Published: March 18th 2009March 18th 2009
Departmental Stores Mitsukoshi and Daimaru, Tokyo
For 27th Feb. my notes consist of the following line :
Visit Kamakura (Might see Fuji if you are lucky i.e. depending upon clear weather.)
The weather was beastly that day. When we left our hotel that day, it was already snowing. The one-square-millimeter snowflakes soon turned into one-square-centimeter snowflakes. It was windy and chilly.
You won't find any photos in this blog. Avi is quite fond of taking photos but the awful weather prevented him from taking out the camera from the bag.
The previous night we had discussed whether we should be visiting Kamakura the next day. To be truthful, I did not think we will find Kamakura very attractive after visiting the Nikko shrines. I actually had had enough of shrines and large Buddha statues. We had seen huge “Standing”, “Sitting in Lotus position” and “Reclining” Buddha statues everywhere in Asia and we were not in a mood to see one more.
We dropped the idea of going to Kamakura unceremoniously.
That day when we left The Toyoko Inn, we were going to the Sensoji shrine to Asakusa for kimono-shopping and had planned to take a Sumida river cruise to Odaiba, the ‘futuristic’ city.
However, the weather was so bad that we decided that we will not spend the day in the open air but instead, would spend it in shopping in the comfort of departmental stores.
Accordingly, we made tracks to the Mitsukoshi departmental stores near our hotel and later to Daimaru at the Tokyo station because we needed fruits badly.
Toyoko Inn serves Japanese breakfast in the morning. The triangular cakes of multi-colored rice looked very attractive but they were cold. The Japanese customers were eating those with obvious enjoyment but somehow we could not eat cold rice for breakfast. So, we had to subsist on some pastry, an egg and Miso soup for breakfast. For lunch, we generally managed to eat at McDonald’s. However, the lack of fruits and vegetables was playing havoc with our digestive systems and so we needed fruits.
We actually lost 2 kg each in 12 days of Japan travel.
Even Mr. N.S., who is a ‘fish-curry and rice’ man from Kerala had found the Japanese preparations of rice and fish unpalatable, so you can imagine our plight when I say that we are NOT big fish-and-rice-eaters and were missing the Indian food very much.
Here I will mention a funny thing that happened to me in our Kyoto hotel. On the second day of the conference one of the Indian delegates had mentioned that he had found onion ‘bhajias’ among the hundreds of varieties of food that a typical 5-star hotel serves for breakfast.
I resolved to hunt for these safe-same onion ‘bhajias’ the next morning for breakfast.
To my delight, I found them alright. Oh, the sight of the perfectly-shaped onion-rings in a deep-fried rice-powder-cover made my mouth water, I can tell you. I only wished they were in a ‘besan’ cover.
I heaped my plate with the bhajias and came back to the table.
“What is this you have brought?” Avi asked, eyeing my plate with obvious distaste.
“Onion bhajias, of course” I said triumphantly. “There is enough for two.” and picking up one, sank my teeth in the crunchy bhajia, just as he was saying.
“It is not what you think it is.”
Rather, I should say, ‘tried to sink my teeth’ because instead of the crunchy, crispy onion, my teeth encountered a rubbery substance with a different kind of aroma.
I must have made a face as I took out the bhajia from my mouth.
“Why, what happened?” Avi asked gleefully.
“These are not onion bhajia, but something else.” I exclaimed.
Rarely Avi gets the chance to say “I told you so” and so, now that he had the chance, he utilized it fully and I heard various variations of the same sentence. “I was telling you” and “I was about to tell you but you jumped the gun” and “You just do not listen” and ‘I could have told you” and just plain vanilla “I told you” for the next ten minutes.
Yes, those were not the onion bhajias but they were deep-fried squid-rings, a dish known as ‘calamari’.
The moral of the story is that we had become extremely wary of eating Japanese food.
That day we shopped for kimonos at Mitsukoshi and Daimaru. Oh God, they were so beautiful but so expensive! In these up-market stores, the Japanese garden scenes on kimonos were not printed, but were woven into the fabric of the silk kimonos. In a still more expensive category, they were embroidered.
It was a pleasure even to look at them.
By this time the one-square-centimeter snowflakes had turned to one-square-inch snowflakes. The snowflakes, as they floated down looked very beautiful but gosh, they were so cold.
Anyway, after buying fruits and food-stuff from the Daimaru at Tokyo station, we took the ‘free’ shuttle called ‘Metrolink Nihombashi’ halfway to our hotel and then walked rest of the way to our hotel.
We decided to take it easy for the rest of the day and slept in the afternoon in our nice cozy bed.
The dinner that day consisted of the pizza that we had bought at Daimaru and heated in the microwave in the hotel.