Wellington boots

So the top trendy thing here lately seem to be wellington boots!! And let me tell you, they need to be grey or black to match your business attire, nothing fancy or colourful. You should see all these ladies commuting in the morning on a black suit and grey wellington boot. This is because of the rainy season, I get it, however, the concept remains awkward to me.

 

Obon

Obon is the celebration of the deads in the family. Depending on the regions, it is celebrated in july or August but mostly on 14th and 15th August.

This is not a bank holiday but many companies give days off to the employees. This is a time when Tokyo becomes very quiet, this is very enjoyable.

People go back to their families and celebrate the memories of the dead family members. They go to the temple and dance Bon-Odori. I was lucky, I have a temple close to my place where local people gathered.

In the center of the square, was set up a Yagura, a quiet high wooden stage, where the drummers would stand up successively. Dancers in the middle would show the way and public would copy around.

Then, there is a variety of shops for street food around that you can enjoy, yakitori, beer, etc.

 

Nagoya – a great hotel guests love

Thursday was business trip for me to Nagoya.

As this is the beginning of the Obon week, you can imagine that train stations and airports were packed. Even though JR has planned shinkansen in the Tokaido line every 4mn (how do we do in France that they cannot manage to get one train every 90mn to arrive on time, it always intrigues me), I had to let a large number of trains go until I could get a seat!

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I approached this trip with a pure business focus in mind and hardly any expectation on Nagoya. I have been there years ago and had not found anything special to it. I knew I would have an interesting afternoon as we had to review a specific segment of clientele where we need some work done.

Let me tell, what I found was extraordinary. Although the hotel does not enjoy the best location out of all luxury business hotels in town, it is a gem!! Fully renovated, beautiful restaurants and what a team!! So far, all I heard was that Nagoya people are “different” and they don’t like to spend. Instead, it was a friendly and outgoing bunch of people, all extremely competent and professional, smiling, attached to service, client oriented.

First surprise happened upon arrival. there was a meeting to taste the winter menu, each chef for each of the 6 restaurants was describing his new menu, the recipe, the preparation, the presentation, the ingredients. All the newcomers (young people just out of university) were religiously taking notes, at the end of the session, all could taste. When I asked whether it would be too early to try the December menu in August, all looked at me astonished, they explained this is why they do it, all have notes and have time to review, learn, ask questions and the chef to prepare orders, suppliers, produce etc.

 

We then moved to our meeting. After that, I was lucky enough to be here for the welcome celebration party for the new General Manager and again what I found was amazing – a great atmosphere, a buffet that some of our clients would envy, fantastic team, the owner present and mingling with his teams, the GM very open and approachable, the employees smiling and coming naturally to me asking questions, so refreshing

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Nagoya indeed has not got much too offer in terms of heritage and monuments BUT you could consider it as a stop on the way to Kyoto (only 30mn train), to enjoy the Nagoya Meshi, great cuisine, based on red miso, eel, deepfried meat, chicken wings. and enjoy the people!! thank you ANA Crowne Plaza Nagoya for this experience.

The Boston Museum is linked to the hotel, nice place, there is a shrine, the port to visit and the Toyota site of course.

bathtub

No tap in this one!! Japan has moved to panels years ago (I remember those already in 2002). You set from your panel the temperature you wish and how much you want it to fill up. Then, you may reheat it and keep it at temperature, you may also cover the bath for the next day and reheat! Remember that the bath in Japan is daily and is to relax, you wash in the shower, and then enjoy the bath.

 

I spent 2 weeks carrying all the notices of the appliances around as it was so sophisticated. I am getting better at it (maybe I do everything wrong but just have not realised) but the fridge still is daunting and I have purchase small stickers where I have written the translation into English for all the buttons! Et voila!!

 

Supermarket

This very basic chore never stops to impress me, every time I go for groceries, I discover new items, try out new food, here are some differences

Beer – Coming from Belgium, I thought we had a huge choice of items in a long shelf, well, here, all beers are stored in fridge sections, in a long shelf, but 90% comes in cans and you get god knows how many different type of strength, color, flavour, mostly from a couple of brands!! I only recognise one so far (Asahi grey can) and only this one comes in 4 different formats, S, M, L and XL

Fish – as you would guess, there is plenty of choice, one thing to remember, in Japan, sushi are displayed in the ready-meal section while sashimi come in the fish area, it sounds logical but good to know. Fish is almost always great value for money and much cheaper than in Belgium or Europe in general. To give you an idea, I can get a large sashimi plate with 12 to 15 pieces for 400 Yens (3.50 euros), 2 portions of salmon fillet would come around 300 Yens (2.50 euros)

 

One thing that I enjoy a lot here are the pickles, they are healthy, tasty, not to vinegared and there are so many different choices. for a guilty pleasure and more quality and taste, I pay trips to Isetan monthly to buy the best of all

Rice is still very difficult to choose and it comes better from a rice cooker, which I have not got yet. So, I buy a different one each time and make notes to be able to discern (maybe one day). During my trip to Niigata, where rice is at its best, I could really taste the difference, it is excellent up there, trust me!! try it!

choix de riz

 

so, all in all, nothing to do with what we are used to, here is how a typical shopping day looks like

Fire at Tsukiji fish market put out after 15 hours; no injuries – Japan Today

A fire at the famed Tsukiji fish market in central Tokyo was extinguished Friday morning some 15 hours after it broke out, burning a roughly 935-square-meter area but causing no injuries, firefighters said. The Tokyo fire department mobilized around 60 fire engines to battle the blaze, which started around 4:50…

Source : Fire at Tsukiji fish market put out after 15 hours; no injuries – Japan Today

Tsukiji on fire tonight

4 buildings are on fire, over 40 firemen trucks are on site, I can see the smoke from where I am and helicopters over the site