We arrived at Narita Airport south of Tokyo after a nearly 13 hour direct flight from Detroit on Thursday afternoon. Some of you have traveled further than that on a single flight, but folks, that is a long time to be cooped up in an airplane. In spite of the Fidelity commercials (and yes, we have Fidelity investments), I don’t see me walking back from first class to talk to myself. It won’t be necessary. I’ll always be back in that “mere mortal,” passenger section of the plane.
My son, my daughter and her long-time boyfriend, and my wife and I all arrived (separately) at about the same time. Our new “family” (daughter-in-law, parents, and brother) were all there waiting to meet us. It was our first face-to-face meeting with her parents and brother. We were very pleased (though certainly not surprised) to find them very friendly, gracious and welcoming. And over the course of the next week, in spite of the significant language challenges, we felt that we became very close.
No one who knows me will ever accuse me of not liking food
The first night, after checking into our hotel, my son and daughter-in-law took us to a small, local restaurant in the area of our hotel, and we ate. And we ate. And we ate. This became a pattern and focal point of our trip. Bad for our weight, but good in every other way. As I was to learn, there are many different “styles” of Japanese cuisine. We sampled as many of them as we could, but there just wasn’t time to do them all. But we did enough! The following night our hosts treated us to a wonderful Teppanyaki meal at the Tokyo Grand Hiatt in Roppongi Hills. This may have been one of the best meals I have ever eaten.
No one who knows me will ever accuse me of not liking food. Over the years, I have become more adventurous. In 1984, when I graduated from Law School, I had eaten Chinese food one time (something very bland with chicken). I had never eaten any other Asian food, and my leanings were toward Mexican, Pizza, and Meat and Potatoes. My wife dragged me kicking and screaming to my first authentic Chinese restaurant, while in Florida some years back. I lived. And I returned. Again and again. Still, a lot of the food my son described eating in Japan just didn’t seem to whet my palate (though I do like sushi). Until I tried it, that is. Before we left Japan, I had eaten (at restaurants which specialized in these styles) Ramen (not the “college student staple” you find in the grocery stores, by the way) 🙂, Soba noodles, Yakiniku, Teppanyaki, and had other meals in a couple traditional Japanese family restaurants. I have not been much of a “soup guy,” over the years. Japanese noodles might just make a convert out of me. There are more styles. I will look forward to trying them on my next visit.
The first evening’s simple beginning to our gastronomic journey was only a precursor. My son showed me how to hold and use chopsticks (something I had always been too lazy and indifferent to attempt) and I am happy to report that I would not starve in Asia. I used chopsticks to eat almost every meal (when in Rome ….) during our stay and got pretty comfortable with them. Chopsticks (I am never very far away from food in my thoughts) may have been one of the highlights of our trip (which may just be a commentary on how simple-minded I really am), and our very gracious hostess, purchased my wife and me our own sets of personalized chopsticks (our names engraved in Katakana kanji), which we will treasure for life as one of those very personal and special gifts.
Japanese noodles might just make a convert out of me
As noted in the previous blog, the first 2 days were mostly taken up by wedding festivities. That didn’t leave much time for sightseeing, though I was able to get up and walk the area around the Shiadome station (connected to the Park Hotel where we stayed in on our first and last nights). There is a large Japanese Garden near the Shiadome station, but it was closed on Friday, so I had to content myself with a few shots around the area.