Paris in Old Tokyo

The August Moon Café is owned and operated by Miki and Dallas Pyle, long-time friends who had also relocated to Tokyo from Maine.  In addition to being one of our regular dining spots, it is also a gathering place when mutual friends from Maine visit Japan.  Last week we enjoyed a pleasant lunch at the café with a Maine visitor, our friend (and favorite dessert and pastry chef-d’oeuvre) Atsuko Fujimoto.

Afterwards we wandered with friends Mikako Nishikawa and Mike Yellen through the old Tokyo Ningyocho neighborhood on a beautiful early spring day looking for a place to have an afternoon coffee and snack.  Although there were many small cafes and bars, we were unfamiliar with the area and had no specific destination in mind when we spotted the Chez Andre du Sacré Coeur, a small café that appeared inviting.

Upon entering, the décor and unpretentious atmosphere immediately impressed me as that of an authentic Parisian bistro.  While we leisurely enjoyed our conversation with a small sample of delicious food, I was captivated by the apparently old family black and white photography on the walls.  I wondered if there was a story of this very French eatery located in the heart of old Tokyo?

As we were preparing to leave, my question was answered.  The owner, Mme. Laurence Masukawa came over to thank us for visiting and bid us farewell.  She briefly explained the interesting history of the café and in the course of a very engaging conversation revealed she not only knew the August Moon Café but that Miki and Dallas were dear friend. Later, Miki said they often dine at Café Andre.

Mike wearing a gift from Cafe Andre

Upon returning home I did some research on Café Andre.  All of the many reviews were very positive, highlighting an exceptional traditional French menu, attentive and unobtrusive service, and very reasonable prices.  And the café’s website tells a wonderful story of the café’s history ( 

Paris in old Tokyo just 30 minutes from home!  Discovery of yet another great place and a surprising relationship that makes living here such an exciting and rewarding experience.



In the past six months Toma has adapted to a new environment and become a more loving and friendly member of our family. He enjoys making new friends –– human and canine –– and welcomes family and friends into our home. A wonderful and loyal companion.

On our frequent walks around the local park, Toma has become a popular member of the dog-walking community. He seems to know it as portrayed in this Peanuts cartoon clip:

My Love/Hate Relationship with Major League Baseball

With mid-February signaling the start of Major League Baseball spring training, fans rejoice that baseball that is back and get excited for the start of 2020 season.

I am not a fan.

My Team

Like most post-World War II boys, baseball was America’s game and as I’ll explain the Brooklyn Dodgers was “my team”. However, my love affair with professional baseball ended on October 8, 1957 when the Brooklyn Dodgers officially announced their move to Los Angeles, California. I had just turned 14.

I had attended the Dodger’s final game at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn on September 24, 1957. The official announcement came later but small crowd in attendance knew the team was leaving Brooklyn. My heart was broken. I lost all interest in the sport and it was many years before I went to another major league baseball game.

While I remember the Dodgers beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, it has been the park’s organ music that is the most vivid memory of the day. Most of the sentimental songs played at that game I had been playing on my accordion and I sang along with the other fans. I still know the music and most of the lyrics of the old standards “After You’re Gone,” “When I Grow Too Old to Dream,” and “Que Sera, Sera.” I left the Ebetts Field with tears as the organist played “Auld Lang Syne.” It was a very sad day.

“Wait till next year….!”

I wasn’t born in Brooklyn but my grandmother and mom were and I spent a great deal of time there with my Italian relatives and their friends in the Bensonhurst or Little Italy section of the borough. Naturally, like almost everyone in the family I became a Brooklyn Dodgers passionate fan and considered the other New York teams, the Yankees and the Giants, enemies!

I cannot recall my first game at Ebbets Field but I was very young and from about age 10 I recall attending weekend or holiday home games, mostly with my Uncle Frankie or Aunt Rita and their friends. I also listened to games on the radio and latter watched them on our new TV set.

At the games, I kept detailed play-by-play records. Interestingly, I was taught how to keep score by my Uncle Vinnie, inexplicitly a die-hard Yankee fan! Vinnie was a baseball expert and an umpire of some fame and notoriety for the popular local men’s baseball leagues. There were many a stressful family gathering when the Dodgers and Yankees faced off.*

I also collected Topps player cards and knew every Dodger player and their batting, fielding and pitching statistics. My favorite players were Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Sandy Koufax, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Jim Gilliam, Tommy Lasorda, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton and Johnny Podres.

Being a Dodgers fan was often trying and disappointing. When compared to the Yankees, the team delivered many league pennants but had not won a World Series title, losing to the hated Yankees five times. It has been said that the slogan “wait ‘til next year!” was born in Brooklyn. The team was affectionately called “Dem Bums” by loyal fans.

All that changed in 1955.

The 1955 World Series matched the Dodgers against the Yankees for the fifth time in nine years. The Yankees won in 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953.

The Dodgers won the 1955 Series in seven games to capture their first championship in franchise history, ending Yankee World Series dominance and invulnerability. It was the Yankees’ first loss in a World Series since 1942.

Happy Birthday Junie!

The Dodgers 2-0 victory was exciting and there were some thrilling plays, particularly a memorable one in the sixth inning that turned a potential run-scoring Yankee extra-base hit into a miracle-like double play.

I know because I was at that historic seventh game played at Yankee Stadium on October 4, 1955 with my uncles Frankie and Vinnie who had somehow managed three tickets to celebrate my coming birthday on October 7!

Shortly thereafter, rumors fueled by a debate with New York City about replacing Ebbets Field with a new Brooklyn facility appeared and within two years the Dodger’s owner confirmed his intent to move my beloved “Bums” to Los Angeles.

After the last Dodger home game of the 1957 season I did not attend another major league baseball game until I joined ABC as its Vice President of Government Relations in 1977. ABC was the premier sports network of the day and I had the opportunity to attend opening day games of the Baltimore Orioles as well a number of World Series games during my tenure.

Most memorable, and with mixed emotions, was watching the Yankees twice beat the “Los Angeles” Dodgers in the 1977 and 1988 series.

I also had box seats for the infamous sixth game of the 1986 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets at Shea Stadium. This was the game in which the Red Sox were twice one strike away from victory, and featured an incredulous error by Boston’s first baseman Bill Buckner. The Mets won that game after overcoming a deficit of two runs with two outs and no one on base in the bottom of the 10th inning. They then went on the win game seven and the Series.

It was not until Keiko and I moved to Maine that I went to another major league baseball game. In 2014 we went to Fenway Park in Boston, the main attraction being able to see the Red Sox’s star Japanese pitcher Koji Uehara. It was my last MLB game.

Now, with the mix of joyful and painful memories of the Brooklyn Dodgers lost in the fog of history I am planning to watching the Tokyo Giants play this year. The Japanese people are perhaps the most enthusiastic sports fans in the world. I am looking forward to reliving a few Brooklyn moments cheering for my adopted home town baseball team.


*That is a story for another time. For now, he was an Irishman who married Rosie, my mother’s younger sister.

A Special Valentine’s Day Treat!

As regular followers of this blog know, Keiko and I are “foodies.” For my Valentine’s Day dinner, Keiko selected an Italian restaurant, Chillombo Marina in Ueno, that specialized in fish and wood-fired pizza.

Usually I avoid Italian restaurants, preferring home-cooked meals based on the recipes passed down to me from my relatives. However, our pre-dinner research established that the restaurant’s food was prepared Sicilian-style and given the general food quality of Tokyo eateries I was looking forward to an enjoyable evening but with skeptical expectations.

To my surprise and great joy, the house six course meal we selected was one of the most authentically prepared Sicilian-style meals I have eaten in many years. My “mamma mia” reaction was spontaneous. Every course, accompanied by some Prosecco, Birra Moretti and Sambuca, was a tasty special treat.

In addition to a very satisfying meal, the dining experience prompted many wonderful memories of family dinners of my youth. I feel asleep with images of days long ago, the gift of a great meal with my Valentine.

The photos do not do justice to the kitchen’s outstanding talent, the quality of the service or the welcoming atmosphere. It was truly a fabulous Valentine’s Day treat!

Indeed, I feel compelled to arrange a return visit and with that in mind I have a perfect date already selected: On March 14th, we will celebrate White Day with another dinner there.

By way of explanation, Japan has its own unique way of celebrating Valentine’s Day.

While on February 14th in the United States both men and women exchange chocolates, flowers and gifts, in Japan it is only women who are expected to give chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day! The favor is then returned on March 14th on a day known as White Day, when men are encouraged to give chocolates back to the women who treated them on Valentine’s Day.

  • Appetizers
  • Grilled eggplant with tasty tomato sauce
  • Four cheese pizza cooked in a wood burning oven
  • Pasta with cod in olive oil & garlic
  • Whole grilled fish
  • Panna Cotta dessert
  • An end to a perfect meal with espresso and sambuca

Note: Although we follow Japanese customs and traditions, I have always given Keiko a Valentine’s Day gift as well as chocolates on White Day. This year was my first Valentine’s Day in Japan and I received delicious chocolates from Keiko as well as her mom and sister. In observance of Japan custom, I will reciprocate to each of them on White Day.

Yakitori & Cheese Steaks in Tokyo!?

We are experiencing lovely spring-like weather. It was 62F today. Keiko and I have used the opportunity to go on some neighborhood discovery walks through traditional old-time Tokyo neighborhoods that surround our oasis-like high-rise complex.

Yesterday we passed a small food store-front that offered Yakitori, other fried Japanese treats. The wonderful aroma caused to take a closer look and we saw pork belly in sweet soy sauce and curry-flavored potatoes. We could not resist, purchased a take-away assortment and enjoyed an unexpected lunch. All for less than 1000 Yen!

Yakitori, Pork Belly and more. Inexpensive great tasting Japanese comfort food.

Speaking of comfort foods, today I decided it was time for a old favorite – the “Philly Cheese Steak”! Mike’s in Philadelphia is still the king of this blue-collar gourmet dish but Paul’s Tokyo version was a satisfactory substitute.