December 06, 2003

Japan 7: Kagoshima

On my first night in Kagoshima, I got to meet Emi, and she, Jon and I went out to a nice little restaurant. My first impression of Emi served me well for the brief amount of time that I've spent with her so far. What to say but very nice? She's pretty, fun to be with, and her and Jon semm to get on very well and be very well suited. Jon is very relaxed and open with her and it seems like there's a lot of joking and laughter. They speak pretty much exclusively in Japanese, so every now and again, I'd find myself asking Jon what they were saying. Sometimes I regretted asking, like when we were in the restaurant and the food had been ordered, and Emi giggled a response to something Jon had said.

"I told her she was looking particularly beautiful tonight", he said, without a hint of embarassment, presenting his translation to me like a proud father talking of his child's accomplishments. I thought I might throw up. Which was definitely not the case at the Yakatori (skewer) restaurant we were at.

Having pretty unsuccessfully navigated the whole taking-shoes-off-and-in-so-doing-not-touching-the-dirty-floor-with-our -feet-but-instead-stepping-gracefully-up-to-the-elevated-level game, we were seated on cushions around a low rectangular wooden table of a sort of light mahogany color. The restaurant was softly lit, but not in a Western "romantic" soft lighting type of way, and was bustling with noise and movement.

This gave Emi the perfect opportunity to display her skill of attracting the waiters' attention instantly with just the merest hint of a "sumi massen". But once the waiter's attention was safely secured, that was when the fun really started. There's a delicacy in Kagoshima district, or Kagoshima-ken of sashimi-style raw chicken. Yes. Chicken that has not been cooked. A delicacy, not a mistake. A little soy sauce, some wasabi, and away you go. I didn't know this until after I'd eaten it (although I just had some more today, fully knowing). All I can say is that I'm glad I didn't visit Kumamoto, Emi's home area. Their delicacy there is raw horse. Anyway, raw chicken's not to be sniffed at. In the good meaning, rather than the literal meaning. A little chewy, but prepared in such a typically elegant style, and presented so carefully, that yes, even raw chicken seemed enticing!

As we left the restaurant significantly inebriated, Jon demanded that we walk home (so for those who know, not everything about him is unchanged). We took in the cool night air in almost deserted streets on a bright moonlit night in the southernmost city in Japan. Emi pretty much collapsed in sleepy drunkenness the minute we got back to Jon's apartment. The bedding, to conserve the little space there is is simply a futon mattress that is stored in a cupboard with Japan's characteristic sliding doors during the day. Before Jon could even pull it out (the bedding, the bedding) Emi was fast asleep on the matt floor with her coat still on.

Posted by mthaddon at December 6, 2003 09:01 PM