Anthony Bourdain — who was found dead in his hotel room Friday in France — had a knack for discovering the best of each country he visited over the course of his colorful career, but always seemed to have a special place in his heart for Japan.

"The first time I came here, it was a transformative experience, a powerful and violent experience," Bourdain said of Tokyo in his CNN TV series "Parts Unknown." "It was just like taking acid for the first time, meaning, 'What do I do now that I see the whole world in a different way?'"

As a child, Bourdain grew up watching classic Japanese films such as "Seven Samurai" (1954) and "Sanjuro" (1962). Those early experiences matured into a deep relationship with Japan that went beyond food and extended to its music, cinema, lifestyle and culture. A "Parts Unknown" trip to Japan in the series' first season included visits to the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku and a death metal show, as well as a meal with a woman involved in Tokyo's sadomasochistic community.