27 November 2006
Day off, Tokyo.
I took a nap after breakfast to make up for the 4.30am arrival, then when I woke up (noonish) I wandered out into the local neighbourhood in search of lunch. I found a rather stylish, small sushi bar so popped in for a look. The waitress handed me the menu card with not a syllable of English on it, so I smiled and said sushi?. She was all bows and said sushi set-o?, which sounded just the ticket. I showed her a credit card & she nodded again (I couldnt see any prices, so wanted to make sure I wouldn't be left high & dry.) After a warm up of tea, pickles, then miso soup, a plate of sushi arrived which was absolutely delicious. I'm a big fan of sushi. Living in London you can get passable sushi at a price, but it remains one of the things I miss most about San Francisco. This sushi, however, was in a different league altogether so I can see myself making this a habit.
The bill arrived and it was Y950. I was amazed as I thought there were about 100 yen to the US dollar, so checked online when I got back to the hotel, where I found out that its currently even less than that. My little spread cost just £4.25 all in (about eight bucks.) Consequently, I'm now deeply confused about Tokyo pricing. I just checked my hotel room mini-bar as a reference point and found that a miniature of Bombay Saphire costs Y1250 (ten bucks.) A bowl of cornflakes on room service costs Y945 (plus tip, plus10% delivery charge) and a bottle of 1995 Dom Perignon weighs in at a mighty Y84,000, or about four hundred quid. I'm left feeling rather chuffed with myself for having eked out such a killer sushi bargain. Mind you, I could easily have eaten that lunch twice over, (or very possibly three times for dinner,) but my surplus of manners and total lack of vocabulary prevented me from doing so today. I may work up to it tomorrow.
Around 4pm a few of us gathered to do a reccess of the TV Asahi studios (conveniently located next door to the hotel) as U2 are due to appear on a TV show there on Friday. The idea is for the band to perform on the roof against the night skyline of the city, which seems like a promising idea. The details were somewhat controversial though, as the TV people had one view of how we should go about it - which included the band playing on top of a nine metre high scaffold tower - and we had quite another. We spent an hour or so arguing very politely through interpreters, chipping away and getting towards our goal. I sense this will go on for some days.
We were amused to hear the story of the TV Asahi logo. Apparently they hired the UK band Underworld (or more possibly their graphic design alter-ego Tomato) to come over and design them a new brand image. Underworld decided that it wasnt about a logo, but it was about a stick. So now wherever you see the words tv asahi right next to it there has to be a little graphic line representing this stick. The stick can be pretty much anywhere, any size and any colour, as long as its close to the words. We amused ourselves, imagining the Underworld guys before going into the meeting ('youre not seriously going to pitch the stick idea?', 'ah come on, theyll love it!', 'no, really theyll think were taking the piss', 'ah come on, lets give it a go' etc., etc.,). Then imagining them in the cab on the way back to the airport rolling around in tears ('can you believe they actually went for the stick?', 'They went for the f---ing stick!!!', 'genius. get a round in someone'. Fair play guys.