Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown – Japan (Okinawa)

The current CNN incarnation of Anthony Bourdain’s food and travel show is now in it’s sixth season and for the third episode the witty, sarcastic and profanity-using American chef/TV personality returned to Japan. However, this time the destination was Okinawa; the most southerly prefecture which has somewhat surprisingly featured very little when it comes to the likes of American and British TV shows featuring Japan.

Bourdain is no stranger to these shores having visited many times over the years on previous shows like ‘A Cook’s Tour‘ and ‘No Reservations‘ but this was the first time he’s ventured as far south as these few dozen small islands that lie 400 miles south of mainland Japan. This episode aired on CNN this Sunday just gone (Oct 11th) with Okinawa following on from episodes on Cuba and Marseilles. The remainder of the season will continue on to Ethiopia, San Francisco Bay Area, Borneo, Istanbul and Charleston is South Carolina.

You can watch the episode here

Most of the content in this programme was new to me as I have only ever visited some of the prefectures smaller islands rather than staying on the main island. It is no real surprise to hear that it is more laid-back, less frenetic self-serious attitude of the mainland. First up was a spot of tōgyū (bull sumo) which sees the heavy animals fighting against each other rather than versus a human and dates back to the 17th century. Like watching any other sport in Japan, there is a range of food on sale at the arena and Bourdain enjoys yakisoba (wheat flour noodles) whilst watching this native spectator sport.

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Back To The Future Event At HollyCon 5 In Tokyo

Great Scott! HollyCon Tokyo 5 took place recently and Tokyo Fox was lucky enough to be invited to the Grand Palace Hotel in Iidabashi for Tokyo’s version of San Diego ComicCon. This years event was very heavy on ‘Back To The Future‘ stuff which was rather apt given that it’s 30 years since the original was released and of course 2015 is “the future” that they visit in ‘Back To The Future Part II’ (1989).

Special guests were the legendary Christopher Lloyd a.k.a. Dr Emmett Brown and Claudia Wells, who played Marty McFly’s girlfriend Jennifer Parker in the original 1985 movie. She didn’t return for the sequels with Elizabeth Shue taking the role not that I even realised this for many, many years!

About 100 of us were ushered into the Diamond Room in ticket number order (I was #70) where there was a clock tower set prop on one side and some seats were laid out for us either side of a red carpet running down the middle of the room. Many of the people in attendance chose to stand behind the seating areas to get a better view of the special guests when they entered. I was getting very excited but there were a few false-starts as the first person to enter through the smoke machine and walk down the red carpet was the Japanese MC who came out dressed as Marty McFly and we had to subsequently do some silly group chant shouting ni-sen-jyu-go (2015) and punching the air.

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Leicester City Shop In Bangkok Airport Pt II

In a country where local kids and adults alike often wear the shirts (usually fake ones!) of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal shirts, it is a mystery to many why Leicester City has it’s very own section in a couple of Suvarnabhumi Airport’s sports shops in Thailand.

The reasons for that were explained in last years blog when I wrote about my frustration at not going through Bangkok’s main Airport despite having been in transit in Thailand’s capital city a fair few times. Even though I didn’t manage to visit, I still cobbled together an article using pictures sent by mates who have passed through the airport and been bemused as to why there was Foxes merchandise everywhere!

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On The Trail Of John Rain (雨) Part IX

Naturally John Rain is the main star of the Rain series of books and not surprisingly he has a string of allies and an even longer list of enemies. To date, the author Barry Eisler has released four short stories (via download only) featuring a selection of these characters and ‘The Khmer Kill‘ (2012) follows his closest ally Dox in Cambodia.

Dox is a freelance assassin and former Marine Sniper with a Southern twang who first appeared in the 2005 third Rain novel ‘Rain Storm‘ (now retitled as ‘Winner Takes All‘) proving himself an able and trustworthy partner for Rain and subsequently they have gone on to co-operate and even form a friendship in the Rain books which have followed. Continue reading

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Super Sunday Soccer In Saitama

There’s been a fair few sporting posts on Tokyo Fox recently and here is yet another one but this should be the last for a while! For the third consecutive weekend, and just two days after watching the Toray PPO tennis in Ariake, I decided to check another football ground off the list of relatively-close-to-home stadiums.

As a Leicester City fan, I’ve been no stranger to watching second tier football over the years though that’s thankfully changed in recent seasons. I’m not sure what the English equivalent of J2 would be but probably around the fourth tier. Who knows?!! For my seventh different stadium this season I dropped down to Japan’s second league and Omiya up in Saitama was my port of call. I met up with my friend Jack at Kita-Omiya station and walked on in the rare basking sunshine to Omiya Park; a vast area holding Hikawa Shrine, a zoo, a playground, a museum, a baseball stadium and also home to the Nack5 Stadium where the home team Omiya Ardija play their games.

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Moving Out 2015

The Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre will have a new home from October. Yes that’s right, it’s time to up sticks again and move on after 2.5 years in our current residence. For the last couple of weeks, my wife and I have been busy sorting through our stuff and boxing it up whilst trying to throw some of it away. Some of my things are still in boxes from when I last moved out in 2013!

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Tokyo Toray Pan Pacific Open 2015 Tennis Tournament

The tennis season may be considered as good as over to some but there is still a bit of tournament action taking place outside of the four Grand Slams. On the back of the U.S. Open it always seems like the Toray Pan Pacific and the Rakuten Open mens tournament (which follows in October) are a journey too far for many of the real big stars who decide to take a well-deserved break or are competing in other competitions such as the Davis Cup.

Think of tennis and images of players battling it out on a sun-drenched court at Wimbledon or Melbourne Park may come to mind. Fat chance of such glorious conditions in Tokyo these days where rain has dominated the weather for about a month now. Obviously, the roof of the Ariake Coliseum was closed and as is now customary  Tokyo Fox was in attendance.

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