Another epic day of schlepping. We started off in 浅草, home of the famous 浅草寺 and the perhaps more famous 仲店通り. The area is sprucing itself up just a smidge, and I was surprised to see a couple of rickshaw drivers (runners? what do you call these guys?) in traditional garb soliciting business from tourists. On Nakamise-dori, I bought the smallest 招き猫 imaginable for Jenny, as per her request. The crush surrounding the temple was, as always, pretty amazing. Many schoolgroups, tour groups, etc. This sort of thing becomes completely self-perpetuating: I think the real reason everybody goes there is because everybody goes there. This is the counterpoint to Yogi Berra’s old saying. We wound up getting a little off the beaten path, wandering down some of the dowdier 商店街 in the area, where Gwen picked up a pair of clogs for her niece. We made our way over to a supermarket, and picked up a few おにぎり. We plopped down near the temple to have our snack. I showed Gwen the ingenious way nigiri are packaged, so the nori doesn’t get soggy from contact with the rice, and the correct way to unwrap them. She was instantly hooked.
I checked a map, and saw we were walking distance from かっぱ橋, the commercial kitchen supply district, so we wandered over there. Gwen was keen on seeing the plastic food, but really, the overwhelming volume and selection of everything in Kappabashi is what makes the place fun. Where else can you find a store with ten different kinds of ramen strainers? We stopped in several knife stores, and eventually Gwen found a big carbon-steel chef’s knife to get as a gift for Heather, the friend who had made our wedding cake.
Next stop, 銀座. We went to 鳩居堂, the pricey but super-deluxe paper store. Again, quite a crush of people. Gwen spent a lot of time scoping out possible gifts to send home, and we wound up dropping a good chunk of change on exquisite paper products there. Examined the calligraphy supplies upstairs. Smelled the incense that pervades the store.
Then it was time to get along to 六本木, where another client, Julia (well, former client, as she hasn’t had any work for me in years, but she’s still a friend–but I digress), has her offices. This is very near the new Roppongi Hills development, of which I had read, but had not seen. We didn’t have time to explore it right then, but were sufficiently impressed by its sprawling bigness: the tower is, well, pretty darned tall, and the complex covers several city blocks.
We made our way to Julia’s, made introductions, hooked up with another friend of Julia’s, and made our way to Baggio, a little Italian place nearby where Julia’s a regular. Very tasty meal–a sort of Japanese take on Italian food.