Sun 14 Dec 2003
A fun day with Brad, Yuko and Ryoki. First, Brad and I reveled in our navigational limitations when, lost in Shinjuku while looking for an anemic flea market, we realized we were unbelievably hungry and passed up several coffee shops serving toast in hopes of something better, only to find ourselves in a coffee shop, half an hour later, hungrily ordering toast, because that was all we could find.
We then met up with Yuko and Ryoki and went for an excellent lunch, where we had chirashi, because it was the specialty of the house. I asked why that was the special and the chef said if I ordered it, it would be obvious why. It was. It also came with an odd pudding that had chewy lumps of something of the same color in it, making them difficult to avoid, and a hidden shrimp and green-yellow-red maple leaf shaped confection.
We then went to a lovely strolling park that was built to illustrate the stories and principles of poetry – Brad: Principle One: It Doesn�t Always Have to Rhyme – and then to some bookstores to shop for manga. There, in addition to lots of great books about visual art of all kinds, we saw a popular calendar girl holding her shaking-hands opportunity for a long line of eager young men.
Perhaps perversely, I really enjoyed Yuko and Ryoki navigating us around the city. Native Japanese speakers, they also tended to be unable to locate where we were going or which way to turn. Upon asking at stores in the native tongue, salespeople also were found to be remarkably ignorant of the neighborhood. For example, Yuko asked a hair salon employee where the street was that the sushi place was on, and she said she didn�t know, maybe over somewhere to the left. Just before following her uncertain hunch, Ryoki spotted it, one block straight ahead.
With Brad in town, we�ve now made a solemn pact to focus on eating well. Tonight, we�re heading to Shinjuku, Blade Runner territory, for shabu-shabu.