Erin Bogar and her husband, Blaine, chronicle their adventures in Tokyo on blaineanderin.com. We asked her about her life in Japan and her favorite things about living in the country’s capital.
Q: What neighborhood do you live in? Do you have a favorite neighborhood?
A: I live in Shinagawa-ku. It’s on the south side of Tokyo and was the original entrance into the city for travelers coming from southern Japan along the historic Tokaido Road. One of my favorite neighborhoods is Daikanyama. It’s hilly with a lot of narrow backstreets that have small boutiques and cafes. It has a very relaxed and quiet atmosphere and it’s a very hip neighborhood. It’s also where you’ll find one of the stops in my shopping guide, Tsutaya Books.
Q: Do you have a favorite place for sushi?
A: It might be Itamae Sushi in Ginza. They have really good lunch deals — for 1000 yen [about $10] you get 10 pieces of sushi, unlimited miso, rice, and matcha (powder green tea). I’m a huge fan of saba (mackerel) and amaebi (raw sweet shrimp). Anyone who loves sushi and is visiting Japan should make sure to go to the famous Tsukiji fish market. The market is scheduled to move out of the city center of Tokyo in 2016 but for now you can still see the famous tuna auctions starting at 4 am and then have a sushi breakfast — it would be impossible to get fish any fresher.
Q: What has been the biggest surprise (or a surprise) about shopping in Tokyo?
A: Two things have really surprised me about shopping in Tokyo. First, the sheer number of shops throughout the city with amazing clothes and goods from brands I’ve never seen anywhere else and second, how much Japanese people love to shop. Most of our Japanese friends list shopping as one of their favorite hobbies.
Q: Do you have a favorite easy-to-pack souvenir that friends in America always love?
A: I have several favorites: folding fans (sensu), traditional Japanese sweets (wagashi), miniature sake bottles, traditional wooden sake cups (masu), chopsticks (hashi), and small decorative green tea containers from Ameyokocho Market.
Q: What’s the story with the $500 melons that you hear about?
A: Meticulously farmed fruit is a luxury gift industry in Japan and the melons are the king of these high-end fruits. They are bred to be perfectly round with a symmetrical pattern on the rind. They’re a great example of the Japanese tendency toward extreme attention to detail in every craft.
Photo: Jonathan Lin