A year in the life 2016 #330: the year of the rooster, upcoming

First thing back in the office was a discussion with Japanese officials. It was primarily someone I had met when I was in Tokyo earlier in the year, so we had a great chat. They left me with a lovely gift – a year of the rooster calendar.


The deliciousness of Japan and Korea

2016-03-01 12.16.48I got to do a lot of eating whilst in Japan and Korea, which is a good thing because there are a lot of good things to eat.

2016-02-29 17.26.47I was excited to find in Tokyo a special Spring Edition Cherry Blossom Red Bull.


Beautifully put together bento boxes have always been one of my favourite things: this is what we got for lunch on Monday.

Dinner on Monday was magnificent. At the beautiful Tofuya Ukai restaurant in the shadow of the Tokyo Tower we ate 9 or so courses of delicious Japanese food. One of them was so delicious I ate it all before I remembered to photograph it.

2016-02-29 22.25.30Here is Katherine (our minister counsellor from Beijing and friend) and me outside the restaurant after all that deliciousness.

2016-03-01 07.50.55One of the more spectacular versions of French toast I have ever been served. Appropriate as I was eating in the 33rd floor of our hotel with a similarly spectacular view of Mt Fuji in the distance.

Dinner on Tuesday was not quite as amazing as dinner on Monday, but we did find a lovely little place and eat some delicious Korean-style BBQ, cooked ourselves at the table.

Another amazing lunch with an even more beautiful bento. It is hard to concentrate on business when the food is this good. The sashimi, in particular, was meltingly fresh.

Then off to Korea for Korean Korean BBQ. Fabulous. I missed the first couple of meals we had in Korea which, as usual for Korea, did involve endless, uncountable courses – some of which were of very odd foods.

2016-03-04 12.55.16A glimpse of our final lunch in Seoul. I did turn down the vibrant dark green seaweed soup, and one of our party did count 80 plates on the table at one point in time. Dishwashers in Korea must get a real workout.


A year in the life 2016 #58: vending machine


As I drove through the darkened Japanese streets to my hotel at 5.30am, it wasn’t the Japanese street signs with familiar names that really made me feel like I was back in Tokyo. Nor was it the sight of the Tokyo Tower. No, what really made me natsukashii and made me feel like I had really returned was the sight of banks of vending machines. Never change, Tokyo.

Snapshot: Comfort

2013-11-06 07.00.42Right near my hotel in Seoul was this statue which I walked past a few times before learning the story. Every time I came past it was dressed slightly differently, with flowers and shoes and, on the day it rained all day, a rain jacket. Then I talked to the local staff from the Embassy. From January 1992, every Wednesday women came to protest here, right in front of the Japanese Embassy, seeking reparations and just drawing attention to the fate of “comfort women” during World War II. Many Korean women were used as sex slaves during the occupation, and often sent all over Japanese occupied territory. These women have still not received reparations, and they still protest. I actually saw a small group of them on the Wednesday I was there. So the statue is there in front of the Japanese Embassy as a constant reminder of the fate of these women.

It is hard to think of what these women endured then, and continue to endure, as they still don’t get real justice. But maybe this is a small symbol.

Atlas Japan

Atlas Japan 2 (2)Atlas Japan 2

Last night we had our Atlas Japan dinner. Featured courses were sushi and two types of gyoza for openers (Rachel), followed by pork skewers (me) and teriyaki beef (Kellie) then sukiyaki (me) which we even managed to cook at the table. All very yummy. For dessert Cat had whipped up wasabi ice-cream and black sesame ice-cream – odd taste experiences, but quite nice. As we decided, probably not the ice-cream you'd choose to eat a tub of while watching tv.
Kellie had discovered through internet research that fortune cookies were actually invented by Japanese immigrants to the US, so Reg and the kids had made a batch of them, complete with fortunes. I had also discovered Pocky at the Asian supermarket where I was buying mirin, so we had both chocolate and strawberry Pocky. very natsukashii.

We also drank some Kirin beer – whcih we discovered was actually brewed in Australia under licence – good for the carbon footprint I guess, but less so for the authenticity! And some sake was drunk, but we avoided the tradition of drinking ourselves stupid and vomiting in the street.

And I finally used the (disposable) chopsticks I had been given as a gift when leaving Japan – had been saving them up for a special occasion, and finally …here it is was…

…..next culinary adventure is the highly antiicpated Iron Chef Mushroom which will occur on 2 February. And the next Atlas dinner is Southern USA.

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