Hello Fellow Travelers:
Welcome to our world of business information, museums, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, good eating and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for Tokyo
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Recognition: We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides. In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.
Michelin has awarded more stars in Tokyo than any other city in the world. The good news is the dollar is worth 30% more in Japan than just a few months ago. The bad news is those Michelin starred restaurants are still frightfully expensive.
Beverage Note: Which beverage to pair with your Japanese dining choices: Sake (sah-keh) is brewed from grains of rice and graded by the different polishing ratios. The polishing process strips off layers of protein and other compounds that affect its flavor.
More polishing or grain removed increases the delicacy and flavor. Sake is an acquired taste. Most sake is in the 14% alcohol range. Look for either a junmaishu or a honjoyoshu (alcolhol added).
How about a wine choice? It depends, of course, on the meal. With a delicate dish go with a sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio or a sancerre. If the dish has elements of Japanese sweetness and heat try a riesling or a chardonnay.
For everything else order a beer. There are many quality Japanese beers.
Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends. In and near Tokyo we get to see the great cormorant, northern pintail, tufted duck and common pochard
The Japan Bird Watching site – (http://www.japanbirdwatching.com/regions/overview/Tokyo) shows useful information for this area.
Japan Nature Guides (japannatureguides.com/the-tokyo-area/) show additional areas, birds you might see and how to get to the sites.
Fat Birder (fatbirder.com/links_geo/asia/japan.html) provides geographical background and where unusual species may be found.
Shopping: Everywhere you go in Tokyo there are shops, boutiques, stores and galleries to tempt your indulgence.
Transportation: What you need to know is here (japan-guide.com)
Business Information: Tokyo is open for your Business! Check out (jetro.go.jp)
US Embassy: (http://japan.usembassy.gov/), 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, 03-3224-5000
Exchange Rates (http://www.x-rates.com/)
Day One: After dropping your bags at your hotel we suggest a visit to the Meiji Shrine – Daily: Sunrise to Sunset, Yoyogi-Kamizonocho, Shibuy, 81-(0)3-3379-5511
Emperor Meiji was the first emperor of modern Japan. He was born in 1852 and ascended to the throne in 1867 at the peak of the Meiji Restoration when Japan’s feudal era came to an end, and the emperor was restored to power.
During the Meiji Period, Japan modernized and westernized herself to join the world’s major powers by the time Emperor Meiji passed away in 1912.
The shrine was completed and dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken in 1920. In the first days of the New Year, the shrine regularly welcomes more than three million visitors for the year’s first prayers.
Take time for a relaxing walk through the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden – Tu-Su: 9-4, 11 Naito-cho, Shinjuku-ku, 81-(0)3-3350-0151
The gardens blend three distinct styles: French formal, English landscape and Japanese traditional.
The gardens have more than 20,000 trees, including approximately1,500 cherry trees which bloom from late March (Shidare or Weeping Cherry), to early April (Somei or Tokyo Cherry), and on to late April (Kanzan Cherry).
Other trees found here include the majestic Himalayan cedars, which soar above the rest of the trees in the park, tulip trees, cypresses, and plane trees which were first planted in Japan in the Imperial Gardens.
Lunch is at Sushi Saito – L & D: M-Sa, 1-9-15 Akasaka, Minato-ku; +81 (0) 3 3589 4412
Sushi Saito is located across from the U.S. Embassy in Akasaka. Make a reservation because there are only 7 seats. Sushi translates as su: vinegar and shi: rice.
Of course each chef has his own formula plus his own special sauces. After a proper rest the fish line includes halibut, yellowtail, cuttlefish and Imperial shrimp.
After lunch check out the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office (TMG) – Daily: 9:30 AM-11 PM, 2-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture 160-0023, 81 3-5321-1111
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku is often visited by tourists for its free observation decks which provide good panoramic views of Tokyo and beyond.
The 243 meter tall building has two towers, and each houses an observatory at a height of 202 meters. The observatories are places for visitors to deepen their understanding and interest in Tokyo and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government while enjoying an amazing view.
After being in the clouds above Tokyo take a walk around Yanaka – Yanaka, Taito, Tokyo Prefecture
Yanaka is one of the few districts in Tokyo where the Shitamachi atmosphere, an old town ambience reminiscent of Tokyo from past decades, still survives.
Throughout the district, there is an air of nostalgia and a rustic charm. It is within walking distance from Ueno Park, and offers a sightseeing opportunity different from the metropolitan city feel of other parts of Tokyo.
Dinner is at Tofuya-Ukai – L & D: Daily, 4-4-13 Shiba-Koen, Minato-ku.03(3436)1028
Situated next to Tokyo Tower you can relive the culture of Edo and enjoy the exquisite taste of the tofu dishes while viewing their Japanese garden.
The tofu dishes showcase traditional Japanese Kaiseki cuisine with seasonal Hassun and Otsukuri. Tofuya-Ukai also has charcoal grilled chicken and beef.
Day Two: Breakfast is at Sushi Dai - M-Sa: 10:30 AM-5 AM, Su: 11 AM- 10 PM, 6-21-2 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku; +81 (0) 3 3541 3738
Sushi Dai is located within steps of the Tsukiji fish market, so you know it’s fresh. Prepare yourself for a wait – it’s worth it.
Choose from the salmon roe, sea urchin or the toro and you won’t be disappointed.
And since you’re here check out the Tsukiji Market – The Tsukiji Market is a five minute walk from the Tsukijishijo Station, the Tsukiji Station, and from Shimbashi, it is a 15-minute walk.
Tourists and visitors are encouraged to visit Tsukiji’s outer market which is located just adjacent to the inner market and caters to the public.
The outer market consists of a few blocks of small retail shops and restaurants crowded along narrow lanes. Here you can find all sorts of food related goods: knives, fresh seafood and produce for sale in smaller (than wholesale) portions.
It’s time for a little serenity at the Hama-rikyu Garden – Daily: 9-4:30, 1-1-Hamarikyu-teien, Chuo-ku, 81-(0)3-3541-0200
The “Hama-Rikyu” landscape garden is surrounded by a seawater moat filled by Tokyo Bay, and includes a lovely pond called Shiori-no-ike.
It’s public garden located on the site of a villa of the Shogun Tokugawa family from the 17th century. The garden has an atmosphere of tranquility where visitors can forget the passage of time.
You can also enjoy refreshments at a teashop in the garden that offers ‘matcha,’ green tea made from powdered tea leaves, and Japanese sweets.
Lunch today is a noodle experience at Namiki Yabu Soba – L & D: F-W, 2-11-9 Kaminarimon, Taito, 81 3-3841-1340
Soba, a thin brown, buckwheat noodle, is one of the three most popular kinds of noodle in Japan, the other two being the thick, somewhat chewy udon and the Chinese-inspired raamen.
While raamen is always served hot, soba and udon can be served either hot or cold. Soba is traditionally associated with east Japan (typified by Tokyo).
Yabu soba is the thickest of the three sobas, and the stock is also the strongest in terms of flavor.
Now that we are noodle experts let’s visit the Mori Art Museum – Daily: 10-9:30, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 53r, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, 81-(0)3-5777-860
The Mori Art Museum is a contemporary art museum founded by the real estate developer Minoru Mori in the Roppongi Hills. The museum’s galleries are on the 53rd floor of the 54 story tower.
The museum does not have a permanent collection but it shows temporary exhibitions of works by contemporary artists.
Artists whose work has been exhibited at the museum include Ai Weiwei, Tokujin Yoshioka and Bill Viola. The current exhibit is “All you need is Love.”
Tonight at dinner we learn about tempura at Tenichi Ginza Honten – L & D: Daily, 6-6-5 Ginza, Chuo, 81 3-3571-1949
At Ten-Ichi they are ‘world famous’ for their tempura. Like many Toyko restaurants Ten-Ichi has limited seating (16 covers) and they specialize in one style – tempura.
Each dish is cooked and served individually, plus they tell you which sauce to use. Specialties include corn and shitake mushrooms, white fish wrapped in shiso leaves and prawns.
Day Three – Breakfast was so good at the Tsukiji Market we suggest a return to the area and a visit to Daiwa Sushi – B, L: Daily, 5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, 81 3-3547-6807
Our cousin suggests ordering the omakase (chef’s choice) menu.
What you will get depends on the catch of the day, but typically it includes ebi(shrimp), uni (sea urchin), hamachi (yellowtail), tuna rolls, and other traditional sushi and sashimi options, as well as a bowl of miso and green tea.
After all of that nourishment we suggest seeing the Nezu Museum – Tu-Su: 10-5, 6-5-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato, Tokyo Prefecture 107-0062, 81 3-3400-2536
The Nezu Museum’s holdings comprise more than 7,400 objects including calligraphy, painting, sculpture, ceramics, lacquer, metalwork, bamboo crafts and textiles.
There are seven items designated as National Treasures, 87 Important Cultural Properties, and 94 works registered as Important Art Objects.
The museum’s group of ancient Chinese bronzes is world famous. Other well-known works include Chinese Song/Yuan period paintings and calligraphy such as Fishing Village at Sunset by Muxi, and Quail attributed to Li Anzhong.
Japanese religious paintings are well represented by such Buddhist works as Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana) and the Kongokai (Diamond) Mandala, and the famed Shinto painting, Nachi Waterfall.
The museum has extensive holdings of paintings and ceramics from the fifteenth century and has become best known for the folding-screen painting Irises, by the seventeenth century Rimpa artist, Ogata Korin.
Hopefully you still have energy left to visit the Edo-Tokyo Museum - 1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida, Tokyo Prefecture 130-0015, 81 3-3626-9974
The Edo-Tokyo Museum was founded on March 28,1993 as the place where visitors come to learn more about Tokyo’s history and culture.
Upon crossing a replica of the “Nihonbashi” Bridge, one enters the Edo-Tokyo Museum permanent exhibit from1590 when Tokugawa Leyasu first built Edo, (renamed Tokyo at Meiji Era). The Edo-Tokyo area has enjoyed a 400 year history.
Today’s main meal is at Kikunoi – D: M-Sa, Akasaka 6-13-8, Minato, 81 3-3568-6055
Kikunoi’s cuisine is known as “Kyo-kaiseki”and draws on the rich traditions of Kyoto style multiple-course dining. Kyo-kaiseki represents one of the pinnacles in Japanese cuisine.
Your meal might include: green Japanese plums in white wine, blanched hamo, sea eel tofu balls, grilled ayu, chilled summer vegetables, hamo hot pot or pickled sushi.
Before heading home how about a little shopping in The Ginza – Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo Prefecture 104-0061
The Ginza is Tokyo’s most famous upscale shopping, dining and entertainment district featuring numerous department stores, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, night clubs and cafes.
One square meter of land in the district’s center is worth millions of yen making it very expensive real estate.
It is where you can find ultra expensive cups of coffee and virtually every leading brand name in fashion and cosmetics has a presence.
Until next time, best wishes and safe travels,
Dick & Dee Welge
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