I arrived in Amami still jet lagged and confused on where to go. My phone wasn't working. I had no place to stay. No English translations to rely on. No idea which bus to catch (there are no trains in Amami).
I've never missed a flight before in my life, but this time was different. Not only did I miss my return flight from Tokyo to NYC, but I woke up after my flight had left. That's what I get for having an izakaya crawl the night before a 6:50am departure. Missing a flight is never a good thing, but hoping to make the most of it I had one more night in Tokyo, which many would agree is the top culinary city in the world.
Omoide Yokocho, or Piss Alley, in Shinjuku, Tokyo, is a narrow series of pedestrian streets full of tiny izakayas (taverns). Having stayed in Shinjuku on my first visit to Tokyo, I had no idea this place existed - and less than 5 minutes walk from my hotel. Few of the izakayas have tables with most content to have patrons sit on stools along the bar, which serves as both a bar and an open kitchen. Even fewer of these places have doors.
While this past summer's shochu tour was a deep education into the production and culture surrounding shochu in the Prefectures around Kyushu, this winter's trip to Tokyo was a crash course in the depth and breadth of izakaya culture in Japan's largest city.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi by David Gelb, released by Magnolia Pictures, is the kind of movie that comes along only once every few years. A gem so touching and so real that it sticks with you long after you've left the theater. It's the first movie I've seen on opening day since Kill Bill, Vol 1 in 2003. And that's saying something, because I love movies.