By Rob Allanson

Welcome to Whisky Magazine

Well I guess I promised last issue to write more about my travels in Japan. As a Tokyo beginner it is hard to know where to begin.It is a fascinating country that feels so familiar at times, and looks like you might recognise parts of the architecture. At night the city lights still stain the underbellies of rain swollen clouds.However once you get beyond the superficial it is an almost impenetrable culture for the foreigner.Everyone is polite, helpful and friendly, especially if you learn a little Japanese – however be prepared to be corrected or smiled at as you inevitably get things wrong.The Japanese do rightly and proudly consider their language as one of the most complex.But you cannot help the feeling that occasionally you are at arms length looking in on things. The nuances of linguistics and subtleties of a culture pass you by, gently and of course with a disarming smile.Adventures in Tokyo are always close at hand. Dave talks elsewhere in the magazine about the fish market (see page 58) and it is well worth a visit, particularly at 4am.I made my own pilgrimage there after a few beers and chasers with whisky artist Ian Gray and a couple of Norwegian bar owners.Ian and I had been out seeing some of the nightlife and how the Japanese relax in Rogongi, including a few hours in a superb jazz club.We headed back to the Park hotel – home of the most exquisite ice balls for cocktails – and after liberating a bottle of Caol Ila from the bar the four of us hot footed it across to the fish market for the auction.Thankfully we managed to read the map well enough to find it, hitch a ride on the ubiquitous three-wheeled delivery van and finally found ourselves flying past boxes and rows of stalls selling everything from shrimp to octopus and all manner of things in between from the deep.The tuna auction is an impressive sight to behold, but more about this from Dave in the food feature (page 58).Eating presented a couple of problems when deciding to dine away from Western influenced menus.One of my favourite food moments was sitting at a Japanese breakfast with Ian. I had said that some of the little side plates were quite eyeopening.I had not realised how close to the truth I was, as Ian examined a small brown object and announced it definitely had eyes and could not be shredded Kobe beef.A fantastic evening was spent in Sapporo on the North Island with Nikka’s Naofumi Kamiguchi discovering authentic sashimi and sushi, including sea urchin, together with some decent whisky. Great memories.