My husband Alan was in Tokyo six days before the devastating earthquake struck. It was his first time in Japan and he went to attend an energy conference. Apart from spending countless hours in meetings and touring the trade show, he tried his best to get a feel for the country. He had only seven days--technically seven working days--but he made daily use of the subway, experienced some extraordinary meals, and interacted with a number of locals. He was surprised by how friendly and affordable the city is.
He stopped in a small cafe one morning for, what else?, a cup of tea. The Japanese woman running the shop guessed that he was French and encouraged him to try the homemade Madeleines. A little later when Alan began to head out into the rain, she insisted that he take her umbrella. And keep it.
Initially when he said he had the opportunity to visit Tokyo, I enthusiastically encouraged Alan to go. I don't know very much about the Japanese culture, but I have always been enchanted by a sort of ethereal elegance that I associate with all things Japanese, including the food. I said I would trade places with him in a second.
It feels slightly inappropriate to write about Japan in any other context than what has happened there and the enormous suffering millions of people are encountering. And yet I write this as a minuscule and humble ode to Japan and its people. One day I will make it to your remarkable country.
So...I ransacked Alan's photos from his trip for images of the amazing food he described. Since his meals out were usually late at night and in restaurants with mood lighting, the few pictures he took were not a success. But in with what seemed like hundreds of technical photos of items from the trade show were these: