The fates have yet again decided
I should return to the Land of the Rising Sun to do some work,
spend some time, and continue building worthwhile
relationships with the fine people on these islands.
Originally scheduled for the spring, the trip was delayed due
to the terrible earthquake
and tsunami of 3/11/11
. I waited until things got
settled down enough before coming. But things have
stabilized, the nuclear power plants have been more-or-less
been contained, and the biggest expected impediment is the
mandatory power saving efforts because so many power plants
continue to be offline. This means air conditioning being at
levels less than we're accustomed to. I was monitoring
this at the TEPCO
and at the excellent english-language local
to see how things were going.
Anyway, your intrepid traveler being properly briefed on
radiation exposure and ready for some hot weather, we departed
JFK on 8/31 at sunset, and we'll be flying the terminator
most of the way.
Our route took us north toward Connecticut. KBDR
above the engine here.
Wasn't very much to see along the way this time, it was about
this dark most of the flight, and clouds obscured the ground.
I'll be seeing Sapporo midway through the trip.
This flight on American went to Haneda
, which is Tokyo International (RJTT
and is closer to the city than Narita. Coming in for a
The easiest way to my hotel is the Tokyo
, then take a taxi for the final leg. There is
a way via Metro but with luggage it's kind of a pain.
The monorail was put in for the 1964
and has been expanded and upgraded since
then. Here's the airport platform.
The cars have some seats at higher levels than others, I
assume to accomodate mechanical equipment below.
Energy savings is a major concern, and there is a 15% expected
reduction in consumption for the summer. Electric Saving
Polar Bear says: "Switch OFF! Smile ON!"
<sad> The Pororoca supermarket next to the hotel is no
more, having been bought a while back, and the new owner
converted them to a Maruetsu petit. Not much changed
inside, other than they seem to carry less sushi than before.
The view from the hotel roof is pretty much the same, the red
flashing aircraft alert lights still, to me, signaling
The Tokyo Tower is usually orange, but it was blue on a few
nights during the trip. I'm not sure if the blue was to
signify an event, or if it was a power-saving effort.
The Somerset still puts out some items to make your arrival
My first lunch, and naturally that had to be Dan Dan Mien at
my favorite place. Mmm hot and spicy, with a
sesame/peanut sauce. The rice has a sweet bean tofu
mixture on it. The dessert is something like a
grapefruit gelatin. And yes, that's potato salad.
Wandering around Akihabara
looking for new stuff
I came across this shrine
which I hadn't noticed before. I've seen several this
trip in places I had visited many times, but had not seen them
The Akihabara KFC dressed up Col. Sanders.
The Super Potato
still doing well.
There's a huge number of watches for sale from on-street
vendors, many for prices in the hundreds of dollars.
Akihabara always draws a crowd.
Went to the Apple Store in Ginza.
music store in Ginza
is pretty amazing, selling not only
CDs but also musical instruments like pianos, french horns,
and cellos. They also have an extensive classical and
jazz music score selection. I saw things on the shelf
there that were hard-to-find special orders in the US.
They also were heavily promoting the new Beatles "1" album.
Those Beatles posters look
One day we didn't have time to go out, so I went down to the
office building food court, where most of the restaurants have
pre-assembled bags with a lunch for 500-600 Yen. This is
from a sushi restaurant and had a nice selection of shrimp,
tuna, salmon, scallop, egg, mackerel and squid for 600Y.
Couple that with a Iced Mocha from Excelsior and you've got a
I saw these eyes on a TEPCO truck and was not sure what they
indicated - Tepco's watching us?
I went over to Zojo-ji
the main temple of Jodo-shu (pure sect) Buddhism, which is
right by the hotel. I'd walked around it before, but hadn't
felt comfortable walking through. I've been in Japan
enough now to know there's no concern about an outsider going
and seeing it, so I went back for another look. This
gate is in the traditional location where it's been since
around 1598. Like most historic buildings, it's actually
a replica, the original having been destroyed during the firebombing
This is the inside of the temple, with the image of Amida
originally housed the remains of six of the Tokugawa
, who ruled Japan from 1603 until 1868.
During The War the temple was destroyed, and they had only
been able to find some of the original remains, which have
been put into new graves, which are designated National
A view of the Roppongi
Hills Mori Tower
Looking toward the Shiodome area.
I was looking at the top of the Tokyo Tower, and it seemed to
me the antenna was bent. I asked, and yes, it was
damaged during the 3/11 earthquake. It's still
broadcasting, though. There's a new tower being
constructed in Tokyo, the Sky Tree
which is higher and will support terrestrial
broadcasting. It's needed because the Tokyo Tower isn't
tall enough to be able to support the entire area, as there is
signal degradation due to nearby tall buildings.
Some meals from the Pororoca
Spaghetti-type with a mushroom sauce, macaroni salad, and an
odd macaroni and cheese.
The area around the hotel, including a BMW dealer. Two
other custom-car dealers have set up shop within a few blocks.
There's a Taiwanese restaurant in the office food court, and
this is a spicy beef, flavored a bit like dan dan mien.
The egg drop soup was really good too.
Had dinner with my friend Jacky, at a little dan dan mien
place in Ginza. Here's Ginza at night:
This was served with pork slices on top and was more peanut
oily. Also very good.
On my first trip to Japan, I came over on Easter weekend, and
that was the first Easter I had missed church, because I was
new to the area and its ways and didn't know how or where to
find a church that might have services in english. I'm
somewhat shamed to say that upon doing some research this
trip, the only Anglican church that does english-language
services is one block away, on the way to where the old office
was. So this trip, I decided to go to church on Sunday,
September 11, 2011, which seemed an appropriate thing to
do. The service at St.
was very nice, the pastor gave a good sermon on
forgiveness, and the service was well attended. Next
door is the Cathedral
Church of St. Andrew
, which has services exclusively in
Japanese. Nice people, I'll go back.
Later that day I did some shopping in Shibuya with Noriko, and
in the Tokyu
there found signs you can use to mark your parking
We had walked by a pizza place which smelled good, and later
that week I found I couldn't get pizza out of my mind, and
when I returned to the hotel from work, someone else in the
building had ordered Dominos and the guy was there. I
found I could create a Dominos.co.jp account and order online,
in English. Mmm Pizza!
Brooklyn-style. Hot, tasty, crispy, and with that grease
that drips down your arm, just like God meant pizza to
be. Sorry Chicago, this
Coupled with a single-serving Sake, dinner is complete.
Going to work one morning, I hear loudspeakers blaring some
verbal message. Apparently the Christians are recruiting
in Minato-ku. They tried hard, don't think they were
Another quick food-court lunch, of shrimp, fish and pumpkin
tempura rice bowl. 500 Yen. Hot and tasty, with
On our way to visit another company, we had some time for
lunch in Setagaya, and ate at this Japanese-Italian
restaurant. The food was very good, mostly vegetables,
so it felt pretty healthy. They had a nice salad bar and
the bacon and spinach consomme was really tasty (mmm
bacon). One unique element is that the door you walk in
(those silver ones) actually take you into their walk-in
refrigerator, where they keep vegetables and other chilly
items. After the heat and air-conditioning lite
, that was a very
Looking at the rental prices in this area, which is a little
off the beaten path of Tokyo, because it's just outside of the
Metro service area. Pretty expensive.
Lots of places for bicycle parking.
This is called the Carrot Tower.
And I'm not sure what this message is, but little commuter
kitteh made me smile.
Here's a few panoramic shots which are composed of multiple
photos I took and merged together using a Mac program.
Click on them for larger versions.
Here's a view from the roof of the hotel:
Here's a view of east Tokyo and the bay from the office.