The Traveler's Journal

Adventures, tales, stories and vignettes by travel writer James Patton Jones

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Wednesday the 19th of September 2018 | PM Edition Published by JRAC, Inc.
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Previous Articles:

Columbia
Architecture in Columbia

England
To London via Train
A Bus to Stonehenge

France
A Flight to France
Normandy, Brittney and the Loire Valley
First Day in Paris
Walking Tours of Paris
Memories of Paris

Japan
Arrival in Tokyo
Subway Survival, Swords, Site-Seeing, and Sushi
A Week of Business Meetings, and Wonderful Food
Asakusa and Tokyo Tower
Mt. Fuji and Hakkone
Sony Building, Hibiya Park, Shopping

Mexico
Memories of Mexico

Switzerland
Swiss Excursion, Part I
Swiss Excursion, Part II

USA
Snow Camping in Yosemite

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A Week of Business Meetings, and Wonderful Food

I met my collogue Mike for breakfast, then we met his collogue Ayami, the country manager for Japan from his company. We spent the day in business meetings, traveling much by subway and train. The meetings were interesting as all of the audiences could speak only some English. Ayami had to translate often at some locations, constantly at others. That evening Mike and I had dinner at a sushi resturant in the Hotel: very high quality fish, but also expensive. At one point I asked that cute young server what she would recomend I have. To my shock and dismay, she responded that her favorite was uni (sea urchine). I knew what that tasted like, and I rather severly disliked it (even worse than pickled beets!). So then she suggested saury (a kind of mackeral, as far as I can tell). It tasted quite good.

   
   

Breakfast with Mike, meetings all day. We traveled a considerable distance via bullet train: the view from the window was mountainous beauty.


[Title: "View from Bullet Train, 200+ km From Tokyo"]

We got back to the hotel around 8pm. I was hungry, and decided to try the sushi resturant again. I sat at the sushi bar this time, and as the resturant was rather empty, I spent a bit of time chatting with same gal that suggested the saury fish last night. Her name is Ami, and she is a univeristy student. We talked a bit about Japanese culture, and what life in Japan was like. I asked if she was was free to go touring with me over the weekend, but she said she was busy both days, with classes, and with volunteer work with childern. Oh well, I'll continue my quest for someone who speaks both Japanese and English to be my tour guide...

Wednesday, 24 July

Breakfast with Mike, meetings all day, dinner with Ayami at a wonderful Japanese resturant. Mike and I ordered a red wine (which was served much colder than we expected, but was pretty good, once we let it warm up to room temperature.) The dinner started with a series of appitizers--all very tasty, about six different items in total. Ayami explained about Japanese rice wine (sake) and the different quality grades. It turns out that what I liked from the U.S. was the lowest grade of sake, and in Japan was consumed mostly by college students who couldn't afford anything better. Ayami ordered a 5th-grade ("top shelf" to us Americans) that was the most incredably smooth sake I had ever tasted. I doubt I will ever drink that lower quality stuff ever again! Later in the evening, the main course arrived, and Ayami ordered some plum wine (served in very small glasses). The plum wine was even more amazing than the sake! (Note to self: find a U.S. source for these two wonderful items!) For dessert Mike and I had green tea ice cream. (Ayami didn't eat ice cream, and Mike had never had the green tea variety before. He didn't appreciate it as much as I do.)

Thursday, 25 July

Breakfast with Mike, meetings all day. In the evening, Mike and I went shopping in the Tobu Department store (9 floors of shopping!). We wandered around, and found a nice gal who spoke English to help us find the items he wanted to buy for his kids. Afterwards, I got her to give me directions to several interesting places in Tokyo. I also asked her if she was free over the weekend to go touring with me, but unfortunately she had to work. Bummer! I'll continue my quest.. Leaving the store, we dropped his bags at the hotel, then headed back out again, this time in search of food. We navigated our way back to the building where we had dinner the night before with Ayami, and found a different resturant. This time we had sushi again. (Need I say I love sushi? And Mike seemed to be developing a taste for it as well.) Oh, and in the assortment we ordered, uni showed up, much to my dismay. I decided to try it for the third time in my life. This was the best taking uni I had ever had. However, it was still the worst tasting sushi I had ever consumed. On that recommendation (or perhaps from the look on my face) Mike declined trying any uni.

Friday, 26 July

Breakfast with Mike, meeting in the morning. When we got back to the office, I gave Ayami the gift I had brought him from the US: Hershey's Chocolate. I had kept it cooled in the 'fridge in my room. In the afternoon, I taught a class. Then about 15 people from Ayami's office, and Mike and I, all went out to dinner together. It was a traditional Japanese resturant, and a traditional after-work 'drinking meal'. There was an endless stream of appitizers of all sorts, and various drinks. Ayami ordered me two of the best sake I'd ever had (again). We all sat on the floor around a low table. Over the course of the evening (hours) various people moved around to talk with different people. I stayed put, and people came over and talked. I learned my numbers from 6 to 10 in Japanese (I had already learned 1-5), and I learned some basic kanji, such as:


["Mountain;         River;           Rice;         Center"]

When we were getting ready to leave, I asked Michiko if she wanted to tour with me on Satuday, that I wanted to go to the Tokyo Tower, and other places. She said sure, but she had to finish by mid-afternoon, as she had English classes to attend. She gave me her cell phone number and suggested I call her between 9 and 10 am. We all said our goodbyes, and departed. Mike and I wished each other a safe trip home.


More articles about Japan:
 Arrival in Tokyo
 Subway Survival, Swords, Site-Seeing, and Sushi
 Asakusa and Tokyo Tower
 Mt. Fuji and Hakkone
 Sony Building, Hibiya Park, Shopping


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