Author Topic: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun  (Read 8828 times)

Offline Dywert

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #45 on: September 10, 2015, 10:31:44 PM »
I think Shwarmabob just surpassed AJK/Mrs. AJK as my favorite writer on DDF!!!

Offline 3yummyboys

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #46 on: September 10, 2015, 11:11:04 PM »
Actually makes me feel like I shouldn't bother writing a TR bc it won't be nearly as entertaining !

Offline stbaum

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #47 on: September 11, 2015, 01:16:18 AM »

I think Shwarmabob just surpassed AJK/Mrs. AJK as my favorite writer on DDF!!!

Hmmmm maybe we should put this in the Best Of thread... That (Mrs AJK's Vancouver surprise) was damn funny
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Offline AJK

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #48 on: September 11, 2015, 12:01:19 PM »
I think Shwarmabob just surpassed AJK/Mrs. AJK as my favorite writer on DDF!!!

Settle down there, buddy, let's not go completely bonkers  ;D

But nice TR!
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Offline Dan

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #49 on: September 11, 2015, 12:47:30 PM »
I checked out the Art lounge and thought it was lame, but I didn't know it was kosher, so I just had the regular...
Funny that I've never heard it's kosher before this tr. Thanks for the info
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Offline shwarmabob

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #50 on: September 11, 2015, 01:05:02 PM »
Nice pictures shawarma! Yes sitting so long in Y is brutal, last I did was on etihad AUH-JFK.

I feel for you. Is that flight even longer? but the Etihad plane is probably nicer than our United bird was.

I just saw it on LoungeBuddy and decided to check it out. Knew nothing about it. Iirc the "teuda" is not prominently displayed (as in I didn't see it on my to the bar) nor was I informed. Both of which I don't blame them.

We had some of our GE interviews at EWR so I have been to this lounge twice before and never saw the teuda either. There is a small fridge next to the bar that had kosher sandwiches. I thought that that's all there is to it. This time around the fridge was empty so being hungry I asked the lounge lady if they are going to have any sandwiches before we have to leave. She said that yes they are bringing them out but the other things are kosher as well and showed me the Teuda that was face down on the fridge. This discovery greatly improved our experience.

The lounge was made for ElAl customers, IIRC.

Yes, but other airlines use it as well. I never saw another frum person there which may be the reason that the Teuda was face down. However, please check the Hechsher yourselves, don’t rely on me, maybe I need new glasses.

Actually makes me feel like I shouldn't bother writing a TR bc it won't be nearly as entertaining !

That would be a sad unintended consequence of this TR. If there are Shiv'im panim la-Torah then certainly there are Shiv'im panim la-TR. Everyone has a unique prospective and I very much enjoy reading other people’s TRs. Some may be more informative, some more entertaining, some more inspiring, some have beautiful pics and all of them give a welcome distraction from the mundane. So please write your TRs.

Any chance I can go on vacation with you next time? You sound like a barrel of laughs!! Thanks for the installment!

No problem! But I have to check with Mrs. Shwarmabob – she is armed to the teeth, waving those sharp objects in the kitchen again in prep for RH.

Offline shwarmabob

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #51 on: September 21, 2015, 06:55:30 PM »
We walk through customs and exit to the terminal. Nihon e yokoso – Welcome to Japan

Japan is still a cash country; credit cards are not widely accepted. Some places take it, but not as many as in the US/Europe. Furthermore, most ATMs don’t accept international ATM cards either, so things can get tough if you don’t plan ahead.

"Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time" wrote Amundsen, in The South Pole. I heed the advice of the Norwegian explorer and head to the ATM. Luckily, Seven Elevens in Japan not only serve Slurpee but their ATMs are connected to the international network, they work with our card and they are everywhere including the airport terminal. 711 is a lifesaver in Japan.

Now, poor Amundsen must have slipped up somewhere with the planning because after sailing through the Northeast Passage, reaching the South Pole on one trip and then the North Pole on another, he ended up disappearing while flying through the Arctic. But he was not the stay-at-home guy, and here he has something in common with our DDFers.

After visiting the ATM, we drag our suitcases to the JR station to buy and load our Suica cards. Think of the Suica card as a Metrocard but more useful. It is a contactless smart card that can be used for transportation in the Kanto and Kansai region. It can also be used as a prepaid electronic money card in convenience stores, train station lockers, vending machines. The caveat is that you can only add money to it at the JR train stations (in Kanto) as we will find out later.

As Mrs. Shwarmabob looks away for a moment, Shwarmabob Jr. decides to test if his Suica card and this technology really works and gets a soft drink at one of the vending machines. Luckily for him, Mrs. Shwarmabob seems too tired to give him the motherly speech about healthy alternatives for quenching his thirst this time.

The sinister vending machine


Narita International Airport is very inconveniently located 40 miles east of Tokyo. The other Tokyo airport, Haneda, is much closer to the city center. Luckily there are several transportation options to get into the city: the NEX, Keisei Skyliner, limousine bus, some of them even have WIFI onboard. They are all reasonable priced. Still when you multiply that reasonable $30-40 for our caravan of four, it adds up.

“A full purse is not as good as an empty one is bad” – the Yiddish saying goes – so I decide to take the Keisei Limited Express because it is about $20 cheaper per person and for $44 total it brings us into the city.

We keep gazing at the rice fields passing by the window and hold onto our suitcases that want to wonder away in the middle of the train car. At one of the suburban stop, a few young ladies get on the train wearing flowery summer kimonos. As they chatter between themselves, one of them pulls out the latest IPhone from a Prada bag. I notice Mrs. Shwarmabob’s bemused expression. We look at each other bewildered by the contrast between the old and the new, the coexistence between tradition and the modern and the search for the spiritual and obsession with the material.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #52 on: September 21, 2015, 07:03:43 PM »
It's continuing. Yay! Thanks for the post, looking forward to the rest.

Offline Ydad

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #53 on: September 21, 2015, 07:21:41 PM »
Only getting better and better... Thanx man!

Offline MosheD

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #54 on: September 21, 2015, 07:40:05 PM »



 look at each other bewildered by the contrast between the old and the new, the coexistence between tradition and the modern and the search for the spiritual and obsession with the material.

I might use that sometime. I think it's true in Judaism too...

Offline AharonInIsrael

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #55 on: September 25, 2015, 04:58:26 AM »
Thanks for the latest installment!

Offline shwarmabob

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #56 on: October 01, 2015, 02:05:39 PM »
We get off the train one & a quarter hour later and start out in search of our apartment. Our Airbnb host sent detailed directions, map and instructions in a pdf a couple days earlier. The apartment is a five minute walk to the metro station - ten minutes to Chabad, five minutes to King Falafel (run by the other Chabad rabbi).

Once we find our dwelling for the next four days, I remind everyone to leave their footwear at the entrance, the genkan, just as it was prescribed in the host’s directives. The apartment appears to be on the smaller side by American standards, but this is to be expected since we are in Japan. It seems that my gang was not aware of this and I am facing a small insurrection. There is not much walking space left once we settle in with our suitcases. There are two rooms separated by a thin acrylic-glass sliding door that we mostly keep open to ensure that we don't break it in an ungainly moment. But there is a kitchen area with a two burner gas table, fridge, kumkum and other useful items. The kitchen is Japanese sized but it turns out to be a life saver as we soon find out.

It’s still the wee hours of the evening and we decide to go out despite being exhausted. The weather is hot and humid but the walk to King Falafel is only five minutes. We find a menorah displayed but the storefront is closed. As the kids are snapping pictures, I notice the sign on the storefront. It says that King Falafel is closed for vacation. It will reopen on the day we depart from Tokyo. Bummer!



It's too early to retire for the night. Ginza is on the typical Tokyo must-see list and it is only four metro stops away. Let’s head to Ginza!

Ginza was a swamp land, then a silver-coin mint in the past. Ginza means "silver mint" in Japanese. Today it is a famous upscale shopping district of Tokyo with Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel and Apple stores lining its main street. Onkuken kost nisht kein gelt – Zeidi used to say. Window shopping doesn't cost money, but I have to make sure that Onkuken remains just that – looking.

There are fancy restaurants with plastic replicas of their menus displayed in the window. We see well-dressed middle-age couples on dates. Groups of suited business men bow simultaneously in a circle as they bid goodnight to one another. American department stores carry better quality and more expensive tznius clothing here than back home – the Shwarmabob ladies observe. After our Ginza stroll we head back to our apartment where we hit the sack. Oyasuminasaia, that’s Buenas noches in the vernacular. We never managed to get the proper pronunciation on this one.







My body clock definitely needs adjusting. After waking up at 4 AM, I toss and turn for an hour, then manage to fall back to sleep. Mrs. Shwarmabob wakes up the family in panic – We overslept!! It’s already nine o’clock, we gotto jump up and start going!

I manage to open one eyelid, find my cell phone and check the time. Yes, it is 9AM somewhere in the world but not in Tokyo. It is only 5AM here. It seems that her cell phone did not get set properly. I thank my Bashert for her well intentioned wake-up call and the Android engineers and try to go back to sleep again. However, now the entire family is tossing and turning and "Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep"  - the slumber never arrives.

Time to rise and say our prayers. I try to get Shwarmabob Jr. to join me, but getting a teen out of bed ain’t an easy task. We still have to work on that “rise like a lion” part. "Awake my soul, awake harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn." Tehillim 57:9

Offline AharonInIsrael

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #57 on: October 01, 2015, 03:34:23 PM »
Haha, great stuff!

Offline shwarmabob

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #58 on: October 02, 2015, 03:06:52 PM »
When you have a jet-leg, the best place to start your day is Tsukiji Fish Market. Tsukiji is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Its history goes back to the 16th century, the beginning of the Edo period. Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun and founder of Edo as Tokyo was known at the time, invited fishermen settle here and supply seafood to Edo Castle. The fishermen purveyed fish to the Castle and sold the remains near the Nihonbashi Bridge. This is the origin of Tsukiji. A few earthquakes, fires, wars, and four hundred years later it is still thriving.

If you like to visit markets and you are not too squeamish at the site of seafood then you should visit Tsukiji. And do it soon because Tsukiji Fish Market won’t be here for long. The market is slated to move to a new site in November 2016 – and certainly sometime before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – which means you don’t have much time left to visit. The new market will surely be a modern marvel, but more than likely it will be closed to tourists.

After battling through the morning rush hour, we arrive to the market at 8:30AM. The famous tuna auction is long over. If you want to see the tuna auction you need to arrive by 4AM, stand in line for the 120 free tickets given out to visitors. The auction for the tuna shipped in from all over the world starts at 5AM. These fish are large and so is their price tag. They can go anywhere from $40.000 to 1.25 million dollars. Once the fish is sold at auction, it is carted away by the middlemen. They carry the goods they have bought to their own stalls and lay them out so that caterers and restaurateurs can buy them easily. The market is busy with workers, forklifts and small vehicles moving about. If you visit, make sure you stay safe and do not hamper, obstruct, impede, inhibit or annoy the fishmongers in any way.

The welcome signs:





Offline shwarmabob

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Re: Shwarmabob's adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun
« Reply #59 on: October 02, 2015, 03:21:27 PM »
There are no Gefiltes here but plenty of other Geshmake fish. Pick you favorites for supper:

tokyo-18 by Shwarma Bob, on Flickr

tokyo-20 by Shwarma Bob, on Flickr

tokyo-21 by Shwarma Bob, on Flickr

tokyo-22 by Shwarma Bob, on Flickr

tokyo-23 by Shwarma Bob, on Flickr

tokyo-26 by Shwarma Bob, on Flickr

tokyo-31 by Shwarma Bob, on Flickr

tokyo-32 by Shwarma Bob, on Flickr

tokyo-33 by Shwarma Bob, on Flickr

tokyo-34 by Shwarma Bob, on Flickr

tokyo-35 by Shwarma Bob, on Flickr