I can’t believe how fast the time is going. We are wrapping up our time in Japan and trying to make sure we have done all of the things we wanted to do here. For me it has been a mix of many factors. First of all, I have had so many memories of when I lived here twenty years ago. There were so many things that were just part of my daily life. Riding my bike with two baskets to go grocery shopping for the week, taking the train everywhere, navigating some of the biggest train stations in the world, all this things bring back great memories and in some ways it feels like it was only a little while ago that this was my life.
As some of you may know about me, many of my strongest memories are around food and meals. I got to make a few more such memories this time. One of my favorite foods in Japan is okonomiyaki and this trip I got to go to Hiroshima for the first time which is famous for their okonomiyaki. They have a whole mall filled with just okonomiyaki restaurants! It was great, we chose one called Kaeru (frog) and we all got our own little metal flippers to use with our chopsticks.
During our stay with Hisako, Kathrin’s high school host sister, in Takasaki we also got to experience catching out own noodles as they flowed by in a bamboo stream! You had to catch them on your chopsticks before they passed you by, or someone else got them first. They are then dipped in a bowl of cold sauce and slurped up.
One of the things that I had been wanting to do was visit a specific little restaurant, close to where we lived in Tokyo, where they make okonimiyaki right on the grill in front of you. We would often meet at this station after work and hop of the trains for a quick bite to eat. The staff were some younger guys who were always friendly with us, and it was a great show and meal. We did make time to take the kids there a few weeks ago and thought the restaurant was still there it had changed hands and the older couple that ran it seemed tired and not very personable. Or more likely the actual experience could not live up to my memories from twenty years ago. One of the things I hate about getting older is the fact that I cannot re-live great experiences I have had because I am not the same person I was when I had the first experience. This makes me sad and I use it to try and remind myself to enjoy and focus on the present, and what is going on now.
We went on to a mix of great places we had been to before in Japan, Kyoto, Nara, Nikko, with several new to me places like Hiroshima, Nakasendo, and Takasaki. We ended with our last week in downtown Tokyo near Asakusa, which was great. We explored the temple and got to live in the down town area that stayed up late and had plenty to do from cheap food to the new Tokyo Sky Tree. Now we head off to start our time in South East Asia and to explore, explore, explore!