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:
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Passport |