Monday, March 7, 2016

Japan Diary #1: How about some pig's rectum with that?


     TOKYO—It's been so long that I've sat among smokers at dinner that I forgot that, in Japan, it's still a thing. It didn't bother me before, so didn't bother me now at this Yakitori bar in the Kabukichan area of Tokyo. In fact, it sort of added to the I'm-in-a-foreign-place vibe, to be among young people puffing away. The food was still good, hot from the brazier, impaled on flimsy wooden stick.s. I had all sorts of skewers — tomatoes wrapped in bacon, grilled asparagas with chicken, pork belly—I drew the line at the more exotic fare, such as sparrow, or pig's rectum. The drink to the left is a Nippon soda, which comes with a clump of ginger, and I found it tasty, in a gingery kind of way.
   The whole trip to Japan has been very low key. The flight, on a new American Airlines 787, was filled but not crowded or hellish. I slept for an hour, which gave me energy to last until ... well, it's nearly 10 p.m. now, or 7 a.m. Chicago time. I don't feel exhausted or jet lagged or anything. Maybe that's tomorrow. 
    If you look at the menu below, you'll see it's fairly cheap—110 yen make a dollar. The hotel is very small, but clean and modern and inviting, and also inexpensive; it set me back $80, a reminder that Japan has been in recession for a long, long time.
     Okay, the last thoughts in my head have drained out. A shower and sleep. 
     If you want something to discuss, consider one reason the Japanese economy is in such trouble is their population is dwindling—the place looked empty on the train from Narita, though it got denser quickly as we approached central Tokyo. It has no border with Mexico and far fewer immigrants (though much more signage, not only in English, but Chinese and Korean than when last I was here, so the place is certainly more multi-cultural). Remember that being anti-immigrant is not only morally wrong, but it's economically disastrous too. G'night.  
      
     


10 comments:

  1. I wonder if the people who wrote the menu got the English from Google Translate. The food is really really cheap. And you're in Tokyo, which is supposed to be pricey.

    I was in Yokusaka once for 24 hours. Took the opportunity to polish off a bottle of whiskey in a little bar. I did notice that everyone was driving on the wrong side of the street, but that was about it for my multicultural experience.

    john

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    1. Food, and everything else, was pricier when the dollar was weaker and the yen stronger. Compared to those days the yen is now barely an urge.

      Tom Evans

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  2. Even until fairly recently, the Japanese looked down on the Korean culture and even today might just give them more menial positions or unequal pay. Just as sexism is still rampant there, as per yesterday's discussion. Just look at how the Crown Princess was thought of when she didn't have a boy. Change may be on the way if they change their succession laws.

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    4. I'm removing my post about "Lies my Teacher Told Me," because it was in response to a post that was subsequently removed.

      john

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  3. The setting you described in the restaurant reminds me of what I saw on an Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown episode!

    LindaB

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  4. All too true, in addition to a very restrictive immigration policy, Japan had bans and/or high tariffs on imported manufactured goods and agricultural products. From the mid 80's to the mid 90's there were a plethora of nonfiction books published, making dire predictions that the growth in the Japanese economy would soon overtake the United States, relegating us to second rate status. Invariably in the closing chapters, the authors claimed we needed to implement similar policies, if we wished to stay competitive in the world economy. Well hindsight is indeed 20/20, and the Japanese markets soared in the 80's, until Dec. 1989 when the NIKKI225 peaked at 39,000 Yen. After that was one of the worst bear markets in history, by Mar. 2003 it was down to 7,800 Yen, and now 26 years later it's at 16,600 Yen, still less then half its high. Sadly with all the proof to the contrary, more politicians then just Trump believe implementing these and similar policies will improve our economy.

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