OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Fish

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  • kmont,

    I am so jealous. When I tried to go to Tsukiji I turned up bright and early but they were closed.
    Gutted.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    I recommend the Maid Cafes. Or at least the one my girlfriend and I went to. Awesome food and not as sleazy as you would expect. This is what I wrote about them last year:

    We had some time to kill and decided to go to a maid café today. I thought it was going to be a horrible sleazy place filled with chain-smoking geeks glistening with sweat leering at the poor girls, and so I had dismissed the idea out of hand. But then I noticed that our official guide to Tokyo (issued by the local council) had an ad for one on it. The place was called @Home and was three levels of restaurant, café and lobby.

    To be honest it was lovely. The food was some of the best we have had in Tokyo and the service was, naturally, excellent. It was more of a modern take on the traditional tea house. The “maids” tottered around on wooden sandals and in kimono and would serve people tea and make chit-chat. There was one corner that had tatami and you could get an honest to goodness tea ceremony. The only weirdness was that you could get your photo taken with your favourite maid and that they kept calling you “master”.

    There were also quite a few female patrons, both the tittering school girl kind and the hipster ironic kind. There was a show in the middle that seemed to be some kind of comedy sketch but upstairs in the lobby you could purchase merchandise, including a cd they had made. Still ranks as weird, but it was a cool Japanese experience.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    I am surprised that you are having trouble with the subway/metro. I was there for a couple of weeks in July/August and thought it was really easy user-friendly system (Idon't speak or read a word of Japanese).
    I recommend the museum at Meiji University - nice and small (so not too time consuming) but has some amazing exhibits and English-speaking guide if required (free). It has a section on criminology, arts and crafts (like laquer bowls, textiles etc) and archeology. Worth a visit.

    Also if you head out to Hakone region i highly recommend the Open-Air Art Museum and buying the 'Hakone Free-Pass' which means you can use all/any transport as many times as you like in the park area (bus, train, gondola, cablecars etc).

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    Also if you head out to Hakone region i highly recommend the Open-Air Art Museum and buying the 'Hakone Free-Pass' which means you can use all/any transport as many times as you like in the park area (bus, train, gondola, cablecars etc).

    Oh hell yes, that place is awesome! Although it might be slightly less cool if you're a proper grownup and can't reaaally get away with playing in the big perspex structure thing and the very rad netting playground/sculpture.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    Would anyone like to start up an eatery in New Zealand where young blokes tottered round in mobility-restricting costumes and called me "Mistress"?

    Or does that sound like another profession entirely?

    Since Jul 2007 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    another vote for Hakone Chokoku-no-Mori.
    fantastic. went there more than 20 years ago.
    drug-free psychedelic experience. swirling mist as the clouds descended, walking around among all the sculptures, AND playing on some of them!

    ...gotta try to go to Hakone again sometime...
    the sister-museum in Nagano (Utsukushigahara) was good too.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    I am surprised that you are having trouble with the subway/metro. I was there for a couple of weeks in July/August and thought it was really easy user-friendly system (Idon't speak or read a word of Japanese).

    Yeah - it's getting a bit better now. I think the trick is to not look at the map beyond what you need, otherwise it melts your brain.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    The plan is to travel west in Japan over the next two weeks, then ferry to China

    i assume you're getting the ferry from Osaka to Shanghai?

    unsolicited advice: take the central mountain route (Yamanashi, Nagano, Gifu, Shiga) route to Kyoto, or, if you're really adventurous, the north coast (Japan Sea) route to Kyoto (Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui). that's the real Japan. Tokyo is just an adrenaline-fuelled mirage. with trees. and parks.

    and the conventional Tokaido coast route to Kyoto is just an industrial wasteland stretching 600km (except for Izu).

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • kmont,

    I think the trick is to not look at the map beyond what you need, otherwise it melts your brain.

    You have the right idea. That map you photographed, don't look at it. I just used it to scare my friends! The best thing would be to use a Japanese cell phone then you can just enter where you are and where you want to go. Then it is just a matter of only looking at the map you need (a skill in itself I know!) I conquered the train system without the phone initally but it really does take most of the work out. It should give you several options, plus all the times and the cost. If there are different coloured ticket machines with less people waiting, they will not be the ones you want. Don't be fooled.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    don't wait at the ticket machines.
    get an IC card when you arrive.
    you can now use them on all the trains and buses.
    JR, subways, private railways, etc.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • kmont,

    They have an all-in-one card now? That must be so convenient. I was using the Suica card but that wasn't good for everything.
    I miss the train.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Oh Kowhai, you are a braver woman than me. I don't know people stand all that humanity around them. It would drive me spare.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    I don't know people stand all that humanity around them. It would drive me spare.

    oh, i dunno. it's just the same as London really. just twice as many people, less body odour and better sushi. oh, and the trains (usually) run on time.

    only drawback is that an earthquake might flatten the lot at any moment.

    c'est la vie. sho ga nai.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • kmont,

    I don't know people stand all that humanity around them. It would drive me spare.

    Initially it was very draining but in time it becomes completely normal. A special kind of solitude can be found in crowds.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Gutted

    Boom boom!

    ... an eatery in New Zealand where young blokes tottered round in mobility-restricting costumes and called me "Mistress"?

    Male sexuality being what it is, they would be the customers and pay you. And I bet there's room for a bar like that in Tokyo.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    You have reached the same conclusion as me, Stephen. That male sexuality being what it is, they award themselves the economic means to indulge it. I hear career choices for females in Japan are not extensive.

    I don't think the females serving male fantasies would get a lot of job satisfaction in either cafe scenario.

    Since Jul 2007 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • stephen clover,

    They have an all-in-one card now? That must be so convenient. I was using the Suica card but that wasn't good for everything. I miss the train.

    Kowhai, you must have scared the crap out of them, being a tall female gaijin. ;-)

    wgtn • Since Sep 2007 • 355 posts Report Reply

  • kmont,

    Daleaway,

    There are bars in Japan that cater to woman, irony being that most of the customers in host bars (picture if you will, skinny men with hairsprayed blonde mullets lighting your cigs, pouring your drinks and laughing at your jokes....)
    are actually hostesses themselves........
    I can only imagine that after a hard day at work it is nice to have someone cater to you for a change. I am only going on what I saw on J-TV however.
    As far as woman with the economic means to indulge, I saw a hordes of those in high end whiskey bars. Go figure.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • kmont,

    To clarify:
    By woman with means to indulge I mean working career woman spending their own money.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Hi Keith

    If you are going to Kathmandu, maybe you would like to visit the school my sister (Shirley Blair) runs there?

    [www.himalayanchildren.org/ ]

    By the way Russell, I am not having any luck with this linking thing: the process is:

    1. type an ppen square bracket
    2. paste url
    3. type a closed square bracket

    or am I reading this wrong?

    Keith - my sister also taught in Tokyo for 9 or 10 years before moving to Nepal.

    Enjoy your travels!

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Dyan - close, but its two square brackets at each end. And if you follow the url with a | (just above the \ on the keyboard) and some text, that text will be linked.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    You could always bypass the spaghetti subway map entirely and use a route planner instead, like this one (link to English in top left corner).

    And, yes, as of this year there is the PASMO card, which covers all public transport within Tokyo and also some connections out into neighbouring prefectures.

    (To explain Stephen's joke for any non-Japanese speakers out there: _kowaii_ is the Japanese word for "scary". I keep getting it mixed up with _kawaii_ 'cute'...)

    --Robert.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1931 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    bother, that didn't quite work as advertised...
    uh, how about this?

    sorry about that...

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1931 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Ha, I nearly forgot about this:

    Keith, do have a look at the site for the school my sister runs in Nepal:

    School in Kathmandu

    As I say, Shirl lived in Tokyo for about 10 years before moving to Nepal - she's been there about 10 yeas as well.

    The school is quite interesting - Jane Goodall has recently become a patron and stayed at the school last year. For those of you who don't know who she is, Jane Goodall is (as she calls herself) the chimp lady, though she has turned over most of the primate work to her son Grub and her daughter in law, and is now running UNICEF's Roots and Shoots program. The school my sister Shirl runs is one of the Roots and Shoots project schools.

    And I understand from my sister that the Maoist Rebels are scary and unpredictable, but less so than the Army - both my sister and my Dad (who's been over there a couple times doing projects for Engineers Without Borders) say the Army is far more intimidating.

    But if you do find time to visit, I think you'll find it interesting. And for those of you in mourning about the rugby, the section on "Why Our Kids Don't Go Home for the Holidays" may put your grief and despair into perspective.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    What am I doing wrong?

    Here goes again:

    School in Nepal

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

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