunk (again!) and I tried to take away his bottle booze.  Things got ugly after that.

Tomorrow, we wake up bright and early to go to Akemi’s childhood home (my first visit!) to take part in a tea ceremony.  I’ve been warned I’ll be required to sit cross-legged for twenty minutes or so – something I haven’t done since elementary school.  Wish me luck!

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It’s a ten hour flight from Vancouver to Tokyo and I had hoped to sleep through part of it, but just as I was nodding off, about seven hours, I was awakened by one of the entertainment systems malfunctioning, emitting a sound akin to a spoke card’s rat-tat-at.  For about a half an hour.  That’s how long it took them to fix it.  By which point it was all relative because the noise had awakened the baby three seats back and he wailed for the duration of the flight.

So, by the time we got in last night at around 8:00 p.m. Tokyo time (4:00 a.m. PST), I was ready for bed.  But rather than call it a night, we went out for dinner at one of the hotel restaurants, toughed it out, and went to bed at 10:30 p.m.

And so, by 7:00 a.m. this morning, Akemi and I were up and at ‘em, determined to pack as much into Day #1 as possible.  This is how we fared…

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Ginza at 7:30 a.m.  I’ve never seen the place so deserted.

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The Wako Building – one of my favorites.

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We walked down to the Tukiji Market for breakfast.  “But, Joe,”you’re undoubtedly asking.  “Isn’t 7:30 a.m. a little early for breakfast?”  Well, not at the Tsukiji Market which actually opens at 4:30 a.m.  Some of the more popular sushi-ya’s have line-ups starting at 5:00 a.m.

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Heading into the Tsukiji Market.

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Akemi did some advance research and wanted to try this little horumon place – horumon being “offal”.  The day’s special was bubbling away in a giant pot and, once you placed your order, a generous portion was spooned over a bowl of rice.  Akemi wasn’t a fan of the elderly woman manning the pot – who wasn’t a fan of having the pot (or, as I discovered) her photo taken owing, I suspect, to her criminal past.

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Gut Bowl.  Despite the fact that Akemi and I were unable to identify anything we were eating, it was pretty good – though a tad underseasoned.

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We parked ourselves at one of the little impromptu communal tables, ate, and then continued our foray.

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That’s a lot of dried squid.   Located a couple of stalls down from the whale bacon.

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And that’s a lot of cod sperm (shirako) – bottom right.

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Akemi lands the catch of the day!

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If I actually lived in Tokyo, I’d be down here all the time.  Of course, if I lived in Tokyo with its high cost of living, I’d probably be doing little more than strolling.

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It never fails.  Every time I visit Tokyo, I’m stopped for one of those man-on-the-street interviews.  I should just move here and become a t.v. personality.  Or convince Ivon to join me and we can be a comedy team: Gaijin and Tonic.

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I had an omelet popsicle.  Perfect for those hot summer days!

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Fresh wasabi.

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This curious culinary creation caught my eye.  It’s a black ash bun stuffed with seafood and topped with fresh sea urchin.  After much dithering, I decided to give it a try…

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And it was delicious!  I’m going back for more tomorrow morning!

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Picked up these cool spaceship cufflinks at the hotel boutique.  I’ll wear them on the first of shooting – sometime in early January.

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Apparently this mascot for the town of Tottori – an emaciated, hunger-ravaged little girl holding a frog – was retired when it was deemed to depressing.

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Curious print ad in the Tokyo subway.  What the hell is going on here?

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I think they missed their stop.

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We had lunch at Tsurutontan, Akemi’s favorite udon restaurant.  Check out my bowl of curry beef udon.  Good thing I didn’t order a double.

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VERY tasty.

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But messy.  Curiously, I was the only one at any of the tables who was given a bib.

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And, for dessert, the udon ice cream.  No, really,  It tasted like very subtle creme fraiche – with bits of udon.

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Then we headed over to Tokyo Midtown for a hot chocolate – and dessert #2.

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I sampled an aged sweet sake.  Intriguing.

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Then stopped by Uniqlo where I purchased some down jackets in preparation for the bitter Toronto winter.  Here’s me modeling one of my buys.

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Kids heading home from school.  I was thinking of picking up one of these uniforms – Gilligan hat, culottes, white athletic socks, and backpacks, and then just blending in.

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Off to Osaka tomorrow to visit Akemi’s family.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring a tie for the tea ceremony.  Fortunately, I was able to pick one up at a little specialty shop offering various goods from Gun-ma region.  Now having worked in show business as long as I have, I’m not normally star struck but as I was walking out of the shop, I spotted the man (woman?  thing?) himself: Guna-ma chan, the official Gun-ma mascot.

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Who was gracious enough to pose for a photo with Akemi (who was none too shy about waltzing up and striking a pose).

On our way back to the hotel, I received an email from blog frequenter and Tokyo denizen benjamdisco who apparently spotted Akemi and I strolling the streets of Roppongi after his haircut.  He was apparently too shy to say hi  – so, instead, he took some clandestine paparazzi pics:

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While I commended him on his surveillance prowess, I had to admonish him for not saying hi – and potentially joining us for ice cream udon and shopping at Uniqlo.

Finally, I checked in with sis this morning and she reports that the dogs are great.  Jelly has been a little more active of late, Bubba a little more relaxed, and Lulu her usual gassy self.

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Bubba.

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Jelly.

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Lulu.

Dinner tonight, then catching the bullet train to Osaka tomorrow!  My feet hurt already.

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Off to Japan today and one of the things I’m especially looking forward to – besides the sushi, pastries, and robot toilets – is the sake.  To be honest, I’m not a big drinker.  I don’t do wine and rarely drink beer.  I will have the occasional glass of bourbon – but it’s not some I drink a lot of.  Sake, on the other hand…well, I CAN drink a lot of sake.  As my good friend and former Japan travel companion, Ivon Bartok, learned first hand on OUR trip to Tokyo a couple of years back.  Some people are more charming when they drink.  Others considerably less so.  Me, I’m just more hungry for convenience store eclairs.  Look at me go!

Ah, good times, good times!

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