Saturday, June 26, 2010

It's Been A While...

It's been nearly two months since I wrote anything here and it would be completely understandable if everyone had thought I'd abandoned blogging. But I've got some very good excuses (which I'll get to in just a moment) and have no intentions of making a habit of this. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and set the very modest goal of 2 posts a month over the summer. That's doable, right? I'll try to keep the focus on food, particularly things I cook rather than places I eat, but there will be some exceptions. Starting off with one such exception hardly sets a good precedent, but this is a post that has to be written.

May was a busy month at work and I rarely left the office before 10pm, so there was not a ton of great cooking going on in my kitchen, much less photographing and writing about it. Then came June, and with it the World Cup. Oh how I love the World Cup! Soccer games every day! Broadcast live on TV! The fact that you have to wait four years for it only makes it that much more awesome. And, for once, the crazy time difference has worked out great. The first match of the day starts at 8:30pm Tokyo time and the second at 11pm. Work calmed down a bit, which meant I could usually get out of the office somewhere around 8-9pm. It takes me a little less than an hour to get home from the office, but kickass Japanese technology means I was able to watch the first half on my phone while I rode the train. Cook dinner between games, shower at half time, go to bed at 1am. Pretty awesome way to spend your evenings...

So clearly soccer has been cutting into my food time, but that's not the real reason I haven't written anything. In fact, most of my best cooking happens on the weekends anyways. What really has kept me from writing is these hooligans:

Almost half a year after I last saw them back in Michigan, my oh-so-awesome family made their way thousands of miles to come hang out with me in Japan for a bit. Dad had two conferences in Kyoto he was attending, so they spent the weekdays down there checking out temples and old Japanese-y stuff, then came to Tokyo to spend the weekends with me. The first weekend was just the parents, then the whole family the next weekend, finished off by just Ali for the third.

We cruised all over Tokyo, seeing the sights, taking in the atmosphere and, of course, eating lots of good food. They were real troopers about it, especially considering how much more walking is involved in day-to-day life here compared to in the US, and were game for anything I suggested. If it looked interesting, we tried it. If it looked tasty, we ate it. We blew through a ton of money (I won't say how much, but when I looked at my bank statement afterwords, I couldn't tell that my paycheck had been deposited). But you know what: I wouldn't hesitate to do it all over again tomorrow if I could. In fact, I'd jump at the chance. They traveled half way around the world just to see me. How cool is that. It's an amazing feeling to know you are that loved.

Originally, I'd planned to write about everywhere we went and all the things we did, but it this post would just be ridiculously long. Instead, I'll stick to some of my favorite pictures with brief captions. If you want the details, you'll just have to ask them!

Touristy stuff: 43rd floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building and the Imperial Palace

Up unnaturally early to go see the Tsukiji fish market in action

Left: Getting used to the efficient madness that is Tokyo's public transportation
Right: There are much better temples and shrines in Kyoto than in Tokyo, so we kept them to a minimum, but Meiji Shrine is worth a look

Left: Some things in Japan are just weird. Like claw machines with bloody human-devouring teddy bears.
Right: My coworkers seemed to think that it was weird that I would take my family anywhere but the fancy shiny parts of town, but to me back alley dives are as much a part of Tokyo as the neon lights of Shinjuku or the posh streets of Ginza

I hauled them all the way out to the neighborhood I live in, Kameari, which is famous as the setting of the popular Japanese comic book "Kochira Kameari".

Yuki illustrates the difference between "Japan-size" and "America-size"

Lunch at a 100+ yr old soba restaurant. My mom's has a new favorite Japanese food. My dad still can't remember the word "soba" and just makes up his own version every time

Top: Ali, in front of the most ridiculous intersection in Tokyo, the Shibuya Scramble
Bottom: Watching the organized chaos


And finally, a few pictures to show what a cute couple my parents are