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Full Circle

Day 35: Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan 
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Meeting Mayumi.
Michael Palin - Full CircleThe Dojo Nabe is run by the egregious and voluble Mr Watanabe, eighth in a line of Watanabes who have run the place through earthquakes, bombing and fires. He bustles out to greet us in traditional yukata robe, only to slightly spoil the effect by revealing that he once trained at Berni Inns in London. In good English, he likens his restaurant to a pub. It is a place for rich and poor alike. Certainly it is unpretentious inside. I have become used to eating at restaurants without chairs, but this is the first that has no tables either. Mayumi and I sit cross-legged on bamboo mats with a wooden board on the floor in front of us.

Mr Watanabe is punctilious in observing tradition. A man bent double by the door as if praying is in fact one of the staff laying three piles of salt out on the street. This particular little trick dates back to the time when people travelled into town with their cows. When they found salt the cows would always stop to lick it up, giving their owners time to size up the restaurant.

Mr Watanabe also likes a joke. He's particularly pleased with his slogan 'People who eat here never die'.

'Because if you're dead you wouldn't be able to eat here, you see?' He laughs gleefully.
Tokyo, Japan 
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Outside the Dojo Nabe.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 35
  • Country/sea: Japan
  • Place: Tokyo
  • Book page no: 59

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