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Another of Tokyo’s “best meal” contenders was Toraji Param, a Korean hormone restaurant on the 500-something-th floor of some fancy Tokyo building. As the elevator flew up the 5000 flights, my ears popped. At our table, floor-to-ceiling windows showed off all of Tokyo. It was jaw-dropping, to put it mildly.
And then the food came. And my jaw dropped again.
Before this meal, I’d never heard of “hormone restaurants,” but it’s a new Tokyo fad where every part of the animal is offered on the menu. You want to try delicate, thinly-sliced, cow’s diaphram? We got it! And it was TDF. So amazingly tasty.
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To be honest, I came to Tokyo for only three reasons. Each had been percolating in my mind, independently, for years. Each seemed to be something I needed to do. Each of these demanded a pilgrimage. And each of these would be difficult.
I first read about The Ghibli Museum in a New Yorker profile on Hayao Miyazaki, one of my favorite filmmakers. A legend in Japan, he’s created a number of gorgeous, meditative animated masterpieces — Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo are my three favorites. They’re slow, weird, dark, and scary. Most of all, they’re films about awe. Awe for the protagonists, and for the audience as well. The Ghibli Museum is his own tribute to himself.
Like any good pilgrimage, it wasn’t an easy journey. Tickets could only be bought, in advance, from Japanese-language ATMs in Lawson’s Convenience Stores. It took an hour to find a Lawson’s. And then thirty minutes to work out how to buy a ticket. Then another hour to get to the suburb.
I needed a break. I needed sustenance. I needed some kobe beef.
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On the east side of Beijing’s Chaoyang Park, you’ll find some weird stuff. A dog park, for starters. Filled with statues of Santa Claus. For dogs to ride on. This is weird.
But what really blew my mind was this 50-foot tall statue of Shaq, which towers over trees in the entrance parking lot. It’s in the middle of nowhere. What the-?
According to assorted news stories, he signed a major deal with Li-Ning — China’s answer to Nike and Adidas — a sponsor of the park. Glorious!
I found this sign on a roadside outside Old Sukhothai, the ancient former capital of Thailand. But I never found the venue. I gave up after half an hour of cycling the same stretch, over and over and over again.
This is incredible — it’s the illegal (but very open) border crossing between Myawaddy, Burma, and Mae Sot, Thailand. I shot this in the shadow of the official border bridge.