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My plan for the main trip to Tokyo is finished

Daily Itinerary:
lunch: time - 11:30 or earliest restaurant opening hour if it opens later.
post lunch seightseeing/shopping: time - after lunch until mid day snack time.
mid day snack: time - 16:00 at Kanemasu - we might have to start queing at 15:00. I assume we will not need more than an hour to snack.
pre dinner seightseeing/shopping: time - afer mid day snack until dinner time.
dinner: time - 18:30 or earliest restauarnt opening hour if it opens later.
cocktail hour: time - after dinner - a cocktail or two, cigar/cognac or a single malt whisky will probably not require more than half an to an hour.
evening snack: time - 22:00 - I assume we will not need more than an hour or two to snack.
retire to hotel around midnight

Daily schedule description:
My plan is to skip breakfast to avoid that stomach fill and get up in time to have lunch around 11:30 or at the restaurants opening hour. Eeating lunch early is important to be able to manage all the food every day so that the schedule will not be too compact and too much food in too little time. After lunch I have no specific plans for the day until I would like to go to the Izakaya Kanemasu and line up for their opening hour at 16:00 the days they are open.. So the time between lunch and mid day snack at Kanemasu can be used for seightseeing/shopping. Kanemasu has no reservations and people line up early to get in. I plan to have a drink and some snacks every day at Kanemasu. My research has guided me to this Izakaya as the choice I want to make my regular Izakaya during my time in Tokyo. I want to make one Izakaya my regular hangout to make a good connection with the chef and be able to enjoy all his creativity. It was important to find one with great food, nice typical Japanese atmosphere and a nice sake/wine selection. After the Izakaya visit I have no specific plans until dinner, so that time could be used to more seightseeing/shopping.. Then I plan going for dinner at around 18:30 each day or at the restaurants opening hour if that is later. After dinner I hoped we could go relax a bit at a cocktail bar somewhere with a drink or alternatively go to enjoy a cigar with cognac or a single malt somewhere. I have made no plans that needs reservation for this post dinner drink so we will go with the flow on the day. After the drinks I would like to have a late night snack at around 22:00. At this hour I plan to go on Izakaya strolls around the city and sample also more of the local food types like soba, ramen, teryaki, tonkatsu, unagi, sukiyaki, shabu shabu etc. I have a long list of specific ingredients I would like to try and I will use Tabelog quite extensively to find small local and not expensive places where I can get what I am looking for. My lunch and dinners are for the restaurants on my list where I will need reservations made. Cultural aspects, tourist stuff, seightseeing and shopping can be arranged between lunch and Kanemasu or between Kanemasu and dinner.

Of course we can skip Kanemasu some days and instead focus on trying to realize some of the ingredients I want to try if the places I need to to experience that is not open during the late snack time I have planned. There will be a lot of days in Tokyo and I will not miss my daily Kanemasu fix if we should drop it some days and do something else. The Kanemasu opening hour is however very convinient between 16:00 and 19:00 for the mid day snack I plan, and their food service is supposedly fantasticly good. That is right up my alley. What I don't know is how their sake and wine selection is. Kanemasu is also closed every Sunday. So that is a day we have no plans between lunch and dinner where we also can fit in something else.

This is Kanemasu:
http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1313/A13130...
http://tokyofood.blog128.fc2.com/blog...

I will stay in Tokyo for 6 weeks. This restaurant list is one restaurant for lunch and dinner every day. I know I will not be able to get reservations at all of them. I have not listed replacement alternatives though. Instead I think that the spots on the schedule where we can't get the reservations I want will be a nice break in all the high end dining. At those times I will go with the flow and either have a meal at a local place I pass on my way or possibly not eat anything at all.

The reservation team handling the reservation work for me have been instructed to ask all the restaurants where I can't get a reservation for this trip if they can reserve a seat for a January trip instead. January is really as far ahead as I can currently plan with my current health situation. So I hope to round up those restaurants on a second trip where I will combine an as of yet uknown number of days in Tokyo with 5 days in Bangkok, 5 days in Hong Kong, 5 days in Shanghai, 5 days in Singapore and 5 days in New Dehli instead of going to Kyoto and Osaka like on this trip. Because of that I have skipped the Thai and Indian restaurants I originally had planned to visit in Tokyo on this trip.

Here is the restaurant list:

TOKYO LUNCH
Sense
Fook Lam Moon Marubiru
Hei Fung Terrace
Chugoku Hanten Fureika
Cuisine Michel Troisgros
Maison Paul Bocuse
Beige by Alain Ducasse
Aoyama Florilege
Esquisse
Apicius
La Tour D'Argent
L'Equateur
L'Atelier Joel Robuchon
Ristorante Aso
Nodaiwa
Katsuzen
Seryna Roppongi Honten
Hiyama
Ukai-tei Omotesando
Ginza Hirayama
Aragawa
Shima
Mikawa Zezankyo
Raku-tei
7chome Kyoboshi
Tempura Kondo
Shigeyoshi
Kurogi
Tsujitome
Seika Kobayashi
Seisoka
Ginza Okuda
Genydana Hamadaya
Aoyagi
Yonemura
Fukudaya Kioicho
Aoyama Esaki
Kikonoi Akasaka
Sushi Kyubey Ginza
Sushi Ichikawa
Sushi Mitani
Sushi Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten

TOKYO DINNER
Pierre Gagnaire
Quintessence
L'Effervescence
L'Osier
Joel Robuchon
Aronia de Takazawa
Les Creations De Narisawa
Ishikawa
Aroma Fresca
Prisma
Torishiki
Ginza Miyama
Kawamura
Tempura Uchitsu
Fugu Fukuji
Usukifugu Yamadaya
Tomura
Azabu Kadowaki
Ginza Okamoto
Kohaku
Morikawa
Jimbocho Den
Matsukawa
Azabu Yukimura
Ginza Koju
Nihonryori Kanda
Kitcho Tokyo Ginza Honten
Nihonryori Ryugin
Kyouaji
Sushi Kanesada
Sushi Ginza Harutaka
Sushi Umi
Sushi Sho Masa
Sushi Sho Saito
Sushi Sho
Sushi Yoshitake
Sushi Hashiguchi
Sushi Kanesaka Ginza
Sushi Sawada
Sushi Araki
Sushi Mizutani
Sushi Saito

I would also like to add that I will devide my stay between the Mandarin Oriental and the Shangri-La hotels. If anyone wants to meet the easiest way of hooking up would be to meet at Kanemasu or simply send me an e-mail at royovehagen@gmail.com. I would be very interested in meeting up with fellow foodies in Tokyo. I think that would make interesting conversation for both of us and we could share some drinks or snacks.

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  1. One additional thing to consider is language. Ordering in an izakaya without speaking Japanese will be difficult as most places do not necessarily have an English speaker on hand and the vast majority have nothing in the way of an english menu (and even if they do it's not likely to include seasonal specials). you will want to make sure Kanemasu has someone who speaks English. For lunches and dinners, courses can be pre-booked via concierge or fixers and there is no need for english on the part of the restaurant. This is much harder at izakayas and single dish restaurants.

    15 Replies
    1. re: tigerjohn

      I forgot to mention. I will have someone speaking Japanese with me all the time - even inside the restaurants and snack places.

      That is also the case in Kyoto and Osaka.

      1. re: Roysen

        That's excellent. It will significantly increase your enjoyment and make your plan to graze at izakayas feasible.

        1. re: tigerjohn

          My biggest concern right now is cash flow while in Japan. I have my doubts on credit cards. A lot of the restaurants don't accept credit cards and my experience when travelling in a country far away from home is that the credit cards issued in my country is not always accepted in the electronic credit card machines in the country I am visiting. So I would prefer to base all my payments on cash. That will also give me a much better control budgetwise.

          Secondly if I want to try to withdraw my daily need of cash from ATMs it will be a big problem because of daily limits on the card, weekly limits on the card and also limits in the ATMs.

          To bring with me the amount of cash I need on the airplane from home is not a possible solution. To bring that amount of cash through the customs would cause problems and the security risk involved in carrying all that cash around is something I could not live with.

          So how do I solve this?

          My first idea was to ask people here if you think it is possible for me (a foreginer) to open a bank account in a Tokyo bank. That way I could wire money from my bank account in my home country and then withdraw money from the Tokyo bank when I need it.

          The second idea would be to lets say open ten bank accounts at my local bank at home and order ATM cards on all those accounts before sprading the funds for the trip on those accounts. That way I can withdraw one small amount on each card every day while in Japan and by that avoid to exeed the limits on each card and on the ATM itself. That is not a very practical solution though. So I had hoped to avoid that.

          There are several expats on this forum. I assume you still have the passport and citizenship from your old country. I also assume you have not gotten a new passport or citizenship for Japan. I also assume you work in Japan and receive a salary. Do you receive a salary on a Japanse bank account and if so how did you go about arranging a bank account for you in a Japanse bank since you are a foreigner?

          BTW, are travellers checks still something which is in use at banks today? If so that could be a solution of course.

          1. re: Roysen

            Your credit cards, assuming there's nothing particularly unique about them, should work in Japan.

            ATM limits here are generally extremely high (I can withdraw up to 1000000 JPY/daily and that's not an unusual number) so it is just a matter of your bank's own limits, which you might want to discuss with them.

            1. re: Gargle

              OK, thanks. That is very good and valuable information.

              1. re: Roysen

                You also may want to note that most ATMs in Japan do not accept non-Japanese issued credit cards / bank cards for cash advances or withdrawals.

                The ATMs at the numerous 7-11 convenience stores are on international networks, however. As are the ATMs at all Japan Post Bank locations (basically inside all post office locations within Japan). Both have instructions available in English.

                1. re: Hiyodori

                  That would be my experience from other countries far away from home too. This is turning into a big problem for me.

              2. re: Gargle

                @gargle - That's a local bank account though. Using a foreign card in a PO or conbini ATM the expectation should probably be around 50000 yen (500USD) per day, if that, and assuming that the limit on his home country account's side is at least that high.

                @roysen - If you are not a resident you probably won't be able to open a bank account.

                Travelers checks may be your best option - although I haven't used them in years myself in any country, it is my understanding that they are still easily cashable at Narita, at some banks (try Citibank and Shinsei) and at some larger department stores.

                Putting safety concerns aside, which are less of a concern in Japan than any other country probably, bringing a few 1000USD equivalent in your luggage should not be an issue if you have documentation to prove your length of stay, there is no legal limit on cash importation. You probably aren't the kind of person who they are looking for when they look for smugglers and counterfeiters - they are looking for drugs and things to or from North Korea etc.

                My sense is that a combination of cash in your luggage, TC, credit cards and daily cash via ATMs (perhaps open a second account for a second ATM card) is your best overall solution. I'd probably go through your list and make some research or guesses as to which take CC and which do not.

                You will want to contact your credit card and bank companies to make sure they enable your cards for Japan. My experience with that has been mixed, and perhaps yours has too, but better to do it than not.

                Another option depending on how close you are with your fixers is to wire them money and then have them give it back to you in cash.

                1. re: kamiosaki

                  Thank you. I will need to plan this carefully and like you suggest a combination of several solution might be the best overall.

                  1. re: Roysen

                    Tried Citibank ATM at the airport (NRT AND HND) as well as the Ginza location, I can withdraw up to 200000 ( 200k yen) per withdrawal( the daily limit is much higher) using my foreign debit card ( with plus sign).

                    You should be fine as long as you have a credit card and bank debit card that contain plus sign. I never took cash with me to Japan for the last 12th trip and going again in October. FYI, I'm from Canada.

                    1. re: silverlim

                      That is good to know. Thank you so much!

                    2. re: Roysen

                      I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card and specifically called to request the regular cheapo plastic version to ensure that it's compatible everywhere. No foreign transaction fees and I get 2x points on dining so I plan to use it for all meals. So far, with the exception of one lunch reservation that we booked, every single restaurant takes plastic. The conceirge at our hotels have been forwarding me confirmations and it always indicates Visa/Mastercard accepted, so I don't see why that should be a problem. Re. cash flow in Japan, the easiest way to convert currency is just to bring your debit card and withdraw cash from Narita. I've read that you'll get a better rate (closer to market value) than through an exchange bureau or most US banks - though I know you're not in the US. I've also prepaid all hotel/ryokan charges on my Chase card (more travel points racked up) either directly with the properties or through my TA. I'll only be carrying cash for drinks/cocktails and daily activities here and there when required. Spending cash is always a poor value and considering how much you'll be spending on high end restaurants, I would look into getting a Chase or Barclay Arrival card because it sounds like you'll be able to book another trip immediately afterward on rewards alone, based on your itinerary.

                      1. re: OliverB

                        This problem has been solved and I am still going to have a cash only policy. I have had so many bad experiences in foreign countries where their electronic credit card machines don't accept the credit cards issued by banks in my country and there are no US or Japanese banks based in my country to help me with this.

                        The solution is to have a local bank account in Tokyo to transfer money to and then to go to the bank to make cash withdrawls on a regular basis.

                        1. re: OliverB

                          I use the regular heavy sapphire card all the time in Japan without issues.

                          Look into a Schwab checking account, no international atm or conversion fees.

                  2. re: Roysen

                    I'm behind on my chowhound reading, but this "problem" sounds extremely suspicious. If you go through a travel agency, you can pre-pay the hotels from your own country, and your fixer should be able to take care the other money problems with restaurants -- you pay him in one lump sum, maybe with an international money order. Or several international money orders. Or whatever *he* thinks is appropriate.

                    Another option is to go to the Japanese banks in your own country and ask them what you should do. They may have brilliant ideas for international businessmen.

            2. I also have another question for you guys who know the Japanese etiquette and norms. I don't know that side of Japanse culture very well. As I have written several times I am terminal with cancer. This Japan trip is the highlight of the time I have left. The highest whish I have is to dine at these restaurants. What I would like to know is if you guys think it would be appropriate to bring that issue up during reservation in hope that the person at the restauarnt receiving the call will be inclined to be more willing to give me a seat because of that. Over here in western Europe that kind of information and request would likely open up several doors for reservation at hard to book restaurnts. I am hoping that the same is the case in Japan. I do understand that it might be a delicate issue to bring it up and that it also might not actually be helpful to me in case the Japanese discretion makes such sharing of information inappropriate. My hope though is that the person at the restauarnt receiving the reservation request will be flattered and also softhearted to a person with a request for his last meal.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Roysen

                My guess is that most people answering the phone for your bookings will appear to be quite concerned about your condition and will make the appropriate noises. But the fact is that most of them won't believe you and may actually be prejudiced against you for saying something they do not believe to be true.

                And if they do believe you, I would hazard a number of places may turn you down as you pose a risk they would likely not want to take.

                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                  Thanks. It needs to be said that the reservtions will not be made by myself. A team of fixers will do it for me. I understand of course that if I did it myself it would be a good chance that the person answerering the phone in the restauarnt would not believe me and think it was just made up to try to work around the reservation system. I also hope that these fixers have contacts and know people inside the restauarnts which would make the trust issue a little bit easier to deal with. I of course also realize that how the restaurants will react to such information will be highly dependant on how it is presented.

                  I am however very concerned that if we do try to use such information to our advantage in the reservation process, it might backfire on us and lead to what you have suggested.

                  On the other hand I would want the restaurants to know how passionate I am about dining in their restaurant and hope that is of some value for me.

                  I of course also know that you guys on this forum would not know how another person would react to information like this. So the question is kind of moot, but a better question would be if you think that kind of information is something which is more rarely talked about than in western culture? Is it a subject which should be kept in silence because of Japanese ways?

                  So I am in two minds about this. Since the fixers handeling this for me are Japanese people, I will let them decide if it should be brought up on an individual restaurant basis.

              2. I forgot to add that since many of the restaurants on this list like Kyoaji, Matsukawa, Sushi Saito, Morikawa, Kawamura, Mitani, Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten, L'Osier, Quintessence and others are very hard reservations to get and might prove impossible without knowing a regular customer, I would be eternaly grateful for the opportunity to pay for the meal of a regular customer if he/she would find it in their heart to take me along as their company and make the actual reservation/introduction. I have made arrangements to pay for Japanese speaking company to come with me to most of the restaurants on the list anyway. For that I would need to pay for the meal of the company addtional to their time/translational services. The company of a fellow foodie would be infinetly more interesting to me so I would be prepared to pay the regular the same if a regular customer would provide the translations for me instead and of course for the meal. Maybe that sort of arrangement would be interesting to the regular customer too since we share a common interest in good food and fine dining. I would hope and think I might be interesting conversation and also possibly good friendship to such a person. I would of course return the favour to anyone who plan to come to Europe and wants to dine anywhere I might help. I would like to point out in the end that I do not want to bend any rules by suggesting this and fully respect the reservational systems as well as the request to be introduced by a regular from the restaurants. It is just that with my current health situation I would not be able to pick a place at the back of the reservation waiting list and still be sure that I will still be around when the time for my meal comes. I fully respect the Japanese ways, the need for discretion and their total respect for regular customers. It is just that my situation is highly unusual and because of that maybe the restaurant would be intereted in looking at a possibility for me dining there anyway. I hope both my passion for doing this as well as how I make this my number one priority of the remaining time of my life is a welcoming compliment to the restaurants. It certainly is meant like that. If you would like to contact me in regards to this or if I can help anyone with something please don't hesitate to contact me at royovehagen@gmail.com.

                1. I refuse to let provocations put me down. So I am going to continue my threads on the trip I have planned to Japan. The plan outlined in the OP of this opost is still valid except the restaurant list has been slightly changed. The work with booking restaurants will start next week. Then we will see how difficult this becomes. I will use the help of the Tokyofixer Shinji Nohara to do this. The upated restaurnt list is this. There will be no more changes now. We hope to convince some of these restaurnt owners/chefs to give us a reservation by showing up at their restaurnt for reservation with a copy of my medical journal proving my illness and explaing to them how important this trip is for me as the last which I have before it is all over. I am keeping my fingers crossed it will help.

                  Reviews will appear daily while I am on the ground in Japan.

                  TOKYO LUNCH
                  Sense
                  Fook Lam Moon Ginza
                  Hei Fung Terrace
                  Chugoku Hanten Fureika
                  Cuisine Michel Troisgros
                  Maison Paul Bocuse
                  Beige by Alain Ducasse
                  Aoyama Florilege
                  Esquisse
                  Apicius
                  La Tour D'Argent
                  L'Equateur
                  L'Atelier Joel Robuchon
                  Ristorante Aso
                  Aoyama Sitaara
                  Siam Heritage Tokyo
                  Sekine
                  Katsuzen
                  Imafuku
                  Yoshibashi
                  Ukai-tei Omotesando
                  Ginza Hirayama
                  Aragawa
                  Shima
                  7chome Kyoboshi
                  Tempura Kondo
                  Tempura Raku-tei
                  Tsujitome
                  Seika Kobayashi
                  Seisoka
                  Ginza Okuda
                  Genydana Hamadaya
                  Aoyagi
                  Sushi Kyubey Ginza
                  Sushi Ichikawa
                  Sushi Kanesaka Ginza
                  Sushi Mitani
                  Sushi Sawada
                  Sushi Araki
                  Sushi Mizutani
                  Sushi Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten
                  Sushi Saito

                  TOKYO DINNER
                  Pierre Gagnaire
                  Quintessence
                  L'Effervescence
                  L'Osier
                  Joel Robuchon
                  Aronia de Takazawa
                  Les Creations De Narisawa
                  Ishikawa
                  Aroma Fresca
                  Prisma
                  Torishiki
                  Ginza Miyama
                  Kawamura
                  Tempura Uchitsu
                  Fugu Fukuji
                  Usukifugu Yamadaya
                  Kurogi
                  Tomura
                  Azabu Kadowaki
                  Ginza Okamoto
                  Kohaku
                  Morikawa
                  Jimbocho Den
                  Yonemura
                  Fukudaya Kioicho
                  Aoyama Esaki
                  Matsukawa
                  Azabu Yukimura
                  Ginza Koju
                  Nihonryori Kanda
                  Kikonoi Akasaka
                  Kitcho Tokyo Ginza Honten
                  Nihonryori Ryugin
                  Kyouaji
                  Sushi Kanesada
                  Sushi Ginza Harutaka
                  Sushi Umi
                  Sushi Sho Masa
                  Sushi Sho Saito
                  Sushi Sho
                  Sushi Yoshitake
                  Sushi Hashiguchi

                  1. It seems my big dream of this trip to Japan came suddenly to a stop. Shinji Nohara seems to have pulled out again and there is no way for me to be able to organize this with anybody else in the short time until the trip now. So I guess I have to live without ever managing to realize this dream of mine.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Roysen

                      didn't he already arrange some reservations for you? You have those, now you can ask your hotel concierge to fill in whatever else s/he can. And for the ones you can't get, just wing it once you're there. You'll eat well no matter what and you'll likely get a better idea of what Japanese food and culture are really about than if you just ate at high end restaurants.

                      some are better than none, no?

                      1. re: prasantrin

                        He has made some reservations, but I have no idea if he has cancelled those again and if they are in his or my name. I don't see how I can use them for myself.

                        Actually it is kind of an all or nothing deal with me and this Japan trip. The reason being related to my illness and the fact that I have only limited time left. I have chosen this trip as the main priority with the time and money I have left and it is really important for me to be able to feel that I was completely satisfied with such a trip to make it worth the while to sacrifise everything else and make priority of this one thing above everything else. To make me completely satisfied it is important to know that I managed to experience the best Japan has to offer according to my own preferances and knowledge. That is the reason why I have done such extensive resarch. I want to make sure as far as I can that I have included evey restaurant I want to experience to make me feel as if I have experienced the best. If I should decide to go without managing to get into for instance Sushi Saito it would make me feel as if I was missing something I really would have liked to experience in order to have experienced the best. This has nothing to do with Michelin giving it 3 stars or the fact that every English language website rates it as the number one sushi yasan in Tokyo. It is about the fact that I have read what is Sushi Saito's strengths and weaknesses compared to other sushi yasan in Tokyo and have found out that in my own opinion it seems like one of the best and that if I didn't manage to dine there while in Tokyo I would be missing out on something I most likely would feel that I shouldn't have missed out on if I wanted to experience the best. Since I can't go back that means there is a hole in my Japan experience which I would not ever manage to fill. Then my Japan experienc would be incomplete and I would think my goal for the trip would not have been realized. It would then actually have been better to make some different priority with the time and money I have left. What is best according to my preference might be very different from what is authentic Japanese cuisine and culture. The main goal is not really to experience the authentic Japanese culture and cusisine but the best according to my own preferance, palete and taste. Its a very subjective thing and because of that it is not something anyone else really can critisize for being right or wrong since we all have different preferances.

                        1. re: Roysen

                          This is beginning to read like a novel. The saga continues ...

                          1. re: Roysen

                            Understood. It's a shame experiencing nothing is preferable to experiencing something, no matter how small. But I hope you find something you find equally important with which to fill the rest of your days.

                            1. re: Roysen

                              If Saito-san knew that because of his imaginary refusal to offer you a seat (you didn't even try very hard, as far as I can tell) the Japanese economy lost many millions of yens, maybe he'd reconsider!

                              1. re: Gargle

                                This isn't just about Sushi Saito. I mentioned Sushi Saito just as an example.

                                1. re: Roysen

                                  Roysen: I am sorry to hear your plans have not worked out. I loved my time in Japan and would reiterate what others have said: you should go even if it is just for a week.

                                  If I remember right you mentioned you felt you had a special memory of Kyubey which is not hard to book. Why don't you at least go there? Plus any top sushi restaurant will be better than what you have in your country so at least you will have experienced what real sushi is like.

                                  And you never know whether you might make friends at a counter who will be able to take you to restaurants you want to go to.

                                  1. re: terrych

                                    Shinji is back. So lets see what happens the next days.

                                    1. re: Roysen

                                      Lets hope he doesn't read any of these threads, or he'll surely run for the hills!

                                2. re: Gargle

                                  This isn't just about Sushi Saito.