For a few days my parents stopped over on their way back from China. It was a great visit, but I don’t know that I took so many pictures so be warned about that. Anyway, the weather was supposed to be windy and rainy most of their trip, so the first day they were here we went to Shinjukugoen to make sure they got some good looks at cherry blossoms. Before that I made the mistake of taking my mother to a department store to check on some things, as well as buy some bentos for the cherry blossom viewing, so we spent several hours doing that.
Later that night we went to a jazz club in Shinjuku named the Jazz Pit, where we listened to the transpacific trio NEO and also listened to a rendition of Moon river with the violinist Tomohiro Ishii, who is not the NJPW Tomohiro Ishii I was expecting when they announced his name. We also met up with Chihiro and had a general lovely evening.
On the second day of their trip, we went to the Harajuku area for a trip to the Ota Museum, which was doing an exhibit on animals depicted in woodblock prints. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the exhibit, but the qualifying elements of the picture ranged from stray dogs wandering in the background to famous kabuki actors’ faces with the bodies of koi attached, as a half fish half actor hybrid. One of my favorite pictures was done during a time when depicting prostitutes was illegal, so everyone in the picture was anthropomorphized birds.
The second night of their visit we went to a famous jazz club, the Blue Note. There we saw the Raul Midon Trio.
Raul Midon is a blind musician who uses every skill available to him in his music, which results with segments of his songs having him play the guitar with one hand, the bongos with another, and performing a vocal rendition of a trumpet with his mouth, all of which are somewhat independent of each other and, when together, make music you wouldn’t assume was coming from one person.
On the third day of their visit, we showed them around our neighborhood of Togoshi, making stops on Togoshi Ginza and our nearby shopping street. While my dad took a break, Sam and I took my mom to the salt store on our ginza where we were able to sample salts from all over the world and from different regions of Japan. There was also a special salt for Togoshi Ginza, which is a curry salt mix. When we all heard about it we figured it might be alright, but upon trying it we found that it was actually quite delicious.
For dinner we wanted to get something we haven’t had much in Japan and my parents might enjoy, so we went with shabu shabu, or Japanese hot pot. We went to the same restaurant Sam and I visited on my birthday last year, but this time we did try a broth base I’ve been wanting ever since I first saw it; it has healthy seeds, fruits, nuts, etc. and together they create a really fantastic base for the hot pot. We went all out on all-you-can-eat, until I was too lethargic to think in complete sentences.
On our last full day in Japan, we took things kind of slow: going to our local ramen shop, visiting some shops, and then going to karaoke before dinner, with Chihiro joining us as well! My parents had never done karaoke, at least the Japanese version, so it seems they were pleasantly surprised.
For dinner we wanted to get some good sushi, but hadn’t made any reservations for the night. Thankfully, I remembered the fishing restaurant which Chihiro had previously visited with us! After Chihiro made a reservation for us, we met up with Sam and all wandered over. There we sat down and got to work on catching our dinner. Everyone was having a great time and I managed to catch us two fish; a sea bream and a flounder!
We tried a variety of cooking methods, which you can order once you catch a fish. For the seam bream, we just went with sashimi for the meat and the bones went into a surprisingly delicious miso soup. The flounder was bigger so we could do three different methods, so we went with one side fried, one side sashimi’d, and the bones fried as well.
The next day we trekked out to Narita, huge suitcases in tow, and bid my parents a temporary farewell. At least, with the little time we have left here, we were able to further impart to others why we love Tokyo so much.