A visit to Japan

A 500-600 year-old pagoda

No, this three-story pagoda is not the latest proposed “granny” unit in historic Nevada City, but I joked that it might as well be a candidate for one. In truth, it is a pagoda in the Chinzano Garden in Tokyo. The garden is now ablaze in fall colors, and it is one of our sights this week.

We are enjoying Thanksgiving week in Tokyo. We are visiting temples and shrines, the world’s largest fish market called Tsukiji, the Imperial Palace Gardens, museums, the Giant Pandas at the Ueno Zoo, the world-leading electronics shops in Akihabara, the Sony building, the food halls in department stores such as Mitsukoshi, a Sumo wrestling “stable” and more. We also went to Suntory Hall to hear classical pianist Emanuel Ax and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. The concert hall is a real gem.

Fresh crab at Tsukiji Fish Market

We are enjoying sushi, sashimi, Kobe beef, yakatori, teppanyaki and other local food. We also signed up for a Japanese cooking class outside the Tsukiji market, a bustling place with every imaginable kind of fish and shellfish.

The fruit and vegetable stalls at the Tsukiji market have Satsuma mandarins, akin to the ones that are now in season in Placer County.

Tokyo is an expensive city, but the dollar is strong, and that helps out. Though its population exceeds 13 million now and it might seem intimidating, we find Tokyo to be an easy, accessible and friendly city. A little bit of Japanese on our end, and a little bit of English on the other end goes a long way. It’s totally manageable.

Narrower WSJ has big, white borders in Japan

Old habits die hard in Japan. To cut costs, U.S. newspapers have become thinner. But Japan still publishes on broader sheets of newsprint. So when the Wall Street Journal is printed in Japan, it has a big white border. LOL.

Japan’s economy has just slipped into another recession, causing some political rifts. Critics blame “Abenomics,” a program of aggressive money printing that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered upon taking office a few years ago to jump start the Japanese economy. Others point to Japan’s shrinking working-age population in a country with full employment.

Earlier this week, Japan celebrated Labor Thanksgiving Day, an occasion for commemorating labor and production and giving one another thanks.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

3 thoughts on “A visit to Japan”

  1. What a treat to be catching the fall colors and all the beauty there in Tokyo. As for the architecture and that beautiful pagoda, I’d gladly love to see something like that build on the other side of my fence vs the unimaginative large box I wake up to each day. Stunning!

  2. Gail:

    I’m curious…

    When such building are being reviewed by staff and the planning commission, one of the boxes on the application asks if the view of any adjoining neighbor is going to be affected. (At least that question appeared on applications in the Stone Age when I was hanging out a lot at 317 Broad Street).

    Impacting or blocking a view doesn’t (didn’t) necessarily prohibit construction, but it raises a red flag that requires some discussion and possible mitigation. Did that happen in this instance?

    I recall a tiny 90-square-foot tool shed built in the back of a Park Avenue residence in the 1990s. An adjacent neighbor complained that her view of Little Deer Creek and trees bordering the creek had been impacted by the location of the tool shed.

    And, believe it or not, the photographic evidence brought to the city council for us to review at her appeal hearing, were photos taken through her bathroom window –– not the front room, dining room or bedroom.

    Compare that with your own situation, and a lack of consistency seems apparent.

    Or am I missing something?

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