Shinkai’s biggest fan – Noritaka Kawaguchi


A man who could be living the life in Roppongi driving around in an open air benz. Instead he made a 15 year bet on an amateur anime director who made a 5 min anime short about a cat and its owner.


The anime director’s name is Shinkai Makoto.


And the man’s name is Noritaka Kawaguchi.


Shinkai’s Biggest Fan.


A lot of people know of Shinkai’s story. Of how a modest, humble literature graduate who might have returned home to take up the family business, decided to instead join a game company. Work at day and then on his own animations at night, the man created a 5 minute short She and Her Cat, burned the CD-R himself and sold them at Comiket and mails. It was well received and not long after he made the fateful decision to quit his job, so began his journey as an anime movie director with the one man short film Voices of a Distant Star. From there he made a few others, had a few missteps along the way, but ultimately he made Your Name.


As I looked more and more into Shinkai’s footsteps, I found there are plenty others who travelled with Shinkai on his incredible journey, and one man among them, is Noritaka Kawaguchi. Shinkai’s biggest believer.


Kawaguchi is a businessman, after graduating university he joined Itochu, one of Japan’s largest sogo shosha (kind of like investment fund conglomerate). After a few years in the company, he was assigned to work in the group’s game related business in Akiba. In 1998 he was appointed to lead the newly formed Comix Wave Inc, at a age of just 32. [1]


In 2001 one of the staff at Mangazoo, an associated digital publishing business that had been merged into Comix Wave the year before, heard about Shinkai as the guy who worked 5 days a week and made anime in his spare time plus burning and selling CD-Rs. Too much work for one guy. So the company reached out, offering to at least press and sell the CD-R for him. [3]


That was the start of the relationship between Shinkai and Comix Wave.


Shinkai had been concepting Voices of a Distant Star for a few months then, however there were limits to what one could do in the short time outside of work [4]. Seeing this the people from Mangazoo offered to cover the costs and encouraged Shinkai to make a go for it. [3]


Kawaguchi described their first meeting. (The purpose of the meeting is unclear, described as soon after Shinkai’s 28th birthday, putting it around spring of 2001. Possibly as a meeting to get commitment for Voices). Meeting at a restaurant in Harajuku, Shinkai was already sitting there when he arrived. A very polite, friendly man. [5]


Through the making of Voices of a Distant Star, Kawaguchi was convinced of Shinkai’s genius and begins his unwavering faith in supporting him. [6]


With the success of Voices of a Distant Star, Comix Wave was on board for Shinkai’s next film, The Place Promised in Our Early Days. The production was rocky and the film barely made it out the door.


Nevertheless, the company and Shinkai continued onward to 5 cm per second.


Around this time the future of Comix Wave was being reviewed. The company was almost 10 years old and options were explored as to what to do with it. In the end in 2007, a few month before the release of 5 cm per second, the company was split into 3 and bought out by the senior managements: Bulls-eye, Minori (which Shinkai would go on to make the OP for its games EF) and Comix Wave Film, which inherited the name.[7]  For his part in the management buy out, Kawaguchi financed million dollar loans in his own name, making his bet on Shinkai very much a personal one. [9]


(Shinkai is not a conventional director, to match neither could Kawaguchi afford to be conventional on the business side. While Shinkai’s growing success has given Comix Wave some animation studio colors, it mustn’t be forgotten that it was founded and still is, a publishing company.)


Unlike many of its compatriots Comix Wave controlled its own destiny and Kawaguchi was determined to forge a different path. Prior to Children who Chase Lost Voices, Comix Wave took the risk and handled both distribution of film and dvds themselves, including overseas sales, allowing them to reap a much larger share of the successes. [8]


The evergreen nature of Shinkai’s works gave the DVDs long tails, selling well years after release, combined with the greater share of the revenue the steady income kept Comix Wave going between releases, and the company managed to stay small and focused. Kawaguchi compared Shinkai’s works to those of Haruki Murakami, it was something people felt special and wanted something physical to connect to. [8]


From very early Kawaguchi had his sights set internationally, borrowing on his experience and networks from Itochu. [2] (How much he worked to expand Shinkai’s overseas audience is not clear though it’s probably intentional, working with JPF to host a workshop in the middle east then encouraging Shinkai to spend a year in England, then the interviews and collaboration with chinese anime upstarts). As early as Voices of a Distant Star, he had been evaluating the state of pirated DVDs in China and looked to make a move there when the time is mature.[12] By the time 5 cm per second came out, Shinkai had a dedicated overseas fan base and overseas sales became a vital income for Comix Wave.


The failure of Children who Chase Lost Voices was not just impactful for Shinkai but on Kawaguchi and Comix Wave itself. In the interview he hinted at staff tensions and more than the financial loses, it was the feeling of having let his staff down, having had them invest the golden years of their life into the film. But even if it lead to loses, he felt it was more important to be able to look back and think they put in everything and had no regrets. [8]


Kawaguchi had to finance additional loans in his own name to recapitalize the company and worked hard to avoid the company being in the red for a second year in order to stave off the banks. Thankfully with the help of income from overseas, they managed to recover the production cost of Lost Voices after 2 years. [6] [8]


Learning from the experience with Lost Voices, a different approach was taken with Garden of Words. A limited theater release combined with little to no advertising. Instead the DVD and downloads were made available at the same time on release to great success.[7] With Garden of Words, both Comix Wave and Shinkai had turned a corner. (A similar approach is being used for Shikioriori)


Shinkai is not the only creator at Comix Wave. There’s another handful of manga and anime creators that Comix Wave help produce and publish for, to mixed successes.[11] (Peeping Life has a decent following on Youtube, so maybe it’s doing quite okay) For now, Comix Wave still mostly revolves around Shinkai.


With the success of Your Name, Comix Wave has turned a new page. Kawaguchi is looking to lay the foundation for something more than just Shinkai’s supporting studio.


Kawaguchi saw himself as someone who could help bring changes to the industry and sought to value those who worked on the films well.


The box office line that Your Name needed to hit to definitely see a next time from those on the production committee was 3 billion yen. Kawaguchi thus had announced before release to the staffs that should Your Name hit 3.5 billion, there would be a round of bonuses. (In a way he jinxed himself), that number was of course broken in record time. The first round of bonuses were handed out on just 15th of September (film was released only on 26th August). The bonuses were given to not only Comix Wave staffs, while it was not possible to give a bonus to all, where possible outsiders were also rewarded for their involvements. [7]


Comix Wave had been a small studio, many did not even realize Comix Wave had in house production capabilities.[7] With the huge windfall and assured future revenue from continued sales and merchandising, Comix Wave has been on a recruitment spree. While some of the staffs were experienced animators, about half were fresh recruits. [9] Kawaguchi wants Comix Wave to become a place that nurtures new talents that will sustain the anime industry, with a view that fairly paid salary staffs will reflect quality in the works produced. [7]


However the company had been structured to support Shinkai, with a very lean staff meant to support a single anime production at a time, to train up the new recruits will take time and opportunity, something the studio did not have. Comix Wave needed a second production line. (Shikioriori presented the perfect opportunity). The collaboration with Haoliner meant finance was shouldered by the chinese side while Comix Wave dealt with the productions, and an opportunity to give its staffs much needed experience. [12]


(Perhaps in a few years, Comix Wave would become a place known for producing some of the best animator and artists)


Kawaguchi remarked that Shinkai is someone who writes even emails and schedules with such grace and poetic beauty, a man who exhibited a sparkle even in the everyday mundane. [5] He could be enjoying the life from his apartment in Roppongi, driving his open air Benz; instead he made a bet on that young man he met at the Harajuku restaurant. [8]


And for 15 years, the man patiently watched and worked, his faith never wavering, determined to support and nurture that talent. Now after all that Shinkai and he have achieved, he looks to give something back to the anime industry, and perhaps one day, see Shinkai walk down the red carpet. [8]


[1] Hear from the Spirit of the Wandering Samurai, First Half (rough translation), Itochu Facebook, 2017

[2] Hear from the Spirit of the Wandering Samurai, Latter Half (rough translation), Itochu Facebook, 2017

[3] Framing Makoto Shinkai:15 Years of Anime Art from the Director of“Your Name, Crunchyroll, 2017

[4] Youtube DVD Interview, probably from the Hoshi no Koe dvd release.

[5] Comics Star Awards Interview, Bilibili, 2015

[6] Your Name. The man who believed in Makoto Shinkai. Interview of Comix Wave Film’s Noritaka Kawaguchi (rough translation). Yahoo Japan News, 2016

[7] The decade leading up to Your Name (rough translation), Nikkei Business, 2017

[8] How will profit from Your Name be used (rough translation), Nikkei Business, 2017

[9] Frenzy! Anime Industry (rough translation), Toyokeizai, 2017

[10] All about Shinkai’s works, from CEO of Comix Wave, Talking of Anime Business (rough translation). Anime Anime Biz, 2013

[11] Interview with representative from Comix Wave (rough translation), Wakuwork 2019 Interview with Exhibiting Businesses, 2018

[12] Your Name’s Producer Kawaguchi Noritaka speak on Overseas Marketing and the issue faced by the Anime industry (rough translation), Daily Cyzo, 2018


Kanto Maigo – Day 9

Final day.




Our flight leaves at 1pm, I aim to get to Narita before 11am, either the 8.46 or 9.31 direct train from Shinbashi. Leave some time to do a final luggage check and reserve time for unforeseen issues. That leaves us an hour and a bit in the morning.


下午1點的班機,預計11點前到成田,搭8.46or 9.31從新橋直達車。留點時間最後確認行李和突發狀況。早上有一個多小時的時間。


The options was either Meiji-Jingu Outer Garden or Zoujouji, a temple with a view of Tokyo Tower not far from the hotel.




Meiji-Jingu Outer Garden is about 7 minutes from Shinbashi, accounting for walking time it’d be about 20 minutes each way. Doable but will be cutting it close even if we left at 7am.




Zoujouji is about 10 minutes walk, easier to control the timing. And since we had seen ginkgo leaves the day before I felt Zoujouji would be more interesting.




For breakfast, the egg was scrambled egg with sausage wieners, fish was salt grilled fish, plus roasted potato with bacon, salisbury steak.





We headed out about quarter past 7.




Super Hotel is already outside the commercial areas of Shinbashi. From here to Zoujouji was mostly residential areas.


Super Hotel在新橋鬧區外,從這走到增上寺多是住宅區。


Along the way we passed the Prince Hotel, it had a fancy looking cafe/restaurant/bakery looking place by the roadside away from the main hotel building. Wondered if it was targeted at the guests or nearby office workers. The large car park before the hotel was mostly empty except for one or two tour buses.




The main gate of Zouzouji was under renovation works. The two side doors were entirely boxed behind protective boards.




Zouzouji is one of the older temples in Tokyo, though not in its current location, it was moved twice during the Edo Era then much of it burned down during WW2.



Zoujouji and Tokyo Tower



As the family temple of the Tokugawa the temple saw periods of incredibly glory, with over 120 buildings at its peak. Even today the temple is a massive complex with several interconnected giant halls.




The family tomb of the Tokugawa is located here. To the north western end of the temple grounds lies 6 of the Tokugawa shoguns. We weren’t able to enter the tomb area, it’s closed off and only opens at 10 plus 500Y entrance fee.



Tokugawa family burial grounds

Along the northern edge of the temple was a long row of child Jizos statues. They wore red little hats and capes and had windmills next to them. Dedicated for the safe growth of children and memorial of unborn babies.



Child Jizous

Child Jizous

Behind the temple hall rose the red and white of Tokyo tower. Replaced by the Skytree its original purpose may be have been, its faux Eiffel Tower silhouette remains the spirit and romance of Tokyo.



Tokyo Tower

The hour went by strangely quickly, I had envisioned there being enough time to go to the bottom of Tokyo tower.




We walked back to the hotel in the same way. In the narrow streets we passed a Lawson that advertized that it baked its own bread each day.



Lawson with bakery

True enough, the place has a mini bakery with two ovens. I imagine the dough is made centrally then delivered to each store, the staff only need to put the dough into the oven each morning. It’s a good step above regular packaged bread which I would have much enjoyed over cold rice balls if only these were more common place during my trips.




We got back to the hotel with plenty of time to do some last minute packing, brush up and get a last minute coffee. There is no need to check out at Super Hotel, when ready just grab the bags and walk out.


回到旅館後還有充足的時間做最後的打包,刷牙洗臉,然後再拿一杯早餐咖啡。在Super Hotel不用退房,準備好了拿起行李直接走就行了。


We hopped on the direct train from Shinbashi to Narita according to schedule. The train was a typical urban commuter with seats along the walls. Actually not much slower than the Skyliner express and much faster than the NEX, at less than half the price.




There weren’t too many people in the Sunday morning, we had no problem finding seats. The train surfaced after Skytree and I chanced a glimpse before it disappeared behind the high rises. The Tokyo cityscape slowly roll past, the hour slipped by.




Vanilla Air was based in Terminal 3, the low cost airline terminal without its own railway station, one has to either walk 500m from Terminal 2 or wait for the shuttle bus.




The walkway between the two terminal is painted like a sports ground runway, with several rest stops along the way with benches and vending. A lot of efforts went into making the walk interesting, changing lanes, colours, posters along the walls. The distance was barely felt, in a blink we were at the escalator leading up to the terminal.




Not yet 10.30, the counter should open at 10.50, 2 hours before the flight. We were maybe 4th or 5th in line.




Originally I had considered taking the later train, not wanting to get here before the counter opened. With more thoughts now this way worked better. We may need to wait a short while for the counter to open but we were ahead of the line, as soon as the counter opened, we could drop off our bag and be on our way, whether to lunch or shopping. Had we come later we would have had to wait in the queue for time unknown.




While we waited for the counter to open I realized I had not yet bought a Playstation point card. Since I play Japanese games and the store only accepted credit cards from Japan, using a point card was the only way to buy the games online or for the DLCs. Thankfully there’s a Lawson right next to the counters.




After checking in we went to find something for lunch.




Terminal 3 had only a limited selection of shops but no shortage of food. Before customs there is a large food court with about 8 shops with a carefully selection ranging from ramen, sushi, donburi to western burgers and cafe.



Terminal 3 foodcourt

Coming early definitely worked out well, had we came later we would not have finished checking in till after 11.30, then we’d be in a hurry to eat lunch and get through customs. As it is we could easily peruse the available stalls, pick our choices and have lunch at a leisurely pace, enjoying the bustling activities all about from travellers of all walks. I went with the safe choice of the Nagasaki Champon noodle (same one in Hakata) while Y got a spicy ramen.



Nagasaki Champon Noodle

After that we went through customs. At one stage there was a tax claim station where they were supposed to inspect the tax free claimed items to ensure the travellers were bringing them with them. Instead there was only a basket with a sign and arrows. Y casually tossed the tax free claim slip into it.




Airside there was just one souvenir store selling pretty much everything. Electronics, especially rice cookers at 220V aimed at chinese. Traditional Japanese wares like chopsticks and textiles, Hello Kitties and of course all sorts of sweets. Y knew about a lot of the various sweets and chocolates, which ones were famous, which ones were talked about. I had already got enough sweets so didn’t buy any.


過境後只有一家紀念品店,所有可想到的都有賣。電器,尤其是鎖定陸客的220V電器。傳統日本工藝品如筷子,紡織品,Hello Kitty和當然的各式甜點。Y對這些甜點還頗有研究的,那些有名,那些很紅,那些大家常討論。我已經帶很多甜點了所以沒有再買。

Airside souvenir store

Since this was a low cost terminal there were no air bridges. Passengers had to walk down 3 flight of stairs to the ground level, across the tarmac to the air stairs through an expendable corridor that provided some shelter from the elements and served to keep passengers from wandering off.



Cleverly designed eh.. air bridge?

It was a small single aisle 737, the flight was short and past lunchtime, I don’t think many people ordered meals during the flight.




We arrived at Taiwan late in the afternoon and after we passed customs, disbanded and waved each other farewell.




Kanto Maigo – Day 8

For once an easy start to the day. There’s no hurry today, everything revolved around places within Tokyo.




Breakfast had a makeover and all the dishes were different from yesterday. The egg became Japanese eggroll, the fish a traditional grilled fish, a broccoli vege and seafood stirfy, and ginger stir fried pork.




First stop today was Tsukiji… or outer Tsukiji anyway. Because poorly behaviours from tourists they’ve banned tourists from visiting the inner market before 10am. Most of the fish shops are closed at that point and not much point in visiting. What is it with modern tourists…




It’s one stop from Shiodome to Tsukiji. It’s also walkable if I wasn’t feeling lazy, about 1.2km.




The outer market had changed a lot since 6 years ago. More people, the shops sold more things catering to tourists, and a lot more sushi shops. Some shops are even tax free though I have no idea how that is meant to work.




We did a general loop through the outer market to the border of the inner market, to the Namiyoke Inari Shrine then back out through each of the outer market streets.





The line outside Sushi Dai extended from the alley to a long line on the side of the thoroughfare. To be a gourmet in Tokyo required zenful patience.



Sushi dai

We passed a Yoshinoya. I did not realize at the time, only found out when we saw a memorial stone at the shrine, that the cheap gyudon chain originated right here at Tsukiji.


Should have gone in for a bowl if I had known.






At the crossing that lead to the inner market, a security guard escorted two tourists away from the inner market while holding up a sign saying no tourists allowed before 10. They’re treating the ban quite seriously.



Namiyoke Inari Shrine

Yoshinoya memorial

Shrine for fallen eggs

Many fresh seafood shops offered service to cook them on the spot, the smell of grilled crab legs and oysters was salivating.




I checked out some of the knife shops, looking to see if they sold those special knives used to cut specific fish like tuna and eels. Looks to be all sushi and chopping knives though, perhaps the demand for fish cleaning knife is less and aren’t on display.






Grilled crab legs

Actual wasabi

Next to Tsukiji is the Hongan-ji, quite different from the usual wooden temples found in Japan, is built of concrete in the architectural style from buddhism’s birthplace India. There was strangely an organ on the second level by the entranceway.






Hibiya line station is just outside Hongan-ji. A quick transfer at Ginza to the Marunouchi line gets us to Ikebukuro.




The Sunshine Aquarium is about 10 minutes walk from the station.




The aquarium is one of several within Tokyo. There’s something cultural about Japan and aquariums, it has to be one of the most common attractions in Japan. Perhaps it’s a combination of love for fish and cute things, and who doesn’t like a cuddly seal or penguins.




Sunshine Aquarium is situated on top of Sunshine City shopping complex. It recently renovated its penguin enclosure into something it calls flying penguin experience. The penguin tank consists of glass on both side so visitor can see out through the tank at the Tokyo skyline, with the interior forming a convex cave that visitors can stand underneath, when penguins swims in the tank it looks as though the penguins are flying through the air.


Sunshine水族館是Sunshine city樓頂。最近企鵝區剛翻新過,改造成所謂的飛天企鵝。企鵝池子兩側皆是玻璃,遊客可看到外側的東京天際,內側是凹入的洞穴形狀,遊客可站在水池下方,看起來池中游泳的企鵝就如在天空中飛翔似。


I had bought the tickets beforehand and skipped the ticket booth queue.




The aquarium has indoor and outdoor parts. The indoor aquarium exhibiting various habitats and the outdoor area where penguins and seals are.




We headed indoor first, there was still time till the penguin feeding.




For an urban aquarium with limited space, the place had a good variety of different fishes and other aquatic animals Though the enclosures tended on seemingly too small, Y pointed out.



Sunshine Aquarium

Sunshine aquarium


I don’t think Y like aquariums too much, a miss on my part.




Just before we came the aquarium had an accident where the air bump to the largest tank was turned off and the tank lost most of its fishes. The tank thus was ironically spacious.




All else not being too bright, there’s still the penguins. The penguins here are cape penguins, much smaller and more resistance to heat than the more popular adele or emperor penguins, making them more suited for urban Tokyo.



Sunshine aquarium

Adorable adorable little penguins, so clever and so silly. Before proper feeding time the staff came out with small bucket of fish. The fishes were likely specially prepared, either with medicine or special supplements, since the staff went out of the way to ensure each penguin was fed one fish.



Sunshine aquarium

At feeding time one staff tossed fishes at the waiting penguins while she introduced the penguins, another staff at the front held up placards showing photos of what the first staff talked about, such as the photo of the coastal environment where the penguin came from. The little birds scampered and flapped each other to get at the fish. Those that had their fill wriggled down little holes back to their nest.



Sunshine aquarium

At the end of it the staff held up a penguin and brought it closer to the fence. Visitors weren’t allowed to touch the penguins, this was as close as people were allowed to the cute litte thing.



Sunshine aquarium

After the feeding we moved to the penguin swimming tank. The tank was quite large which allowed the penguins to pick up speed in the water. The curved glass tank design works very well, while it’s not quite flying penguins, it’s amazing to see the penguins swim past the shoulder or even over head.



Penguin tank

Penguin tank


Then we finished looking at the indoor areas, then searched for penguin goods in the souvenir shop. There was a disappointing lack of giant penguin plushies.




Lunch was where I messed up again. The original plan was to go to sushi train but my mind had gotten blanked out. The aquarium had not been as interesting as hoped, I was not sure whether going out of the way to the sushi train that likely had a queue was a good idea.




So I said to walk to the station and grab whatever we find okay along the way.




A restaurant was right across the main intersection leading to the station front district. It’s a oyakodon place, similar in concept to Yoshinoya. I looked the menu then looked at Y who didn’t have an opinion either way, so we ended up eating there.




The ticket machine really did not like 100Y coins. In the end I fed it a 1000Y note for it to grant me food.



Oyakodon place


While we ate I thought about where to go in the afternoon. There were a number of options. The original plan were Rikugien or Koishikawa-Korakuen, the two autumn leaves garden in Tokyo. Though Y was not that eager, having seen the autumn leaves in Hakone yesterday.




I went through the alternatives. Ginza, Meiji Jingu/Omotesando/Takeshita. Not too big on those shopping destinations. Maybe Ameyoko.




Then it occured to me. How about ginkgo leaves, not the same as red autumn leaves and they should be almost at their peak at Tokyo Uni which is also on the way back Shinbashi.




Y agreed. But before we got to the station we were sidetracked when passing a Matsumoto Kiyoshi pharmacy store. They had several items on sale which Y was interested and we spent some time there looking. Apparently to be eligible for tax free required minimum 5000Y before tax, good to know.




We took the Marunouchi line to Hongo-sanchome. From there it’s about 300m walk to Tokyo Uni. At the Hongo-Sanchome intersection there was a Doutor and I went into a long story about how my fondness for the cafe developed.




I had actually been to Tokyo Uni before, on my first trip to Tokyo. Only back then I did not even realize this was Tokyo Uni, I was merely looking for a way to get to my hotel. That first trip was a harsh lesson.



Tokyo Uni red gate

The main thoroughfare of Tokyo Uni from the main gate to the auditorium is lined with giant ginkgo trees against a backdrop of brick gothic brick buildings. Shimmering leaves crowned the tall trees standing tall over gilded carpet, golden flakes snowed in the air. Poetic, painted.



Tokyo uni

Tokyo uni

Tokyo uni

Tokyo uni

Tokyo uni


People stood beneath the trees taking photos. Some sat before canvas stands capturing the moment with their brushes. Others slowly walked in marvel.




When the ginkgo trees at Tokyo Uni were planted in the early 1900s, ginkgo were not typically used as street landscape trees. In a way the ginkgo avenue here became a prototype and gave birth to the ginkgo tree lined streets that became the symbol of Tokyo.




We took a break at Doutor before getting back on the train to Shiodome back to Super Hotel. There was no direct train between Ikebukuro and Shinbashi/Shiodome, by coming to Tokyo Uni the transfer was done away.


在搭車到汐留回Super Hotel前在Doutor坐了一下。從池袋沒有直達新橋或汐留的車,來東大某方面省去了轉車的必要。


I think it was maybe 4.30 by the time we got back to the hotel. A little break before the night’s schedule starting with dinner at 5.30.




Dinner was at Gyu-katsu Motomura near Shinbashi station. A fried steak grill place.




The steak is slightly fried first with batter with the inside still raw, then the customer can grill the steak to the desired degree at the table.




Because of various photos I had actually thought the steaks were meant to be eaten as is, till Y explained to me what the steak actually is. Apparently a similar place opened near Y’s home recently. There’s something about food which I’m just no good at researching.




We got there at about 5.40 and just managed to not get in by a matter of seconds. The group just steps ahead of us took the last table. We waited maybe 15 minutes for a table to be made available.




The place was a little dive hidden in a basement off the main street, about seats for 20 people only.



Gyukatsu motomura

They were well prepared for foreigners and had menus in english, chinese and korean. We were given a menu and asked to decide while we waited and have to order and pay before sitting down. Not that there was much to decide, there was only standard set, standard set with extra side and set with extra meat.




Okay Y did get an extra beer.




The server sat us down and our order was brought over with extreme efficiency. There’s rice, miso soup, two kind of sauce, plate of beef cutlets with shredded cabbage salad and mash potato, and a hot plate over open flame iron plate grill.



Gyukatsu Motomura


The beef was very nice, the deep fried outside giving a slightly crunchy texture and the inside soft and succulent. I tried grilling several pieces at once to different degree to see how to best cook them but it hardly mattered, the meat was always very soft unless it’s obviously charred and overcooked.




The evening was Caretta followed by Tokyo Midtown.


晚上安排去Caretta然後再去Tokyo Midtown。


The illumination theme at Caretta this year was Beauty and the Beast. The main component was similar to the Winter Forest in 2011, though with a lot more light and a much worse song and choreography.






We just missed the performance so headed upstairs to the observation deck first. From level 46 the observation deck looked down at tsukiji and Tokyo bay.



Tsukiji at night




After the Caretta illumination performance, then headed to Roppongi from Shiodome.



I’m not sure whether it’s just this year, but the illuminations did not seem as good as before. Whether Caretta or the Midtown one.




I was expecting the kind of crushing crowd I met in 2011 but Midtown only had a small crowd. The display this year was also quite disappointing, forgoing the birth of planet theme for a shorter, much simpler swirling galaxy.






We ended up returning to the hotel early and had a late night snack party together in the breakfast area, with the black egg we bought yesterday and the unpasteurized sake the day before.