Farewell Surprise


This blog entry about the events of Wednesday, October 06, 2004 was originally posted on October 12, 2004.

DAY 354:  Whispers were going back and forth between Hiroshi and Liz.  They wanted to take me out for dinner for my last night in Japan, but they wanted the location to be a surprise. 

Maybe it’s sushi.  Maybe it’s yakitori.  Or maybe it’s something cool that I don’t even know about. 

I saw them come to a consensus.  “We’re going to give you a taste of home,” was Liz’s only clue.

McDonald’s?  Starbucks?  Oh wait, are we going to that Denny’s down the road?  Surely it can’t be Denny’s.  Right?

LUNCHTIME WAS A FAMILIAR TASTE when Hiroshi took me out to the nearby Osaki New Centre, a complex of shops and restaurants catering to the business lunchtime crowd.  “What time do people go to lunch in the States?” Hiroshi asked me.

“Around one,” I answered.”  Or twelve, or two; it really depends on the person and the company.”

“At twelve they all march in big groups here.”

We followed the dark-suited platoon to the restaurants and sat at a tonkatsu place, serving breaded and fried cuts of chicken, beef and shrimp with a side of miso soup and rice. 

Although I’ve had tonkatsu back in the States, I cut it off the list of possible dinner places figuring we wouldn’t have it twice in the same day.

THAT FINAL AFTERNOON IN TOKYO I simply ran errands.  I finalized my flight with Tandin at Hit Travel, who had suggested I fly to Bangkok and then arrange my onward flights from there since it would be cheaper.  He too was envious of my travels and gave me the spare 200 Indian rupees in his wallet (for beer).  I went back to the Indian embassy and picked up my passport with a brand spanking new Indian visa inside.

Hiroshi, Liz and I regrouped back at the Gotunda JR station for my farewell dinner at the secret location they had decided on that morning.  I was exciting to see where that was, but it turned out that the “taste from home” plan had been scrapped because the place was booked solid — it was an oyster bar in the fashion of New York’s famous Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. 

Instead we went out to a recommended fancy restaurant serving nabe, the “hot pot” dish where a brothy stew is prepared for you in the center of your table — we opted for the fish one.  Nabe was nothing new, but there was still a surprise that night, and it came in the form of the sashimi appetizer (picture above). 

“It’s horse,” Liz informed me. 

That’s right, horse meat — but raw nonetheless.  It resembled fine cuts of lean beef at the butcher chop.

“And that’s whale,” she continued.  “You can’t get that anywhere else, except for maybe Norway.”

Raw horse and raw whale.  Yup, it was a long way from Denny’s.  Both kinds of sashimi were excellent — horse, like beef served really really rare (right from your grocer’s freezer); whale like a cross between tuna and yellowtail sashimi.  Both went well with soy sauce and crushed ginger.

“The first time I had it, [I gagged,]” Liz told me, eating a piece of Mr. Ed’s cousin.  She had come a long way in her culinary courage since her arrival in Japan five years ago; she didn’t even really mind the fish heads staring back at her from the ingredients plate of the nabe or in the bowls in front of us.  (Usually she has the heads cut off at the fish market.)  Either that or she was just tipsy off the sake — I don’t remember how many shots there were after that first farewell toast

EARLY THE NEXT MORNING, Liz and Hiroshi saw me off at the train platform when I made way to get to the express train to Narita International Airport.

“Thanks for everything,” I said, shaking Hiroshi’s hand.

“Thanks Liz,” I said after giving her a big goodbye hug — but she knew as much as I did that it was only a goodbye in the physical world and most likely before the end of the day we’d be back in contact in the virtual world of The Blog. 

“I’ll just speak to you on The Blog,” she said with a smirk.

The doors shut and the train slowly moved away from the station.  My last memory of Liz and Hiroshi was them waving goodbye from behind the glass.

And so ended my stay in Japan, a country I hadn’t planned on visiting when I started the trip the year before.  I really have to thank Hiroshi and especially Liz for the invitation, hospitality, advice and of course, the horse meat.

Next entry: One Writes in Bangkok

Previous entry: The Critters of Miyajima

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Comments for “Farewell Surprise”

  • GREETINGS FROM NAMCHE BAZAR, NEPAL…  It’s a town nestled in the Himalayas in the shadows of Mt. Everest.  Of course, there is internet access here.

    This is the last internet point en route to Everest Base Camp (EBC); but I wanted to have these last two Japanese entries up to give closure on the Japan before starting up again with Nepali tales…

    I won’t necessarily be NIZ for entirely two weeks; Namche Bazar is my acclimization base for the next two nights, plus it’s on the way back down from EBC—but I doubt I’ll be online for my b-day and the TGT One Year Anniversary on October 20th…  You’ll all have to celebrate without me!

    Anyway, more to come, as always…  Stay tuned!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/12  at  01:34 PM

  • Looking foward to hearing about it. Have a great time!!!


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/12  at  02:40 PM

  • Rose - the backpack pic is for you!

    That horse meat was good smile  And I didn’t have visions of Willy staring at me with one big sad eye after eating the whale this time either.  (First time I ate it, I was traumatized for like a week)

    Posted by Liz  on  10/12  at  04:14 PM

  • yummmm, horse meat! 

    And FISH HEADS! were they rollie or pollie?

    N smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/12  at  06:19 PM

  • Another great series in the Trinidad Show. Just in case “Happy 30th & 1 Year anniversary !” see ya’ when you get back down to Earth ...

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/12  at  06:24 PM

  • Oh wow - there is honestly no way I could eat either of those things, provided I knew about it. But, I justs can’t fathom either of them… Kudos to you, I guess, for doing it! :/

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/12  at  06:26 PM

  • yes…old school lines!....5 days until the 30th bday, 7 days until the One Year Celebration of The Global Trip 2!!

    i shall toast to that!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/12  at  06:33 PM

  • HAPPY 30th!!! and Happy 1 year anniversary

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/12  at  06:40 PM

  • Happy 30th Birthday & Happy 1st Anniversary of the Global Trip!!!  So looking forward to the next leg of your journey!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/12  at  06:42 PM

  • HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY and 1st YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!!! i hope you get to celebrate it the way you wanted to and get really drunk. and make sure to get more ass shots from that. =P

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/12  at  06:53 PM

  • Wait?! aren’t you 30 on the 18th??? man has it been a year! it was just like yesterday i flew into NYC for the occasion *sigh* *tear* good times!!!!
    N smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/12  at  07:56 PM

  • Welcome to your 30s Erik!  Be careful on your hike.  (Are you going to show us a picture of your puke?  haha!)  Horse and Whale meat - wow!  I guess after you eat dog, you can eat almost anything.  Good for you.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/12  at  09:14 PM

  • Happy Birthday to you!
    Happy Birthday to you!
    Happy Birthday dear Erik,
    Happy Birthday TO YOUUUUUUUUU!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  05:23 AM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
One Writes in Bangkok

Previous entry:
The Critters of Miyajima


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

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