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June 30, 2007

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MarkD

Scott, your entry has reminded me of my first trip to Japan, which I am horrified to admit, was 20 years ago. Since then I have been to Japan many many times. Japanese culture is very subtle, you cannot know it in one trip, or even in a dozen trips. I’ve come to love and respect the Japanese culture. But like you (I think), I didn’t quite know what to make of it on my very first visit.

By the way, I have been to that very same ‘French’ Restaurant and had the very same experience. Actually that restaurant is famous in Tokyo as being one of the very finest ‘French’ restaurants in the city. I don’t know if I would call it a French restaurant, but I agree with you, whatever the cuisine, the presentation is marvellous, the combinations and contrasting textures are exquisite , and the service impeccable. But that is Japanese cuisine. Everything is thought out to the last detail. Presentation and texture are the critical elements. One is meant to savour the contrasting textures and the beauty of the food on the plate. Each course is a layer that gently leads you from the last course and brings you to the next. You are supposed to experience the full range of tastes and textures in every meal with each course blending smoothly with the next.

Their cuisine is beautiful contrast to the chaotic world outside the door. Tokyo is one of the world’s largest cities – but you rightly describe the little side streets where life takes place in Tokyo. Only the major roads have sidewalks. On the side streets cars, buses, bicycles and pedestrians all commingle in a traffic free for all. I love the little tiny restaurants on these side streets were the ‘salarymen’ eat work and play. In spite of its size, Tokyo is just an unending series of little villages hidden among the corporate skyscrapers. Tokyo has a pulse. It vibrates energy and activity, and the Japanese retreat from this vibrancy into the little rabbit warrens of their back streets. You turn a corner off the bustling modern Ginza and walk into one of these little oasis and are immediately enter the world of the serene old Japan.

I am jealous. I wish I were there with you. I’ve travelled the globe. Americans always ask me (and it is only Americans that ask this question), ‘which is the best country in the world.’ There is no such thing as a ‘best’ country. But I do have my favourites. Japan is definitely in the top three must see countries. At least in my book.

Shibuya Sightseeing

Indeed, the japanese even do Burgers differently, sometimes better.

The one thing I HAVENT found here is decent Mexican food!

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