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Showing posts from November 8, 2009

Japan last Friday: Takashimaya Dreaming

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Exquisitely excessive packaging at Tayashimaya in Japan and Singapore. A ball of rice is presented like a jewel; a cake resembles an architectural sculpture.



You know how you come back from some exotic place, and all you want to do is keep prolonging the experience, eating the same foreign food for as long as possible, mincing around in your sari or kimono or toga, playing Pavarotti or koto music while ordering papardelle con ragu for breakfast and a bento box for dinner?

Well, as I wrote in my Cheap'n'Choosy blog, today I made a beeline for Takashimaya, a Japanese department store in New York I'd roundly ignored prior to my recent 5 weeks in Singapore and Japan. I'd already cased out Pearl River and Sunrise Japanese grocery on landing, despite putting my back out in Tokyo, discovering that most of what I'd lugged home is readily available here in NYC.

There is generally nothing in department stores that I really want, especially ones like Henri Bendels which see…

Japan on a Friday: Minutiae on overdrive

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Last post I wrote something "a society with a fascination with the minutiae of life is one you will never cease discovering."



This is one example of minutiae. I found this miniaturized "curry rice meal" at Kid Robot in Soho, NY, day after getting back from my 3 week Japan trip. Oh how I wish I'd made it to geek central, Akihibara, where you can find wierd stuff like this and more. That's a definite for next time.

It struck a chord because I learned curry rice is a staple of Japanese urban families - basically a just-add-water flavor cube of riotously tasty curry paste, that you team with veges, meat and rice in no time flat. I ate this at Richard and Haruyo's house in Nagoya. And on the United flight coming over.

The little red pot has a real wooden knob. The lid fits perfectly and has a certain weight to it despite this whole thing being about an inch diameter.

The ladle 'scoops' the curry nicely. You can remove the ladle from the scoop of …

Hazards of Travel: Watch your back!

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UPDATE: Yoga really works! Some exercises to fix your back

Right: What I need right now ... the Yamaha-owned onsen Tsumagoi (means "Love your Wife") in Kakegawa. Those are my green-tea-soaked tootsies about 2 weeks ago ...

... AND I don't mean pickpockets, hijackers, or even Bangkok tailor-made shirt touts (the best in the world - the touts, not the shirts, which fall apart after 2 washes).

I mean: look after your back when dragging suitcases, sleeping in hostels, stepping off strange and uneven curbs (kerbs downunder), and yes, biking around like I've been doing for 5 weeks.

After 2 weeks customer evangelizing in Singapore and another 3 in Japan, I'm reporting to you flat on my back, after putting it out on my last day in Tokyo. I was simply folding a blanket and when POW! A sharp, throbbing pain above my left hip.

Somehow, I managed to get back to NYC - bracing myself and dragging two bags and a small backpack through Tokyo's train and airport bus labyrinth…