When I mention to people how I vacationed in Japan they initially ask me about Bullet Trains. Sometimes they gauchely ask "Why?"
While I'd love to list all the reasons why, there's not enough screen or paper to answer.
My goal during this trip was to eat my way around the country. I'm pleased to report my choice to wear a stretchy fabric pencil dress on my 12 hour flight back to the U.S. was wise. I couldn't get back into my trousers for 2 weeks due to eating so much food.
While I haven't spoken Japanese since childhood, I remembered common courtesies and rituals including explaining the steaming rolled hot towel brought to our table before ordering was a welcome.
I was shocked at my husband asking me the significance of it. Doubly so at my own ability to explain without hesitation along with significance of said customs.
The peace found taking a train in and out of Tokyo goes beyond the world relaxing. Not one passenger spoke louder than a whisper, coming off the train to walk in silence up stairs with hundreds of people was surreal.
But let's get back to talking about the food.
I am not one for taking pictures of the food I eat during my travels too much. I can say that even of I took a picture I would not be able to give you the proper name. In the city I often ordered my afternoon meals from a vending machine.
You put money in, make a selection, receive a chip/marker, hand it to the server or place it in the tray and wait for your mystery to you meal.
I craved noodle soup the whole time so I knew I would be 90% happy with the selection. Each time I was able to find non-beef based meals and that made my gastronomy-filled adventure 100% amazing. Hence why there's more of me and my thighs.
Speaking of thighs, they come in handy when you don't want to wait in the long line for the women's restroom?
No woman wanted to squat so I strolled past the line, noted that there ways a door and toilet paper available.
Let's just say when I walked out I was struttin' like a boss. When asked 'how was it?' by another American in line, I replied, "I'd like to thank my Quads and all the reps I've done..."
Like I often say, Thick thighs save lives. In my case, they saved me from a long line and wasting what little time I had in Japan.
Part of our trip involved stumbling onto an vintage car show. Someone from Jalopnik took much better pictures than I could the drizzly Friday morning.
For me I was focused on taking pics of food when not stuffing my face so my pics are of dessert displays in windows.
There were traditional kasagi and then as expected French pastries in which gave the originators a run for their money.
I was seduced and inspired by what I saw and tasted. It will be coming out on my future desserts.
In Japan I discovered so much, but it unexpectedly reminded me of my childhood in the Bay Area too.
I cannot wait to use some new ingredients from Japan and try some of the recipes in my new cookbooks!
I think I need a larger dress.
While everyone was waiting for my newest novel MISE EN DEATH to arrive on their tablet or their mailbox I was on holiday. I posted some pics on Instagram and Facebook, but there's more behind the pics.
Okay b*tches, have a seat. It's #CocoaGaijin Story Time.
This is about my first time….in Japan. Y’all thought I was gonna say something else about my honeymoon? Pfft. I was a late bloomer but I eventually bloomed. Anyways…
So there we were at the dock awaiting to get through customs. It would be the first of what we'd find out would be 4 or 5 times in 5 days. Anyways...
So after 3 hours we get through and take our first step in Hokkaido, Kushiro to be exact.
We were told to go to the 7-11 and get some yen (which is actually pronounced en because the y is silent). Yes, I said 7-11. Don't suck your teeth. 7-11 ain't like here in the States. Japan's 7-11 is all da t'ings and more! Okay, so where was I?
Oh yes so we get out with our (y)en and head to the market we've heard so much about and it's to music. I don't mean we so in love we heard mofo birds and ish. I mean they have music coming from speakers on poles all around the town. Think of the propaganda talks from speakers in the book 1984, but Kushiro's propaganda was to make you feel welcome and full of chill.
So after wandering we finally get to this market and I'm jonesing for noodle soup. Welp, we never did find it, but our wandering Nerd points out some kimonos and I'm like "Hell to the yes!"
"500 yen to try on"
That's like $5 to cosplay for a minute so I'm like okey doke.
Let me tell you these 2 sobo were as cute and polite as could be as they reminded me to remove my shoes in their little makeshift try on section.
I pick out a nice little kimono and Sobo #1 starts helping me in while Sobo #2 asks for permission to touch my hair and put it up. I have a weave and I'm a foot and a half taller than Sobo #2 so THAT was as hysterical as you'd think. We both giggled when she let out an "oh" when she tried to pull up my hair a little too high. "No girl, don't be showing the tracts....there will be tears.”
Okay so Sobo #1 starts to wrap the kimono on me and she tries to wrap it around my big ol' bootie and finds it a bit snug. I shrug.
I make a gesture of eating from a bowl and say in half Japanese and half English: I like to eat. Then she tries to flatten down my DD chest. She tried to politely and delicately push them down, they bounce back like buoys in the Pacific Ocean we just crossed. We all laugh and I shrug.
So Sobo #1 starts makin' me look all sorts of right by getting the kimono just so on my frame and then she yells at an elderly gentlemen who was chowing down on some noodles while watching the Cocoa Gaijin show.
The way she yelled at him I'm certain they were hitched. That kinda yellin' is universal at e'ryone's significant other.
No translator needed.
So they finish and grandpa asks me to put on some cute orange flip flops. Not zoris. We talkin' American flip flops.
I'm like okay, clearly he's about to show me another mirror on the outside of the booth, right?
Nope. He continues and I think, oh, he's about to show me to my shoes.
Grandpa takes me for a walk! Nerd is laughing…while taking pictures of the entire situation.
Grandpa leads me.
All. Around. The. Busy. Fish. Market!
And Grandpa calls out to e'rybody to clap for me and starts bringing attention to my Cocoa Gaijin big busty booty self!
That's the story behind that first batch of kimono pics I posted.
That was my first few hours in Japan. So embarrassing, but not one person was mean or tryna humiliate me.
In my upbringing in parts of California with a heavy Japanese population and taking this trip, Japan’s culture showed me that it was more important to make sure I never felt shamed.
It was an introduction to shedding the reluctantly learned cynicism of my homeland. In that exchange I learned that I could be my whimsical, silly, and joyful self without apology.
If you liked this story, trust me there’ll be more if you’d like me to share. Speaking of share, please comment and then share this post with your friends to do the same.