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Monday, April 21, 2014

MUFA Day#14: BONBONS FROM JAPAN

I spent My Ultimate Fantasy Adventure Day#14 near my hotel.  The Tokyo Westin opened 20 years ago when Yebisu Garden Place, a high class shopping complex, first opened for business.  I remember staying here that first week, and have returned at least 25, if not 50 times.  


Mount Fuji would be to the left of that building, if not for the haze and clouds.   That's Robuchon's to the bottom right, where I had dinner a couple of nights ago.  The food in this hotel is very expensive,  although not close to that French restaurant, but everything at the Executive Club is free, and the view wonderful.  Almost half my dinners are held here.  Finally, I love the toilet, with a washlet:


Your rear and front can take a nice shower. Plus the toilet seat is warm.  These systems are now pretty much utilized throughout Japan.  In contrast, the toilet seat in Seoul is freezing cold.

I've been observing Japanese girls all my life, and can offer the following insights:
  • Seventy-seven percent of working women bleach and color their hair.  Ah, but it was 85% in 2001.  About 25% of men, also.  I wonder what will be their hair condition 25 years from now?  

          Will we have a nation of mostly bald senior citizens some day here?
  • Many stand on a train without holding on to anything.  Why?
    • To prove that they are superior and more stable than men.
    • Cause they are afraid of germs.
          The answer?  They are afraid of germs, for who knows whose filthy hands held on to those things that hang from a subway train.  Same for rails on stairways.

Many Japanese wear surgical masks.  Most are white, but the variety is wide:


This has everything to do with sickness, fear of catching a sickness, air pollution from China, allergies, to prevent allergies and so on.  Virtually everyone in a hospital wears one.  You think there might be an over-obsession for sterility here?  I might have been the only one in the Kyoto Emergency Room without one.  Also:

  1. They’re not wearing any makeup and want to hide their face.
  2. To keep their face warm (it is chilly these days).

  3. To make their face look smaller.

  4. It comforts them.

  5. To keep their throat from drying while sleeping (like on a train).


What can I say worse about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe?  Today he sent a decorative tree to Yasukuni Shrine.  Here is the sign signifying this masakaki offering. This will no doubt royally tick off Asian countries and place a wet blanket over President Barack Obama's arrival tomorrow.

Let me end with what I ate today, a popular feature of this blog site.  First, I had breakfast in my hotel:


My big train trip of the day was standing in the front train on a full circle of the Yamanote (confusingly, the Japanese characters are such that the announcer pronouces it "Yamate") green line, first operated in 1885.  It is 21 miles long and serves Tokyo like the 495 beltway (64 miles long) does to road traffic in DC.  There are 29 stations (for the first time in 40 years, a 30th station will be added, with construction beginning this year between Shinagawa and Tamachi, to become an international center, linking the site with Haneda Airport)  and it takes around an hour for the complete loop, serving 3.68 million per day.  


Actually, the shape is not a circle, but a kind of diamond ring.  In comparison, the London Underground carries 3.36 million passengers per day on 12 lines serving 275 stations.

For dinner I was torn between Lawry's Prime Rib, which just opened yesterday across the street from my hotel, or picking up items at Mitsukoshi, next to Lawry's.  I took a photo of the beef prices here:


 That most expensive version to the right is equivalent to $229/pound.  When did you ever spend more than $20 per pound?

 I entirely skipped the steak and bought items for my room meal:


If you look closely, there are two things missing.  No chopsticks and no soy sauce.  This the first time in my life I had sashimi with no shoyu.  That tsukemono (Japanese pickles) to the right had more than enough salt.  Plus those musubis were very high in sodium.  Lawry's would have cost me more than a hundred bucks.  The above feast set me back $25.  I was also hoping to see Mount Fuji from my room.  

However, I instead watched on TV the 101-year old Takarazuka Review perform Gone with the Wind.  This is a women's group first made famous in the USA in a 1957 movie starring Marlon Brando, Sayonara, where he falls in love with a member of this troupe, played by Machiko Kyo.  Rotten Tomatoes reviewers gave this film a 100% rating.

Back to the TV program, how can a female play Clark Gable, you say?  Well, here with Scarlett O'Hara to the right:



Of course, you recognize Hattie McDaniel as Mammy, becoming the first African American to ever win an Oscar.

Many TV channels have no commercials, including the USA version of CNN.  American Major League Baseball games are shown easily, live, if not two or three, and these also have no commercials.  In between innings, the Japanese newscasters analyze each play. There is a button to convert to the language you wish.  Lots of karaoke programs and too much soccer.  Watched a bit of American Idol last night.  Next year there will be conversion of standard broadcasts to ultra high definition.  If you know anything about cameras, the quality will be 33 megapixels.  Compared to your 1080-pixel resolution, you will get 3840.

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