Thousands of Miles from Home


Great Chefs, Electronic Devices

As a child, I would regularly watch “Great Chefs of the World.” It wasn’t quite an obsession, and I never had true aspirations of becoming a chef, but the program happened to be on when I came home from school and I therefore watched it with some frequency. As a result, I gained some insight into what I would consider a “well presented dish,” complete with a harmoniously arranged piece or meat, fish, or pork dressed with field greens, and topped with a drizzling of black peppercorn sauce for flavor and aroma.

So when my host mother mentioned we were going out to lunch with a couple of her friends, and drove into the mountains near Yuga-san (the location of the fire-walking earlier this year), I never expected our final destination to be on par with “Great Chefs” type dining. The restaurant, called Felice, was nestled among the mountains of Japan and I doubt I could find the restaurant on my own if I tried again. It featured a lovely English garden and wonderful view from its top-secret location.

Accompanying us at the lunch was my host brother, about 5 of my mother’s friends from work, and two younger girls. Before our appetizers arrived, we went through the regular Japanese ritual of displaying our cell phones and eventually placing them on the table (as you would a pair of glasses). The two girls each pulled out Nintendo Gameboys (one a new DS, the other and older SP). But all electronics had the opposite effect of what I had expected. There was much conversation, and in fact the cell phones become conversational pieces in themselves as people snapped pictures and showed them to the guests at the party.

The foods at Felice were delicious, certainly meriting Benjamin’s Stamp of International Dining Approval. About halfway through the meal I received a call on my phone from Michiko in Tsuyama. Stepping out into the lovely English garden of Felice, she told me that her husband had arranged a meeting for me with the president of the company TMSUK, a major name in Japanese robotics which has various models currently on display at the World Fair in Aichi. I was floored, and she asked me if I was free on the 19th of April. The company is located in Fukuoka, so I might also get to see Rahul again before the end of my stay in Japan.

This news comes after being called randomly while I was in Kanonji by the husband of the president of the Okayama Institute of Languages to ask if I could have a meeting with him to discuss the new internet café he will be opening in Okayama during Golden Week. I met Katayama-san the following week in Okayama (he told me to call him Mr. K) and he asked me a few questions about my knowledge of internet cafés, blogging, and general internet related activity. I also met the head technician of the café, who was from China and only spoke Chinese and Japanese but we managed to have a relatively in-depth conversations about web serves despite the language barrier. Mr. K will be traveling to China and America this month (he also owns and oil company), but we arranged another meeting once the internet café opens in May.

After the meal at Felice, one of the girls pulled out a set of fancy looking cards with pictures of various clothing articles on each face. She explained that the game is currently very popular in Japan, and can be played at game machines in arcades all over Japan. The game involves interacting with a virtual manifestation of yourself, and then receiving a card with various dresses, shoes, hats, accessories, and hair styles with which you can augment and “pimp” your virtual character. All games are linked through the internet, so no matter where you play the game your character remains saved. The cards you receive can also be traded with friends, family, and strangers on the street for an eclectic mix of virtual and real-life game aspects. Yes indeed, Japan is very cool.

The following day I traveled with Shoko to Osaka, but for the sake of partition I will leave it for another entry.


  • I've been trying to think what a lovely sip of sake has to do with partition. You have been in Japan too long for even my english skills. Because of this mind set I will make no comments as to spelling on this post. Two posts in one day; quite a coup.

    By mom, at 10:02 AM  

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