TOKYO – Day 4-8: Woodblocks, Chow and Fuji

The adventure to Tokyo has wrapped up, and the long flight home endured. I thought some of you might like a few more images.

First, I am a bit of a sucker for Tokyo subway posters. I marvel at them. So very… odd.

Another kind of subway poster, however, lead me to trek to Roppongi Hills to see a fantastic exhibit of a favorite, Katsushika Hokusai.   He had some 30 names over his career.  He died at 90.  His production was olympian.

This was a different exhibit from the one I saw at the Hokusai Museum near the Edo-Tokyo Museum and the Sumo Stadium.  In this exhibit there were about 500 pieces!

Alas, photos were not permitted in the exhibit.  I bought the catalog, however.  I only do that for the vest best exhibits.

He is most famous for the magnificent wave print.

At the cafe there I had some curry.  Gimmicky, but fun.

The view from the museum floor.  In Tokyo, you have get used to thinking vertically.  The museum was on the 54th floor.

Back to food.

One of the best places for pork-based ramen is in Shijuku.  Fuunji.


Happily the queue was short.

Heavenly stuff, this ramen.

One of the more interesting buildings.  Cocoon.

Of course we had to go to the food hall at Isetan.

Photos are frowned on.  However, let’s just say that there are an underground football field’s worth of showcases with the most beautiful food you have ever seen, either prepared or produce.   I’d like a couple months in Tokyo to cook myself through some of these marvels.

An example of one of the beautiful presented preparations.

One evening we went to have tempura from a true master of the art.  Here is a leaf called shisu with uni, sea urchin.

There was a great deal more, to be sure.

Dessert, two large red beans.

There was, in the entry way, an antique set of playing cards for a game based on a set of poems by 100 poets called Ogura Hyakunin Isshu.  This is played, as it was explained by the great Augustin-san who was with us, in January.  He plays it and his children are learning.

The basic idea is that that you draw a card.  There is half of a poem on the card.  You have to complete the poem.

On a more commercial them.  I am amazed at the artificial food on display outside of restaurants.  Sort of a 3D menu to entice you in.

Which drink is mine?

A nice way to prepare a lime slice for your Gins and Tonic.  Or is it Gin and Tonics?

We touched most of the bases in Tokyo: Shabushabu, ramen, tempura, sukiyaki.  Of course we had sushi in Tsukiji.

Here’s our set, with a few closeups.

This ain’t your grocery store sushi friends.  It’s in a whole different class.

With a slight char.   I prefer without, but they were outstanding, nevertheless.

At the end of the set, we had an elective.  Augustin-san and I went for the two on the right – shrimp – still twitching.  I have a video HERE.

After those, the heads, after a bath in hot oil.


A tsukiji street at night.  Lot’s of places to try.

Some people have wondered about my Mass set up during trips.  Here is how I set up this time in my little hotel room.  Frankly, the space is not completely set up yet, and you can see, of the vestments, only the little antependium, and you can’t see the antimensium.  This is from the reversible travel vestments that were given by JS, J&MS, JD.  I remember you when I use them.  I didn’t bring the travel altar this time. Maybe next time.

The room had a view, however.  Fuji is in the background.

And so, having concluded a great trip, and having met wonderful Catholics and eaten good food and seen spectacular exhibits and enjoyed the sumo basho, it was off to the airport.

Surely Hoksusai would have made the following, final view of Mount Fuji into one of his (more than) 36 Views.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    Good timing on the exhibition:

    Megawave recreated in the lab looks just like Hokusai’s Great Wave

    [VERY cool.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. Charles E Flynn says:

    The Mass set up is illuminated by an Artemide Tolomeo floor lamp, designed by Michele De Lucchi and Giancarlo Fassina. The desk version has its own Wikipedia article:

  3. Kerry says:

    No subway poster photos of Mistah Sparkle I suppose; too bad.

  4. LeeGilbert says:

    For me the most striking photo was that of the Mass set-up right next to the TV. What a juxtaposition! From the Mass comes a flood of grace, from the TV the chattering of demons; from the Mass Heaven, from the TV Hell; from the Mass attraction to Heavenly things, from the TV distraction from Heavenly things. It is the contrast between black and white, which the photo also brings out. With a little photoshopping, it would make a great image for a book cover, say for a book on the war between the culture of vocation and the culture of distraction. Anyway, welcome back, padre.

  5. JustaSinner says:

    No death by radioactive lizard!

  6. Mariana2 says:

    Thanks, Father! Great stuff!

    Gins and tonic. But I’m a Non-Native Speaker cum Grammar Nazi, and the Native Speakers will disagree.

  7. Grant M says:

    Ah nostalgia…I was in Japan for about three and a half years in the late eighties, about half that time in Tokyo. I remember the sum?, Mt Fuji (I was living on its foothills for six months), the restaurants and a lot more. We were young and the yen was high.

    For years I had a print of Hokusai’s 43 Station of the T?kaid? on my wall as a souvenir.

  8. FN says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed Tokyo, Father! I also want to thank you and the commenters for informing us about Una Voce. I had not known there was a regular TLM here at all.

  9. hwriggles4 says:

    Fr. Z:

    Glad you enjoyed your trip. You also reminded us that a priest does say Mass daily. Most seminarians are instructed to attend daily Mass during school breaks.

    Hopefully Fr. Z you got a good nap on an A380, an A350, a 787 or a 777 from Tokyo to Los Angeles. Got to fly on a Dreamliner not long ago from ORD to DFW – a nice plane.

  10. Malta says:

    Wagyu should also be tried while in Tokyo:

  11. Semper Gumby says:

    Thanks Fr. Z, great photos.

    The art and calligraphy on the antique playing cards are remarkable.

  12. GHP says:

    Speaking of Hokusai …
    Too bad the Tsukiji Market was forcefully moved to make way for the 2020 Olympics; only the politicians were happy about that; plus the area to which they’ve moved has structural and contamination problems. “PROGRESS” eh?


  13. GHP says:

    The Rail Station poster says:
    階段って [Kaidan nobotte]
    気分も [Kibun mo]
    げよう [ageyo!]
    The pun is on the red kanji in the first and last line. Alone, it means “up” — climb; offer [up]
    As you climb the stairs
    Feelings also
    Should be offered

    The bottom margin, in red, states “Aruki sumaho wa yameyou!” [Don’t walk while using your Smart-Phone]. Japanese love to shorten foreign terms, so smart phone = suma-ho; Starbucks = suta-ba; and Trader Joe’s [here in the US] is Tore-jo.
    So, be polite to others on the stairs. This poster would also apply to the escalators. In Japan the custom is to stand on the left side so “walkers” can pass by on the right. Japan Rail has a new movement to encourage people to NOT walk on the right so as not to bump into people, poke with umbrellas, etc. It does get very hectic during the rush hourssss.


  14. bobbird says:

    We were in Tokyo this summer, and were absolutely intrigued with Japan’s cleanliness and food. I wonder if Fr. Z. learned to master chopsticks? It took us 2-3 days, but we did it and eventually disdained any standard utensils. But our destination was our Sister City: Akita, of the Our Lady of Akita fame, quite some distance from Tokyo. The Shrine includes an outdoor Way of the Cross, and the miraculous wooden statue that wept in 1973 as a way for Our Lady to prove the authenticity of her sobering — and now being fulfilled — message. The Japanese, who as a national trait seem to respect all religions, put the weeping statue on national TV, as I understand. Our stop at the Shrine was all-too-brief. We did not have our own transportation. We visited clumsily with the nuns in charge of the site. The laywoman at the bookstore we saw at Sunday Mass a few days later, and afterwards she told us her conversion story from Buddhism, and how she wants to join the sisters at Akita.

  15. NBW says:

    Wonderful photos Fr. Z! Everything looks so beautiful!

  16. One thing the Japanese deserve to be appreciated for is their love of beauty. We in the west need to rediscover that.

  17. Kathleen10 says:

    Fascinating photos Fr. Z! You are quite the intrepid traveler, although it looks like Japan is a very nice place to visit. I love the food photos, this is incredible looking food so beautifully presented. I love the wave, the artist’s one and the lab one by Charles Flynn, even the smaller wave is there. Akita, it’s all coming true, isn’t it.
    Welcome back to the states Fr. Z.

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