President Barack Obama kicked off his four-nation Asian tour with a stop in the Tokyo underground alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with whom the president visited the legendary sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro, which was made famous by the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
Not much is known about the menu on offer, which runs at $300 for a tasting course prepared by the chef, Jiro Ono. And Obama wasn’t giving away any secrets as he left the restaurant, only telling reporters, "That’s some good sushi right there."
Here’s video of Obama arriving at the restaurant alongside a pair of aides: National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Japan:
But in the (admittedly short) history of presidential culinary adventures in Japan, Obama’s pilgrimage to the temple of Jiro falls far short of an episode that’s been somewhat forgotten. Given Obama’s journey to what is often described as the world’s best sushi restaurant, we can’t help but revisit President George H.W. Bush’s 1992 visit to Japan. During that visit, Bush was treated to a state dinner at the home of Japanese Prime Minsiter Kiichi Miyazawa. And it was during that dinner that Bush the elder fell ill and by all appearances vomited and passed out in Miyazawa’s lap.
The incident was captured on video, and it’s exactly as good as it sounds. First Lady Barbara Bush rushes over and attempts to cover her husband’s mouth with a napkin, but the president is lost to his illness and capsizes into the lap of Miyazawa. Watch to the end for SNL’s treatment of the vomiting incident, which is cast in the mold of an Oliver Stone conspiracy flick:
And if you haven’t watched David Gelb’s magical portrait of Japan’s aging sushi master, here’s a taste. Fair warning, it will make you hungry: