One of the perks of being a performer is that you get to travel the world. Last weekend I was flown to Japan to perform in a show to raise funds for the representatives of Team Philippines – Japan for the World Championships of Performing Arts 2013, the same contest where I won in 2005.
The flight to Japan is a bearable 3 hours and 50 minutes but most of the flight, I was fast asleep. Taking the morning flight on Delta Airlines, I had to be up around 3am to give enough travel time and the checking in at the NAIA Terminal 1.
The moment we landed in Japan, the first thing I noticed was how clean and fresh the surroundings were. A light rain shower welcomed us.
We travelled for about an hour to get settled into our hotel at the New Sanno Hotel in Shibuya, Tokyo.
THE REAL DEAL
I am a fan of Japanese food. It’s not just a feast to the palate but also to the eyes. Edible miniature art!
Our host brought us to one of the places in Shibuya called SUSHIZANMAI where we were treated to such amazing Japanese food!
We started out with the seaweed miso and the crab miso soup.
Ah.. to those who know me, I’m allergic to crab. So, I settled with the seaweed miso.
Then I had my “broiled fatty salmon”… well, it’s grilled salmon belly. LOL
Then we feasted on different kinds of sushi.
Toro & salmon (tuna and salmon sushi)
Anago and ama ebi (eel & sweet shrimp sushi)
Tamago (egg sushi), Kani miso (crab paste sushi), Uni (urchin sushi)
Right after the meal, we washed everything down with a cup of hot green tea. I was pretty full but not to the point that I felt sluggish and couldn’t breathe. It was a really good feeling of being stuffed.
SHIBUYA AT NIGHT
Vending machines are everywhere.
They still have Tower Records.
Of course, I didn’t understand anything. LOL
After dinner, we decided to walk the streets of Shibuya to burn some calories from that amazing meal. Though it was raining, the streets were still filled with people.
We were told that the busiest “intersection” in the world was in Shibuya and yep! we were there to experience it.
Every few minutes, when the traffic lights would change, it would be an exchange of hustling cars and walking pedestrians.
Another popular spot in Shibuya is the famous statue of Hachiko.
I’m sure most of us know the story of the dog who would wait for his master at the Shibuya train station every day until one day his master didn’t come home because of a heart attack. But still he continued to wait every single day until the day he died. That act of love and loyalty was immortalized with a bronze statue of the famous dog.
After the second show on Sunday, I got a text from a very good friend of mine inviting me to do karaoke! Hmmm… karaoke after 2 hours of non stop singing??? Okay… I’ll just go for the drinks! And what the heck! It’s Lea Salonga who texted. Sheesh! Just a Tony Award and Laurence Olivier Awardee… Pffft! Hahahaha
I asked my friend to drive me to this karaoke place called Shidax and when I stepped into the VIP room, there I saw Lea with a shot of saki in hand. But I was in for a big surprise! In that room were 2 of my Broadway idols! Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess. When Lea introduced me to them, all I could do was shake their hands and say, “Of course, I know you guys…”. Ramin played lead roles in both the Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables and Sierra is popular for doing Ariel in the Broadway staging of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Also I was introduced to another performer, Japanese artist, Yu Shirota. These 4 are part of a touring show called “4 Stars”.
So I sit beside Lea and across where I was seated was Ramin and Sierra goofing around and screwing up their songs on purpose! Sigh… I just switched to fan mode. Then Ramin goes, “Hey Jed, you should do a Michael Bolton song… like How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?” I obliged but my heart was pounding. When the music played, He suddenly said, “Stop! No.. no… no… the original key is too low for you…”. Then punches the buttons bringing the pitch 2 notches higher. Eeeep! But it all went well. Hahaha
Lea and I did a “kick ass’ version of Separate Lives. Heaven.
When we left, Lea was really nice to take pictures of me with these awesome stars.
They say your trip to Japan is not complete if you don’t try the “real deal” ramen. So before heading to the airport, we dropped by this placed called Ippudo in Ropponggi.
Their noodle wall.
We ordered what they call Akamaru.
The soup is a broth made from boiling pork (including the bones) for days! Talk about really extracting the essence huh? The richness of the pork broth is enhanced by black sesame sauce, sesame seeds, green onions, garlic, seaweed, egg and the noodles! Every slurp was an experience! I also had pork dumplings on the side.
Oh my goodness!!!
It reminded me of our own Lapaz Batchoy but richer and more tasty.
I am definitely putting that place on the number one to do list when I get back to Japan!
You should too!