It would seem that my mother’s opinion of Japan has taken a drastic u-turn after she watched the Tokyo episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. I assured her that not all – in fact, I’d venture to say very few – Japanese women choose careers as skimpily-clad performance artists in robot theater. Also, I had no imminent plans to join any sadomasochistic rope-binding clubs. I’m not sure I convinced her though. Yesterday, instead of ending our phone conversation with her customary “Have fun!”, she opted for the infinitely more foreboding: “Be careful!”.
Somewhat along the same lines…Did you know that it’s impossible to take a discreet picture with your cell phone in Japan. The other night, my dining companion, Tomomi, expressed nothing short of awe at my ability to snap photos of the food without making a sound. I explained that all she had to do was switch her phone to silent mode but, apparently, there is no such thing as silent mode in Japan. When it comes to taking pictures on your cell phone anyway. This fact was confirmed the next day at lunch when one of our fellow customers tried taking a photo of her sushi – and ended up drawing the attention of the entire room when her phone emitted a sound akin to a sound effect for fairy dust being sprinkled. What gives? Well, according to Akemi, perverts ruined it for everyone. Isn’t it always the way? Apparently, upskirt photos became pandemic that the authorities stepped in and passed a law to stem the flow. Now, if you’re going to snap a photo of someone’s panties riding the escalator one floor up, someone is gonna know! Unless, of course, you have one of those stealth phones. Like I do.
Well, yesterday I spent the day with my friend Moro-san visiting Kamakura, a small and quaint city in Kanagawa Prefecture notable for its temples, shrines, giant statue, and the exact same chocolate cake with a side of whipped cream that is served at every restaurant and cafe in the area.
We stopped off for a pre-dinner snack where I enjoyed a very beery beer ice cream and a bite of Moro-san’s lavender ice cream that tasted like that time I was accidentally sprayed in the mouth while cutting through my local department store’s women’s perfume section. Then, about an hour later, we had dinner.
We capped off our day with drinks at a bar called En in Yokohama. Owned and operated by master mixologist Endo, it’s a small place and homey watering hole with an astounding selection of booze. We were the first ones in and, over the hour and a half we were there, a half dozen other clients made their way in – all regulars. Moro-san introduced me and I ended up chatting with all of them, alternating between English and Japanese as I knocked back 12 year old Yamazaki and Four Roses Single Barrel.
Bar En: 4 Chome-180 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Yokohama.
By the time I got back to my hotel in Tokyo – a little over an hour later – I was exhausted. But Akemi was on hand to greet me in her very special way. With a welcome back hug? A kiss? Even better! Check it out -
The perfect way to end my night.