food

Sumo wrestler frying up some food

Chef Tagonishiki prepares lunch at Takasago beya.

I love Paolo Patrizi‘s intimate portraits of sumo wrestlers in and around the Tokyo “stables” where they train. Wonder what this one is cooking?

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Marui Nakano opens tomorrow!

Marui Nakano is re-opening in its new building tomorrow, January 28. I admit I am pretty excited for this burst of renewal on the south side of the JR Nakano station.

They are advertising a Tokyo Hands. I hope they’ll also have Le Petit Mec, their great French bakery, or the Italian gelato store (both at Marui’s Shinjuku San Chome store). Will there be a food court in the basement?

I took this photo a few weeks ago, and marveled at the pride of the construction workers who line up their super-clean equipment in front of Nakano’s only department store.

Omatsuri thass

Summer is time for omatsuri, that curious blend of Shinto spirituality, yakuza food stalls, and major male thass. Generally Tokyo reserves the thass for ladies, but omatsuri is a special time for men to wear their festival coats with either fundoshi (a ritual jockstrap) or this tight white fabric that’s like a mini-skirt.

Needless to say, I find these male outfits bring me to a higher level of spirituality, compassion and awareness. As the weather warms up and the festivals spread throughout Tokyo, I am hoping to exceed last year‘s festival perving.

I love how nonchalant the men are despite revealing their thighs and the lower portions of their rears. The white, split-toe shoes and white socks only add to the “moe.”

Night-time omatsuri

Night-time omatsuri

This weekend there are a lot of omatsuri festivals in Tokyo. We visited one of the largest last night, which the husband and his siblings attended as children. Last year, we saw portable shrine carrying, and one super hot policeman. This year was quieter, with fun street food and lots of yankiis.

In addition to savory pancakes, yakisoba, shwarma, beer, a strange sweet on an ice block, one omatsuri tradition is chocolate covered bananas with sprinkles. Somehow this image confirms every foreigners’ image of Tokyo, combining kawaii, moe and moe.

Hello Kitty with chocolate bananas

I survived swine flu

In Narita with face mask

For work, I was required to leave the safety and comfort of Japan for the unknowable dangers of the US. Media and corporate “risk managment” departments had warned of the grave dangers of traveling to Canada and the US, while many workers have been outright forbidden to visit Mexico because of the terrible risk of swine flu.

My goal was to wear my face mask for the entire 17 day trip. I started by wearing it in the Narita airport in Japan. No one was at all surprised to see a passenger with a face mask there. If anything, I feel it makes me look more Japanese. I kept it on until passing through immigration and customs in the US.

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Hot or not: Kobayashi Takeru?

Kobayashi Takeru, pizza eating champion

Is he hot or not? World pizza-eating champion Kobayashi Takeru not only proudly focuses viewers’ attention on his tight stomach, but provides a rare come-hither gesture.

To review his Google Image search is to savor delinquent defiance with ever changing bleached and processed hair. Kobayashi’s riot of punk excess and competitive hedonism, his massive hot dog eating, and his all-American image making is alluring and repulsive.

So many questions arise. What is it about classic American food that lends itself so easily to who-can-eat-more contests? Can Americans not compete with Japanese in our most popular national sports? Is Kobayashi a good or bad representative of Japan. And finally, is he hot or not? What do the readers say?

Kobayashi Takeru in Alabama, winning again

You can see he charmed at least one Alabama member of the collegiate royal family.

Some other fun facts: his arch-rival is Joey Chestnut, he’s eaten 59 hot dogs in 10 minutes, and 5 and 3/4 P’zones (cross between a pizza and calzone) in 6 minutes, competitive food eating involves “jaw capacity and stomach capacity.”

Curry and coffee

Curry and coffee

Food in Tokyo is delicious. With the exception of Mexican food, you can eat any cuisine, most of it deliciuos and with superlative service. I am confused, however, by the strange twists that Indian food has taken here. Who wants “curry and coffee” as this local place near our home offers? Or “European curry”? Or “curry and cake”? And what is the witch adding to the Indian cuisine? Any suggestions of where to go for good Mexican food in Tokyo are most appreciated.