Tag Archives: food

Anxious Heart

At the end of another hectic day I find myself at the very place where my first Japanese adventure began in 2008, Hotel Chuo in Shin-Imamiya, Osaka. I have to emphasize how much I appreciate being in a place completely devoid of panic, and as a physical manifestation of that appreciation I just marched to the nearby combini to buy a real beer and some snacks. Although a celebrating would be inconceivable due to the general situation in the country, I truly believe I’ve earned some safety and comfort. My next move is to hit the public bath as soon as it opens.

Last night marked the first time I’ve ever been woken up by an earthquake. It very much resembled waking up from a nightmare. During the 15 seconds that I was sentient, I had the time to consider running out and also measure my heart rate, which was substantial. As soon as it was over, I fell asleep faster than an Engrish-speaking guard in the original Metal Gear.

Late in the morning my boss called me and suggested taking refuge in the West, as apparently I had no family or friends tying me to Tokyo to suffer with the rest. That rhymed. It didn’t rhyme on the phone, though. I’m awesome. Looking at the situation back in Tokyo with people getting increasingly anxious I finally decided to take a shinkansen towards Osaka on the very same day. Clear movement out of Tokyo was perceived all along the way with large numbers of people moving towards the Shinagawa and Tokyo stations with a reasonable amount of luggage that should not be present on any normal day.

The shinkansen ticket buying system was retarded, but I won’t go into details as it did already waste half an hour of my life. I also made the mistake of entering the first shinkansen I saw, which was already full. Considering I had a non-reserved seat (cheaper), I ended up having no seat at all until Nagoya. Despite all this, the journey was relatively painless. Tomorrow I’ll be applying for the alien registration card and re-entry permit, just in case. Update: this is not possible, as I do not really live in Osaka.


Pimeä tie, mukavaa matkaa

When I went to sleep last night everything seemed to be increasingly under control. I called my boss around 8 and confirmed that I should go to the office tomorrow, provided it’s physically possible. Well I have an awesome bike so not even canceled trains are able to thwart that. In addition, the rolling blackouts were supposed to occur in Nerima at 6:20-10:00 and 16:50 to 20:30 which basically meant that going to work would allow me to follow the news and keep in touch with people instead of lying in bed reading manga. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter, I’m just quite interested in knowing when some inconceivably destructive incident occurs again. There’s a history of those during the past couple of days. The office is situated in downtown Tokyo, in an area exempt of blackouts due to a large concentration of political institutions, including most of the embassies.

Of course, the rolling blackouts did not actually begin today either because TEPCO cannot get their shit together. In unrelated news, going to the office had also been canceled but I had been out of reach so I ended up cycling there anyway before learning of the change of plans. After hearing some other negative news about the Fukushima plant, I went to Shibuya to have a Japanese pizza buffet for lunch and witness the relatively quiet streets again. I guess I’ll ramble about the unique attributes of Japanese pizza some other time.

What do you mean Jim rubs birds

I recently stated that life in Tokyo is proceeding as normal. This is only partially true, although far closer to the truth than the widespread panic in western media. A couple of peculiarities can be observed. People are still emptying stores of all fresh food. Not food that actually doesn’t spoil and could save you if you were isolated from all services for months though, only the good stuff. I don’t know if the locals will combat the growing fear by stuffing themselves full of sushi and steaks but it sure appears like that. Another specific phenomenon is the rush to gas stations. Throughout Monday there were lines of dozens of cars attempting furiously to secure something they widely believe to be the last tankful of gas in the city.

Because I’m personally affected by the situation in Japan as well as have the unpleasant task of calming people back in Finland and elsewhere who believe I will be dead within a week, I tend to place emphasis on conveying news reports that do not concentrate on scaring people with vague comparisons to historical events and repeating the term “radiation” like a fucking buzzword. Some misinformation can be attributed to the intermedia degrading grapevine effect. I totally made that term up.

According to the information collected, Tokyo should be fine. I have yet to hear about a nuclear plant accident that would have been inherently lethal 240kms away from the main location. Even if and when the current hazard escalates further, the damage will most likely only concern Fukushima and it’s surroundings, i.e. the danger will remain relatively local. I am currently scouting the possibility to go to west Japan for some contemplating but just to be clear: leaving Japan is my last goddamn resort. If I leave, I can’t come back. Therefore, I’m very reluctant to fly back home due to rumors and misinformed opinions. I hope that those who care about me understand this and can trust me in making the right choice while taking all variables into consideration. In all honesty, I have enough to cope with here as is.


Slurping Mad

I was cycling back home from work one day when an incredible thought struck me. The cause for that particular thought to emerge was that I was going across ramen place after ramen place and smelling the heavenly flavors of whichever broth was under preparation at that specific point in time. I did not stop to ask for details.

The revolutionary idea was to start eating at all the shops on the way to the office one by one until I can write a thorough review of all the things Loop 7 (環七通り) between Nerima and Shinjuku has to offer ramenwise.

The culture of eating ramen is fascinating on many levels. It is the only eating culture that I know of that emphasizes eating rapidly while making weird noises without including any social interaction whatsoever. As a self-taught barbarian, this is something I long for whenever I have to eat with other people in a so-called civilized manner. The ideal, standard ramen shop is a place where you pay for your food beforehand at a ticket dispenser, receive a ticket with the dish you ordered, put the ticket on the counter, get ramen, stop breathing, eat ramen, wipe table, put dish back on counter and leave. Naturally, there are usually a few words exchanged with the owner to choose toppings or thank for the food, but there are no conversations between restaurant-goers, no eye contact with anyone, and people concentrate on, get this, *Sam Kinison voice* FUCKING EATING!

My initial problem with planning to report my eating experiences is that I have a very practical approach towards food. Either something is excellent, maa maa, or edible. Otherwise it isn’t food. And there are a lot of things you can eat that aren’t food as well. The fancy ramblings that food critics offer are just a highly sophisticated form of verbal perversion that I don’t want to be associated with. As a rule I’m much more interested in what constitutes my food than how many bizarre adjectives a highly paid lobbyist can find to describe it. Although my writing skills could possibly be up to the tedious task, my imagination and self-respect most likely would not be. I consider food critics to fall into the same category as people in marketing, i.e. they are the bane of the earth. Unfortunately it appears I am soon to belong to both demographics.

Furthermore, there is a high chance that my food commenting would strongly resemble the taste interpretations on Japanese TV, which essentially consist of randomly chosen famous people chewing for a few seconds before making retarded faces and repeating oishii until they start foaming at the mouth and fall over backwards. If I actually manage to cook something up related to ramen tasting, I’ll put up a dedicated page for that. Don’t expect too much, though. It could get boring really fast. For all of us.