Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rest or Stay

Love hotels are alive and well here in Tokyo. We passed by a bunch of them on our way home from dinner last weekend. The funny thing is that they don’t really seem seedy and they don’t seem to ruin the neighborhoods that they’re in. They seem pretty well received by the community. They have funny names like Hotel Chandra, and Hotel Two-Way. You can rent rooms by the hour, evening or night. I’ve heard that they’re pretty inexpensive and clean, so travelers book them as regular hotel rooms.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Heart Tokyo

Over the past few months something’s happened. I’ve fallen in love with Tokyo. It took me a long time. But it’s finally happened. And at this point I’m almost certain that it’s my very favorite city in the world (not that i've been to them all). The reasons why I feel this way are more extensive and descriptive than I’ll bother you with, so I made a quick list of things that have helped make this city my new home sweet home, and why if it weren’t for dear friends and family back in the states, we would probably just go ahead and stay here indefinitely. It’s just such a nice place to live. After months of grappling with Driscoll, I finally understand his argument for choosing the road less traveled, doing things unconventionally, being spontaneous and generally seeing and doing as much as you can with the life you’ve been given. It’s acting out of inspiration rather than fear. Being comfortable is nice and cozy. But I’ve learned that for me learning, being inspired, continuing to experience and keep an open mind is just as important. Living in Tokyo has been a giant dose of all those things. Driscoll has always said that it’s one thing to visit someplace and an entirely different thing to make a very new and different place your home. I used to hate it when he’d say this, but I finally agree with him. Living in Tokyo has been a pretty special thing. It’s one thing to walk Shibuya crossing and take photos of the crowds while you’re on vacation. It’s an entirely different thing to learn the nooks and crannies of Shibuya, to run errands there picking up yarn, new shoes, household goods and kitchen supplies. I feel justified in going on about all of this because it’s also been difficult. Anyone who has visited us knows that. And we’ve finally reached the stage where all the difficulty is paying off. We’ve climbed the snow bank and now we’re sledding down the hill. We’ve finally baked our cake with ingredients we had to translate, and now we’re digging into it at the dining room table. 2007 was a wild ride of a year. It was so, so hard at times, but I’m so, so glad we did it. And now that we feel at ease here in Tokyo, we want to really make the most of 2008, our last year living in Japan.

things that have endeared me to Tokyo…

seasonal fruit
cheap mushrooms
cocca – amazing fabric store
Tstaya – great bookstore and dvd rental shop. my new weekend coffee spot.
the friends we’ve made
the urban-ness and energy of the city
Roppongi Hills
Afternoon Tea – cutie household goods store
Liquidroom – music venue
Club Quattro – music venue
French restaurants
Italian restaurants
National Azabu grocery store
Nissin grocery store
Combini - quick healthy snacks like riceballs and cold green tea
Fabric Town
Who Ga - my hair salon
the many massage parlors on my walk home from work
the winter lights at Roppongi Hills and Midtown
Mori Tower – we live right by it. great view of city.
Grand Hyatt – near our apartment, our bus stop to airport, nice brunch & bar.
clear, cold, sunny skies all winter long
the convenience of the city
Burdigala Boulangerie
clean, safe streets
modern architecture
all the great museums
the Murakami bus – our bus home from Shibuya
Eat More Greens – really good veggie restaurant that’s just down the street
Parco – shopping!
not to mention the Japanese aesthetic, which permeates everything around the city and is the reason why everything is SO CUTE

Thursday, January 10, 2008

On The Seventh Day God Created Bakeries

There are bakeries and then there are one of a kind, colorful, incredibly well crafted, wait in line for half an hour to get your morning bun fix bakeries. I’ve always been a fan of baked goods, but a year in a nearly breadless culture really has me appreciating the art of baking and eating buttermilk scones, lemon meringue cake, croissants and seasonal fruit bread pudding. Tartine has been my favorite bakery ever since we started visiting our friend Mike down in San Francisco. It's the best. And lucky me, not only did Chronicle Books just publish their first cookbook, but my sweeter than a frangipane tart husband picked it up for me a couple days ago during our trip to SF.