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Tokyo

Hello Kit-Kat fans and welcome back to the ultimate box of Kit-Kats. Last time we discussed the box itself, this time we’re going to dig into some of the Kit-Kats it contains.

Niigata Pear

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So apparently we can’t spring for English on the box but we’re now putting French on the wrappers. Maybe every wrapper will have a different language on it to signify the country it’s aimed at. As if to say “French people, we think you’ll like the pear flavour, it compliments wine, cheese and surrendering to Nazi Germany.”

But more than likely it’s because Japanese people think putting stuff in French makes it fancy and elegant. This is something they do with terrific frequency. I’d mock that but my country does exactly the same thing and we hate France so that’s us effectively openly acknowledging that France just is classier than the U.K. Which, to be honest, it is.

Le Lectier is the name of the variety of pear and although originally from France it is grown in Niigata and is considered a local speciality there. It’s a white pear with a very smooth texture and is very strongly fragranced. Or so the internet tells me, I’m not a pear connoisseur and if you probed me my ability to blag that I am would crumple swiftly.

Packaging wise I love that this Kit-Kat. It’s simplified, a simple cream background, a contrasting black stripe and an image of a pear. It’s more reassured and more elegant than the busy clutter of most designs.

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Smell wise this reeks of pears straight away, indeed it might be one of the most strongly scented Kit-Kats I’ve come across, appropriate for a pear that is supposed to be so strongly scented and aromatic.

Flavour wise it’s pretty assured too; the pear is a strong initial note on the palate and persists through right until the after taste which is almost sour with pear flavour. But there is a depth to the flavour too. One gets a sweet burst (with pear) to start, a kind of creamy taste and texture in the middle (with pear) and finally a sour pear aftertaste (with pear) to finish (with pear, did I mention this is really strongly flavoured of pear?).

The only problem is our old friend, waxy coloured chocolate, makes a return so whilst the flavour is lovely the texture is pretty foul.

The waxiness also means that it coats the roof of your mouth with the slightly sour aftertaste and that can be a touch unpleasant. No worries with that though, wash this down with some green tea and it pairs really nicely. This is a delicious flavour, easily one of Nestlé’s better efforts.

Tokyo Brown Sugar Syrup

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Since I learned my lesson from Tohoku that the English lies I assumed that there was more to this than just brown sugar syrup and did some research on the Japanese name Kuromitsu and it turns out… to be entirely accurate.

Kuromitsu is not really a Tokyo thing so I’m not entirely sure why this is the specialty picked for Tokyo so much as it is an old fashioned and traditional method of sweetening all manner of old fashioned Japanese sweets and desserts. Basically it’s molasses but thinner. If anything it should be an Okinawan specialty since that’s where sugar cane grows in Japan. I guess they’ve given it to Tokyo because of the old fashioned connotations and Tokyo, despite its reputation as a modern metropolis, is a historical city with lots of old fashioned crafts still practised there. This is something you’ll probably comment on if you visit Japan, the mix of the modern and the historical in close proximity. If you ask me that, above anything else, really informs and defines Japan and the Japanese character.

The wrapper is appalling. For once I actually don’t mind the logo since it blends into the main body of the wrapper and the main body has a nice gradient colour to it that really gives it some class and an old fashioned feel. We get a picture of the inviting looking brown sugar syrup and the blue strip is cleverly incorporated into the design. It looks like the flags Japanese businesses used to use to advertise their shops in the past and which you’ll still see on any shop trying to evoke a nostalgic theme.

Then it spoils all of this nostalgia and the air of history and tradition by covering the other side with random coloured squares. That doesn’t say traditional Japanese culture to me, it says Rubik’s cube.

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The smell is actually fairly unpleasant. I’ve never smelled Kuromitsu so I couldn’t tell you how accurate to real life it is but it certainly does smell sweet and I can imagine this being similar to a brown sugar. There’s something else here though, almost a rancid odour, like when meat smells sweet but you know that it means it’s bad. It’s not something chocolate should smell of, or indeed meat.

Taste wise it’s very similar to brown sugar or molasses, very sweet but actually sweet in a way that is different to refined sugars, it has a flavour and a complexity to it. There are burnt flavours, nutty flavours, caramel flavours; it’s a surprisingly complex taste.

The way I usually write these reviews is to eat part of a finger, write my thoughts and eat it some more as I type so I keep the flavour in mind whilst writing. With this Kit-Kat my initial reaction was that it was very unpleasant, I couldn’t have told you what exactly I disliked about it thought but mixed in with the sweetness and the nuttiness was another note that was intensely unpalatable. However, the more I eat this, the more I like it and I can no longer place that unpleasant note at all. In fact this is really, really nice. I’d most compare it to sweet potato, which is one of my all-time favourites, and it shares the same flavour profile of sweet potato; sweet caramel notes with something earthy underneath it all. It even avoids the problem of waxy coloured chocolate.

The aftertaste is a bit sour but this works really well with tea or coffee actually which should clear the aftertaste up considerably.

Kyushu Amaou strawberry

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Kyushu is the third largest of the main islands and it is awesome. It might possibly be my favourite part of Japan. I only visited there once but I had such an amazing time, the people seemed so much friendlier than in Tokyo or Kyoto, the countryside was gorgeous, the weather was gorgeous (if too hot) and the food was phenomenal. It was all the things I liked about Japan just more so.

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I did not know it was famous for strawberries but apparently Amaou strawberries (literally big sweet strawberries) are something of a delicacy there, particularly near the city of Fukuoka. Apparently these strawberries are of such high quality they can fetch a dollar each easily.

This is another quirk of Japan, stupidly expensive fruit. See this watermelon?

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This watermelon sold for $6,100 dollars. Well maybe not this exact example but certainly something very similar. Now that’s an extreme example but cantaloupe melons routinely retail at prices around $30 , I bought one in the supermarket today for about $2. I’ve never entirely grasped the reasons for this but it has something to do with how Asian counties use fruit as a gift instead of things like chocolates and wine.

The packet is great. Rather than have a picture of one strawberry they turned the entire background into strawberries which when you have a product with such a dominant colour as red makes perfect sense. This is really eye catching without being overly busy. Frankly the apple and green tea favours in the same box should have done the same thing. It also helps stop the image from being too crowded since you don’t have so many clashing colours.

Disappointingly we don’t have real chocolate but white chocolate. However there is no doubting this will taste of strawberries since the smell is overpowering. Actually it smells less like a strawberry than it does a strawberry milkshake, specifically a burger king strawberry milkshake.

I may have mentioned this before but I have boycotted Burger King and McDonalds for life due to their business practises that I have no desire to support. This is pretty easy for me since I’m not a huge fan of their food. I am however in love with their strawberry milkshakes, they don’t taste quite like strawberries and they have a texture milkshakes should not have (I know they use potato as a thickener and that’s what probably does it) but there’s something just divine about them. The smell of this Kit-Kat is giving me a serious nostalgia trip and wearing down my resistance. If I don’t finish this review quickly I may have to get myself to a McD’s ASAP.

The flavour is the total opposite though. Rather than being that familiar artificial strawberry flavour (you know the one, all strawberry sweets taste of it.) it is remarkably like a real strawberry. It even has the tartness that usually gets washed out in strawberry sweets. This is delightful. It’s sweet to the taste, tastes and smells very evocatively of strawberries but has a tartness that cuts the sweetness and makes it perfectly balanced. It’s slightly soapy but again that tartness cuts that down and makes it palatable. It also has a lovely creamy finish which pairs so well with strawberries. It even has a nice aftertaste, not too chemically or creamy and still redolent of fruit.

I can’t tell you if this tastes like an Amaou strawberry but it is leagues better than any strawberry flavour Kit-Kat has done before.

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I’m back guys and by back I mean back in the U.K.

The plan for this blog going ahead will be to do some retrospective posts about things I did in Japan and places I went to that I never got around to covering. Mostly because I was too busy doing stuff to have time to write about the stuff I was doing.

But the first order of business is to deal with what this blog has become famous for.

That’s right. Kit-Kats.

This is the last batch of Kit-Kat’s I will be reviewing for the foreseeable future as being in the U.K. I don’t have access to all that many Kit-Kat flavours.

So without further ado.

Fruit Juice

Released all the way back in May in honour of Children’s Day. Children’s Day is a festival in Japan that celebrates children, in particular young boys. Kids dress up as samurai, parents fly koi carp shaped streamers and some special food is eaten.
Nestle has decided to cash in on memories of being a child with a vaguely nostalgic looking packet. The girl drawn in an older style of advertising art and in historical clothes is the main sop to this idea along with the almost sepia yellow tone used for the background. Then we have some childlike drawings of fruit and that’s it. Frankly I think more could have been done to match the theme but at least the packet isn’t crowded and over designed. It’s very colourful too with lots of differently coloured fruit and a lot of colours used for the banner reading fruit juice. Again these colours evoke childishness and fond memories as well as tying into the idea of mixed fruits.

The individual kat wrapper is more subdued but considering the size available I don’t think using lots of colours would have worked. Instead we have yellows and browns, the colours of old photos and stylised fruit drawings. Simple but effective.
One thing to note about the packaging is the presence of bananas. As has been established on this site I loathe bananas. I loathe them with every fibre of my being. Not only are they disgusting but they have an annoying habit of inserting themselves into things completely unbidden. Many is the time I have gone to drink a smoothie or fruit juice and immediately gagged on the horrible and unmistakeable taste of banana. Banana that hasn’t been advertised on the packet! Grrr, horrible, evil, stealthy things. So whilst I appreciate the fact that nestle has been up front about the presence of banana I am not looking forward to this kit-kat.

The chocolate is coloured, never a good sign but it does smell nice. It’s hard to pick a distinctive not in the aroma but it is fruity. Which is to be expected I guess.

It doesn’t taste very nice though. The main problem is that it tastes really waxy. Upon biting in you aren’t hit by a strong flavour but rather by an absence of it. A sort of waxy coating surrounds your tongue and blocks out all flavour. Then you crunch down and some of the flavour comes through. What does come through isn’t banana-ey (thankfully) but it isn’t particularly fruity either. It’s not too sweet but it is just kind of generically sweet. If it tastes of anything it tastes of peach but even then it’s a really faint peach.

The aftertaste is bitter and tart and sits in your mouth like a bad smell going off. Ugh, not a fan. So waxy, flavourless and tart at the end. A poor effort.

Blueberry and Strawberry

Bought as part of a mixed packet containing regular kit-kat’s, strawberry and blueberry. The main packet has become lost in the move from Japan to the U.K. but from memory I know that it was an uninspired and messy design.

The individual designs aren’t messy but they’re certainly uninspired. In fact I think they may be the laziest effort I have reviewed so far. The strawberry one’s are okay, if a bit dull. Pink in colour (even though strawberries are red, but then so are regular kit-kat’s) with a picture of a strawberry. No thought has gone into their design but it works. However the blueberry wrapper is so boring it makes me a bit sad inside to eat it. The sole effort to distinguish it is to turn it blue and write blueberry at the side in a dull font. It isn’t even written in Japanese! Rather than entice me in or sell a theme it just makes me depressed and put off. This is chocolate for the desperate, chocolate for those with no friends, no taste and no hope.

The strawberry kat is regular chocolate and smells divinely and strongly of strawberries. Even sitting down the table from it I can get a strong whiff of strawberry filling my nostrils. In fact it’s making my mouth water a little bit.
Eating it has the exact same texture and mouthfeel of a regular kit-kat (complete with a little grittiness) but with a slight tang and a hint of strawberry. It’s nice, subtle, not too sweet and with a nice complexity that hits all the parts of your mouth with a burst of flavour. Then the aftertaste comes through like a punch to the tongue. After the chocolate taste dissipates it begins to really, really taste like strawberries. Your whole mouth gets taken over by a spreading wave of strawberry flavour complete with the tart notes and sourness of an actual strawberry.

This may not be the most exciting kit-kat ever but it sets out modest aims and more than fulfils them.

The blueberry also has regular chocolate and also has a nice strong aroma but nowhere near as strong as the strawberries. That’s fair though because blueberries aren’t the strongest smelling fruit to begin with.

Much like the strawberry the mouthfeel is like a classic kit-kat however it does have a certain waxy quality that spoils it. Unlike the strawberry though there is nothing at all subtle about this flavour. The blueberry comes out as the first note, overpowering the chocolate and everything else straight away. Blueberry fills your entire mouth and tries to escape out your eyes. These pack quite a kick for a chocolate bar, in fact they’re really quite sour. Nice though, the wrapper only promises you blueberry and blueberry is indeed what you get.

Bitter Almond

First up, that wrapper is absolutely horrible. There are way too many colours on it and they clash horribly with the kit-kat logo. The repeated diamond pattern clashes horribly with the picture of the bar and with the kit-kat logo and it just looks like a busy mess. There are at least 7 fonts used on the front and none of them compliment each other. My cat walking across a keyboard could produce a more attractive image. Actually my cat shitting on a keyboard could produce a more attractive image.

And yet the wrapper on the individual kat whilst haing many of the same problems works much better. The shiny foil makes the diamond pattern pop more and the colours are more subdued and complimentary. The logo is reduced in size and gives the patterns room to breathe and make an impression. Although still spoiled a bit by the logo it gives an impression of style and classiness. There’s an art deco feel which suggests a bygone era of style, sophistication and carefree pleasure. Considering bitter almond is an altogether more grown up flavour it’s a strong choice. This wrapper says not for kids and that can do a lot to draw my interest.

The smell is almost like coffee but it mostly chocolatey. No almond notes come through at all however it smells like a much richer and darker chocolate than a regular kit-kat. It looks darker too with little flecks of a lighter brown that is probably nut.

The texture is absolutely god awful. On the bottom it tastes and feels positively chalky, a horrible bitty, gritty waxiness. Almost like a piece of paper. Based on mouth feel alone this would be an absolute stinker.

However it tastes absolutely wonderful. Once you get past the first bite the texture settles down into a more standard kit-kat mode and one can start to think about the flavour. And what flavour! It’s definitely nutty, with some sour notes, some sweet notes and some really strong bitter notes. In fact I think there are actual nuts in it. It’s strangely not all that almond like. It tastes more like coffee if anything. But it is a deliciously complex flavour that stimulates your whole mouth. If the texture wasn’t so crap this would be a real winner of a kit-kat.

The aftertaste is a bit unpleasant as it leaves behind all the bitter notes without the sweetness to cut it. However I think this would compliment a coffee or tea very well and that would deal with the problem of after taste.

Coca Cola and Lemonade

Wow, that’s a busy packet! Not only have we got a picture of a big glass of cola, and another of lemonade but we also have hands, the logo, a blurb, another blurb, a diagram on the bottom of the packet and a joke on the top! But it’s done so well that it works! None of the elements crowd any other elements and each stands on its own as well as complimenting the others. The use of angles, spiky writing and geometric shapes imparts it some energy and an almost graffiti like feel to it. This is a kit-kat for kids and it has all the fun and energy it needs to do so. I also like the zippatone dots in the background suggesting fizziness as well as fitting into the youth/graffiti theme. Even the gradient from red to yellow is well done. This kit-kat is, dare I say it, funky!

The individual wrappers are less well done but are still okay. We get nice strong colours to denote which flavour is which and we get more of the same elements that made the main packet work so well, dots, angular shapes, etc but with addition of shiny and eye catching foil.

The lemonade kat has pale yellow chocolate, not a good sign, and even smells soapy. It also smells exactly like lemon vinegar, which was quite a nice flavour, and so this is a good sign. You really have to get a good whiff of it to get the smell though as it’s quite subdued. Interestingly you can even smell how fizzy it will be.
The initial taste is a bit bland, somewhat waxy, quite a bit soapy and even a little creamy. It doesn’t taste a huge amount of anything really, let alone lemon or lemonade. But then the fizz comes in the form of tiny dots of really, really, really sour lemon flavour. But the dots are so few that even though they are incredibly sour they struggle to overcome the blandess. I can guess what nestle was aiming for. The fizzy stuff makes an incredibly powerful lemon flavour and to make it palatable they added creamy chocolate. The idea being that the two should even out and the end result would be a pleasing lemonade taste. Instead you get almost painful punches of sourness and then a whole lot of bland soapy chocolate. So bland in fact that it kind of obliterates the aftertaste. A dismal failure.

Cola has cola coloured chocolate which doesn’t fill me with confidence but fairs much better on smell. Before the packet is even open you get hit a burst of unmistakeable cola smell. Not real cola though, this is the smell of rola cola, of the shit cheap knock off cola bought in pubs to entertain bored children and used to flavour all manner of sweets over the years. Again, like the lemonade, you can kind of smell the fizziness. It makes your eyes water a little bit.

The chocolate is horribly soapy and waxy. It has probably the worst texture of any kit-kat I have ever eaten. It doesn’t even feel like chocolate. It’s so insubstantial and waxy that it feels like eating a communion wafer washed with fairy liquid. And it’s bland, so very, very bland. Like the lemonade tiny fizzy dots of cola struggle to flavour the blandness. However it doesn’t work nearly as well as the lemonade. The cola flavour is pathetic, a tiny fart of flavour in a veritable Jupiter of bland crapness. Bland crapness that leaves an aftertaste like toilet cleaner fumes. Utterly appalling!

Strawberry Cheesecake

This is another kit-kat variety that is limited to one place in Japan, specifically Yokohama. Yokohama is one of the most international cities in Japan as it was one of the first cities to establish permanent trading ports with the outside world. Consequently a lot of food associated with Yokohama is a fusion of Japanese and western or just straight up western in nature. Yokohama is associated in people’s minds with history, the black ships (the American fleet that forced Japan to open its ports to foreigners), foreigners, foreign food and foreign culture. As such a strawberry cheesecake flavour is an entirely appropriate kit-kat to symbolise Yokohama.

The box art does a lot to tie into these historical notions. The background is in a cream and red bricks pattern evoking the unusual and exotic brick buildings that foreign merchants built in Yokohama. Prior to this all buildings in Japan were made of wood and stone. It’s also very distinctive and really stands out on a shelf, as well as being pleasing to the eye. And hey, cream and red are the colours of a strawberry cheesecake and of a Victorian building. That’s just too perfect. There’s a nice eye catching and attractive photo of a cheesecake and a friendly warning that this will have coloured chocolate and thus probably won’t taste very nice. The little gold ship ties into the historical theme but looks a little cluttered and busy. The old fashioned maid in western dress also ties into the theme and isn’t cluttered at all but seems a bit pointless. I guess she’s there to counter balance the necessary busyness on the other side of the box, with the words describing the flavour and the picture of the kit-kat.

The individual wrappers are boring beyond all belief, completely dull, flat and uninspired. They consist of nothing more than a cream colour with the logo and red etching with the flavour described. Why would you need to waste space describing the flavour? It’s on the front of the big box. And couldn’t we have had that nice brick pattern back? That was attractive and clever. Oh well.

The smell is strong and really distinct. This is obviously a strawberry cheesecake and nothing else. This is pretty much perfect actually, not too strong and not too weak. However mine are a bit old now and there is a weird element of sweaty cheese to the odour.

The taste is sweet but not too sweet, a touch gritty but not waxy and with a nice mild creaminess to it. Cheesecake definitely comes to mind but it tastes not one iota of strawberry. The strawberry flavour is completely absent. Weirdly there are some weird sharp cheesy notes, like cheddar or something. Not a feature I associate with cheesecake or with kit-kats.

The after taste is ungodly sweet and really harsh. It’s dehydrating and sits at the back of the throat like a cough. That’s not strictly speaking a bad thing though because these are meant to be eaten with a hot drink.

All in all a bland and inoffensive kit-kat that would go well with a hot drink.

Wasabi

Wasabi for the uninitiated is a kind of horseradish grown only in Japan. It is bright green and much, much hotter than regular horseradish. In fact it’s ironic that Japanese cooking, which is usually subtle and a touch bland, would also use one of the hottest ingredients going, quite liberally, in their cooking.

Wasabi is nice though, especially with sushi. Raw fish has a creamy quality to it that cuts the sharpness of the wasabi and the heat and creaminess contrast and compliment each other very well.

But a kit-kat?! This may very well be the strangest kit-kat I have ever eaten, right up there with corn, miso, soy sauce and watermelon and salt.

In fact whilst wasabi may be nice wasabi flavoured things are usually not. I have eaten wasabi flavoured sweets, they were horrible, and wasabi flavoured ice-cream. The ice-cream at first tasted creamy and mild and very bland. Then I realised that actually no, it wasn’t bland at all but in fact my mouth was on fire. After a small panic at my oral conflagration set about looking for some kind of cold creamy substance to soothe my mouth. Luckily I had some ice-cream, unfortunately it was wasabi ice-cream and me and this dessert got into an unpleasant cycle of burning and cooling that didn’t end well for either of us.

So my expectations are not high, let’s see what I’ve let myself in for.

Once again this kit-kat is exclusive to one area, in this case Tokyo. It specifically advertises one wasabi specialist shop in Tokyo but my Japanese is nowhere near good enough to decode the advertising. It does feature a picture of the shop and a website http://www.tamaruya.co.jp/ so go there if you’re interested.

Weirdly the box art features drawing of wasabi in a distinctly Okinawan style. Art comprised of big blocky jagged colourful lines with white fills is often associated with Okinawa, the semi-tropical island at the base of Japan. Wasabi isn’t associated with Okinawa at all though, in fact I’m not even sure if Okinawan cooking uses wasabi. They have a slightly different culture there to mainland Japan and their food is much more like Chinese. It’s very attractive looking and very distinctive but it doesn’t really make any sort of thematic sense. Other than that there isn’t much to say about the box art, it’s green, wasabi is green, the wasabi kit-kat is green. I think they assumed that the curiosity factor alone would sell it. They were right.

The individual wrappers have the same mystifying Okinawan theme along with a big label telling you stuff you already knew because you read it on the box!

So, how is it?

It’s a kind of pale green, like pea soup, or hospital paint, or baby pooh
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It smells faintly of wasabi and kind of horrible actually. Although you can smell sugar too the wasabi smell is stronger and it’s not a pleasant smell.

And it tastes…

It’s pretty hard to describe actually.

The first thing to mention about it is that it triggered my gag reflex almost before I put it in my mouth. The smell, idea and colour all combined in a symphony of unappealing that made me hesitant to eat it. That gagging motion doesn’t contribute to a nice tasting biscuit. Once I got over the shock and swallowed a few bites that reflex subsided.

The next thing to mention is that it isn’t hot, not at all. There is a slight, infinitesimal heat to the after taste but it evaporates quickly and isn’t that strong to begin with.

It is sweet, and creamy but not too much of either.

Finally it tastes of wasabi, or at least how wasabi must taste without the heat. Which is not very nice actually. It’s kind of herby, a touch lemony, a touch bitter and a touch of something completely indefinable but somehow unpleasant. It’s a tough one to review because the process of eating a wasabi kit-kat is;

“ugh that looks horrible, hey actually it just tastes sweet and creamy, and of something, something else, hmm, oh wait gone, sweet and creamy again.”

It’s disappointing to be honest. If it tasted really strongly of wasabi it would probably be horrible but at least it would be an experience. As it is it’s bland, not as good as a regular kit-kat and not especially reminiscent of wasabi. What a let down.

I’ve got some free time coming up at work so I’m going to finally get some write ups of what my parents and I did on their trip to Japan. No particular order, just some highlights and fun things in Japan.

So let’s start with what I got up to on the last day my parents were here.

We went to Disneyland!

Well actually we went to DisneySea. Tokyo is host to two Disney parks, Disney-land and Disney-sea. Disneyland is another version of the standard Magic Kingdom park that I have already been to four times, thrice in Florida and once in Paris. In contrast DisneySea is unique to Japan so whilst it would have been fun to see how Disneyland differs in Japan to a European or American flavour we thought we’d explore some novelty instead.

DisneySea is themed around a large lake with a series of “ports of call” arranged in a ring around this lake. The worlds included Mediterranean Harbor, Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery and American Waterfront.

You start with Mediterranean Harbor and the first thing that struck me was how good the actual design and decoration of the park. We’re all used to the term “theme park” but often this actual theme-ing is not very good and limited purely to the rides themselves. Universal Studios in Florida, for example, is very good at recreating the settings and worlds within its attractions and the lines waiting for them but much of the park itself just feels like a generic space. DisneySea has astonishingly good “theme-ing” and the only place I have been to which remotely compares is Universal Islands of Adventure. Every building and every view here is themed and often with a tremendous eye for detail and imagination. I don’t often say this regarding theme parks but the real attraction at DisneySea is just wandering around the park itself.

This theme-ing even extends to the train ride to the resort which features mickey shaped windows and mickey shaped train handles.

American Waterfront, Port Discovery and Mermaid Lagoon are particularly good.

American Waterfront is split into two sections. The first seeks to evoke a 1920’s/30’s New York Port and the second a New England fishing village from the same period. The New York Harbor is amazingly well recreated with a brilliant eye for detail and lots of subtle visual gags. It also boasts possibly the best example of forced perspective I’ve ever seen in the form of the S.S. Columbia, a replica sea liner that cannot possibly be the same size as a sea liner but seems to be so from every angle.

There are even replica period vehicles that people can cruise around in (if they want the slowest tour ever).

Port Discovery in contrast springs entirely from the fertile imagination of the Disney “Imagineers.” It’s a kind of futuristic floating city populated by startlingly original plane, boat and submarine designs. I was particularly fond of these fish submarines.

Mermaid Lagoon is based around Disney’s Little Mermaid and is an underground cave covered top to bottom in mosaics that Fran spent hours taking photos of. It is quite frankly stunning and the combined effect of the architecture, mosaics, music and lighting is nothing short of magical.

We went there on a Thursday two weeks prior to Golden Week, a time on the Japanese calendar when a lot of national holidays fall close together and thus a really busy time for tourism in Japan. But by going just beforehand and by going on a weekday we ensured that we had the entire park practically to ourselves. So empty was it that we managed to ride nearly every single ride in the park in less than three hours!

As great as this was though the rides themselves were not very impressive. Although apparently some of the independent theme parks in Japan have quite extreme rides all the theme parks I have been to here have really astonishingly tame rides. This is a bit of a disappointment for an adrenaline junkie like myself but the rides weren’t wholly disappointing.

The best of the bunch was the Tokyo version of the Tower of Terror. I have ridden the original Tower in Florida and the version in Paris. The Florida version is particularly nasty; an elevator ride that takes you up 13 stories and then pulls you down quickly with 3 times the force of gravity. My father is no wuss when it comes to theme parks, he has ridden the Kraken in Seaworld, Nemesis at Alton Towers and The Big One at Blackpool, yet once was enough for him with Terror Tower. This thing is genuinely stomach churning and one of the most extreme rides I have ever ridden and certainly the most extreme ride Disney have ever made.

Sadly in keeping with the overall theme of DisneySea their version of the Tower of Terror was much tamer, generating only 1g and feeling relatively sedate. Yet it makes up for it by being the most elaborately and effectively themed version of the ride. It has a unique back story about a real estate magnate and a haunted fertility idol, a giant room filled with “artifacts” the magnate had collected (that have some great in-jokes and gags) and well, just look at it. The Florida Tower may be a scarier ride but it doesn’t look anywhere near as scary as that grand gothic countenance.

The other two good rides were Indiana Jones and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Both of these are “dark rides” where the rider sits in a car and rides around looking at decorations, animatronics, etc. Think of an up market ghost train. Indiana Jones was the more exciting ride and properly jostled us about. It also had the single best animatronic I have ever seen. The resemblance to Harrison Ford is uncanny!

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a bit more sedate but it holds a special place in my heart because it genuinely tricked my family and I into thinking that we had gone underwater. I won’t spoil how the trick is done but it really is very clever.
The only real disappointment is “Raging Spirits,” a roller-coaster that has an annoying habit of stopping the cars when you want to go faster. It does have a loop-de-loop but overall it isn’t great.

But the real appeal of DisneySea is the shows. The rides are okay, the theme-ing is amazing but the shows are simply mind blowing.

Disney shows usually are pretty good but I genuinely feel that with DisneySea they have improved immensely. Most of the smaller shows could easily be expanded and made into a proper Broadway piece and the two big shows, well, words fail me to be honest.

Mystic Rhythms is a kind of South American/Jungle themed modern dance show. It starts off very slow, with people in animal costumes that range from very good to a bit naff wandering around a stage doing a pseudo-I’m pretending to be an animal-dance. It soon picks up though s the naffer costumes disappear acrobats emerge, natural spirits start wielding magical forces, tribes of warriors chant and pound on the stage, walls explode and generally it builds to a frenzied and spectacular climax. I’m not one for modern dance, I can appreciate the skill but generally the spectacle of dance leaves me a bit cold but this was absolutely mesmerizing; a feeling that was enhanced by the hypnotic and empathic music.

Big Band Beat was a Jazz and Big Band revue complete with top hated and fish-netted chorus line, plenty of tap and some appearances from Disney characters dancing and singing along. They weren’t the best big band I’ve ever seen but they were still pretty damn good and massive props have to go out to whoever was playing Mickey Mouse. Whoever that actress is she can play the drums and tap dance to a really high standard all whilst wearing a mouse costume and a giant head! The highlight was definitely a rendition of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” that used the tap dancers to great effect. My only complaint was that “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” was absent. What’s that all about Disney? You have a film all about Jazz and even have one of the characters from that film in your show but you don’t include any songs from that film? I think they missed an obvious trick there.

Over the Waves is a story about a cruise which is run by Mickey and Minnie and it is.

Um.

Energetic.

Finally the lagoon in the centre of the park is host to two shows a day. The Legend of Mythica and BraviSEAmo.

Putting these shows in the lagoon is a great idea and really hammers home how much theme park design has improved over the years as it means that there is a huge area where the audience can see what is going on. In the Florida parks there are always massive crowds at the parade routes making it hard to see. In DisneySea it is possible to see from a much greater area and so there are less crowds.

The Legend of Mythica may be the most overblown spectacle that has ever been produced by anyone ever. Words cannot do justice to this show. It seems like when designing what to include in a show the Disney Imagineers made a giant brainstorm chart of all their ideas. Then they used all of them.

To give some impression of just how big and overblown this thing is I will simply list a fraction of the stuff that happens.

Giant boats made to look like mythical creatures, giant eggs that reveal woman on extendable pillars singing, people in animal costumes dancing, audiences clapping, most of the main Disney characters dressed to look like knights, kites, waterskiing, jet skis that look like dragons, trapeze and acrobatics, giant robot hydras, dragons, unicorns and phoenixes that shoot water and fire, insanely catchy music, explosions, fireworks and more.

It is like being allowed for a walk in the mind of a six year old. I recommend it.

BraviSEAmo though is even more impressive although a damn sight simpler. This is the night show, also in the lagoon, and features all the usual lasers, dancers, music and lights that one would expect. But it is mostly all about two enormous structures.

The first is a boat that shoots water into the air and illuminates it in a variety of colours. It’s all very nice and sparkly and generally quite girly. Later the water begins to spurt into a shape that resembles a human form wearing a dress. This is the spirit of the water and it is in love with the spirit of fire.

The spirit of fire is the second structure and it is A GIANT ROBOT FIREBREATHING DRAGON!

…..

JAPAN HAS BUILT A GIANT ROBOT FIRE BREATHING DRAGON!

I mean, I…..it is a robot, and it breathes fire and…

Alright that is cool. That is just fantastic. There is not one person in the world you wouldn’t impress with a giant robot fire breathing dragon. Well done Disney.

It doesn’t just breathe fire either. It first starts underwater so all the audience can see is the boat/water spirit. Then, ever so slowly, the red arms start to rise from the water and eventually it begins to take the shape of a dragon.

I’m sorry, I’m welling up just remembering it. I think I may have to have a lie down.

Ahhh, that’s better.

Let’s talk about the food.

Food is always the area that Disney is weakest in as a rule. Not that their food is bad, but it is uninspiring and generally lacking in the same level of polish and imagination as goes into the rest of the park.

DisneySea is much the same but it does do the Florida parks one better in one respect. DisneySea is designed to be a more adult Disney park, hence the focus on shows. The upside to this is that in certain parts of the park they can sell beer.

WooHoo!

Of the two meals I had one was a meh, Mexican dish and the other an all you can eat buffet that had awesome deep fried catfish. What I mostly want to talk about though is some of the weirder food available. Namely curry popcorn…

…which sadly we didn’t try and Black Sesame churros which we did. I am quite a fan of black sesame, I like black sesame ice-cream and my favourite ramen flavor is black sesame. It’s quite a hard flavor to explain, kind of cakey with a cereal quality to it but also very tangy. My family were less keen on black sesame, the upshot being that I got to eat multiple churros.

Mmmmmmm, churros.

So, great shows, okay rides (but hey, no lines), brilliant theme-ing, strange food. All in all I liked DisneySea a lot. It is distinctly different from the Florida parks. It definitely has its own identity and individual flavor but it also is recognizably a Disney park with all the professionalism that entails.

I do have one big complaint to make. The park is laid out around a lagoon in a rough circle. But rather than being an o shape it is in fact a c shape with a wall preventing users from walking all the way around the lagoon. Why? That is just stupid and counter intuitive. It means people have to walk further and means it takes longer to get around the park. It is bad design and not something I expect from Disney.

I won’t end on that sour note though; instead let’s have a look at me meeting one of my all time heroes.

Scrooge McDuck. This guy is a bad ass. It’s a shame that none of my students know who he is.

Fran met Daisy Duck and the actors playing her and Donald did a great little play for the people waiting in the street. Daisy grabbed some beefy guy from the crowd and rubbed his muscles. Donald came over and challenged him to an arm wrestling match, which he won, before sweeping Daisy up and giving her a kiss. Really sweet and a nice touch.

No post tonight, my brain is tired. 

Instead you get this.

A deer attempting to eat metal.

A totem pole of robots.

A misogynist bar.

An actual record found in an actual shop in Shibuya.
(Obviously German beer drinking music was popular enough to warrant a sequel)

The most unappealing Italian restaurant ever.

RanDOM ENglisH CapitALIsAtioN

Something highly disturbing from Shinjuku.

And the most excited shoe shop you have ever seen.

and frankly you should be thankful you even get that.

I’m back.

Sorry for my absence. My parents came to stay with me for three weeks and that coupled with the need to clean the house before their arrival has meant that I have had absolutely zero time for blogging whatsoever.

However, I am now energised with hundreds of pictures and stories and the amount of content on this site is set to skyrocket.

Not today though, today I am tired, so we’ll be going back to an old favourite.

Yes, it’s time for me to review some kit-kats.

First up is the most normal of today’s contenders a dual pack of kit-kat minis; white peach and peach.

The packaging is nothing particularly special and not particularly well done although the peach illustration is nice. Having said that; peach kit-kats don’t seem as out there as watermelon or tea so they probably need less eye catching packaging.

So how do the flavours stack up?

Well peach is delicious. Even the smell is really overtly peachlike. Like all the fruit kit-kats the initial taste isn’t too fruity but there is a strong peach quality to it and the after taste is very strong. It’s a nice complex flavour too and not too sweet. Overall I’d say this was a real homerun for kit-kat.

White peach doesn’t fare quite so well. It doesn’t smell or taste as strong as peach. In fact it is a little bland. It is very creamy though and there are definite fruity notes to it. On its own this wouldn’t be too bad but it stacks up poorly next to peach.

Next we’re onto a pair of drink based kit-kats in the standard Japanese packaging (i.e. 4 finger split into 2 packs of 2) Espresso coffee and Jasmine Tea.

Espresso Coffee has great packaging with a delicious and inviting looking picture of an espresso and some funky swirls and dark notes. It all seems very jazzy. I approve.

I can’t really make up my mind about espresso. On the one hand it in no way shape or form tastes as strong as an espresso coffee. In fact the first few bites are almost totally tasteless. However once you get into it a really, really strong coffee flavour starts to emerge with a lovely aftertaste. I wouldn’t call this an espresso coffee, unless you drink espresso with about 4 sugars, but it is nice.

Jasmine has really cool packaging that is very over the top. Not only is it green and pink (the Japanese colours of spring) but it has tiny flowers on it and an inviting cup of jasmine tea complete with pot! Totally irony free this one, it wants you to feel all springy and by god you will feel springy. I should also mention that I am not allowed to throw away this packet because it has the kanji for jasmine written on it and these are the same kanji that appear in my girlfriend, Mariko’s, name. So she wants to carry it around and show it to random Japanese people.

I was surprised at the colour. Rather than being a white or off-white tea colour it was in fact chocolate coloured. And the taste is distinctly odd. Not unpleasant but very odd. It tastes of both chocolate and jasmine tea at the same time. In fact the jasmine tea flavour is uncanny, particularly the aftertaste. The flavour is a little bit too busy for me personally but they delivered exactly what they promised.

Now onto the truly oddball offers. These are a pair of kit-kats that can only be bought at Tokyo station. They come in a special kind of display package so you can give them to co-workers as gifts, a common practise in Japan known as omiyage.

The writing is all in Japanese in florid letters that I cannot decipher so the flavour could in fact be anything. In fact our brief attempt at decoding it came up with the flavour “shoyu,”… which means soy sauce.

Soy sauce kit-kats? Well, I’ll try anything once.

It is white.

The smell I cannot place.

Ah, it is soy sauce.

Technically it is sweet soy sauce, which is still soy sauce but Japanese people do use it as flavouring for sweets such as dango. I’m not hugely keen on it and my first bite of this was a little weird but actually they’re rather nice. They taste mostly of burnt caramel with a slight sour note and a little bit of a salt note. This means they have a really rich and complicated flavour that hits all the areas of your mouth at once. They’re sweet but not too sweet, a little bitter, a little sour and a little salty. Consequently they are really, really more-ish. A surprising success I’d say.

The next one we literally had no idea what to expect. Our best guess was mushroom but we weren’t nearly as sure as with the soy sauce guess.

I literally have no idea what it is meant to taste like but it does taste nice. It is mostly chocolaty and very, very salty. In fact it is the saltiest kit-kat I think I have ever eaten. There is also a very strong umami feeling (the fifth taste and a big focus of Japanese cooking) and a very complicated rich indefinite note as well. Curiously it lacks a strong after taste, something that flavoured kit-kts tend to have. Frankly I find it too weird and ephemeral to be a big hit but it isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination.

Hello everyone, apologies incidentally for the lack of a post on Tuesday. I’m going to try and make up for it with extra posts this weekend. Today however I’m continuing my series of articles catching up on mine and Fran’s brief exploits in Tokyo. Today’s topic, that Mecca of geekdom; Akihabara.

P.S. Mum, if you’re reading this I recommend you stop right now. No seriously, stop. Dad if you’re reading this don’t tell Mum.

Akihabara is renowned throughout Japan as being Otaku-central or nerd-city if you will. In fact it’s pretty renowned outside of Japan for the same reasons. This is the heart of anime culture. This is where the cos-players throng, where the amateur manga is drawn and published, where computer games tournaments are held. A dozen of the things that typically draw the western eye to Japan all originate in Akihabara or have their spiritual home here. Akihabara is the home from home for all Otaku.

However Otaku has a very different meaning in Japan than its equivalent English word geek does in Britain and America. Some of the meanings are shared, the fascination with pop-culture, the obsessive fandom, the interest in non-mainstream fiction and hobbies. Indeed some of the more negative meanings are shared too, the social awkwardness, poor personal hygiene, etc. But in Japan the negative meanings are far, far worse. In Japan social awkwardness is not something that’s a shame but is forgiven. It’s not a joke, it’s the ultimate in taboo’s. To choose not to partake in the dominant cultural and social norms is to declare yourself to not be Japanese. The culture here is all about harmony and group dynamics, to opt out of the group is to become the ultimate outsider. So Otaku, far from being a fairly affectionate term for someone with slightly odd interests is an insult that suggests that you are odd, cannot function in society, are a disgrace to Japan and your family, are disgusting personally and likely are a sexual pervert.

Okay that is a bit harsh but really geek is at best affectionate and at the worst a humorous term. Otaku ranges from the humorous to outright fear and hate. At a speaking contest held in my adopted home city of Kobe one group of girls did a presentation on Otaku and “mania.” Although the presentation was sympathetic to Otaku a survey of their classmates revealed that something like 80% of them “hated” Otaku.

Oh and apparently one of the girls presenting was a comic “mania”* because she owned 70 manga digests. I wonder what her friends would make of my comic collection of more than 1000 comics.

furthermore the sexual pervert thing, alas, is truer than I would like it to be. All the areas of “geek” or “Otaku” culture in Japan are linked inextricably with a sleazy pornographic culture. Den Den Town in Osaka freely mixes computer and toy shops with pornographic posters of underaged anime girls and Akihabara is home to the original maid cafes. Where sad lonely otaku pay for the privilege of having a woman dressed as an anime character flirt with him whilst he eats his food.

But, says I, is all this sex culture merely pornographic? Is there not a vibrant sexual underground in Japan? A breaking open of centuries held moral and social practices all in the service of better and more thrilling sex? Surely my girlfriend and I could explore this brave new world whilst we are in Tokyo?

No? Alright I’ll own up. The nerdy stuff was all shut so we wandered into the only place open (a 6 story sex shop) to pass the time giggling at willies.

As you can imagine, with 6 stories available there was quite a selection in there. Adult costumes, some extraordinarily hardcore pornography, marital aids of all shapes and sizes, flavours and colours and this:

This my friends is the Hello Kitty Vibrator.

Marketed officially as a neck massager the Hello Kitty Vibe has been well known as a sex toy since the early 90’s**. Sanrio gave the license to produce Hello Kitty products to Genyo who produced the first “neck massager” and began raking in money hand over fist when the thing became a bit of a cult object amongst certain sub-cultures in America and Europe. When Sanrio got wind of this they promptly yanked the thing from the market and revoked Genyo’s license (eventually, initially they had no egal standing but in the end shady business deals by Genyo gave them a pretext), citing moral outrage.

Of course as of last year Sanrio has re-released the neck massagers to the market, in a variety of colours no less. Evidently it was more greed than moral outrage that motivated Sanrio’s decision.

I knew of the Hello Kitty vibe long before I ever decided to come to Japan and I couldn’t believe I was being faced with such a legendary object. Something that seemed to so perfectly sum up the insane materialism of this country, and only for a 1000yen!

Alas I didn’t buy it, girlfriend didn’t want it and I had no use for it so we put it back and moved on.

Our next stop in Akihabara was a café called “Neko Ja La La”. This was the original “cat café.”

Now when I tell my Japanese friends that I went to a cat café in Akihabara they assume that I went to a Maid Café where the maids dress as cats. Nope, I want to a café filled with actual real life cats.

And aren’t they just adorable.

Neko Ja La La charges per the hour and also charges for drinks. Whilst there you can play with any of about 30 cats and the room is filled with cat toys, baskets and other luxuries to make the cats happy. It was all very, very twee and ridiculously cute but come on; I’m not made of stone. Wook at the kitty, wook ad duh kiddy!

The idea behind the café is to exploit the stress relieving effects of cats. Most Tokyoites live in tiny apartments where pets are banned. So places like these allow stressed urbanites the chance to play with and pet cute kittens and generally chill out. In my opinion it’s a fantastic idea although it does potentially veer into the realm of animal exploitation. However, considering the cats are basically pampered all day long I think it steers clear of it. There are numerous rules in place to protect the cats too (everything is very sanitised) so overall I wouldn’t be at all disappointed to see more cat cafés spread over Japan.

The cats seemed particularly interested in Fran’s feet. This puzzled us for quite some time until we twigged that we had spent the morning walking though a fish market and our feet probably smelled delicious to the cats. Needless to say we also found this to be sooooooooooooo cuuuude.

And on that final fishy feet fact I bid farewell.

* Yes, i know it should be “maniac” but Engrish has appalling grammar.

** Most of the information in this section comes courtesy of Hello Kitty Hell.

Hey guys. So as promised I’m finally going to get around to posting the write up for the rest of my Tokyo-trip.

Because it’s now been so long since I went there though I’m not going to be doing full day diaries like i usually do but rather short write ups for the various attractions and places we visited.

With any luck Tokyo should all be done and dusted by Christmas.

So lets start it off with one of the experiences that will stick with me the most from Tokyo.

Tsukiji Fish Market

Our trip to Tsukiji began at the shockingly early time of 5:30 This wasn’t so bad for me as I’m used to rising at 6:00 for work but my girlfriend, who works nights, was paralysed by early morning sickness. Eventually with some persuasion I got her out of bed and dressed and we headed bleary eyed into the dawn in search of fish. However, and this may surprise you, our 5:30 awakening was actually a bit late.

You see Tsukiji is the world’s biggest and busiest fish market and one of the biggest open air markets in the world. A significant proportion of ALL the fish eaten on the main island of Japan, and certainly all the fish around Tokyo, passes through this one market. Serious money moves through this place. Japan eats a lot of fish everyday and Tokyo, with a population of about 8 million, not factoring in it’s enormous suburbs like saitama and Chiba, is a huge consumer of fish all on its own. It would be the equivalent of every meal eaten in London every day passing through one market and it is just as noisy, busy and loud as that image would suggest. In fact the market itself makes about 5 BILLION dollars annually.

Famously it’s also where the really expensive tuna gets bought. Early in the morning just as the catch comes in auctions begin where top quality restaurants bid for the largest, freshest most perfect specimens of tuna available. Prices here can easily get into the silly money territory. The record for one tuna being $55,700. Our 5:30 start might seem like an early beginning to the day but actually all the auctions were already finished half an hour before we woke up. Not that this mattered to us as due to the interference of tourists the auctions are now closed to the public.

It is, as you can imagine, for such a large and busy market, chaos. However it’s a kind of organised chaos. Everyone there knows where they are going and what they are doing, after all they do this everyday. It’s just we poor tourists who haven’t a clue as to what’s happening. From the inside it’s a well oiled machine, everybody has a role and a function and busies themselves with some small task with their uttermost focus. From the outside it is as chaotic as a hive of bees, impossible random movement in all directions with no seeming logical reason or pattern behind it. The result being that we spent most of the morning avoiding being run over by tiny little trucks called “mighty cars”. Basically a flat bed and then a tiny circular cab where the driver stands. About the size of a motorbike and moving at that speed but with unlimited access to every part of the market and some kind of gaijin eliminating screen that allows the driver to completely ignore the screams of helpless foreign tourists as he plows them down.

There are also an enormous amount of huge, dangerous looking saws. As a man I got an enormous thrill out of seeing circular saws about 4ft in diameter destroying chunks of ice and enormous fish bodies. I don’t know why, but something about huge dangerous bits of metal speaks to something primal in me.

However something about disgusting fish smells, enormous blades constantly spinning and trucks speeding about in pedestrian areas had set Fran’s nerves on edge a wee bit.

The signature fish here is tuna. Man sized fish that require years of training to properly prepare for the sushi plate. Tuna is to fishing what rice growing is to farming in Japan. Who wants to be the guy growing potatoes or cucumbers? Everybody wants to farm rice. Rice is the signature food of Japan, it is the food that the Japanese value above all others and to grow it is to be a “proper” farmer. So tuna is to fishing. You can catch sea snails all day and make a living but tuna is what people think of when they think Japanese fisherman. Indeed, as with all things in Japan, a tradition and a set “way” of preparing tuna has evolved over the centuries. The Japanese love a fixed set of rules for how something should be done. It gives them an immense feeling of ease to know that there is a set way to do something and an immense pride to master this way. From what I could observe the way of tuna seemed to involve wielding absolutely enormous blades and pretending to be a samurai. Honestly these blades are absolutely huge, more like spears than knives. The entire knife, handle included, was about 6ft long but the blade itself accounted for more than half of that.

The next stage seems to be to chuck fish heads into the gutter and in the general direction of poor gaijin trying to take photos.

Honestly, this man threw a fish head at me. I don’t think he knew I was there but he still chucked a fish head at me.

Tuna is the signature food but pretty much every thing that has ever lived under the sea is available for sale, either to restaurants or direct to the consumer. Among the weird and wonderful sea creatures on offer we saw.

Tentacles from what must have been a huge octopus.

Sea snails in their shells.

Tiny fishies.

Quite…phallic looking shellfish.

Live, and terrifying, spider crabs.

Anemones?

All this raw fish, plus a lack of breakfast was starting to turn Fran’s stomach so we set out to fulfil an ambition of mine. A sushi breakfast in Tsukiji. As one of my friends put it, we were being “more Japanese than the Japanese.”

Wandering out of the main market (god knows how we found our way out but we somehow managed it) we eschewed any attempts to find a specific restaurant and settled on picking at random any of the hundreds of small eateries adjoining the market. We had been warned that the queues for good sushi in the morning can be up to an hour and half long but at our smaller place we only had to wait for about 20 minutes.

The sushi was absolutely amazing. Hands down the finest fish I have ever eaten. I had no idea sushi could actually be this good. It had a stronger flavour than sushi usually does but a range of subtler more delicate flavours to it as well. It just was more complex and more delicious than any sushi I have ever eaten. And the restaurant itself was enormously entertaining. At the counter was a sempai (senior) chef and his kohai (apprentice) a relationship that defines Japanese culture. The sempai prepared our sushi with enormous knives and good humour. Cracking jokes in decent English and singing to himself as he did so. He carved fish into elaborate shapes and sliced with confidence and skill. Beside him his kohai nervously fumbled to make the rolls (which had waaaaaay too much wasabi), too junior to be allowed to touch the fish yet and merely allowed to observe his master at work. Throughout the entire process the kohai would make mistakes and be berated for it in jocular terms by his master. In the backroom an old bloke could be occasionally glimpsed obviously preparing the stock and berating both of them. It had the perfect makings of a sitcom. Old bloke, middle aged bloke and young bloke in a sushi restaurant together and the fun that occurs. At least one episode would be about the apprentice incorrectly preparing fugu I reckon.

So Tsukiji, in summary, busy, smelly, fishy, delicious.

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