Despite the cold, drizzly Thursday, the Tsukiji fish market was crowded with shoppers and lunchers. The line is for a famous sashimi place around the corner. The crowd made the newspaper, whose story attributed the crowd to Chinese tourists. Indeed, I heard a group speaking Chinese, but I could not tel from where in China they came. Notice the “CHUB/BEGR/VILE8″ sticker on the right of the upper photo..I have kept an eye out for graffiti and street stickers, but they are few. I suspect it is a music group.
Having had unagi the day before, my host suggested the good soba restaurant. He was worried about the wait, but the busloads of tourists had not yet finished visiting the mausoleum. It was a cold day with snow still on the sidewalk in places, but we chose cold soba in a chilly restaurant on a cold foggy day. It came with tempura vegetables and maitake rice. The menu on the wall impressed me with its elegance. I thought it was poetry. I would like to think that not understanding the words helps me appreciate the composition. The meal was very good, but we knew we would have room for dinner. There is nothing like train travel and hiking about in the snow visiting mountain temples to bring an appetite. And the sea an ships.
Deep in west Tokyo, we ate lunch at a small place in Kokobunji, about a twenty minute walk from the train station. Two of us had the anago with udon, and one of had the other dish. Unlike unagi, the fresh water eel, anago the sea eel is reasonably priced, if very diiferent in taste. I think it was soba, but the egg on top obscured its identity. We sat on the floor tables beacause it was thought to be more comfortable. This yields advice to travelers to Japan: start stretching now so you can eat a meal while sitting cross legs at a table and get up afterward, and wear loafers, because you will have to take your shoes off many times. Watch the tea consumption if your bladder responds to caffeine, but this being a country for old men, there are plenty of good bathrooms.
A group with a stand in Naritsan Park was distributing a hot sake drink as part of the Narita Japanese Apricot Festival. It turned out to be non-alcoholic but sake flavored and with sweet rice. Something like horchata without spices. The box intrigued me. The students explained that it was a haiku box, and I could write a haiku that might win. I certainly could not write a haiku in Japanese, but I had to uphold the honor of us foreigners and try and English haiku. It was not my most inspired (non-alcoholic), but I got the 5-7-5 form, the seasonal reference, and the juxtaposition of elements: here and far away. It is not clear whether my kireji is good. I think they were more impressed with my knowledge of haiku than the flash product.
Freezing winter day
Warm sake from nice lady
Makes me think of home
I tried to resist using ToonCamera, but I could not. Japan overwhelms me with impressions, and ToonCamera helps. It was a beautiful day in Kamakura, and many were out enjoying Sunday with the family. The ume plum is sometimes found pickled in Japanese sweets. It seemed early for blossoming, but the weather was apt. Unfortunately, by the time the train got back to Tokyo, the temperature seemed to have dropped 20 degrees and I had to buy a hat. I hope the ume is a more accurate predictor of spring than the groundhog.
This beautiful calligraphy is on an abandoned shop window on Jeanne D’Arc street next to the “From Life Calligraffito” posted 9 July 2014. I waited in vain for my experts to translate it, so I post it now. Though they all agreed it was beautiful, none could identify a single word. Is it possible it is not a meaningful text?
In time, all things pass. Sometimes, such as now, I imagine what it will be like to remember now in ten or twenty years, a Saturday evening after dinner, just as I can recall a time ten or twenty years ago. It seemed so real then, though it surely passed, and now most certainly is real, though it too will pass. It would seem I must conclude the future is equally real, if currently unknown, even if I am not here to see it.