Friday, May 29, 2009

Not Lost, but Maybe in Mona Lisa Overdrive

TOKYO--If you want to seriously freak out a couple sushi chefs, mix green tea powder into your soy sauce.

Really, I thought it was the wasabi powder. I am sure there were plenty of other gaijin goofs I made during the last two days, but it seems everyone in Japan is too polite to say anything. They bow and smile and bring you a new dish of wasabi. The chefs yelled only to prevent me from actually dipping my sushi in the soy-tea goop.

The entire time we were in Tokyo, it rained, so that makes turbo-powered touristing a bit tougher -- and a lot soggier. Nonetheless, we were wowwed by the overwhelming otherness of Tokyo. Just the bright signs everywhere in an alphabet you can not read are enough to start the weirdness meter running. Add to that the density of people -- thousands crossing an intersection at one time, without noticeable pushing or shoving. When you figure out what the signs are advertising or the store is selling, it all just gets a little weirder. I am not sure I want to know what a maid cafe is, for instance.

It really is sorta William Gibson crossed with Lost in Translation.

And just when you think the mobs will never thin out, you turn into a shinto shrine or traditional garden, and it's calm. You turn down a path, and there is a guy sweeping, using a broom made of bamboo twigs.

*We have lots of cool photos, but this computer is not letting me upload them. Or at least I can not read the kanji for USB drive. Or for parentheses and apostrophes, by the way. So more photos later.


  1. Sounds so cool. What are you supposed to mix the tea powder with, anyway? Great photos, btw. Did you get help posting them? You were missed in Chat today!--ER

  2. I somehow missed this one before. SO funny. I am sitting here laughing, knowing exactly the stir you must have caused. When I was living in Japan, I made miso with the "wrong" vegetables for a couple of new Japanese friends. I am sure they are STILL talking about it.