Dec 22, 2012

25 Things I Learned in Japan

1.  I don't want to be a Kaiseki-style restaurant dish washer when I grow up.
2.  The mouth feel of bar snacks at the Park Hyatt's NY Grill brought back vivid memories of chomping on Golden Crisp cereal as a child.  I'm surprised that the consumption of lacquered rice crackers failed to spark this thought before now.
3.  I'm surprised there aren't more places in the states that have business models like Japan's cat and maid cafes.
4.  Kyoto's Bar Rocking Chair and Gion Niti are straight out of my dreams of Japan. Ditto Tokyo's Kubrick worshiping Bar Orange.
5.  Body self-conscious gaijin should steer clear of large Tokyo onsens.
6.  New Yorkers shouldn't take their Japanese restaurants for granted (Midtown East, East Village, Williamsburg).  That said, I'm absolutely baffled as to why we don't have ONE decent tempura joint in this town.
7.  I'm surprised Sukiyabashi Jiro isn't the target of more cash register robberies.
8.  Something else I've been dreaming of, olive oil soda, was found for sale here on Naoshima Island.  This drink deserves to be more popular.
9.  I wanted to ship home a couple cases of super-tasty salty Naoshima Shio cider.
10.  In Tokyo NOTHING interesting exists on street level.
11.  Further "advancements" in how buzz is disseminated will make places like NYC and London more vertical as street traffic becomes a less critical factor for attracting customers to commercial establishments.  In other words, ten years from now New Yorkers will realize that high floor and basement level commercial space was relatively cheap.
12.  EVERY Japanese person is forever pessimistic on the prospects for their society.
13.  If only high caliber scones were as plentiful in NYC as they are in Kyoto.
14.  Kyoto must have the highest number of cute cafes per capita in the world.
15.  Forgetting where you left your bicycle is both more likely and problematic in Tokyo than most places I've ever been.
16.  Those who argue that a gratuity system is required for incentivizing good service have never been to Japan.
17.  I never liked salmon roe (ikura) much until I went to Japan.
18.  If you want to stump the Tokyo cocktail masters just ask for Pisco-based drink.
19.  The popularity of arcade "grab-it" claw machines is one of Japan's more baffling cultural norms.
20.  I miss my fish foot therapist. Does PETA have a position on this service?
21.  If you stay at Tokyo's Park Hyatt make sure to snag the in-room sewing kit.
22.  I'm still not sure why one is allowed to smoke at most indoor places but is then relegated to stand within public "smoke-corrals" outdoors.
23.  Rice, miso soup, and pickles always come last, not first.
24.  An earthquake monitoring app can come in very handy.
25.  The long-exposure photo I was dying to take of Kadoya's interior would have been superior to the one on the sanctioned for-sale postcard.

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