Hi there! I'm back - what'cha think about that? You missed me, didn't you? You did. I know you did. Say it. Say you missed me. Say it was hard to live without me. C'mon. You know you want to tell me!
Yes! So! Japan! Sugoi, desu - ne?
Every place that I've ever been on this big blue marble, I've enjoyed. It's true. I really do like Korea, for sure. I wouldn't have lived here for over three years now if I thought it sucked. I have to tell you though, me and Japan? Well, we've got a thing going on. It's love, I reckon. Each time I set my feet upon the Land of the Rising Sun I feel as if my heart might explode out of my chest, it grows that big with happiness.
So this time was no different, and you - you fine people that surely missed me, will have to forgive me. I was about 10 minutes away from my apartment in a cab on my way to Japan when I realized my camera was still sitting on the floor where I'd left it to charge up for the trip. So there are no photos of my trip.
(I was charging my camera up because the electrical outlets are different in Japan, and I wouldn't have been able to recharge it there.) I did manage to borrow my friend Miyuki's camera midway through the trip, but quickly discovered that it was broken - so again, I was foiled.
Anyhow, things were good. I was met by my Japanese friends at the port in Hakata (Fukuoka) and we went directly for lunch. Tonkotsu ramen, which is one of my favourites! It's stinky, but delicious. There's just no comparison between Korean ramen (which is INSTANT) and the Japanese version (which is an INSTITUTION!) I found it kind of funny that I found myself wishing I had a bowl of bekju kimchi to eat with my ramen! There was a bowl of seasoned beansprouts like you can get in Korea, so that was alright.
Back to my friends' house after lunch, and then they were off to work! My friends own an "Izakaya" which is a kind of restaurant that serves a wide variety of THINGS on STICKS. If I had my camera I'd show you a bunch of stick-food, but,.... I suppose one of the best known is "yakki-tori" - skewered grilled chicken on a stick. My friends' restaurant has a whole mess of other things as well, my favourites are "tebasaki" - chicken wings (they do them SO WELL) grilled beef, "buta-bura" - pork belly, or enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon. While my friends went off to work I lay down on their couch and enjoyed a 3 hour nap! I met up with them and my friend Toshi (who came with me to Canada for 2 weeks back in the spring of 2004) and had some "yakki-onigiri" - grilled rice balls, and some "nama beiru" - BEER! The next day was mellow, a bit of shopping, a bit of napping. Late Saturday night a group of people met up at the restaurant to clean and then sit down for a feast of food and drink to celebrate the New Year. The giant "nabe" pot (think jjigae in Korea) was at the other end of the table, so I didn't taste that, but I did chomp into meat on a stick I thought was beef, but turned out to be liver! Eck. (I made the same mistake the night before when I found myself with a mouthful of chicken heart.)
Sunday was New Year's Eve, and I was headed down to Kumamoto to meet up with my friend Herbert, who I used to work with in Japan.
This story will continue tomorrow - I promise. In the meantime, check out this cool glass of sake I got:
But the coolest thing is what's inside!
That's Toronto! My hometown! Japan must be the most technologically advanced country - it managed to shrink the largest city in Canada and fit it into a jar of sake! Awesome!