Monday, December 01, 2008

Turkey Day in Tokyo

The week before thanksgiving,I was definitely feeling it.

By it, I mean, the holiday spirit haunting your thoughts and making you want to celebrate the day in the traditional style, preferably by overdoing it. This is probably the same urge that makes otherwise entirely sane people cover their roofs in tacky fake santa clauses, complete with moving riendeer and blinding lights that cause sticker shock when you see the electricity bill.

Unfortunately for the Thanksgiving Holiday Spirit, This Thanksgiving was spent in a city that doesn't give Thursday off for a traditional American holiday. Or the following Friday.
In fact, the total amount of thanksgiving time off is 0 hours, unless you count the previous Monday which is off, and is called 'kandou no hi'. (Thankfulness day). But it's just not the same, because no one eats turkey, yams or mashed potatoes on Kandou no hi. Nobody does *anything* on Kandou no hi. The only thing they are thankful *for* is the fact that the japanese government has been upping the number of three day weekends to a crazy number. (there were two in November alone!).

So on Kandou no Hi I found that entirely against my will, not only was I looking up recipes for soup and dinner rolls, I was absentmindedly googling for turkey.
As in, "Where to buy turkey Tokyo". (Nothing good).
and in, "Turkey Japan" (Nada).
Or finally as an act of despiration, "Whats a giajin to do to get some damn turkey around here?!"
But alas, 0 hits. The giant bird was proving to be elusive.

Finally, thanks to Metropolis, my very favorite foreign magazine dedicated to English speaking Expats living in Tokyo, I found a lead. For all others like me, who are googling the above phrases, you can get a TURKEY in TOKYO, JAPAN for THANKSGIVING at the Kinokuniya supermarket right by Omotesando station on Aoyama-doori. (-street). You don't even have to order in advance, they have frozen butterballs, and they even have turkey stuffing and cranberry sauce! Heaven!

Standing there in front of the turkeys, I conjured up a mental image of our tiny oven, (it's so high tech it has both a microwave, and a convection oven feature! I didn't believe it until I had made some toast in the microwave. Awesome. Unfortunately, it's.. the size of a microwave oven...) I realized there would be no room for Butterballs. Sigh. But I found a tiny turkey, which turned out to be a baby turkey, so I feel a little guilty about cutting short its tiny feathered life. But it fit!

This was the first time I ever roast a turkey on my own. Luckily I didn't spoil it.
Not so luckily, Takeshi decided to go fishing that morning, and for the first time this year, caught about six huge ocean fish, which he decided needed to be descaled and cleaned right as the turkey was finished defrosting. But true to form, he cleaned them at frightening speed and soon nothing was left in my way but the odd scale. So, guests, if you found some fish scales in your turkey, please be aware that it was not some ungodly fish-bird-hybrid creature I was feeding you. (At least, it didn't say so on the label.)

Since there was no time off on Thursday or Friday, and I didn't feel like working 9 hours and then having a cooking marathon, I decided Saturday was the new Thanksgiving.
As it was only a baby turkey, after all, we only had a few guests over. I decided to subject Takeshi's family to an "American Experience", meaning they could not do many of the very Japanese things they wanted. Here are some of the things that I vetoed as definitely NOT American:

*Eating dinner at the kotatsu. (No!)
*Using chopsticks. (NO NO!)
*Drinking sake instead of wine. (NO NO NO NO!!! What, you trying to destroy thanksgiving here?!)

So, eating at the *dining room table*, using *forks knives and spoons*, and drinking *red wine*, we had: Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, salad, cream of carrot soup, and mashed potatoes. The dishes were all traditional, following the Thanksgiving template my holiday memory craved. (Well... except for the very japanese sweet beans and rice dish my mother in law brought, so apparently I'm not a total nazi.)

And finally, finally, the holiday spirit was sated, sinking back into the earth to wait until next year to haunt again. Or.. at least until Christmas. (Please stop me if you catch me googling for "giant novelty santa claus roof ornaments Tokyo".)


Anonymous Kate said...

Sounds like a good, old fashioned Thanksgiving, rice or no rice :)

I was in Tokyo last Thanksgiving by myself, so I treated myself to a turkey sub at Subway (only turkey I knew about!). Although Fujimama's in Harajuku apparently does an awesome Thanksgiving dinner - I went there on a different occasion and it was a biiig reminder of America (English-speaking servers! Check brought to the table! PAPER TOWELS in the bathroom! I nearly fainted). Good food too :)

6:47 PM  
Blogger Maikeru G said...


Well Godzilla (Gojira) is a portmanteau of Gorilla and Whale. If you can figure out how to slap together the word turkey (七面鳥) with fish, you'd probably have said hybrid's name.

As for finding Christmas decorations there, I would think that would be slightly easier to find due to American companies making marketing inroads into the Japanese cultural landscape.

-BTW, this is Michael.

7:15 PM  
Blogger wunda said...

No yam/apple dish from last year? People were talking about it this year! Sooo yummy :)

6:24 PM  
Blogger Kyra said...

I read about Fujimamas! I was going to try but they were already overbooked when I called. I didn't realize they served american food all year round... I gotta try it :)

Hm. As for Michael's suggestion, the word for Turkey (七面鳥)already sounds like a monster. (Seven Face Bird... attack!!)
All we gotta do is replace bird with fish (七面魚)... Seven Face Fish!!

Dude, I bet that could kick Godzilla's butt.

I know Wendy, it was totally not quite Thanksgiving without the Apple/Yam dish :( Glad everybody liked it!

10:15 PM  

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