More Tokyo Views

(See also main Tokyo Views and Tokyo Shopping)

More Food

These are some real classics. "Curry Pan" is a (very) loose equivalent to an American bagel with cream cheese (or maybe a creme-filled doughnut), and here you get to see the ORIGINAL "curry pan." Likewise, hot roasted sweet potatoes and their vendors may possibly be the cultural equivalent of ice cream trucks. Perhaps roasted sweet potatoes have lost some of their old popularity in this day and age of sushi bars, chocolates, and calorie-counting, but they are as traditional "as apple pie." And possibly healthier!

I wish I had other pictures, such as of the dessert shop with the magnificent creme brulee and cakes, but oh well, this is a glimpse of modern daily Japan, with a hint of old Japan thrown in.

Curry Pan: A Flavorful Favorite

Curry Pan, or Curry Bread, is
a popular Japanese treat
consisting of a Japanese-style
meat curry filling
inside deep-fried bread.
The store these are from is the original creator
of curry pan in the world.
(One of these pans is "extra spicy";
hence the difference in shape.)

Beautiful fried round curry pan,
without plastic wrap.
Made by the originator of curry pan,
these lived up to their elite status
and were exceptionally rich,
properly filled with sweet curry
(without skimping), and hence tasty.

According to the packaging, this particular store ("Katorea"??) invented the precursor of "curry pan" in about 1927, when they started selling an item called "Western style bread."

Also note: in Japan, all bread is called "pan" (probably from Portuguese), including weird but tasty Japanese inventions like melon-flavored bread ("melon pan"), fried noodle bread ("yakisoba pan"), and strawberry jam bread (whose name I forget).

Yaki Imo: Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Roasted sweet potatoes are a
traditional Japanese food
(for some reason said to appeal
to women in particular -
so much so that is is a stereotype).
In olden days,
vendors would bring their (hand-pulled?) carts
down through the street and (presumably) shout,
the low-tech equivalent
of ice cream trucks.
Of course, these days...

...this guy in the camo outfit
announced "yaaakiii imoooo" over loudspeakers
as he drove slowly up the street
in this modern truck.
At least the way he yelled
sounded very traditional.
Here he is picking out some hot sweet potatoes.

The sign on the side of the truck
reads "yakiimo."
Sadly, yaki imo vendors are apparently
getting to be quite rare.
Another reason I had to
buy some real yaki imo from this guy!

Here's a close-up
of a small but tasty
hot and sweet yaki imo.
Three bigger ones are in the bag.
I was bummed because
I was already pretty full
and this was my last day :(
Cultural note: plain "imo" is "sweet potato" and "jaga-imo" is a plain potato.
Kinda weird, eh?
It probably says something about
the order in which those foods
were introduced....

More Views of Tokyo

A close-up of a tatami floor covering.
Actually, I THINK this is not a
"real" tatami, which I think is
normally attached to a wooden frame,
but this is a removable tatami
covering laid over an older tatami floor.
Still, the basic weave and appearance
and "feel" are the same.

Where these building stand now, there used to be houses that were burned down during WWII.
This includes a house where
one side of my family used to live
before the war.
To the left of the photo
is a school yard.

A construction site is hidden behind
barricades decorated with a traditional mural
(or more precisely art from decorative screens),
and planters of delicate flowers
also help soften the view.
I saw the flowers and thought,
"How typically Japan!"

Mitsukoshi: Venerable Classic Department Store

The venerable old famous Mitsukoshi (flagship) Department Store.
If I have my facts straight, this
Mitsukoshi was one of THE ritziest stores
in Tokyo, but nowadays, newer,
more massive stores in more
convenient locations have taken
away some of this store's luster.
On the left side (of the photo)
is a Kiya Knife Store,
home to cooking knives way nicer than
anything I can get at my local
Kitchens Etc. (IMHO).

These are the famous lions
at the Mitsukoshi entrance.
According to a web site,
they are modeled after lions in
Trafalgar Square in London.
I think they make quite an impression
on small children.

This is an also-famous sculpture
housed in the center of Mitsukoshi.
I believe the statue represents
the Goddess of Sincerity.
(View larger image for statue details.)
Here, a concert has attracted a crowd.
Like some other department stores
(see Tokyo Shopping page),
this Mitsukoshi contains restaurants,
a subway stop, and a massive
underground food retail area.

The roof top has long served
as a gardening center.
Years ago, if I remember right,
chirping crickets in little cages
were sold up here in summer.
These days, it's just flowers
(including some nice roses),
trees, seeds, bonsai,
imported British-style garden decorations,
and other such irresistable gardening delights.

Some of the many apartment buildings
seen on the way to
Narita International Airport out of Tokyo.
Despite the big apartment buildings
(called manshon ("mansions") I believe)
there are also plenty of single-family
houses and smaller residential buildings
(see next photo).

In fact, the view from the
train seems a lot like crossing a
a sea of small houses with occasional
islands of tall apartment buildings.
The train also crosses occasional
broad rivers, including the
Edo River (Edo is the old name
for Tokyo), which marks
the northern(?) boundary of Tokyo City.

View in the train.
The ticket collector cometh.
The backs of the seats very nicely
list which airlines are in which
of the two(?) main Narita buildings
(the train stops at each).

One of the small cute
farm fields (well, veggie garden)
outside of Tokyo, on the
way to Narita.

A windmill seems oddly European
in the middle of this bucolic Japanaese
landscape. Well, ok, the
metal power line towers
are NOT bucolic.

Japanese creme soda!!
OK, sadly this cream soda at Narita
was pretty bad. However, overall,
Japanese cream sodas
(creme sodas?)
taste very, very nice.
They have a rich, delicate fruity
aspect lacking in their American counterparts.
(Yes, they are supposed to be green.)
These days they all seem to be
"melon cream sodas."
I guess that means green is OK :)
This was my last drink in Japan!

(See also main Tokyo Views and Tokyo Shopping)

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Photos, text copyright 2003, 2004 Eri Izawa