JAmerica! “36 American Muffin”

It’s weird to think of America as someplace ‘exotic’ but that’s exactly how the Japanese feel about our country. Someplace far away, strange and different. Just like phrases like sushi or hibachi seem different too us so does something as simple or (dare I say) mundane as muffins. Not just any muffins, Mrs. Elizabeth Muffins. Very English sounding. WEIRD!


I am so tickled every time I find something English or American presented to a Japanese audience as ‘exotic’ so I had to stop in and check out their selection. I must stay they had an impressive variety! Maybe I’m weird but I find the misspellings and grammar mistakes very endearing form of replication. “36 Kinds of American Muffin” of course muffin in this context should be plural form of ‘Muffins’ since they are referring to 36 kinds of them but who’s counting! Definitely not the most egregious of poor English in otherwise upscale establishments.

I come to suspect that the owners of such establishments surely know English well enough to recognize the grammar or spelling errors but they know their audience better and consciously choose to use simplified grammar or spelling to make it easier for their intended audience. I’m sure we do the same thing in ‘exotic’ America.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Snacking around Tsukiji

Tsukiji is literally surrounded by side streets full of did vendors settling tasty seafood snacks to tourists. Once you leave the fish market area you’ll see a wave of sushi sit down places followed by streets with tiny little shops everywhere selling everything from knick knacks to knife sets to samurai swords (for tuna slicing of course!). Outside these shops you’ll find tons of street food. Most of them are small bites made from fresh catch acquired that morning and prepared on make shift portable grills.


two guys

yummy snack


Must See Tokyo: Tsukiji Fish Market

After breakfast at Sushidai, exploring the grounds of the fish market is a must!


There is aisle after aisle of work benches, containers, and stacks of boxes, crates empty or full of the day’s cargo.

It can all be a bit overwhelming but if you’re a seafood fan or just appreciate the colorful flora and fauna of our oceans it’s pretty exciting seeing all the sights! It gives me a bit of a feeling of being in a Muggle version of Diagon Alley.

Be mindful as you traverse the narrow corridors, the workers are well trained but some wield huge samurai swords that they use to carve the larger of the catch of the day.


“Help! There’s been some sort of mistake!”


In case you can’t figure out what something is there are often helpful visual aids. If your Japanese is a bit rusty, it’s pretty easy to tell these are some sort of fish eyes!

My last bit of advice?


Watch out for trucks!

Must See Tokyo: The Imperial Palace

Flights were relatively inexpensive on United in March so even though we would be too early for rose blossoms we decided to go then. The temperature for the entire trip was cool but nothing where you would need more than a light jacket.

Our first stop was Tokyo and thus we had to go to the Japanese equivalent of the white house, right? As much as I thought the White House has become less and less accessible over the years with all the fences, gates and barriers being erected it pales in comparison to the Imperial Palace.


While beautiful and serene in its own right, the moat and fifty foot stone walls would make it a challenge to gain unapproved entry without befalling some embarrassing or life threatening calamity.

Unlike the White House which is the seat of our executive branch of government in the United States in addition to being a residence to our President and his family. The Imperial Palace is just a residence for the royal family. I think this fact makes a huge difference, whereas at the White House you can tell there is a flurry of activity with people coming and going on official business here at the Imperial Palace there is a quiet, somber sort of mood with little activity outside of the tourists enjoying the beauty of the grounds and snapping pictures of the historic structures. In fact, the only residents that I saw were these two Swans making the rounds in the moat.


The grounds are truly beautiful, with stone arched bridges connecting the inner cloister with the outside, large open fields and lush landscaping. Even though the grass was a bit yellow from winter, it was a sight to behold!

Another amazing discovery was how close in proximity to the city. As immersive as your stroll is through the grounds into the rich garden landscape you are literally a few steps a way to a busy street and a subway stop. It almost reminds me of the pyramids of Giza in that you expect them to be in some remote location standing in their own glory not knee deep in humanity but it turns out this is not the case. From a practical perspective, a palace such as this needs to be in a population center. Back in the day, mainly to ensure a steady supply of labor and material to support day-to-day operations.

Westin Tokyo Ebisu

View from my room…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The lobby…


Parking garage beneath…

Rooms are very ornate…almost Victorian…

breakfast is fantastic on the first floor by the lobby…free if you are SPG Platnium…

Executive lounge…but don’t dare bring a friend…

Close to the train…