Japan is ultra-modern, but strangely backward at the same time. It is a country that accepts foreign people, products and ideas, but molds and shapes them to fit traditional values and cultural standards. I get the sense that Japan tolerates foreigners, but remains un-impressed; that if all foreign influence disappeared from Japan, they would hardly notice.
Absolutely no country in the world does baseball better than Japan. The energy and excitement are palpable and contagious!
A piece of advice before visiting Japan’s temples and shrines: spend a few minutes educating yourself so that you can better appreciate the experience.
I spoke with the Japanese Emperor on the phone. Ok, maybe it was his assistant. But desperate times call for desperate measures and yes, I called the Imperial Palace (Google it! The number pops right up!).
Shinto is Japan's faith. It is not a religion or a philosophy; it does not have a scripture or the concept of an after-life. It co-exists and intermingles with Buddhism.
Life in Tokyo
Noodles! A piping hot bowl of thick kagawa-style sanuki noodles in a light broth is a popular lunch in fast-paced Tokyo.
A food named "grilled how you like it" can't help but intrigue and inspire - oh the endless variations! Okonomiyaki is essentially a Japanese pancake made from wheat flour, whipped eggs, and shredded cabbage. These ingredients form a light, fluffy batter to which is added meat, seafood, vegetables - any combo you like!
Kaiseki is a multi-course dining experience, with seasonal ingredients and artful plating. The courses vary, but typically consist of small portions: an appetizer, sashimi, sushi, a simmered dish, a grilled dish, a steamed dish, soup, and dessert.