Monday, February 11, 2013

National Foundation Day

I've been enjoying a three day weekend thanks to National Foundation Day, a February 11th holiday celebrating the foundation of Japan and the accession of its first Emperor.  I noticed some restaurant closures.  Otherwise there didn't seem to be much in the way of public celebration.

On Saturday, I took a leisurely two hour walk through Azabu.  I've been told that this is Tokyo's most expensive residential district--a fact I never would have guessed strolling through the main roads.  (I'm not sure I'll ever shake my suburban bias!)

Of course, I shouldn't be surprised.  One of the things I've noticed in Tokyo is that the best spots seem to be tucked away, off the main roads and above street level.  Even if you find one of these hidden gems in a guidebook, it can be difficult to locate.

This has something to do with the fact that addresses are not as handy here as they are at home:
Finding a place from its address in Tokyo can be difficult, even for locals.  The problem is twofold: first, addresses are given within a district rather than along a street (only major streets have names or numbers); and second, building numbers are not necessarily consecutive, as prior to the mid-1950s numbers were assigned by date of construction.  (Tokyo City Guide by Lonely Planet, 8th Edition)
On Sunday night, another visiting attorney and I made reservations at a restaurant we had found online.  We noted the address and provided it to our doorman, who instructed the cab driver in Japanese.  I watched the cab driver input the address into his GPS device, which he followed faithfully.  And, yet, we were delivered to a gas station.  The restaurant was nowhere in sight!

There was an Italian restaurant nearby that was able to seat us.  They had red wine.  All was not lost!

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