Quinn + Tonik Vol. 83: The Land Of The Rising Sun
First published to our newsletter recipients on May 6, 2019
You may have read that a matter of immense constitutional import has been brewing in Japan for some time. And came to a conclusion a few days ago.
Since 660AD one continuous hereditary line has been at the pinnacle of Japanese society. First as a godhead. And following WWII as the head of state. And that position was passed again from father to son as Emperor Akihito retired by abdication last week. A new era began with the elevation of his son, Emperor Naruhito, to the seat of the Chrysanthemum Throne
. Akihito was the first Emperor in more than 200 years to abdicate, and his son, Naruhito the 126th Emperor.
It can hardly be surprising that the oldest monarchy on the planet for a long time looked upon the outside world as barbarians with no manners, etiquette, or culture.
Japan is a place of contradictions. A visit there a trip sumultaneously a visit into the past, and the future. Blade Runneresque. With the finest food, booze, and service anywhere on the planet. Omotenashi being ingrained in the culture just as much as Bushido.
So here are some thoughts on Japan.
Read from the bottom up, and sit down in that comfy chair.
just in: woven marvels for your neck
watch: our japan list
Not every Japanese movie is an ode to Samurai, Shoguns, and Yakuza. Here are some of our favourites. From classic Kurosawa, to more light hearted fayre which will make you chuckle and give a little insight into Japanese culture beyond the way of the sword. We had to throw Ronin in there also. Just for good measure.
Some are not available to stream so will require a little extra loot, or extra digging. But all are worth it.
gentleman rogue's code: the smoking skull
The Samurai families had chops. Just as aristocracies and monarchies had theirs. Ours is the smoking skull. And you can join our club of Gentleman Rogues by acquiring one here.
fine dining: tokyo treats
Rare is the occasion that rises to the challenge. Or the friend. Or the cocktail. Or the meal.
And even rarer the one that proclaims itself in advance. Most would call this arrogance. Or hubris. But very, very occasionally it turns out to be humble pride in an almost incredible attention to detail. The thing legends are borne of. And lunchtime stories.
It is not for nothing we have been spreading the buzz about "the buzz". Or as it is in French, "L'Effervescence" in Tokyo.
Only to our most beloved foodie friends you understand. Those who will appreciate the finesse that can make you wet your pants over a humble turnip. And salivate over a McDonalds Apple Pie.
It should be said, we had been introduced by two intersections of a very interesting and disparate Venn diagram. One a noted chef who trained and practiced in 2* and 3* Michelin kitchens for 18 or more years before opening his own place in Sonoma, California (Single Thread). The other, a friend who was in a school heavy metal band playing covers of Metallica. Both had crossed paths with the man with a name, Namae-San, the man with a name behind the buzz. And both had assisted in helping arrange two seats for two humble foodies.
Every meal at this level demands at least one ethereal food item. In a twelve course tasting menu here eleven made the grade. Which is a bold statement from a dineguy who rarely found even one at New York's Eleven Madison Park. Oh the irony.
A blow by blow would simply reduce the writer's dopamine receptors to mush. So we will pass. But we must also note that what made the experience and the three stars we expect Michelin to award sooner rather than later was the triumvirate of sensory assault.
For not only was the food beyond compare both in terms of its inventiveness and execution, but the service was impeccably witty and educational, while the wine and sake pairings over twelve courses were both a delight to the palate and an education in and of themselves. Did it all fit together? Like the roundest peg in the roundest hole you have ever felt.
Should you go? Of course not. For if you do we will not be able to visit again.
Bushido: The Warrior Code is, in essence, the way of the Samurai. A code of chivalry to live and die by. Epitomized by the story of the 47 Ronin
. In our opinion an essential text in the same category and with equal gravitas to Sun Tzu's, "The Art of War" or Machiavelli's, "The Prince."
Light reading it isn't. But soulfood it is...
drink: the best damned beer on the planet
Beer is beer. And frankly to spirits drinker, or a wine drinker, it is often seen as a lesser choice. That may have been the case during the ups and downs of mass marketing of tasteless watery alcohol infusions in cans. But has certainly improved of late with micro breweries popping up like mushrooms. Taking care to make a quality product, with unique flavor, with quality ingredients.
But even with all that, our favourite beer in the world has to come from the Japanese beer machines. Extremely rare to find in the USA, they are programmed to produce the perfect draft. Complete with the creamiest head you will ever indulge in. It literally tastes nothing like any other draft beer experience.
And is perfect with some Yakitori, Ramen, Sushi, or any other choice of Japanese food you would care to consume.