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Japan Diary 1 July 1983 - 15 July 1983

Anohito

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1 July 1983 (Fri): Pig-out at Genroku Sushi. Seven plates instead of six. Traveling to Tokyo after work and checking into the hotel means that my supper will be delayed. Therefore, itツ’s a good idea to have a large lunch on days when I go to Tokyo for the weekend. I had not originally intended to have seven plates, but as I was eating the Inari-zushi (sixth plate), they set out some hamachi. I couldn’t pass up hamachi. I grabbed the nearest plate of hamachi and ate that before finishing the Inari-zushi. It appears that the good weather is about to end. It looks like rain is approaching. Hot rats, I got out of work early. Now I can eat supper at a more-or-less normal time. I might not be very hungry since I had such a large lunch, but in that case, I can have a relatively inexpensive supper and eat pastry/confections later. Where I eat supper depends on when I am finished checking in at the hotel and or the weather at that time. I have a variety of relatively inexpensive places from which to choose if I have plenty of time and won’t get wet going there. At the present time, I’m on a kaiso tokkyu with the sun on the back of my neck, but clouds in the sky. We shall see what we shall see. Now to The Sword of the Lictor (I have a seat)(1). Plenty of time! I was done checking in a little after 1630. Since there was no rush, I looked in the English-language Yellow Pages and found the address of Kinokuniya International in Aoyama. Not that I necessarily intend to go there this weekend. However, I might go there for a look. I’m sure I could find something neither too expensive nor too heavy. Having done that [looked in the Yellow Pages], I set out for Roppongi. Hardy Barracks is so full these days, it might be some time before I stay there again. Therefore, I thought it would be okay to have supper in Roppongi. I tried a new restaurant, Stew Kettle(2). In actuality, it has been there for several years. I had considered it a few times in the past, but always decided to eat elsewhere. On reading the recommendation in my [late 1970s] restaurant guide [book], I decided I should definitely try it before too long and tonight was the night. The hobo stew no longer has lamb, so I chose the Transylvanian stew. The dinner sets are 2500 Yen, so I only had the stew and bread. The stew was excellent. It and the bread made a satisfying meal. Of course, I did have a very large lunch. After supper I went to Don Q and bought some goodies. I bought some new items, but haven’t tried them yet. I probably will tonight. I don’t like to keep food overnight without a refrigerator. Perhaps I could keep them in the "sunrise cooler" (how do you cool sunrise? [a cold front?]). I don’t know where the ice machine is. The ice probably costs money anyway. And so, back to the hotel, to relax.
(1) This is not a reference to any sort of motion picture showing or theatrical performance, but to Vol. 3 of The Book of the New Sun, a trilogy by Gene Wolfe. The "seat" mentioned is on the train to Tokyo, and since I had a seat, I could read. Some people do read standing up, but I never tried it.
(2) There were no English-language hits for these restaurants (it was a chain) on Google. The only hits I got were for what seems to be a new version of the restaurants. The name is "Stew Kettle REBIRTH" and it is in Shibuya, Jinnan 1-13-4. My first experience with Stew Kettle was in Akasaka 3-Chome on Sotobori Dori in the 1975-77 period.
2 July 1983 (Sat): The first order of business, naturally, was getting a Tour Companion at the Tourist Information Center. Since they weren’t busy, I asked about a "Japan Chess Federation" and learned the address of the Japan Chess Association, the Tokyo Chess center, and the Japan Postal Chess Association. After looking through the Tour Companion I went to Mitsukoshi [Ginza] to buy bagged tea (Royal Kent orange pekoe). I was highly doubtful that the restaurant where I wanted to eat lunch would be open, but I went to Akasaka regardless. It was indeed closed, so I had coffee and read the Japan Times at one of the coffee shops I had seen on the day I discovered the dim sum (yum cha) restaurant. I couldn’t read the name of the coffee shop. It serves Doutor coffee. The mocha was delicious. When I had finished my coffee I leisurely made my way to Belle Vie for a pit stop [i.e., to use a restroom] and by the time I returned to the yum cha restaurant it was open. The food was great! I had two items that were new to me. The one steamed in leaves (?) necessitated the use of a spoon to get all of it. That may not be proper, but I did it, nonetheless. The dessert dumplings have a different filling from the similar-looking ones I had at the Kujakuen branch. After lunch, while pondering my course of action for the afternoon, it occurred to me that I could pursue the chess business with a minimal expenditure of funds. And so, to Shibuya. I found the Tokyo Chess Center with no real trouble. The lady on duty didn’t speak English. There were copies of several Japanese publications there, but none for sale, though. I’m now on my way to Kamata and the Japan Chess Association. Not many offices have five day weeks, so it will probably be open. I’m taking Tokyu lines (Shibuya - Tamagawaen - Kamata). Cheap! 100 Yen. Kamata is bigger than I realized. However, I found the office with no trouble. Sat to say, it was closed. Oh well, at least I know where it is. While in Kamata, I took a look at a couple of shopping streets and had an orange squash at Chat Noir (they have unblended coffee but at suspiciously low prices). Then, back to the hotel to shower and change clothes. As planned, I went to Yoshiman [evidently, it no longer exists] for yakitori. The proprietor speaks good English, something Tour Companion doesn’t mention [an unusual lapse for TC] (that I can recall). The meal (8-stick course) was excellent. Iツ’ll be returning. Oh yes, the "Popeye salad" as also excellent. Then, to Chuo Kaikan(1), which I easily found. After buying a ticket, I went across the street to Elle (coffee shop) for a chocolate parfait (tasty, but a trifle small). I suppose I could have eaten at the restaurant in the Kaikan building, but it had more people and service would have taken longer. It didn’t take me long to eat the parfait, so afterward I went walking around looking for a bakery/confectionery. I didn’t see one (perhaps I just didn’t know where to look–come to think of it, I had time to go to [central] Ginza and look, but I didn’t think of it them), but I saw more restaurants than I would have thought were in the neighborhood, and I also found Shintomicho Station. The concert itself was very good. The Dittersdorf(2) is a problematic work. It has some fine music, but probably requires top-rank soloists to be completely effective. The Couperin(3) work was interesting & pleasing. I was surprised to see that the Darmstadt Ensemble is made up of Japanese. What is the connection with Darmstadt? Other works: Mozart Bassoon Concerto and Horn Concerto #2. The concert was over before 2100, so I thought I might find someplace still open in Ginza. The first place I saw was Dunkinツ’ Donuts, where I bought some donuts, naturally. Kimuraya was still open, but looked like it could close at 2100. Then, back to the hotel. The donuts were only fair. Perhaps I would have done better at Kimuraya. Something to consider in the future.
(1) This is not the Kankoku (Korean) Chuo Kaikan in Minami Azabu, but what now seems to be called Ginza Blossom Hall at Ginza 2-15, very near Shintomicho Station.
(2) Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2002/Oct02/Dittersdorf.htm
(3) There were many composers/musicians named Couperin! The most famous was François Couperin http://www.baroquemusic.org/bqxcoup.html The 2nd most famous was Louis Couperin http://www.hoasm.org/VIIB/CouperinL.html
3 July 1983 (Sun): I suppose I should have started making entries before now (1828), but I didn’t. The rain changed my plans. The concert was (1400) in an area where Iツ’ve never been. "Five minutes walk"(1) from Ogikubo Station takes in a lot of territory. I was loath to look for someplace I had never been, in an area strange to me, while it was raining. By looking in Tour Companion I found some alternative activities. One was at Isetan, so I went to Shinjuku for lunch. In case the weather suddenly cleared, I could go to the concert. If it continued to rain, I would see the exhibit at Isetan. My original intention for lunch was to have it at Isetan, but while there, I remembered that I did not yet have a paper [that dayツ’s]. It was necessary to go all the way to Shinjuku Station to buy a paper. Since it was in the way, I thought Iツ’d look at the restaurants in My City (off the Metro Promenade). In a restaurant named Sun Set I saw a pilaf set that looked good. I was also tempted by New Tokyo, but chose Sun Set. Mistake. I’m certain the waitress told me that coffee same with the set (I had ordered Toraja). The set began well. The soup was very tasty. The pilaf wasn’t bad, but nothing notable. The fillet katsu was downright poor. The coquille was made decent only by the addition of salt & grated cheese. The yogurt Bavarois was very tasty. My coffee still hadn’t arrived when I finished the Bavarois. I waited for it. And waited some more. Finally, I left in disgust. Itツ’s not bloody likely that Iツ’ll eat there again. After leaving Sun Set I wanted something else. I didn’t want to end lunch with an unpleasant event. In the Subnade I found a Petite Monde like the one at Isetan. There I had Bulgarian yogurt with blueberry sauce and a cup of coffee. That made a very pleasant finish to lunch and improved my disposition immensely. The exhibits at Isetan (items for sale–nothing major) were moderately interesting. The small room was devoted to one artist. The pictures seem to be produced by first putting an abstract pattern (monochrome–I can’t tell by looking how he does it) and then adding representational details. From Isetan I went to the Idemitsu Museum to see the ceramics. First, I sat in the lounge a few minutes, having a cup of tea and looking at the rain on Hibiya Park and the Imperial Palace. There were many interesting and beautiful things at the museum, including some folding screens on the subject of the kabuki stage. They had some pages, that look like they go in a 3-ring binder, set out at various points in the museum. I took one each of the more interesting items. They didn’t have a catalog of the items grouped in the special exhibit (these were from their own collection, after all), but they did have two very large catalogs. One for 5000 Yen that must be very nearly comprehensive, and another with not so many items but with English explanations at 4000 Yen. I delayed making any decision. Theyツ’ll both be on sale for quite while longer. From there I walked, yes walked, to the Yaesu shopping complex. I eventually decided to eat at Hiranoya after looking around for a few minutes. I had intended to try it sometime, anyway. I had a fillet katsu moriawase teishoku, which was excellent. After a pit stop, I was tempted by a Sembikiya shop, but decided to have dessert at the Hiranoya coffee shop next to the tonkatsu-ya and then to buy something at Sembikiya afterward to eat later tonight. Hiranoya coffee shop was a big mistake. The "hot" cake was dead cold and I had to wait for it three times longer than I should have. The jelly & coffee were mediocre. I was so angry & disgusted I only finished the jelly. I had waited so long that the Sembikiya shop was closing. I found a Colombin shop that was still open. They had some appealing things, so I bought some. Good choice–their goodies are delicious! And so, the day ends well after all.
(1) Quoting Tour Companion or one of the English-language newspapers, probably the Japan Times.
4 July 1983 (Mon): Whoop-de-do, itツ’s the Farce of July. Should I turn handsprings or something? I don’t think so. The first thing I did was check out of the hotel. If there had been coin lockers in the part of the station I entered, I would have stashed my bag there and used the Hibiya Line to connect with the Toyoko Line. I suppose there are coin lockers in some part of the station, but I didn’t want to begin the day by going up & down a lot of stairways. Therefore, I stashed my bag in Ginza Station, as usual. While there, I briefly considered staying in Ginza until lunch. However, I concluded that it would save time to continue to Kamata. Even if it is necessary to kill some time before I try the Japan Chess Association at 1300, I can do it by exploring an area that is still largely unfamiliar to me. While on the subway, I considered stopping at Omote-Sando to explore Kinokuniya International. However, I would rather wait to do that when I will not have to carry my purchases for too long. At Shibuya, a direct transfer to the Toyoko Line. In Kamata, the Tokyu Plaza isn’t very large. I didn’t make any particular effort to look for the restaurant. The Fashion Palio is a little more interesting. There are some attractive restaurants on 6F and one had a jo tendon I wanted, but it seemed crowded. By walking past the entrance and surreptitiously examining the interior, I determined that there was, in actuality, a place for me. So, I went in and had an excellent meal. The tendon was perhaps expensive compared to others Iツ’ve had, but the three shrimp were of a good size, and it had vegetables in addition. It included suimono. I didn’t see anyplace on 6F specifically oriented to desserts and the coffee shop on 2F offered rather ordinary wares, so I left the station building. It wasn’t long before I found a place named Eigetsu (something moon) which offered a hotcake. I’m nearly always in the mood for a good hotcake, so I went in. I ordered ice coffee with it, and when the waitress brought it, she also brought a small slice of cake. I started to tell her that I hadn’t ordered it (that would have been interesting–I don’t really have enough Japanese to do that), but she said that it was the "morning service." So, I had a hotcake and a "cake" cake. The hotcake was actually hot! It was also delicious. The ice coffee & cake were also very tasty. I wish I had a reason to return to Kamata. By the time I finished dessert it was about 1300 or a little after, so I headed for the JCA. Once again, nobody home! This did surprise me. There was no particular reason to rush away, so I took my book from my briefcase and sat on a stairway to read and wait. It wasn’t all that long before someone came along. Fortunately for me, she spoke good English (this is actually the JCA library, and most of the books they handle are in English, so it would seem that a knowledge of English would be necessary for the job). They did have back issues of their magazine and the daily bulletins of a zonal tournament, but it seems that there are no tournament books of Japanese tournaments. She only charged me for the sets of bulletins (two of everything–one for me and one for B*****). This was an office, so it didn’t occur to me to remove my shoes. I noticed, when leaving, that I should have removed my shoes. Of course I apologized. Then, to Kinokuniya. With the help of a hint I read in Tour Companion (giving directions to someplace else), I found it easily. They do have some goodies there. I bought some things there. It shouldn’t be enough to weigh me down. I considered buying coffee there, but decided to buy Antique Blend at Mitsukoshi. On the way to Ginza I also considered seeing the 1600 showing of Return of the Jedi. However, by the time I arrived in Ginza, it was after 1530, so I decided to wait until I’m on leave. I did buy the coffee at Mitsukoshi and I’m now in the UCC coffee shop in B1, having a Royal Blend and catching up on my notes. After coffee, I went over to Yamaha Music to look around. They have the new [Jascha] Heifitz reissue (Tchaikovsky/Mendelssohn). They also have the Simon & Garfunkel omnibus set, which is a good buy, but contains albums which don’t particularly interest me. I still hadn’t decided where I wanted to eat supper. I chose Ghandara. Itツ’s been a while since I ate there. The meal was good, but the wheat bread (roti) isn’t as good as the white bread. The mutton Karachi was definitely different from Indian curries [unidentifiable, but noticeably different spices], but I quickly adjusted. After supper, it was time to return to Yokosuka (sad to say). What with the baggage to carry, it didn’t seem worthwhile to walk to a JNR station and then the extra distance from Yokosuka Station, so I took the Keihin Kyuko, even though I had to stand all the way to Yokosuka. And so, back to the barracks.
5 July 1983 (Tue): Today I did something Iツ’ve considered doing in the past. I changed into civilian clothes to get off-base on a rainy day [at lunch time]. Since I wanted to shop for supper after lunch, I ate at Genroku Sushi to save time (Itツ’s a good thing I like sushi). For variety, I went to Saikaya to buy supper. I went to Pompadour and bought the makings of a pastry pigout. Thatツ’s something I haven’t done for supper. So it wouldn’t all be pastry, I bought a mango and some "American" cherries [i.e., bing cherries]. The fruit cost twice as much as the pastry. It had stopped raining by the time I left for lunch, but there was still plenty of water on the ground. I enjoyed my pastry pigout very much. Some items were better than others, but all were at least tasty, and it was a worthwhile endeavor. I didn’t get to the fresh fruit.
6 July 1983 (Wed): Rain at lunch. My original intention was to eat at San Ei, but I felt adventurous (mildly so) and went a few more steps to the little restaurant(1( between San Ei and the Golden Tiger. I could read fillet katsu teishoku on the chalked menu, so I know I could order at least one thing. Itツ’s as small as it looks from the outside. It appears to share aspects of the Philippine turo-turo(2). On the counter, there were large plates of food, some ready-to-eat, some requiring further cooking. I kept to the fillet katsu teishoku, though. Along with the meal, I got a small dish with an egg. Through observing others, I learned that it was raw (as I suspected) and that it was intended to be eaten raw (after seasoning with soy sauce). I tried it that way, but didn’t particularly care for it. The basic meal was a great bargain, though, The misoshiru was home made with chunks of eggplant. The chunks of fillet katsu had a good quantity of meat. All this for only 650 Yen. After work, I was so tired from getting so little sleep over the past two nights that I decided to go directly to the restaurant, eat, and go directly back to the barracks. If I could have thought of any non-food items I needed, I would have bought them, but I couldn’t think of anything. I ate at Kujakuen (I had considered Bistrot de Jeunesse, but didn’t know if it was open for supper at 1700). I was semi-adventurous and had a beef dish, as well as the spicy chicken I had previously. The beef was good, but the other dishes are better. Still, it was a very good, stick-to-your-ribs meal. And so, back to the barracks.
(1) I think this was on the SE end of Sennichi Dori (sort of toward Chuo Station) in Wakamatsucho 1-Chome.
(2) A type of restaurant with already-cooked food set out in pans. You point at what you want. The term "turo-turo" is Tagalog slang and means "point-point".
7 July 1983 (Thu): I was late going to lunch, so I wanted to eat at a place that wouldn’t be too crowded. I didn’t recall that Giraud had any lunch specials, so I went there. I had a chicken/mushroom doria set, which was quite tasty. No shopping after lunch. For supper, I finally tried Bistrot de Jeunesse. I had the "D" dinner (fish). I’m not sure the fish wasn’t frozen, but it was a very good dinner, nonetheless. They do add a 155 Yen service charge to the check, so the prices aren’t as low as they might seem from the menu. I had originally intended to have some (more) dessert out, but I didn’t get a receipt and failed to remember the exact total of the bill, so I couldn’t tell how close I was to the daily limit. And so, back to the barracks.
8 July 1983 (Fri): Curry for lunch today, at Gurabatei. Chicken curry, to be specific. The first serving I put over my rice was only fair. For some strange reason, the second serving seemed much better. That and the chocolate ice cream I had back at the office should hold me until I can eat supper. Having curry for lunch eliminates Indian restaurants as a source of supper tonight. That makes less types from which to choose. I forgot to note where the concert that I want to attend is being held tomorrow. I can probably find out at the Tourist Information Center tomorrow. I finally made all preparations for going on leave. I have an expanded reservation (backward to tonight) at the hotel. I have a fair amount of Yen. I was able to get my leave papers today, so I won’t need to return to Yokosuka Sunday. I was able to get the 1657 kaiso tokkyu from Chuo Station. After I checked in, I took a few minutes to relax and consider where I might have supper. It wasn’t so much the type of food that was important, as finding someplace where I could eat for less than 2000 Yen and which wouldn’t be full. Ginza is not exactly a cheap district, but it was the closest area with a wide variety of restaurants close together. On the way there, it occurred to me that it might be nice to eat at the sushi shop in Ginza Core, provided it wasn’t full. Well, it was full and there were people waiting for seats. The only place in Core that had seats open was Savini, which I had considered in the past. I was attracted by a pilaf on a bed of broccoli, but I couldn’t find it on the menu. I ordered an Italian salad and some sort of pescatore pilaf. The salad actually arrived first! It was quite a substantial salad, full of goodies. The dressing was hardly Italian, but wasn’t bad and the salad made a very tasty beginning to the meal. Because of time considerations, I didn’t eat the little ball of rice (yes, in the salad). The entree had arrived and it contained plenty of rice. Rather than a pilaf, it certainly looked like a one-serving paella to me, but what do I know. At any rate, it was delicious. Afterward, I went to Kimuraya for pastry and learned that they have much more than an-pan. In fact, I didn’t buy any an-pan. On the way back to the hotel, I looked for milk, but didn’t find anyplace [to buy some]. One place above Kayabacho Station turned out to be a fruit store with a "fruits parlour" above. That was useful information. All the stuff I bought at Kimuraya was great!
9 July 1983 (Sat): And I thought the weather would be good today. It was good when I left the hotel this morning. Instead of going directly to the Tourist Information Center, I took the Tozai Line to Otemachi. From there, I walked to the Tokyo Central Post Office to buy stamps, and from there to the TIC for a Tour Companion. I also obtained the location of the concert tonight. However, the Mainichi [Daily News--English-language newspaper] concert guide didn’t list it. That made me nervous. Two out of three sources don’t mention it. If it had been after 1130, I would have eaten at Yuraki, but it was only a little after 1100, so I headed toward Ginza 4-Chome crossing. On the way, I thought of the sushi-ya in Ginza Core [Tsukiji Tamazushi]. It was open, so I had lunch there (delicious!). Then to the exhibit at Matsuzakaya. Interesting. No freebie "ad" postcards. There were some photo reproductions, including pictures I particularly liked, but the photos struck me as being expensive, so I didn’t buy any. From there to the exhibits at Matsuya. (I noticed the heavy overcast.) These were also interesting, particularly the water colors and the pottery. The potter isn’t afflicted with sado-itis [??], and his work is most pleasing. Some of it was actually within my means. However, a couple of men (restauranteurs?) seemed to be buying the best stuff. Once again, no postcards, so I stopped on 5F and bought a couple of bunraku postcards. I also saw a yukata (in the souvenir corner) that I liked. On 1F, I could see that it was raining, so I didn’t want to return to Kayabacho soon. Instead of trying to eat (dessert) at the "fruits parlour" in Kayabacho, I went to the "fruits bar" Tropical Sun in Mitsukoshi, where I had and excellent kiwi fruit & ice cream dessert. It also gave me an opportunity to write the postcards. The one for B***** was futile, though, because I didn’t bring his address. Cツ’est la vie, boys & girls. From there to Wako for the weaving/embroidery exhibition. It was worth seeing. Many beautiful (and costly!) Items. After that it was time for my afternoon coffee. Toa was closed (!?), so I went to the shop in Sukiyabashi Shopping Center for a cup of Colombian. I decided that I should return to the hotel no matter what I do this evening, so I went looking for pastry to have this evening. If the Parco stand in Sony Plaza had sold milk, I probably would have bought pastry there. However, I bought milk at Mitsukoshi, so I bought pastry there as well. I took a quick look around and saw many good things, but returned to my first stop, Johan, considering that it would be easier on the budget than others. I bought four items there and then two more (the spongy pastries [mushi-keki]) at the Kimuraya counter in Mitsukoshi. Then, back to the hotel. Iツ’ve decided to forego the concert. I don’t have tickets, Going to the concert and having supper beforehand would involve too much walking around in the still-substantial rain. Anyway, this will give me more money to spend on supper and an opportunity to see Abarenbo Shogun II tonight(1). Let me consider where I shall have supper tonight. I had a happy thought. I haven’t eaten at Belle Vie Akasaka for a long time, and itツ’s accessible from the subway system. I knew just where I wanted to have supper–South China. It may be a while before I get to the honten ["original shop/location"] in Harajuku. I had read that South China was a Cantonese restaurant (the name would certainly indicate Cantonese cuisine), but the menu of the Akasaka branch, at least, contains many spicy dishes. I had a dish listed under chicken or pork as "three kinds meat". The "kinds" must have referred to general types, such as seafood, pork, & chicken, because I saw shrimp, squid, chicken white meat, chicken livers & gizzards, and "roast pork", at least. Oh yes, it was delicious. After supper, I still had enough funds for dessert out. Ronsenheim(2) has some intriguing desserts, but it was full. I thought that Ginza Cozy Corner(3) would also be full, but I was able to get a seat, so I had a crepe aux fraise. While at Ginza Station on the way back to the hotel I remembered that I had left my umbrella in South China. At least I was able to return and get it easily enough. The goodies I bought earlier are very good.
(1) Abarenbo Shogun was a Japanese TV period drama (jidaigeki) that ran from 1978 to 2003 (with a 2-hour special in 2004). The series is an account of the fictionalized exploits of Tokugawa Yoshimune, played for the entirety of the run by Matsudaira Ken. The gimmick of the show is that the Shogun regularly goes about Edo disguised as a relatively low-ranking samurai named Tokuda Shinnosuke. Only a few people outside or inside the palace know about his secret identity. One of the people outside who know Shin-sanツ’s real identity is a character named Tatsugoro, who for much of the series is the captain of Megumi fire company. This character was played by enka singer Kitajima Saburo, also for the entirety of the run, although later in the series the character retired from the fire company and had a different occupation. I first saw the series on a Honolulu television station (subtitled) while stationed on Oahu in the early 1980s. It quickly became my favorite TV show.
(2) On 2F or 3F on the Sotobori Dori (east) side of the building.
(3) Not actually in Belle Vie Akasaka. It was across the small street to the west of BVA.
10 July 1983 (Sun): Iツ’ve checked out on leave using one of the phones in the [hotel] lobby. The duty PN [Personnelman] certainly took her time. At least 50 Yen dropped while I was waiting for her to return to the phone. So it took me 90 Yen to make a call that should have cost no more than 50 Yen. Itツ’s not so much the few Yen, but I didn’t have an unlimited supply of 10 Yen coins and was on the verge of being forced to waste a 100 Yen coin. I was able to leave the postcard to Mother at the Front Desk, as I thought I would be. Iツ’ve decided to see the exhibit at Isetan, so Iツ’ll be having lunch in Shinjuku, certainly not at Sun Set. As I recall, the 7F restaurant [in Isetan] has good food at reasonable prices, so Iツ’ll check it before going elsewhere. I did eat there, Isetan Petite Monde. I had a tenpura teishoku, which was very tasty. I saw the coffee jelly on a waitressツ’ tray and it looked so good I ordered one. It was as good as it looked. From there to the exhibit. It was quite interesting. Many of the artists represented were new to me. The catalog is excellent. From it, I learned the correct name of the exhibit: Exposition of French Artists from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Centuries. I also bought postcards. While still in the store, I completed two cards, one for Mother and one for K***** & his wife. On leaving Isetan, I headed for Keio, where there was a pottery exhibit that sounded interesting. One the way, I learned that you can’t get to Keio depato from My City (although you can get to the Keio Line station). The detour wasn’t a total loss, though, as I finally bought a newspaper. As I was approaching Keio, it occurred to me that I might as well go to the Shinjuku Post Office to mail the postcards. The sky had been cloudy all day (I hadn’t heard any discouraging words, though), and it might well have started to rain while I was in Keio. After mailing the cards and before going into Keio, I stopped at a coffee shop, Blue Mountain, in Odakyu Ace for a cup of coffee. The menu was in hiragana! Also, it didn’t list any prices. However, I doubted that they would charge outrageious prices in a shopping center, so I ordered a mandehling. It turned out to be 450 Yen, but was good and strong. Then finally to Keio. The exhibit was indeed well worth seeing. There were items I could afford, even! After seeing the exhibit, it was too late to return to the hotel, but too early to eat supper, so I looked around the 5F. They have scads of excellent gift items, including Kamakura bori(1). I did go to the restaurant floor to refresh my memory. The main dining room has very reasonable prices, but it was till before 1700. I decided to return to Akasaka for supper. If it was raining when I arrived, I would eat in Belle Vie akasaka. If it was not, I would go to Alla Rampa. Alla Rampa it was. The avocado soup was intriguing and turned out to be excellent. The lamb & sausage with tomato sauce was well made, but the lamb was very fat. I asked to see the dessert menu (I hadn’t ordered any), and my eye was caught by a plum dessert, primora (?) plum. It turned out to be a plum Bavarois and was delicious. Iツ’ll gladly return to Alla Rampa, but I don’t think Iツ’ll order lamb. After supper, I went out looking for goodies to have later tonight. I located the fruit shop I remembered, but they didn’t have much selection left of the items that interested me (e.g., only two tub of cherries–I can get better in a department store). That left the matter a a choice between Belle and Dunkinツ’ Donuts. I gave DD another chance and returned to the hotel. These are much better than the donuts I bought in Ginza.
(1) Carved lacquer ware made in and around Kamakura.
11 July 1983 (Mon): Before going to the Kabukiza, I stopped at Mitsukoshi to see if they had anything I wanted for lunch. They didn’t have the fish roll slices I saw there the first time I was in after the remodeling (and which Iツ’ve seen at Isetan). Perhaps they only sell the fish roll slices at certain times of the year. Much of the stuff I was required reheating. I finally bought one of the half-salmon, half-crab sushi bento. Iツ’ve seen them for sale in the Kabukiza, but I figured the ones at Mitsukoshi would be a little fresher and better. I also bought some pastry at the Kimuraya counter. Then to the Kabukiza. The place was nearly over-run with what looked like school girls in uniform. The kabuki was excellent, as usual. I’m very glad I was able to see the famous Benten Musume Meo no ShiranamiÎ. In the first item [on the program] there was a "face-showing" [kaomise] for a child actor [making his debut on the stage]. The audience loved it, of course. My seat was in an excellent position. Iツ’d definitely like to have that seat again. The bento was very tasty. I suppose I should have bought milk at Mitsukoshi to have with the pastries, but Meiji coffee, which I bought at the Kabukiza, served well enough. It appears that the SKD(2) will be at the Kabukiza in August. After the kabuki, I went directly to Yokohama. I had time to look around before I ate, and I eventually chose a large but very reasonably priced meal at an Osaka ryori [cuisine} restaurant. It was a fine meal. Iツ’ve had pretty good luck with the Osaka ryori restaurant the past couple of times Iツ’ve tried it. Sam wasn’t at the meeting. He must be on the TAD(3) I think he mentioned previously. Jim dropped me off at Negishi. The fruit is good–white peaches with a very delicate flavor and grapes (seedless, which was fortunate considering their small size).
(1) I think this particular performance starred Onoe Kikugoro as Benten Kozo Kikunosuke. Kikugoro VII is still active under that name (designated a "living national treasure" in 2003).
(2) The SKD (Shochiku Kageki Dan) was, and maybe still is, the main competitor of the Takarazuka female revue troupe in Tokyo. I thought it had ceased performing, but there is a web site indicating that it is still or once again performing.
(3) Temporary Additional Duty. Sam was a retiree working for the US Navy in Yokohama. The "Temporary" part of TAD is self-explanatory. The "Additional" doesn’t mean that you do this concurrently with your regular job. TAD, which is usually some sort of training, takes you away from your regular job for a while.
12 July 1983 (Tue): I wanted to eat lunch in Shibuya so I could buy Yen at Seibu. As it happened, I bought the Yen first. By then, it was past 1120, so I didn’t have time to look around and went up to the restaurant floor in Seibu. At the Western restaurant next to the tonkatsu-ya, a course called "petite a petite" caught my eye. It looked appetizing, so I decided to try it. The napkins said Hibiya Matsumoto. The honten is probably more expensive than the Seibu branch. Iツ’ve never seen the name before(1). Anyway, it made a very good meal (the set, not the restaurant). By the time I was done with lunch, it seemed to late to go to Shinjuku to look for one of the theaters where Return of the Jedi is playing. I set out to find Shibuya Toho. I found the other theater showing RotJ, but it doesn’t have the correct screen(2). I was on my way back to the station, when I saw an ad for the Toho, giving the location. Itツ’s in a location Iツ’ve only been by a couple of times. Anyway, I arrived in plenty of time, bought a ticket for a reserved seat, and watched a rollicking good movie. I suppose the story line wasn’t terribly original, but it was marvelously well done. I hope Lucas makes more Star Wars movies(3). After the movie, I returned to the hotel to decide what to do next. Rather than to the concert, which would have involved a return to Shibuya. [???] If I had checked before returning to the hotel, I might have stayed in Shibuya for supper, prior to going to the concert. However, not going to the concert meant that I could do something special for supper, as a late "birthday"(4) celebration. I chose Stockholm, at the Sweden Center(5), and had the smorgasbord. It was delicious, as always. I didn’t buy any pastry to have later at the hotel. I figured the leftover mini butter cupcakes I bought at the theater and the peaches I bought yesterday should be enough. The shops in Sweden Center were still open. I looked in the food shop, but it didn’t have much. Back at the hotel, the peach I had tonight was better than the one I had last night. More flavor.
(1) Evidently, the honten at least still exists. There were a handful of Google hits on the phrase "Hibiya Matsumoto". Nothing very informative, though.
(2) I don’t recall exactly what this was about, but think it had to do with having a sufficiently wide screen to show the whole image.
(3) Well, he did, but itツ’s not clear that he should have! Perhaps it was a case of going to the well too often.
(4) 2 July (1976) was my sobriety date.
(5) Restaurant Stockholm seems to have moved to the Akasaka Tokyu Hotel (across Sotobori Dori from Akasaka Mitsuke Station, Nagatacho 2-14-3), although the restaurantツ’s web site doesn’t directly state that the original location in the Sweden Center was closed. Another Google hit does indicate that it was closed. The Sweden Center location was not the most convenient place, being down the street called Imoarai-Zaka from Roppongi Crossing, at Roppongi 6-11-9. The restaurantツ’s web site does state that the original location opened in 1971 and that the Akasaka location opened in 1999.
13 July 1983 (Wed): My goodness! A sunny (albeit hazy) day in Tokyo town. This was an excellent opportunity to have lunch at Central Cafe(1), since Iツ’ll be going to the Kabukiza tonight and therefore eating supper late (if I can figure out a place to eat supper after the performance). There is an exhibit I want to see at the Ota Memorial Museum, so that gives me something else to do in connection with having lunch at Central Cafe. Even so, I was reluctant to go to Harajuku. I’m not sure why. It must be that I don’t like to wait until after 1200 to eat lunch(2). Anyway, I left the hotel in time to see the exhibit before lunch. Once in Harajuku I tried to check on the opening time of Central Cafe. If it opened at 1130 now, I would have had coffee until then. However, no times were posted at Central Cafe. The nearby Central Park opens at 1130, but I have no real evidence that there is any connection between the two. So, I went to the exhibit. I have been to about a half-dozen exhibits at the Ota Memorial Museum, and Iツ’ve seen very few pictures twice. This was another fascinating exhibit. One print was supposedly of a Dutch town (evening church bells), but it looked like Venice (gondolas & all) to me. After the exhibit I returned to Central Cafe, arriving a few minutes after 1200. They were not yet busy (itツ’s a tiny place). I had the chicken & pork adobo, which wasn’t cheap, but was delicious. It was a treat to have adobo again. For dessert & coffee I went to the nearby Sembikiya "parlour" for a mango parfait. It also was not cheap, but was delicious. The coffee (blend) was 500 Yen, but was nearly a double serving and was served with honey on the side. It was first-rate coffee (Key). At this particular location, they don’t have much fresh fruit, but I checked their mangoes and they sell Tiger brand, the same brand I bought at Saikaya, which was so good. For something to do that won’t cost much money, I’m taking a stroll (well, at the moment, I’m sitting & writing) around the Yoyogi Sports Center. The buildings are very interesting and there are good views from the site. I went all the way around the large building [National Yoyogi Stadium?]. The views from two of the sides aren’t so interesting. From there, I took a look at Yoyogi Park. Itツ’s pleasant, but not many places to sit down if you don’t care for grass stains. Grass needs cutting, too. Then, into Meiji Jingu. That perhaps, was an error, even though I rested and finished my newspaper at the shrine. I was very tired by the time I got a subway to Higashi Ginza. I’m now in Bunmeido by the Kabukiza, refreshing myself. Another outstanding performance at the Kabukiza. As the earphone guide indicated, itツ’s easy to see why Ennosuke is so popular. Also, his versatility is indeed prodigious. All the food "corners" were closed at the intermission (second, or I would probably have eaten something, as I was hungry). As they did at the end of last monthツ’s evening (?) show, the actors lined up on stage and said, "Thank you & thatツ’s all, folks!" I wonder if this is to become (once again) a permanent feature of the performances. The show ended a little before the posted finish time, so I thought I had time to eat supper in Ginza and wouldn’t have to return to Kayabacho and look for a restaurant that was still open. I was walking toward Yoshiman and saw a couple of Chinese restaurants that were technically still open, but appeared to be on the verge of closing. Before I got to Yoshiman, I saw the sign for a Korean barbeque restaurant. A similar sign on the street misled me to a mah jong parlour, but I found the KBR on the next try, so I ate there. I was sure that Morita-san [the owner of Yoshiman] would engage me in coversation, and I was just too tired for conversation. The meal at the KBR (couldn’t read the name) was excellent. That will be a convenient place for late suppers. Then, back to the hotel.
(1) A Filipino restaurant I discovered in the 1975-77 period. It was close to the intersection of Meiji Dori & Omote Sando (Meiji-Jingumae Station), sort of across Meiji Dori from Laforet Harajuku (Jingumae 4-30-x or 4-31-x). I couldn’t find any evidence that it still exists. There is a Central Cafe in Udagawacho 2-1, but that is a health food/vegetarian restaurant.
(2) Restaurants in Japan tend to get very full very quickly after 1200.
14 July 1983 (Thu): Well, we might have rain again today. My first stop (substantial stop–stashing my bag doesn’t take long) was at the Toa coffee shop. I will have lunch after 1100 today. If the weather stays dry, I may go to a concert, which will necessitate a relatively early supper. I’m using the stop at Toa to catch up with my notes and write a postcard. From Toa I went to Mitsukoshi. A check of the stationery department revealed some things I could use. Then, to the 8F restaurant. I saw a dinner set that contained sashimi and the eggplant/miso sauce that Iツ’ve been wanting to try. It was difficult to eat with chopsticks (no, not the sashimi), but it was delicious. For dessert, I had a Bavarois mango at Ginza Tricolore. Despite my doubts about the weather, I set out for the Folk Crafts Museum in Komaba. Getting to Komaba was easy. However, I didn’t have an exact location for the museum. My new map gave me the general directions from the station and I started walking. After I had gone a couple of blocks, I saw a sign that had some kanji that I guessed said Japan Folk Crafts Museum. After following the signs, I came to what must have been someoneツ’s estate at one time. I didn’t know that sort of house existed in Tokyo. Not as large or ornate as the Ringling Mansion(1), but loads of carved wood and marble, nonetheless. However, this was the literature museum(2). I knew from my new map that the Folk Crafts Museum and literature museum were close to each other. At the entrance to the grounds of the literature museum, I took a good look at the signs. It showed the way to what I thought might be the FCM. It was(3). The exhibit was very interesting. I saw some ideas for future gifts, and also bought a couple of post cards. On the way back to the train station I was tempted to stop for coffee, but I wanted to get back to Ginza and then make a decision about staying or returning. Return, it was, and I’m glad I did. If I had remained in Tokyo and then lugged my luggage back on those crowded night-time trains, I would have been excrutiatingly tired. Once back in Yokosuka, I went directly to the barracks, to drop off my bag. On my way out again, I checked in off leave. Supper was at Kujakuen. Their "sweet & sour pork" actually is that, rather than subuta!. The Chinese "tenpura" shrimps are delicious. After supper, I mailed the postcard I had written during supper. I wanted some fresh fruit and went to Seiyu to see what they had. I bought some "American" cherries [bing cherries], two peaches, and a pack of "white" (i.e., pale green) plums. Just in time, I remembered that I wanted to eat dessert in Fujiya and so didn’t buy any bread or pastry. Dessert was chocolate pancakes. On the way back to the base, I noticed a mailbox closer to the base than the one by Chuo Station. And so, back to the barracks.
(1) "Cà d'Zan, John and Mable Ringling's Venetian Gothic mansion on Sarasota Bay..."
(2) "What is now know as Komaba Koen, the largest ward-managed park in Tokyo, was originally the estate of Taisho and early Showa period diplomat and official, Marquis Maeda." "[T]he original European house became the Tokyo Museum of Modern Literature..." in the late 1950s.
(3) Japan Folk Crafts Museum (Nihon Mingeikan), Meguro-Ku, Komaba 4-3-33
15 July 1983 (Fri): As usual for a duty day (weekday), I had lunch at Genroku Sushi. I shopped for groceries at Seiyu, buying some roast chicken at a reduced price and some wakame/tako salad. I also bought a jar of instant coffee, since I need one at work. Finally, I bought a couple bottles of soda, although I haven’t decided where Iツ’ll keep them. Nothing in particular happened in the evening. The chicken and salad were tasty. It was much too hot walking around in that uniform.
 
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