Japan - Day 1

Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.
Here's the wonderful Bladerunner-like view from the sixteenth floor of the nice hotel in Odaiba where I'm staying. It's a Western-style hotel so, no tatami mats but lots of slippers and it is massively overheated, which I'm told is a cultural thing.

Odaiba is across the new "Rainbow Bridge" from central Tokyo & the Ginza. What you see in the picture is Odaiba's monorail and behind it, the waterfront promenade where dozens of people are all taking the same photograph of downtown Tokyo and beside it, the Odaiba mall, which has great souvenir shops (I really want a kitschen cat, the pun is entirely intended) plus the inevitable J. Crew & Starbucks.

The air has a specific odor: seawater mixed with that funny smell that comes off new electronics.

We had dinner at the sushi bar in the hotel. Not very adventurous but we were tired after the long flight.

Since Japanese cuisine is one of the few that I can still eat with abandon on the Wonky Gallbladder Diet, I think I'll be writing a lot about it. So... the sushi. Even at this very ordinary hotel bar, it was -- predictably but still marvelously -- out of this world. I was astonished to discover that unagi is neither as slimy nor as chewy as it is back home, and the tekka is delicately sweet. (Red snapper is still chewy, though.)

I've been reading about Tsukiji, the Tokyo fish market, and I have learned that not all the fish is local - not by a long shot. So it is hard to explain these variations in flavor and texture by the usual simple argument that local is better.

Words I can say: konnichiwa (hello), domo aregato (thank you very much), aregato (very much), sumimasen (excuse me), hai (yes), nihongo wa hanashi masen (I don't speak Japanese).

Characters I recognize: "women's room," "men's room".