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PM off for Japan experience
20 April 2011, 11:12 AM | Source: Richard Davis, SBS
The chef knelt on wooden boards, skilfully skewering meat, seafood and other morsels onto long sticks. Around him sat Tokyo’s ‘salarymen’: the city’s office workers who were catching up for a beer and a meal after a hard day at the office. The food sizzled above hot flames.
My guide – a former correspondent with 4 years under his belt in Japan’s capital – asked me if there was anything I didn’t want to eat. I answered that I could eat just about anything. He replied that whale and horse would be on the menu. I told him I’d pass on both of those.
It’s all part of the experience of visiting Japan, where Julia Gillard will spend the next three days. Her itinerary includes meeting the Emperor and Prime Minister and a planned visit to one of the areas worst hit by the recent earthquake and tsunami.
Life appears to be getting back to normal in bustling Tokyo, but you don’t have to look far to see reminders of the terrible calamity that struck Japan last month.
Electricity is being rationed in some parts of the country to try to prevent power shortages. In my hotel, a polite note was left on my bed asking for my cooperation in conserving electricity. In true Japanese style, it asked that I minimise usage of electrical appliances, including my toilet seat warmer. The toilets must burn a lot of power – every time you sit on them they start bubbling water to make a noise that preserves the modesty of the user.
And as I was going to sleep last night the room started shaking and my bed began jolting. A small tremor shook the building – my first experience of an earthquake. With another three days in Japan it’s unlikely to be my last.