This week marks four years that Doug and I have been together and each year before getting married, we celebrated our anniversary with a special, specific date: sushi omakase.
Let's back up. Before Doug and I started dating, I'd booked a two-week trip to visit my sister in Japan. It was my first time traveling to Asia and the first time I'd taken two consecutive weeks off from work (something which I now HIGHLY recommend doing). I planned to spend over a week traveling to Kyoto and the feudal region with my sister before heading north to Akita, where Caroline was living at the time. After that, I would travel solo in Tokyo.
Doug, meanwhile, would be traveling to Hawaii around the same time for his good friend's wedding. On our last date before I flew to Osaka, I mentioned casually to Doug that he could join me in Tokyo. After all, I reasoned, Hawaii was halfway to Tokyo (very, very roughly) and I'd love his company. He wasn't sure he could take the time away from work, to say nothing of figuring out an international flight at the last minute, which I completely understood. I was at a ryokan (traditional inn) in Kyoto when Doug asked me to call him. I reminded him that I was in Japan, but he clarified that he wanted to talk because he'd figured out a flight from Honolulu to Tokyo. I was floored.
Doug suggested that we try to book a dinner at Sukiyabashi Jiro, the tiny, excellent omakase restaurant tucked into a subway station and made famous in Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It's ultra hard to get into, with spots booking months in advance. I emailed our hotel to see what might be possible if we were willing to go any day, for any meal. To my surprise, the concierge was able to get us a reservation at Sushi Jiro Roppongi, the offshoot location opened by Jiro's son, for dinner on our last night in town.
We spent three days sightseeing around Tokyo, a maze of warren-like streets where we joked about playing "follow the blinking blue dot" as we relied heavily on Google Maps for navigation. We ate well and loved our time in Tokyo, thanks in large part to my sister's recommendations and travel tips. (Seriously, I can't imagine a better travel guide for Japan. She's incredible!) Travel is a test for any relationship, but in a city where neither of us spoke the language nor read the alphabet, we felt totally comfortable with each other.
Which brings me to our last night in Tokyo. We had an excellent, transporting sushi omakase at Sushi Jiro Roppongi that lived up to the plentiful hype. After dinner we headed to the New York Bar at the top of the Park Hyatt Hotel, which one of my coworkers insisted was not to be missed as it has the best views over the city. The bar was featured in Lost in Translation, and its ambience was such a memorable way to close out our first trip together, including an all-important "define the relationship" conversation (although that was already pretty apparent when Doug flew to Japan to see me). So now, every year, to commemorate that trip and the "official" start of our relationship, we go out for sushi omakase. We didn't have to debate whether we'd continue marking this anniversary now that we're married and a different date reigns supreme defining the status of "us". It's a sweet tradition, one that reminds us of our first trip together and the fun and excitement at the beginning of our story.
Top photo: the view of Tokyo and Mount Fuji beyond from our hotel.
Below: Doug (still a bit sunburned from Hawaii!) and me in front of Sushi Jiro Roppongi on our last night in Tokyo.