Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tokyo is the new Manila

Good evening from Tokyo after a very bumpy 45 minutes in the air, circling Narita Airport but unable to land as the winds were just too strong. In fact, for a minute there, I thought we would have to be diverted to Nagoya or Osaka airport.

Upon landing, I found out that the entire Japan had been engulfed in pretty vicious weather with strong winds, and almost 250 domestic flights had had to be canceled. We were lucky to be safely on the ground.

I came in on Philippine Airlines today. The terminal was utter chaos, and perhaps this is because so many people are on a Holy Week exodus out of Manila. But fortunately, the nice service and pretty good infrastructure on PAL's business class to Tokyo made up for the earlier inconvenience. The seats were nice, the movie selection and food choices were good, and the plane they use to Tokyo (at least on this flight I was on) is probably the best aircraft in use today for a direct flight from Manila to Tokyo.


For the next three weeks or so, Tokyo will be the new Manila as so many people are already in town or going to be in town. Perhaps it was the effect of Travelife Japan Night and those maiko performances, but I've got so many friends, relatives and acquaintances in Tokyo this month that it's almost not funny anymore.
Just counting the people I'm actually hosting, meeting up with or cooking a meal for, the total was something like 39 visitors at last count. Then there are all these other friends I know will be in town as well who haven't made or couldn't make plans with me. But they'll be in Tokyo anyhow.


Take my friend XX, the big businessman who travels 100 x more than Travelife. He'd sent me a BBM on the eve of my Sri Lanka trip, asking if I was in Manila. I guess he wanted to meet up or invite me to tag along to some event. I messaged back: "I'm leaving for Sri Lanka, and then it's Japan, Korea, etc in succession."

We had a short exchange about different things, and then I ended it with something like: "We're never in the same city at the same time." Then I put a smiley face at the end.

He messaged back: "We might be crossing in the air like ships in the night." Then he sent me his jam-packed travel schedule for the next five or six weeks, and he ended this message with a question: "Any chance we might be in the same city?"


I can tell you that his travel schedule for the next six weeks -- or actually ever since I've known him, which is quite a long time -- is about a hundred times more than my Travelife. My travel schedule is a walk in the park compared to his.

But when I looked at it closely, I actually found a possible match: Tokyo on one day in the third week of April, although it was a very slim window as he's here for business and always incredibly busy and I only have one day free for lunch in Tokyo that week as I'll be having 18 visitors in town.

But anyway, I BBM-ed him back: "Hey, Tokyo's a go if you can manage it on the XXth."


Unfortunately, he could only meet up earlier as he's flying out of Tokyo on the XXth, while I'm already completely booked with visitors until then. He BBM-ed: "We'll just have to keep trying..."

I know we'll meet up somewhere in the world sometime soon. That's why we're friends, and that's what a Travelife is all about.


Anyway, back to Tokyo being the new Manila. Basically, Manila Central is the Peninsula Tokyo. I have so many friends staying at the Peninsula Tokyo this month that I'm almost tempted to book myself there as well. I have a feeling that if I just sit in the lobby, I'll be bumping into people I know every hour, just like I was back home.

My first group of friends began arriving today as well, just like me, although on different flights. We're all meeting up on Thursday for the start of our meals together, and we're off to a pretty impressive start with Japan's best French restaurant.

Interestingly, this very same three-star Michelin restaurant is fully-booked out with Filipinos from Manila on Thursday, as everyone I know who will be in Tokyo this week seems to have booked a table there for Thursday lunch or dinner. And it's not a big place. I myself booked a table for six. You get the picture. Basically, it will be like I never left home.


From Friday, I'm taking my friends to Mount Fuji, for dinner at my favorite restaurant in the world, which is in the middle of nowhere but extremely good. No publicity, very low-key, but very much favored by Tokyoites in the know. I'm also going to make Easter brunch/ lunch for everyone at my Mount Fuji weekend house, although I haven't finalized the menu yet.

Hopefully that'll happen tomorrow, once I get settled here in Manila. Oops, I mean, once I get settled here in Tokyo. It's easy to get confused with which city is Manila and which city is Tokyo, especially with all the Manilans in Tokyo this month.

Good night for now from -- where I am I again???




  1. Hi, I'm a first time visitor of Tokyo. Will be there from May 1-6 and i certainly would want to try the food you've been raving about in your blog (like the ramen, shabu-shabu....). Would you care to share your great finds to me so i can also make my Tokyo visit a memorable one? Thank you!

  2. Hello! Thank you for your inquiry. The shabu-shabu is at Shabu Zen in Shibuya, the ramen is at Kamakura Ramen in Shibuya Center Gai, and for sushi head to Sushizanmai in Tsukiji Market. There are many Sushizanmai branches all over Tokyo but the best sushi can be found in its main store in Tsukiji Market. These are all reasonably-priced options for Tokyo.