I was never 'spoiled' on bagels - I wasn't born with an innate birthright to claim "you can't get real bagels here."
As a Jewish kid growing up in California, bagels were a staple part of my diet - especially on weekends or at Bar Mitzvahs. But as our relatives from back east (New York) constantly reminded us, "you can't get real bagels in California."
That was probably true in the 70s and 80s. But at some point in the 90s, Californians learned how to make passable bagels. I know this for a fact because I can clearly recall my Aunt from Long Island eating a bagel with us somewhere circa '92 and saying "this isn't half-bad, where did you get it?"
And thus, California bagels were now "real."
Then I moved to Japan. At first, oh about 1994, there were literally "no" bagels. The best I could do to satisfy my cravings was a Kaiser roll. I was able to get my hands on Philadelphia Cream Cheese (stick only, no whipped) and of course this being Japan, smoked salmon (or any other sea creature) was not an issue. So there I was back in the day, eating my Kaiser Roll with lox and cream cheese (and a hole cut in the middle to complete the fantasy) and longing for them good ole' California bagels.
Fast forward to the early 2000's and Tokyo has changed. Internationalization or globalization or whatever has kicked into gear and before you know it there are not only McDonald's in every station and Coke machines on every corner, but we also get Starbucks, Subway, Tropicana, Frosted Flakes ("corn frosties"), Crystal Geyser, Cold Stone Creamery, Costco, Ikea, Krispy Kreme, blah blah blah.
Bagels became a hit with the OL's around 2001 and were then firmly added to the cultural culinary landscape. A chain of bagle shops (aptly called "Bagel & Bagel") spreads the word and even Doutor has "bagel sands" (I can't think of an appropriate North American cultural assimile for Doutor other than to say it's like Winchell's back in the 80s when people still smoked, only without the doughnuts).
The truth is, though, bagels in Tokyo are no better than the ones in California back in the 70s and 80s. Mostly they taste like white bread in the shape of a doughnut. Occasionally I find one that is marginally better than Safeway brand bagels (6 in a bag for 1.99), but I try not to be too elitist - I know what it's like to have your bagels bagged on.
So until recently, we used to 'import' bagels by the dozen (take 'em on the plane with us and put 'em in the freezer. We used to do the same thing with tortillas before you could buy them here too - but that's another post.)
But having kids and the high cost of fuel has limited our ability to import our own precious bagels. Luckily, for those living in Tokyo and craving bagels, there is a place called 212 (which is somehow connected to H&H Bagels from New York, so it must be good, right) which is leading the charge to make Tokyo like California in the 90s. The locations are out of the way - Harumi Triton Square is nearest to us and we make a pilgrimmage about once a month (go early to get them fresh baked and before they run out).