I still think that, generally speaking, this country handles the relationship with alcohol quite well, in spite of a few visible excesses, and that's why attending these bars and venues was so enjoyable.
I shot this picture in Nezu, at the door of the Maison du Chataigne (another Franponais case, if a minor one : you should read "Maison de la Chataigne" or "Maison du Chataignier"). One of the menus has been named "Ivrogne", which means drunkard. I guess the person who designed the menu names wanted to choose a word highlighting the love of wine and he/she used a translator which gave back "ivrogne"... I wonder if a menu Ivrogne or a menu Drunkard would have many takers in our respective countries; who knows, maybe it would start a buzz and bring crowds, but I'm afraid you'd need to have unlimited wine for that....
This said, this restaurant seems to have a few nice wines on its wine list.
Here is a web page about this Fun & New eco Glassware. More info on this Pdf file.
Funew is part of the Kimoto Glassware co. Ltd, a Tokyo-based company
This is very similar to what we see routinely in Russia and its cultural hemisphere, like here in Donetsk, where glasses are left on the graves.
While many in the West are busy trying to reverse gender color codes they view as retrograde and reactionary, nothing of the sort happens in Japan where like in much of Asia pragmatism and tradition prevail over do-gooder ideology. We have more than we need in terms of thought-police-fighting-sterotypes in France, especially with the Greens, but we may have reached new heights of absurdity recently with the proposition of an MP, Sandrine Mazetier, who wants to change the name of the "écoles maternelles" ("maternal schools" or nursery schools) in order to correct what she views as a gender-specific anomaly bent on giving our young ones the improper differentiating between the respective aptitudes of mother and father. In France, a kindergarten is called école maternelle, a name which according to this bright mind, carries a heavy load of prejudice and will endanger a politically-correct understanding of the society and inoculate sexist views...
The French concept of the école maternelle was created in Alsace, in Waldersbach at the end of the 18th century. The pastor Jean-Frédéric Oberlin and his maid Sara Banzet opened the first such école maternelle (kindergarten) for very young children after witnessing the dire situation in which many of these children were in the backcountry, left by themselves as their mother were gone to work.
Jean-Frédéric Oberlin studied in the famed institution Gymnasium Jean Sturm in Strasbourg where his father was also a teacher (I'm proud to have myself spent time there until graduating with the Baccalauréat).
Here is a funny list of toilet signs examples, nice resource for inspiration.
The pic on right is another obvious gender-neutrality infringement, with face masks packagings in different colors, the pink ones being apparently for women sizes and the blue men sizes. Oh my goodness...
Pic on left : restroom sign in Tsukiji, Tokyo (with small fish)
To reach the restaurant you climb a flight of stairs to a terrace (pic on right) which is nice when the weather is fine, and from there you walk inside the restaurant. The long bar counter is very convenient and they also have more private rooms with low tables. Raw fish is of course also their speciality.
4-9-5 Tsukiji Chuo-ku Tokyo
phone 03 3541 9206
Google street view of the lane
Map location (approximative).
The restaurant is located in Nezu at a walking distance from Ueno and Nippori. I walked there with T. in the evening the first day I arrived there but didn't walk in, thinking that I'd do it later. You can sip nice wines and eat chicken skewers or other things to go with. There's always a motorbike parked along the venue, it must belong to one of the staff.
The names of the vintners are written with a white chalk on the window (picture on left) : Vincent Tricot, Alice & Olivier De Moor, Marc Pesnot, Vincent Gaudry, Noella Morantin, Agnès & René Mosse, Jean Foillard, Pascal Simonutti, Frédéric Cossard, Domaine Ramonet, L'Arlot, Robert Sirugue, François Feuillet, Dard & Ribo, Marcel Lapierre, Thierry Puzelat, Christian Chaussard, Nicolas Maillard, Michel Arnould, Françoise Bedel, Julien Meyer, Nikolaihof, Marc Tempe, Sylvie Spielmann, Biner, Klur, Marcel Deiss (spelled Dice...), Giglinger, Gerard Schueller, Rietsch. Indeed a nice list of wines, they have a few wines by the glass at around 1000 Y if I remember.
2-13-8 Nezu Chiyoda-ku Tokyo
phone 03 5834 7684
76Vin on Facebook
Elle-Japan page about 76Vin
Page with pictures of the food at 76Vin
Another review (in Japanese) of 76 Vin
Fugu is part of the popular imagery when we think about Japan, there's an intriguing mystery about the fact that the Japanese go around the lethal threat of the poisonous nature of certain parts of the fish, to prepare a reputedly exquise fish meat. As you may know, chefs need a special license to be allowed to prepare and serve fugu, this, of course, because of the danger of the poison.
About coming across other Westerners when you're in Japan and hesitating to nod at them or ignore them, you should read again the interesting piece written by Eryk on the issue. Like he says, there seems to be a reluctance from some of the Westerners who know very well Japan to socialize with the Westerners they suspect of being occasional visitors or tourists. Eryk's page linked to an interesting page which is not online anymore but which I salvaged here, and where W. David Marx writes :
All foreigners with interest in Japan hate all the other foreigners with interest in Japan. The Colonialists all like their ex-pat buddies and pubs, but the Japanese-speaking foreigner contingent is in constant battle with themselves, vying to prove linguistic abilities, obscure knowledge, and depth of societal penetration. I call this the "gaijin complex," and I'm only finally finding my way out of it now after a long period of affliction and convalescence..
I got to watch myself and never turn like one of those...
Look at these pictures shot along Japanese streets. You have more of there on this page. I can testify with my picture that some people indeed use lots of bottles to keep the cats away...
B. had asked me to go buy some specific types of tea and she directed my to the tea section of the department stores (depato), as Ippodo has retail shops there, but T. found out that there was actually an independant Ippodo shop in Tokyo too (opened in 2010), the first Ippodo shop outside Kyoto. The Kyoto shop has been selling high-quality green tea for 3 centuries, a unique reference in the trade.
If like me, you're not particularly into tea, visiting this shop is a good way to make a first step toward fine-tea drinking. You can find on this page the list of retail counters in the depatos (department stores), the ones in green being staffed with Ippodo salesclerk (and from what I saw when I bought the tea, they do an incredible service in terms of refinement and politeness).
I discovered another sort of 100-Y supermarket dealing groceries and food, including fruits, vegetables , meat and fish. This was during a stroll I made in Otsuka along the Yamanote line in Tokyo, and my attention was aroused by the unusual crowd in this grocery store, for a nondescript street in a quiet neighborhood. So I just walked in and looked around and soon realized that many of the prices including for packaged fruits, vegetables, meat and fish were at 126 Y each (1 € or 1,3 USD). I had obviously stumbled upon one of those new business ventures specialized in cut-throat price war. I was amazed for example to see so many different fish or sea products at 126 Y, sometimes a single fish, but sometimes several in the same package.
Minami Otsuka 3-47 - 8
〒170-0005 Tokyo Toshima
Location on map
Google street view of Shimadaya
This humoristic book reviews many situations, some of them representing a real challenge for a Japanese being raised in a civilized and pacified society, but he always keep a self-deprecating humor all along. There is the episode where he is caught up in riots (scene on left), the pages about the Japanese women living in Paris and what they're looking for, the noisy appartments, the French who always kiss casually each other (scene on right), and plenty of other issues...
After reading the manga, you begin to understand why a certain number of Japanese visitors get the Paris Syndrome...
Eriko Nakamura, who had been working for Fuji TV when in Japan, is a Japanese woman who has been living for 10 years here in France and is married to a Frenchman. She wrote here her first book in French, listing with humor and through mini-stories all these weird situations she found herself in. You'll love the chapter about the visit at the doctor where she tells her horror when the doctor asked her to undress. Each time, she explains how things unfold in Japan in the same circumstances. Worlds apart....