Seattle And Tokyo Are Practically Sister Cities

At first pass, Tokyo and Seattle seem like polar opposites.  I mean, where in the Pacific Northwest can you grab a healthy onigiri (triangular rice ball frequently wrapped in seaweed and filled with fish or pickled vegetable) on your way to work at a 7-11? Or when was the last time the majority of the rush hour crowd was clad in suit and tie?

But during this most recent visit, here are things about Tokyo that reminded me of Seattle:

1) Bike talk -  A serious conversation about knife buying in the restaurant equipment district of Kappabashi somehow shifts into a fervent discussion about bikes, where the owner whisks us away to his house four blocks down a narrow alley to show us his bicycle collection.

A few differences, though:

  • Did you know riding a tandem is illegal in Tokyo?
  • Cyclists can ride on the sidewalk and frequently do.

Knife shop owner showing us how to ride his recumbent from Denmark

2) Fashion removes any language or cultural barriers.  In this case, nails.  I met Yumi at a bunny cafe in the funky neighborhood of Harajuku.   At first, there is a polite quietness between the two us, until she compliments me on my bright green nail polish.  This immediately leads to a barrage of easy conversation between us ranging from Japanese pop culture to a quick Japanese language lesson.

Hangin' out with my new buddy Yumi

Yumi pulling up some nail designs on her phone to illustrate the awesomeness of nail parlors in Tokyo

3) The small, artisan food movement is alive and well.  At Coco Donut, an artisan donut shop in the trendy Aoyama district (my favorite shopping for small boutiques), the staff, passionate about what they do, only makes up to 100 donuts per day.  They meticulously use a mixture of Hokkaido flour and soy milk and patiently wait for the yeast to rise.

The entire production crew all agree it is the best donuts we have ever consumed.

4)  Noodles, noodles, noodles:  Thick earthy meaty soba noodles, cold rice noodles, wheat ramen noodles.

Slurping earthy soba noodles at Kaoriya, located in a converted house in the Ebisu neighborhood

5) We all dig pancakes

Monja-yaki (flour-based pancake) pictured left next to an okinamiyaki (egg-based pancake) where you cook the pancakes at your table or in our case, have the wait staff show you the ropes

6) It can rain in the summer.  In Japan, umbrellas seem to prevail over Arc’teryx rain jackets, due to the heat and humidity.

In the beautiful town of Ginzan, home to hot springs

7) Love for seafood – Lots of sardines, salmon, tuna, roe and Japanese eel

Unagi (eel) nourishment in Asakusa before hitting up the famous kitchen equipment district of Kappabashi

8 ) Beard Love. One thing that is universal regardless of where I travel in the world- Women are drawn to a fluffy long beard.

The ladies at Coco Donut dig this dude's beard


9) Helmet, Guns n Roses, Ramones, and the Eurythmics are alive and well

Finally found a bar in Tokyo to rival my favorite drinking hole in Seattle. Mother is a hole-in-the wall character-filled rock bar in Shinjuku. Seating capacity: 12

10) Ichiro fans in the hizzie

Young Ichiro fans in the subway tunnel

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4 Responses to “Seattle And Tokyo Are Practically Sister Cities”

  1. July 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Sounds like you are having a blast!

    • Roll with Jen
      July 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      Such a cool city for food and people watching. You are right! It was hard to come back.

  2. December 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    One other thing that reminds meow Seattle — mt fuji = mt rainier. Both loom beautifully over the city, but fog can often mean they are hidden. Love all your tips on this trip btw! Happy new year.

  3. December 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    Uhm btw, meow = me off — damn you iPad auto-correct!

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