Sunday, August 27, 2006

A new rating scale

We decided today that the awesomeness of a house/apt will from henceforth be judged by the number of didgeridoos present. Today's total was 5, 4 of which were handmade. where you can get your very own!!

My Tokyo eikaiwa folks invited me to a flowing somen party. A what? A flowing somen party is basically built around the idea of creating the most nonsensical way to serve food to your guests.

It involves constructing a 10-12 food long slide out of halved bamboo stalks, and putting a hose at the top. You have a catch-all at the end of the slide (the one today was a bucket with two river fish swimming around in it, topped with oven cooling racks), and a somen master at the top. People line up with chopsticks in hand to catch the somen as it flows down the chute in the cold water. You then dip the captured somen into your sauce bowl and slurp away. There is a lot of missed noodles, laughter, photos, and of course LOUD slurpy noises.

On top of the somen, there was smoked river fish, smoked eggs, smoked cheese, sesame balls, edamame, potatoes, mountain vegetables, cactus sashimi, chocolate cake, pumpkin cake, and mass quantities of beer and tea. It was a feast, and the company was better than I could have ever hoped for.

The host family, the Okadas, live in Tonami, in an old-fashioned Japanese farmhouse. The father is a craftsman/artist who has two Harley Davidsons, and makes things out of wood above his garage in his spare time. The wife is a sweet beer drinking woman, who is incredibly humble about her cooking. Their son made his appearance after lunch... Dreadlocks, Rasta t-shirt, and didgeridoo in hand. We sat in the living room playing his massive purple and green didge, and two of his father's handmade wooden ones for about an hour or so. He busted out the bongo and a mouth-harp as well, while I jammed on guitar for a bit. Their daughter has recently passed away, but they display her psychadelic paintings all over the house, and proudly show the pictures of her traveling in India.

Put all this together with wacky obaachans who continuously hug and giggle and you have a nearly perfect day. I was sent home with a tissue holder (fabric pocket to hold tissues) that one of the obaachans made for me out of gorgeous brown kimono silk, and a bungload of smoked eggs and pumpkin cake! Omiyage! They have these parties once a month or so, and I was invited to next month's, where one of my new grandmas is going to perform tea ceremony, and we will probably help harvest some rice.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Now I know how Yuki feels

For those of you caught unaware, Yuki is the name of my cat. I say "my" loosely, as I have not seen this particular kitten in over a year now. He is residing in the great city of Chicago, and for that I am excessively jealous this week. You see, Yuki is a special needs cat. At least that is what the nurse at the kitty shelter told me. Turns out my furry black friend is an amputee. I won't tell the sad saga that is his early life, be happy to know that he is probably the luckiest cat in the western hemisphere at this moment.

I allude to the cat because Yuk used to have attacks of phantom limb. He would often sit on the floor, hike up his stump and shake it vigorously, in an attempt to scratch his ear. It nearly made me cry the first time I saw, and I would dive across the room to take the place of his foot and scritch it for him. Many people found it amusing, but to me it was devastating. The only way I could think to stop it would be to give him a peg leg, or perhaps a whisk leg. I didn't want a traumatized AND embarassed cat, so I decided against prosthetics.

The past few days I have had a similar feeling. My best friend left Japan several days ago and I feel rather like I lost a limb myself. I keep reaching for my keitai to tell him about something hilarious that happened, knowing he would appreciate it. Last night was the worst, though. I stood up in bed, searched around the room for him, even looked on the balcony for him, and as I opened my sliding doors to search the kitchen and bathroom, it hit me. He is not here. I know I was half asleep, but I was really confused and sad.

It doesn't help that I have very vivid dreams. Sometimes I wake up and don't know where I am, or crying about something I can't remember. The phantom will fade with time, I suppose. But there is something almost comforting and justifying in feeling it.