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Much longer ago than "this morning," we hauled our tired asses out of bed, hauled our luggage to the train, and hied ourselves to O'Hare. Check-in was delightfully pleasant, our cruise through security simplicity itself, and to say that our thirteen-hour flight to Japan seemed much quicker than our recent eight-hour flight from Chicago to New York would be an understatement roughly the size of the Pacific.

We sailed through immigration, baggage claim, and customs at Narita, and after two uneventful hours of train travel (with some unasked-for directions from kind commuters), we made it to Tokyo and our hotel. We wandered the streets of Roppongi until the desk clerk's directions began to make sense, and we had the amazing meal we were hunting for at a robatayaki called Inakaya, where two cooks sit across a wide counter from you and fry up the selections you point to from the cornucopia of foods spread between. There is much ritualized shouting, and the food is served to you by the cooks on an eight-foot paddle, without them getting up. The whole red snapper we ate Laura named Bob. I named my tiger prawn Paul. Don't ask us why.

Our waiter kindly took our picture, and then he showed us the restaurant's photo book, full of pictures of patrons like Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, Cameron Diaz, Peter Jackson, Viggo Mortenson, Keith Richards, and so on. They will be opening a location next year on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.

The tiniest bit tipsy on sake, we wandered Roppongi again, this time in search of the Absolut Ice Bar. We didn't find it, but I am determined to get there on our return to Tokyo next week and sip vodka from an ice glass whilst wrapped in a Swedish cloak.

We're so happy to be here.

Now, to end this 26-hour consciousness binge. Tomorrow, Yokohama.

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Enjoy your time in Japan! My husband and I vacationed in Tokyo in May, and we already want to go back.

Who am I kidding? We never wanted to leave in the first place.

One word/phrase I'm sure you'll get used to hearing soon is irrashaimase, or "welcome." I found myself missing the cordial welcome to a business establishment when I returned to the States.

Good luck in Yokohama! Mata ne!

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William Shunn

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on August 29, 2007 9:05 PM.

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