Daily Marauder


THIS WEEK: LOST IN TRANSLATION IN JAPAN by Marauder

THIS WEEK: LOST IN TRANSLATION IN JAPAN

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For the past week, I’ve been darting across Japan from Tokyo to Kyoto attempting to soak in as much as possible within only several days. I came to Japan in hopes of seeing family, a mission which became complicated by the challenges which only family can bring. I left Japan with a deep respect for the tradition and rules which make every day tick along to the second. Here’s a download from my maraudering…

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Nothing Says Japan Like a 6A Sushi Breakfast

Tsukiji Market, Tokyo

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Tsukiji Market is the renowned fish auction market where most of the fish in Tokyo is purchased on a daily basis. A few suggestions if you plan to go. Get there EARLY! I don’t mean 5A early. I mean 4A early. To get there this early, you can only take a taxi as the trains don’t run until around 5 in the morning. Friends recommended that we head there on our first morning in Tokyo. Being that time is misaligned from the many hours of time difference from LA, this was the perfect plan. Sushi Dai is the famous sushi restaurant in Tsukiji but with 2 hour lines and the crowds to match, we settled for a more random spot along the market. I would name it but unfortunately, the sign was in Japanese and well, there you have it. As you can see from the toro, salmon and roe in the bowl above, it did not disappoint.

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Pretense as an Iron Chef

Knives in Tsukiji Market

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In Tsukiji, you can buy many things from fish obviously to souvenirs. I suggest playing tourist fools like we did and walking thru the prohibited areas until you get ‘caught.’ Japanese knives are world -renowned and clearly a shop stop was necessary. The knives with the blue labels are the ones with the carbon steel. The others usually come crafted with stainless steel. You can find many knife vendors in the market and for a full download on the many attributes of Japanese knives and where to go in Tsukiji, click here. In general, Japanese steel is considered much harder than Western steel. In addition, carbon sharpens more easily than stainless steel.

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THIS is as Close as You Get to the Imperial Palace

Water Fountaining, Tokyo

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It turns out you need a reservation to visit the Imperial Palace, a fact completely lost on two most spontaneous of travelers. In short, the water fountain outside the stone walls was as close as we got. In a city where the trains run down to the second, order is imperative.

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THAT’s Not a PEARL. THIS…is a PEARL.

Asahi Pearls in the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo

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My father has worked in Japan at Toshiba since I was a little girl and ever since then, he has returned home with pearl earrings from his friend in Tokyo. I first met the shop owner on my trip to Tokyo last year, which was cut short after the wreckage from the tsunami. This year, I decided to return and say hello to the man who has been working in this store since 1949. He knows my entire family and has been selling my father jewelry since 1976. It’s a funny thing finding a piece of home in a foreign country.

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Nothing Says Tokyo like Cell Phones for Babies

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It seems necessary to make a stop in a cell phone store and check out all the gleaming technology. Here you have cell phones with only a few simple buttons, so the wee kiddies can use them. I’m constantly affronted by the challenge of technology approaching a destructive quality in peoples’ lives rather than a beneficial one. Being in Tokyo was filled with technology pornography but reaffirmed my assertion that we’re all running precariously close to being addicted to smart phones and the connections they bring.

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Tampons are like Porn

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The Japanese art of being demur translates to even the simple task of buying tampons. Not only were they protected from prying eyes in this fine brown paper bag, they were tapped shut, for security of course.

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Organized Chaos

Shibuya Crossing

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After 8 years of living in New York City, I thought there could not possibly be a place of more chaos. Color me corrected. Pedestrians cross in all directions including on a diagonal. Only in Tokyo could this chaos seem strangely organized.

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Harder. Faster. Stronger. Tokyo.

Shinkansen, the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto

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The bullet train maxes out at around 180 mph clearly giving it speed-advantage to anything we have in the US. That said, Amtrak has free Wi-Fi on several trains now and sincerely, I’d take free Wi-Fi over speed. I’m sure that says something about me but I hardly care. I expected to come to Tokyo and find Wi-Fi in abundance. While it is in fact everywhere, it’s heavily restricted, locked behind a series of passwords or payment gates. Free love otherwise equated to free Wi-Fi certainly doesn’t exist here. Perhaps the Japanese know where to look, but open Wi-Fi equals innovation, giving all access to the open educational system which is the internet.

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One Bad Ass Shogun

Nijo Castle, Kyoto

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Tokugawa was one bad ass shogun and here lies his castle. While he typically spent most of his time in Tokyo, here’s where he came to rest while in Kyoto. Tokugawa is a prime example of a smart leader. He imposed taxes on all the feudal lords so that he could keep their wealth under control. Pimp. Money brings power and heavy defense systems. Pimp. By keeping their purse strings tight, he kept them under his control. And yes, this makes him one badass shogun. PIMP.

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Back to the Knives

Aritsugu in the Nishiki Market, Kyoto

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Aritsugu has been making knives for over 450 years, originally favored by the Imperial Palace. I picked out a carbon steel blade based on some excellent recommendations from Shogo Minami, who spoke incredible English I may add. Aritsugu will etch whatever you like in your blade. Choosing “Marauder” on a carbon blade felt like I was having a Kill Bill moment.

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Lost in Translation

Park Hyatt, Tokyo

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This hotel may be the finest hotel I will ever experience. Selected due to its Lost in Translation moment, this hotel did not disappoint on any end. Even checking in was far superior to anything I have ever experienced. Upon arrival, you are whisked away to a lounge-like seating area and welcomed like royalty. Our room was on the 49th floor and showcased the most expansive urban view I imagine I will ever have of Tokyo. Swimming in the pool and reading Shakespeare’s love sonnets seemed incredibly surreal. In short, stay here for whatever time possible. You will never forget it.

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Japan taught me a respect for order but a LOVE for passion.

I came away from my experience in Tokyo wishing that certain things in the US ran along the order the Japanese maintain so carefully but secretly longing for the crazy train of emotions that I had come to expect from home. I was hyper-aware of the mess I seemed to be making as I simply walked along the street and that awareness brought me nothing but an additional layer of stress. I loved Tokyo and would return in a heartbeat, but a little mess…aint that bad.

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Facebook Camera

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In other news, Salesforce acquired BuddyMedia, Instagram puts the nail in the PicPlz coffin, Facebook’s stock price continues to see decline, flirts with getting into the smartphone business (BAD idea), and launches a camera app clearly in direct competition with Instagram. Frankly, the Facebook camera application is a bad user experience with the exception to the News Feed which streamlines your Facebook feed simply to the pictures. To this end, I think the better user proposition would have simply been to allow for a visual picture-based-only-view to the News feed in the original Facebook mobile app rather than to launch an additional application.

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Some more Cool Sh-t:

Street Art to Animated Gifs

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