The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #1 – a main entrance to the Gardens directly west of Tokyo Station through the remains of Wadakuramon Gate (to the left of the moat)

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #1 – a main entrance to the Gardens directly west of Tokyo Station through the remains of Wadakuramon Gate (to the left of the moat)

 

We began one morning with a stroll through the public Gardens of the Imperial Palace in the center of downtown Tokyo, in the Marunouchi district, across from the Tokyo Station (main downtown train station) where our shuttle bus had dropped us off — our ship was anchored at the Harumi Passenger Terminal sever miles/kilometers southeast of the Imperial Palace.  We spent the rest of the afternoon in the Ginza district continuing to enjoy the architecture (our own extension to the Tokyo architecture walking tour of the day before [see our blog post, “Tokyo Architecture Walk, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)”]), having an excellent sushi luncheon, and shopping.

 

The Imperial Palace (former Edo Castle):  “The Imperial Palace has occupied the site of the former Edo Castle since 1868 [the Meiji Restoration].  Edo Castle was the home of the Tokugawa Shoguns and the seat of the feudal samurai government which ruled Japan from 1503 until 1867.  After the end of feudal rule in 1967, Edo Castle was vacated by the Shogun and transferred to the new Imperial Government.  The Emperor moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1869, after residing in Kyoto for over a millennium.  There has been a castle on this site since 1457, when a castle that occupied the site of the Honmaru, Ninomaru and Sannomaru areas was built by the samurai Ota Dokan.  From 1590 this castle was the home of Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu, who became the first Tokugawa Shogun in 1603.  The Honmaru area included the massive keep tower, and the palace of the Shogun.  Edo Castle was extended by the second and third Shoguns, Hidetada and Iemitsu, with work completed by 1660.  Most of the original castle buildings have been lost to fire.  The current Imperial Palace buildings were completed in 1968, in the Nishinomaru, which had been the palace of the retired shoguns during the Tokugawa shogunate.” – Kokyogaien National Garden Office, Ministry of the Environment (Japan)

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #2 -- this entrance to the Gardens is directly west of Tokyo Station with the Palace Hotel Tokyo and the Nippon Life Insurance Marunouchi Garden visible behind the fountains

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #2 — this entrance to the Gardens is directly west of Tokyo Station along Marunouchi 1st Street and goes past Wadakuramon Fountain Park (not pictured, on the left) with the Palace Hotel Tokyo and the Nippon Life Insurance (building and) Marunouchi Garden visible behind the fountains

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #3 – looking downtown from Wadakura Fountain Park in the Gardens at some of the nearby high rise office buildings downtown in the Marunouchi district

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #3 – looking downtown from Wadakura Fountain Park in the Gardens at some of the nearby high rise office buildings downtown in the Marunouchi district

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #4 – a more expansive view of some of the Marunouchi district high rise office buildings adjacent to the Imperial Gardens

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #4 – a more expansive view of some of the Marunouchi district high rise office buildings adjacent to the Imperial Gardens across from the Wadakuramon Gate and Wadakura Fountain Park

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #5 – as we strolled through the beautiful pine trees in the outer Gardens, we were struck by how calm and quiet it was in the Gardens

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #5 – as we strolled through the beautiful pine trees in the outer Gardens, we were struck by how calm and quiet it was in the Gardens – in complete contrast with our experience in many other major city parks (e.g., New York City’s Central Park, London’s Hyde Park, etc.); this was truly an “oasis” in the heart of the city (of 35.6 million people)

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #6 – the manicured lawn and carefully trimmed and maintained pine trees presented a spectacular screen in front of the Marunouchi district office buildings

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #6 – the manicured lawn and carefully trimmed and maintained pine trees presented a spectacular screen in front of the Marunouchi district office buildings

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #7 – the rebuilt (1968) Imperial Palace stands on a hill behind the Main Gate behind visible stone bridge and the (hidden) Nijubashi Bridge (a second, iron bridge)

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #7 – the rebuilt (1968) Imperial Palace stands on a hill behind the Main Gate behind visible stone bridge and the (hidden) Nijubashi Bridge (a second, iron bridge); this is one of the most popular portrayals of the Imperial Palace

 

The Main Gate and the Nijubashi Bridge:  This gate is the main, formal entrance to the Imperial Palace grounds.  It is used only when the Emperor leaves the Palace for important State occasions, for the official visits to the Palace by State guests, or when ambassadors present their credentials to the Emperor.  Ambassadors are given the choice of arriving at the Palace in a horse-drawn carriage.  The Main Gate to the Palace is open to the public on January 2nd and for the Emperor’s Birthday.  Visitors to the Palace entering through the Main Gate cross two bridges, the Main Gate Stone Bridge and the Main Gate Iron Bridge.  The Nujubashi Bridge refers to the Iron Bridge, not the two bridges.  During the Edo period (1603-1867), because of its height above the moat, the Nijubashi Bridge was a wooden bridge reinforced underneath with a further wooden bridge, hence the name.  The Palace buildings are hidden behind trees to the right of the Nijubashi Bridge… Special Historic Site Edo Castle Specified on May 30, 1963.

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #8 – more office buildings (with lots of communications antennas) are clustered across from the Imperial Gardens southeast corner’s former Imperial Castle moat

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #8 – more office buildings (with lots of communications antennas) are clustered across from the Imperial Gardens southeast corner’s former Imperial Castle moat (still filled with water, but with both pedestrian and vehicular bridges now)

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Ōmi-chō Market and Morimori Sushi, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

One of the 170 vendors in the famed Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, that has been supporting Kanazawa’s gastronomic culture since the middle of the 18th century

One of the 170 vendors in the famed Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, that has been supporting Kanazawa’s gastronomic culture since the middle of the 18th century

 

From our ship in the port, one day in Kanazawa we headed downtown mid-day and went to the famed Ōmi-chō Market where there is a dizzying array of local produce and fresh seafood.  We planned our time there so we could get a number at Morimori Sushi (restaurant) and shop while we waited for our turn to be seated (see below).  The market has directly supported Kanazawa’s gastronomic culture since the middle of the 18th century.  It has more than 170 vendors selling local delicacies, clothing, fruits, Kaga vegetables, seafood and meats.  Additionally, there are several restaurants and ramen shops within the market building.  We splurged at the market and bought some beautiful sliced wagy-like beef for a home cooked dinner in our apartment, with special local mushrooms and fresh vegetables.

 

An array of beautiful (and colorful) fresh produce at a vendor’s stall in Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

An array of beautiful (and colorful) fresh produce at a vendor’s stall in Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Notice the packaging of these melons – quite special, with prices to match (US$18 to US$30, EACH!) -- Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Notice the packaging of these melons – quite special, with prices to match (US$18 to US$30, EACH!) — Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

While you’re splurging, how about one crab for US$80? -- Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

While you’re splurging, how about one crab for US$80? — Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Then there’s the wagyu-like beef slices, which are about US$40 per pound (it’s actually priced in Japanese Yen per kilogram (2.2 pounds)), Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Then there’s the wagyu-like beef slices, which are about US$40 per pound (it’s actually priced in Japanese Yen per kilogram (2.2 pounds)), Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

We ended up paying about US7.50 for one of these special local mushrooms to accompany our lightly pan seared (in lard in a cast iron skillet) wagyu-like beef

We ended up paying about US7.50 for one of these special local mushrooms to accompany our lightly pan seared (in lard in a cast iron skillet) wagyu-like beef slices – it was quite different from button mushrooms and porcini and king mushrooms, and had a nice spiciness; Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Morimori Sushi is Kanazawa’s most recommended conveyer-belt sushi restaurant, offering sushi of outstanding freshness; Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Morimori Sushi is Kanazawa’s most recommended conveyer-belt sushi restaurant, offering sushi of outstanding freshness; Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan – here the intrepid traveler is receiving a platter of specially ordered tuna (maguro and toro) for lunch

 

Morimori Sushi is Kanazawa’s most recommended conveyer-belt sushi restaurant, offering sushi of outstanding freshness.  We were forewarned that there is always a line to get in, so we arrived earlier than our desired luncheon time, put in our names, got a ticket with a number, and then shopped in Ōmi-chō market for a half hour before our turn came up to be seated at the counter.  In addition to selecting items from the conveyer belt, diners can (and we mostly did) order from an online iPad menu.

 

Tuna (five kinds, including toro (fatty tuna belly)) on a platter at Morimori Sushi, Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Tuna (five kinds, including toro (fatty tuna belly)) on a platter at Morimori Sushi, Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Delicious, sweet shrimp (ebi) sushi at Morimori Sushi, Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Delicious, sweet shrimp (ebi) sushi at Morimori Sushi, Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

It has to be special when you pay US$23 for five nicely boxed apple pears at the Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

It has to be special when you pay US$23 for five nicely boxed apple pears at the Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Local seafood delicacies and other prepared foods, including tofu; Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Local seafood delicacies and other prepared foods, including tofu; Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

We saw only one sake store in all of Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

We saw only one sake store in all of Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

We returned to our favorite food vendor from our previous visit, selling yellowtail tataki and salmon tataki, which we had thoroughly enjoyed – this time we bought several (frozen and vacuum packed, so it travels well!); Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa

We returned to our favorite food vendor from our previous visit, selling yellowtail tataki and salmon tataki, which we had thoroughly enjoyed – this time we bought several (frozen and vacuum packed, so it travels well!); Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan [Tataki is a Japanese food preparation method where the meat or fish is very briefly seared over a hot flame (or in a pan) and then thinly sliced and seasoned with ginger (ground or pounded) and served with soy sauce and garnishes, like sashimi.]

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Burgerbukta Fjord (off Hornsund Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #1 – a panorama of our ship in the Burgerbukta Fjord

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #1 – a panorama of our ship in the Burgerbukta Fjord

 

On our last afternoon sailing down the coast of Spitsbergen Island of Svalbard, our ship repositioned from our morning position at the point on the Hornsund Fjord where it meets the Burgerbukta Fjord – Gnålodden – to an “anchorage” near the far end of the Burgerbukta Fjord (where the fjord actually splits into two bays, Vestre Burgerbukta and Austre Burgerbukta, with tidewater glaciers pouring down the mountainsides into each bay).  The best way to explore the area was in hour-plus-long Zodiac boat tours, providing us an opportunity to get up fairly close to the tidewater glacier faces and to sail through the icebergs and ice floes which proved to be very photogenic.  We were very sad at the end of the cruising to realize that this would be our last encounter with the fjords, glaciers and icebergs, as that evening we began the long sail to the south to reach the northern tip of Norway and the city of Tromso, from which we had embarked on this remarkable journey in the Arctic.

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #2

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #2

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #3

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #3

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #4

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #4

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #5

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #5

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #6

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #6

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #7 – the top, white edge of the glacier looks like a meringue

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #7 – the top, white edge of the glacier looks like a meringue

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #8

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #8

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #9

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #9

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #10 – a double hanging glacier; note that as the front edge of each glacier is pushed forward and melts, the falling ice can

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #10 – a double hanging glacier; note that as the front edge of each glacier is pushed forward and melts, the falling ice can create dangerous situations for any boats too close to the cliff edge!

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Local Music: Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

Luis Baptista, in his atelier, showed us how guitars are constructed from scratch, Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

Luis Baptista, in his atelier, showed us how his guitars are constructed from scratch, Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

 

A mix of African, Caribbean, Portuguese and Brazilian influences, Cape Verde’s soulful music tells stories of the island’s history and culture, and life’s joys and sorrows.  The “morna” musical genre, from the English word “mourn,” is believed to have emerged on Boa Vista, Cape Verde.  Many think that this slow, melancholic melody was born from the enslaved who longed for home.  Poignant lyrics, usually sung in Cape Verdean Creole, are accompanied by guitar and other string instruments. Cape Verdean singer Cesária Évora, known as the “Queen of Morna,” popularized the genre’s distinctive ballads internationally.

 

Partially constructed guitars and other stringed instruments in the atelier of Luis Baptista, Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

Partially constructed guitars and other stringed instruments in the atelier of Luis Baptista, Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

 

One of the stops on our cultural tour of Mindelo was at the atelier of Luis Baptista, a guitar maker and musician.  He walked us through the process of making various types of guitars (some are local to the Cape Verde islands) in his workshop.  Afterwards, we were treated to a musical performance of morna.“

“Luis Baptista is the owner of a factory for string instruments and a guitar school in Mindelo.  The name Baptista is well known in the city: Luis’ father, Joao Baptista Fonseca was a famous constructing engineer for guitars and other sting instruments.  ‘He was using unknown materials and developed new technologies’ explains Luis ‘How we are working today goes back to him.’” – www.vista-verde.com/en/the-islands/sao-vicente.html 

“Mindelo’s museum has an eclectic collection of local crafts, including a lovely workbench whose long history is gouged into its surface with thousands of knife marks.  It once belonged to Mestre Baptista, a master guitar maker based in Mindelo.  His son Luis still makes instruments today.  If you need a new guitar, Luis is your man.  Of course he has made instruments used by Cesária’s musicians.  Then, as if to order, a couple of his many brothers showed up (yep, they played for the legend too) with their friend Edson, a vocalist.  And for the next hour I had my own private impromptu concert in the basement of a little house in the outskirts of town.  Mindelo is like that.” – Nick Maes, The Guardianwww.theguardian.com/travel/2012/apr/06/morna-traditional-music-cape-verde 

 

Luis Baptista and his friends playing morna in the downstairs of his atelier in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

Luis Baptista and his friends playing morna in the downstairs of his atelier in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

 

Luis Baptista playing morna in the downstairs of his atelier in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

Luis Baptista playing morna in the downstairs of his atelier in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

 

At the Cap Vert Design store – Design e Artesanato do Cabo Verde -- in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) were a series of brightly colored paintings of musicians and danc

At the Cap Vert Design store – Design e Artesanato do Cabo Verde — in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) were a series of brightly colored paintings of musicians and dancers

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Music and Art in Trinidad, Cuba

On the streets, the first group we encountered was “Los Pimos”, playing traditional Cuban music, Trinidad, Cuba; like music groups around the world, they were selling their CDs, in a

On the streets, the first group we encountered was “Los Pimos”, playing traditional Cuban music, Trinidad, Cuba; like music groups around the world, they were selling their CDs, in addition to seeking tips

 

We had the opportunity to hear quite a bit of Cuban (think “Buena Vista Social Club”) and Afro-Cuban music in Trinidad as we walked around town, as well as a performance featuring Afro-Cuban music and dance at Casa de la Música.  On the street we were greeted by musicians all around town, and many groups were playing in paladares and bars.  We stopped in several art galleries featuring local artists in varied media, all reflecting the local culture and traditions.

 

The most interesting art we saw was in this gallery by a local woman who told her stories through teapots (metal sculptures), Trinidad, Cuba

The most interesting art we saw was in this gallery by a local woman who told her stories through teapots (metal sculptures), Trinidad, Cuba

 

The teapot theme continued in watercolors, Trinidad, Cuba

The teapot theme continued in watercolors, Trinidad, Cuba

 

Seeking shelter from the rain under a tree in the square, this guitarist drew a large crowd (mostly tourists who were out walking the streets in the rain), Trinidad, Cuba

Seeking shelter from the rain under a tree in the square, this guitarist drew a large crowd (mostly tourists who were out walking the streets in the rain), Trinidad, Cuba

 

A quartet played through our luncheon at the popular paladar (privately owned restaurant) Casa de los Conspiradores, just off Plaza Mayor, Trinidad, Cuba

A quartet played through our luncheon at the popular paladar (privately owned restaurant) Casa de los Conspiradores, just off Plaza Mayor, Trinidad, Cuba

 

Once it stopped raining, more musicians came out and played around town, Trinidad, Cuba

Once it stopped raining, more musicians came out and played around town, Trinidad, Cuba

 

A trio at the paladar Casa de la Trova, Trinidad, Cuba, where afternoon coffee was popular

A trio at the paladar Casa de la Trova, Trinidad, Cuba, where afternoon coffee was popular

 

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Art and Music in Cienfuegos, Cuba

Local musicians, members of the local chapter of UNEAC (Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba), performing their Afro-Cuban musical compositions for us in the Jardines (gardens) de la

Local musicians, members of the local chapter of UNEAC (Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba), performing their Afro-Cuban musical compositions for us in the Jardines (gardens) de la UNEAC near the Parque José Martí in the Central Zone of Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Our local tour operator, Cuba Educational Travel (CET), arranged a very good architectural and cultural walking tour of Cienfuegos which included a visit to the local chapter of UNEAC (Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba), where we had the opportunity to listen to a lively Afro-Cuban musical performance, written and performed by local musicians.  Around Parque José Martí in the Central Zone we visited a number of art studios and galleries where frequently we met the artists and had a chance to talk with them.

 

We had the opportunity to see a lot of local art at the Galería de Arte, operated by UNEAC in Cienfuegos, Cuba, next door to the Jardines de la UNEAC

We had the opportunity to see a lot of local art at the Galería de Arte, operated by UNEAC in Cienfuegos, Cuba, next door to the Jardines de la UNEAC

 

“The National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, UNEAC) is a social, cultural and professional organization of writers, musicians, actors, painters, sculptors, and artist of different genres.  It was founded on August 22, 1961, by the Cuban poet, Nicolas Guillen.  Initially their objective was uniting the intellectuals within the young Cuban Revolution to maintain a genuine Cuban culture.” – Wikipedia

 

Local artist Adrian Rumbaut holding his original Time magazine cover featuring historic Cubans, in front of his wall collage at the Galería de Arte, Cienfuegos, Cuba

Local artist Adrian Rumbaut holding his original Time magazine cover featuring historic revolutionary Cubans, in front of his wall collage at the Galería de Arte, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Art can carry a message (two pieces by local artist Adrian Rumbaut), Cienfuegos, Cuba

Art can carry a message (two pieces by local artist Adrian Rumbaut), Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Looking through the street window at local children performing in a dance recital in an art gallery adjacent to the Parque José Martí in the Central Zone of Cienfuegos, Cuba

Looking through the street window at local children performing in a dance recital in an art gallery adjacent to the Parque José Martí in the Central Zone of Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

A view of local children performing in a dance recital in an art gallery, as seen by the parents in the audience, Cienfuegos, Cuba

A view of local children performing in a dance recital in an art gallery, as seen by the parents in the audience, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

The lead role in the drama of grilling our dinner at the robatayaki (a country-style grill) was one of the yakikata (“grill-persons”) who manned our grill and the counter piled with

The lead role in the drama of grilling our dinner at the robatayaki (a country-style grill) was one of the yakikata (“grill-persons”) who manned our grill and the counter piled with fresh ingredients, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

We met some friends from San Francisco who frequently travel to Tokyo at their favorite casual restaurant in the capital city – Inakaya (Roppongi East).  “Putting an upmarket spin on the robatayaki (open-hearth) cooking beloved by Japanese fishermen, Inakaya serves succulent grilled seafood, meat and vegetables in a vibrant setting.  Much of the fun is in the presentation:  diners sit at a counter facing directly onto the open kitchen, and receive their food and drinks on wooden paddles that the staff pass directly over the grills.” – www.timeout.com

 

Grilled asparagus, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Grilled asparagus, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

Altogether there were nine of us seated around two sides of the robata grill.  We picked out the various vegetables and proteins that we were interested in having grilled.  All of the ingredients were ultra fresh and extremely high quality – the grilling just brought out their natural flavors and heated them.  A superb dinner enhanced by sake and local beers.  As the evening wore on, the restaurant became noisier as the crowd shouted “hai” (yes) as the servers gave orders to the grill chefs (there are two sets of grills and surrounding seats) who resonded “hai” which was then repeated loudly by all of the patrons.  Good fun and great food.

 

Grilled shitake mushrooms, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Grilled shitake mushrooms, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

The iridescent kuruma-ebi (tiger prawn) was skewered while it was still alive, then grilled at Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

The iridescent kuruma-ebi (tiger prawn) was skewered while it was still alive, then grilled at Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

Melt-in-your-mouth fresh grilled Japanese eggplant, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Melt-in-your-mouth fresh grilled Japanese eggplant, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

Wonderful wagyu, succulent cubes of marbled Omi beef from Shiga, skewered, grilled and served with a dip of shoyu, garlic and fresh-grated wasabi root, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Ja

Wonderful wagyu, succulent cubes of marbled Omi beef from Shiga, skewered, grilled and served with a dip of shoyu, garlic and fresh-grated wasabi root, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan; our group had several orders, it was so delicious

 

Very simple in presentation, but the onion was almost sweet after grilling, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Very simple in presentation, but the onion was almost sweet after grilling, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

Grilled crab legs, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Grilled crab legs, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

Only available for about a month in the spring as new bamboo shoots sprout up, these grilled bamboo shoots were a special seasonal treat at Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Only available for about a month in the spring as new bamboo shoots sprout up, these grilled bamboo shoots were a special seasonal treat at Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

Simplicity itself, but dessert was sweet and refreshing – orange slices -- at Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Simplicity itself, but dessert was sweet and refreshing – orange slices — at Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan