Client is flying me and one of my employees over for 6 full days in Tokyo (DEN>SFO>NRT). I've never been to Japan before. Any recommendations for things to do/not do/eat/not eat?
I'm still figuring out my packing list and what to pack it in. I just received my Synapse 25 today. I also own a Tristar, Aeronaut, Synapse 19 and LCB. I'm thinking either Tristar+Synapse 25 or Aeronaut+Synapse 19 or Aeronaut+Synapse 25. Or should I be daring and only go with the S25?
I'll post a packing list and photos soon.
You'll find that Japan has delicious food. Many people think it is all fish/sushi type food, but there are excellent chicken, pork, and beef dishes that are fantastic. Some of the best Italian restaurants I've been to have been in Japan. There is something for everyone. There are also a lot of plastic food models or pictures so you'll have a pretty good idea of what you are getting.
It's going to be nice and hot during this time of the year, so I would recommend packing light.
Have a great trip. :)
Thanks, Trin0042. Very helpful about the food!
The weather seems to be cooler and rainy, so hopefully the rain will let up and the coolness will remain!
Hmm... soo much to do.
If your client invites you and your boss to go drinking after work, GO. You are obligated to go. It's kind of like golf; a lot of networking is cemented this way and saying no is considered an insult.
Japanese coffee shops do not refill your coffee for free. Coffee is expensive, but it gives you the right to sit there to socialize for a long time. If you just want to grab a cup of coffee, go to a Starbucks or get a McDonald's coffee to go.
Try a Japanese breakfast at your hotel if they offer it. Grilled fish, rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables, and maybe a raw egg. Absolutely filling and yummy.
Try neighborhood family diners for a taste of real local food. NOT sushi/sashimi.
You can get ANYWHERE on the train. Most signs are bilingual, and people will be happy to help you if you need help (they can practice their English at the same time).
OK I posted those comments while I was in an all-day workshop. Now that I'm back at the hotel room, here's a few more:
Japanese commoner dishes are things like ramen and curry rice. If you've never had FRESH ramen, it's NOTHING like instant ramen. That's like comparing homemade pasta with a can of Chef Boyardee. Even the cheapest fastest bowl of ramen inside a train station is better than the instant stuff. If you're peckish and you see one that's crowded, just pop in and order one. They often sell extras like gyoza (crescent-moon shaped potstickers) but if you get nothing but the cheapest bowl of shoyu ramen, you will really enjoy it.
Japanese curry rice is nothing like Indian or Thai curry. It's designed to be eaten with white sticky rice. The cheapest will just be the curry sauce with maybe a few slices of vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions). That will be enough to get a sense of what tastes like. The bowl will likely just come with a tablespoon; you don't need to ask for chopsticks. Everybody just eats "karei-raisu" with a spoon.
If you order a plate of curry rice, it will come with a pinch of translucent dark red/burgundy bits on the side. These are pickled veggies. Take a little piece and put it on top of your spoonful of rice and curry and eat it all together. Yummy.
If you want a cool and cheap experience, go to the basement floors in any of the big department stores. It's where they sell groceries (yes, GROCERIES) and what you would consider "hot case" food. People buy them for dinner for that night, and all the workers will beckon you over to buy their items. You'll see all kinds of foods and smell all kinds of fragrances. Westerners are also often taller than the average Japanese person, so you might tower over everybody else and have a better view.
If you have any time, take the bullet train for a quick visit out of town. Maybe an overnighter in Osaka or something. Buy yourself a bento box in the train station and eat it at your seat. That's what all the Japanese people do.
...Hmmm... I seem to be talking only about food!!
Travel light. If you can get away with just a Western Flyer or Tri-Star, you'll be able to get around on the trains and buses very easily.
I'm jealous. I hope you have a great trip!
I've been planning my fantasy homecoming to the Mother Country for literally the last ten years. When I finally make it, I sincerely hope Junk Garage is still open. And TETSU tsukemen. And Bassanova for the tom yum and green curry men (don't make me decide). I love ramen in all its incarnations (sighs happily).
I guess one thing to point out is that if you have two X chromosomes, some ramen places might give you a look since it's sort of dude food. I've heard that there are some shops that cater more to the ladies (more refined atmosphere, more "delicate" dishes, less shouting), but ramen is all about universal love. I'm sure your client has a favorite spot or two and would probably be stoked to take you.
PS: Japanese 7-11s are a thing of beauty.
ETA: I forgot to mention the Holy Grail: Ramen Jiro. I'm so, so excited to go to this place that I must have blacked out momentarily. The extent of my love is such that when I eventually break down and get another dog, I'm probably going to name him Jiro.
Many thanks to Lani and Badger for their recommendations! And for the laugh from Badger's edit note :)
Seconding this statement. I hardly give a glance to 7-11s here in the States, but I loved the 7-11 right by my sister's house when she lived in Japan. Mmmmm ... oden (which is like a hot pot), readily available on the counter. I LOVED the kinchaku. It's a component of the 7-11 oden -- mochi in a tofu skin, that's tied to look like a little purse.
Originally Posted by Badger
I was fixated on buying a Japanese chef's knife in Japan. I don't remember the name of the shop from which I purchased my knife, but it was probably in the Asakusa area of Tokyo, on or close to Kappabashi Street. I very nearly missed my flight because I took my sweet time picking the perfect knife, but it was worth it!