Monday, June 25, 2012

When the party comes to you, MIKOSHI!

Mikoshi are portable shrines that resemble the Jewish Ark of the Covenant (I am thinking Indian Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark here). Japanese festival goers hoist the gold-laden wooden shrine on two giant poles and bounce their way down the street, chanting as the try to excite the god who resides within. This is for the viewing pleasure of the neighborhood temple goers. It was a pretty cool parade and festival. It just so happens that the Mikoshi parade stopped right in front of our apartment on what is normally a quiet Sunday afternoon. I was told that the Mikoshi weights about 2 tons. Check out my video below. 
The traditional dress for this event is strangely similar to that of Zap and Kif from Futurama...short! While some guys and nearly all of the women who participated wore pants or shorts underneath their costumes, some did not. See if you can spot the Zap-like festival warned though, you might not like what you see. 

Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Yebisu Beer, the Museum

Yebisu is one of several popular brands of pale lager available in Japan owned by the large conglomerate, Sapporo Holdings. 

A friend recommended checking out their museum in Ebisu. So naturally, being the wanderlust Wisconsinite beer-lover that I am, I rounded up a group of friends (Yuko, Chappy, and Mari) and headed to the museum on a sunny, Tokyo afternoon in June. I wanted to check it out for two reasons. First, I heard it was cheap (500 yen admission). And secondly, (as any good tour should) it includes beer. Solid. You don't need a reservation, even on a Sunday, but you might have to wait up to 20 minutes for the next tour to start. 

The tour is all in Japanese but they do have an English pamphlet you can read.

Ebisu Garden Place is a pretty neat area to hang out in. Lots of shopping and good restaurants. First we stopped for lunch on the 33rd floor of the Ebisu Garden Place Tower at a Japanese-style restaurant. Nice view, no? The food wasn't bad either. I had tonkatsu (breaded pork chop). Delicious.

While waiting for the tour to start, we hung out. Apparently, the girls were still hungry. Good thing Yuko makes a good dessert. 

The tour was actually pretty decent. They gave a great history of the company which you can read about here
But I was a little disappointed that they didn't go into more detail about their brewing process. What can I say? I like science, especially the science of beer. 

And of course at the end of the tour we got our beer. And played an intense game of rock, paper, scissors with the other tour members for more free beer. Mari, Yuko, and I all struck out in the first round when we all flashed paper. D'oh! If you go, and you go in a group, be prepared, have a strategy and you might just win more free beer ;-)

Overall, I would give the Yebisu beer tour a 6/10 because its cheap and the history of the company is fairly entertaining.  But honestly, I am holding out for a Japanese beer tour with a healthy explanation of the brewing magic. :-D 

Thanks for reading! 

Tokyo John Bull

French Restaurant, Tokyo Station

French, all-you-can-eat lunch buffet near the Tokyo Station Shinkansen Entrance. This is hands down my favorite spot for lunch. It's pretty reasonably priced at 1300 yen per person. But more than that, the view, the food, and the atmosphere are worth it. 
My buddy Maru pointing at the 25th floor of the Asahi Seimei Building where my favorite restaurant is located: Tokyo John Bull. Tokyo Station Shinkansen Entrance is across the street on the left. In the background you can see the JR Yamanote line bridge. 

The other day we headed to Tokyo John Bull restaurant for lunch. The restaurant is located on the 25th floor of the Asahi Seimei building, on Eitai Dori, at the north side of Tokyo station. Here it is on the map

The food here is great. Fresh fruit. Coffee. Soup. Baked fish. Tempura. Grilled Chicken. Delicous Japanese style curry. Fresh salads and breads. and of course, excellent French dessert. Did I mention it's all you can eat? :-D

For lunch they usually have an elegantly dressed pianist on the white baby grand. When we went, this beauty was playing some Beatles, "Piano Man" and bunch of other great classics.  As you will see in the video below, the staff is pretty cute too. Contrary to popular opinion, I did not knowingly capture the waitress on camera, or I should say, I didn't knowingly capture her back...side. Sorry Miss. 

If you get a chance go check out Tokyo John Bull. Drop me a line and let me know what you think. 
Bon appétit!