Birthday eats

We managed the long flight to Tokyo by watching endless movies when the sleep wouldn’t come. The 12 hours ticked down slowly to landing time at the end of Tokyo’s Sunday – we left on Saturday morning and had skipped 14 hours. When we opened our hotel room door it was exactly 24 hours after the alarm clock had woken us up in Manchester by the sea.

It took 2 hours to get from the airport to our hotel by public transport. I think I am done cheaping in out; being sleep deprived and with an ankle that doesn’t operate very well, the last metro transit was murder.

We checked in, dropped our bags and found a fast (Japanese) food place nearby that served me a small strip of grilled salmon and a bowl of vegetable broth, and Axel a bowl of rice with caramelized onions, beef strips and shiitake mushrooms.

The hotel we selected from the internet is nice for being reasonably priced. Tokyo is an expensive city. You can select the number of square centimers you want from the website. We chose an option with medium number of square centimeters which still makes for a tiny room where Axel cannot do his exercises on the ground while I am around. So I am sitting in the lobby now which is also the only place with internet access.

In the morning we spent a few hours in the ‘precious’ coffee shop which also doubles as the hotel’s breakfast restaurant, waiting for a FASID colleague to come and get stuff we don’t want to carry to Nagasaki and back.

We then walked to the Suntori museum in the Midtown mall which is all decked out for Christmas and could compete with the fanciest shopping mall in the US (and win). A Finnish glass exhibit showed the subtle and not so subtle links between Finnish and Japanese design – extraordinary.

We walked on to visit another museum but my ankle gave up and we had ourselves driven to an exquisite tofu restaurant at the foot of the Tokyo Tower, a bright orange Eiffel-Tower-wannabee monstrosity that spoils the view  (if you look up) from the tofu restaurant’s beautiful traditional gardens.

It is good that the yen is still monopoly money to me otherwise I would have gasped at the price of our lunch. It was an 8-course affair; a dainty tofu lunch served in or on a variety of beautiful small dishes made from wood and ceramics. Each new course was served by a smiling waitress in traditional costume, shuffling quietly on white stocking-ed feet over soft tatami mats, to and fro, to and fro. We could have been somewhere in the country side, 100s of years ago. The only modernity, aside from us, was the credit card machine (thank God) and the digital camera used to take my birthday picture. It was tastefully delivered (separate from the bill) in an envelope decorated with an origami crane and accompanied by a bright yellow gerbera in its own portable vase.

By then we were exhausted. Although late afternoon here it was for us also still the middle of the night. We returned to the hotel for a nap, hoping to do another art museum in the afternoon but we woke up too late for that. So we selected a sushi restaurant out of the 100s of restaurants available to us (these are the visible ones, not counting the ones on 2nd or higher floors or hidden behind curtains and below ground doors). Our tactic for selecting a restaurant is to find a place with lots of salary men (and an occasional salary woman), who are having their post work drinks and dinner before heading out to the suburbs, to wife and kids.

Tomorrow we are off to Nagasaki, leaving us a short morning in Tokyo and another travel adventure.

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