Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Nihombashi Architecture and Restaurants

While it was not possible to walk around much due to the heat, I did get out a couple early mornings and evenings into the Nihombashi area which includes Ningyocho. One interesting building surrounded by modern architecture is Suitengu Shinto Shrine. It's famous for pregnant women to visit for blessings for easy child birth and protecting the baby. It's also known for it's dog statue from the belief that dogs have easy births. I didn't visit it since it's being rebuilt.

While Ningyocho is mostly modern buildings, there are a few older ones in between like this. Although it appeared to be for sale so no telling if it will last or be torn down.

The occasional older western style architecture was a surprise to see. Interesting windows in a rather nondescript building.

This was near where I was staying. I searched online for information while there but could not find anything. My imagination lead to secret societies or literature foundations. Finally did find out what NISSO Goethe House is. It's an architectural company that features plastering and natural materials.

Which explained the creative and unusual exterior of the building.

While some places went more modern, there were some that covered the exterior with a more traditional look. Although I'm guessing this was done some time ago due to the weather worn appearance.

One place that was hard to miss with it's one fanged bear was the Hokkaido Aji restaurant.

Another attempting a more traditional look on a modern building. Many of these places are restaurants.

While Ningyocho has it's share of traditional fare, it's also known for the number of European style restaurants.

French, Italian and wine bars.

Sadly I did not feel up to dining at any of these. But when I go back I will check out Ningyocho again. Along with possibly dining at this place that my father would like.

I'm regretting not stopping in at Mifune izakaya.

My dad who loves samurai movies would get a kick out of this. If I do go maybe I will have a drink placed on the table just for him.

Ningyocho has a lot of well known restaurants and places to eat. I did get a few local delicacies to eat during the day. The post about that will be soon. I will also have another post about more Japanese architecture on the other side of the Nihonbashi Bridge.

*just a note. I'm seeing both spellings, Nihombashi and Nihonbashi, for the area. I'm going with Nihombashi for the area and Nihonbashi for the bridge and business area near Tokyo Station.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ningycho's Mechanical Puppet Clock Towers

Having a little difficulty trying to decide how to organize these posts about my recent Tokyo trip because some places I visited more than once. Going to start with the area I stayed in, Ningyocho. Which translates into Doll Town or Puppet Town.

And what is probably the most famous landmarks that are in Nigyocho. The mechanical puppet clock towers.

Located on Ningyocho-dori (street), these towers are dedicated to the arts that thrived in Ningyocho in the Edo era.

From what little information I could find in English, the panels depict Rakugo comedic stories.

The curtains draw open on the hour, from 11 am to 7 pm to show the mechanical Edo era fighter puppets in action. Having trouble sleeping I was out here much earlier than that so I did not get to see this. Even at that early hour the heat and humidity was pretty bad.

On the other side of the street there is a second smaller clock tower. I do not know when these were built but possibly post WWII since many things in Tokyo were destroyed in the war.

More of the Rakugo panels. Rakugo is a very interesting art form of an actor sitting on stage telling stories. They play the part of all the characters along with having to memorize each story. Quite a challenge. Forms of Rakugo have been performed for several centuries in Japan with it becoming popular in the Edo era with the public due to it being performed for merchants and others outside of the upper class. Rakugo is still performed today and there is even a popular manga and anime about it, Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū.

The second clock tower does not have the curtains so we can see the mechanical firefighter puppets.

Firefighters were so important in Japan because most buildings were made of wood. So it's not surprising to see them being honored in this way.

Monday, August 29, 2016

harsh year

The way it's going I'm not going to have any childhood or young adulthood favorites left with us.
Gene Wilder's passing is painful. His movies cheered me up and made me laugh.
His relationship with Gilda Radner was a joy to read about.
I'm sad this kind and gifted person isn't with us any more.

What's Brewing in Tokyo at Spring Valley Brewery

Walking in the heat and humidity in Daikanyama and what do I see?

I don't think they would let me back in Oregon if I didn't at least check out Spring Valley Brewery.

While it's actually part of Kirin, they do actually brew beer here. Along with selling some kitschy items.

Not the best photo since I think the heat and humidity affected my camera's focusing much like my own. But here's a line up of beers they offered. Plus a warning that glass is fragile.

My interior photos did not turn out well but here's one of some of the equipment being used to process and brew their beer. One might wonder why Kirin would open a place like this. Novelty? Actually it's a good way to test new seasonal beers.

Nine beers on the menu. Decent range, nothing too extreme or unusual.

They also have several food options. Seriously you could lift this place out of Tokyo and set it in the Pacific Northwest and except for the kana on the menu no one would know this was a restaurant from Japan. I will say that it was very nice inside and the food that was being served looked good. My friend said she wants to bring people there.

I ended up just getting a pint of their Copeland Pilsner. This was a very nice pilsner, refreshing and just right for the hot summer. Funny thing is with all the heat I barely felt the effects of this beer.

Spring Valley Brewery has their own website here (in Japanese) and Beer Tengoku reviewed them here. We were there on a Friday about 3 pm and there were seats available. They have mostly good reviews on Yelp. I have to say it was a nice stop on that hot first full day in Tokyo. Although a little disconcerting to me because it felt so American.

And that was it for Daikanyama. We had come here in hopes of visiting the Kit Kat shop at T-Site but time was short, I was a bit tired from traveling and the weather was not helping. It was good to check out a part of Tokyo I had not seen before. It's why I keep going back.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Le Cordon Bleu La Boutique in Tokyo

After checking out the Kyu Asakura House (posts are here) it was time for lunch. To say it was a relief to get out of the heat was an understatement.

My friend's choice was Le Cordon Bleu's La Boutique.

It's a little cafe where students put their skills to work.

I know, fly all the way to Japan only to end up eating Western food? But look at those pastries!

My friend chose this cute little fruit tart which she thoroughly enjoyed. That blueberry was first to be eaten.

Since I hadn't eaten much in the last day or so having been traveling for most of it, I decided to approach this with an anime feeling and chose the croquet monsieur. For a grilled cheese sandwich it was quite good. The sharpness of the cheese complimented the ham inside nicely.

So hard to decide which dessert. I ended up with this lovely opera cake. The espresso in it along with my iced tea was a good pick-me-up.

There were a number of fun things to look at in the cafe including boxes of macarons. Tempting but I had plans for my macaron money. Also being shown were these student works of art. Made of bread.

This musical lady playing koto made me think of Mitsuki Dazai. I will have to post the photo for her.

In case you are ever in this area and feeling hungry for cafe cuisine, here is the website for Le Cordon Bleu's La Boutique.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Outside The Kyu Asakura House

The other striking feature of the Kyu Asakura House are the grounds and gardens. Walking in you notice how lush they are.

I'm trying to remember what I was told about the difference between personal and public Japanese gardens. Notable about the Kyu Asakura House are the number of large stone lanterns.

Even more eye catching are the views from inside the house. To me this is one of the most pleasing things about Japanese architecture. The merging of the outside with the inside. I just wanted to sit with a cup of tea and relax.

It also helps psychologically to make one feel cooler in hot weather. Japanese houses were built to deal with hot weather. Cold weather not so much. With views like this it does make it a little more bearable.

The second floor of the house offered views of the lower roofs and gardens. Along with the contrast of the modern buildings that surround it.

Clay tiles cover the roofs which were helpful to protect from fires and easy to replace when earthquakes happened.

The inner courtyard garden. I wonder if the stone grinding wheel was from a rice grinding mill. Since Torajiro Asakura was a rice broker I would assume it was. There was at least one more in the outer garden. Also this inner garden must be amazing when it rains and water fills the little pot and then overflows into the little pond.

I imagine so many features of the gardens have personal reference to Mr. Asakura. Even the stones have meaning. This walk way reminded me of the Portland Japanese Garden where they are really good about explaining all the different features. Japanese Gardens have many levels. The top is the aesthetic beauty. Next are the different features that may have meaning such as a stone representing a mountain or a bed of pebbles appearing like a lake or stream. Beyond that are the personal meanings to those who created it. It really is an art.

Despite the heat, it was great being able to see this house and garden. It is worth visiting if you are in Tokyo and want to see something that harkens back to the time prior to modern architecture.

Next up, food!