Meanwhile, in Osaka…
Japan. Evening. Sayonara.
Just a little while ago I was sipping on a glass of Suntory Soda in our hotel room’s small bathtub. Lying there, I was contemplating our trip how much fun we’d had and all the great food we’d enjoyed. Clearly the most enjoyable trip to Japan so far. And the most affordable. The weak yen makes even the weaker Swedish crown stretch quite far.
Before my bath, we had enjoyed a delicious dinner just a few hundred meters from the airport hotel where we were staying tonight. We’ve got an early flight heading southwest tomorrow, so no Osaka this time around.
For most airport restaurants that I’ve ever visited, this principle applies: not good but expensive.
Tonight’s meal offered the opposite: a delightful dinner for a reasonable price: 185 SEK/person, including a large draft beer each (served, as usual, in chilled mugs).
We couldn’t think of any of our meals in Japan that we hadn’t described with at least one superlative followed by an exclamation mark. Even the convenience store food we’ve had a couple of times has been surprisingly tasty.
Will miss Japanese food. And the heated Japanese toilet seats.
But also the Japanese politeness, friendliness, modesty, and honesty.
There is still a deep-seated sensibility here. But also anxiety or reservation that I think we from Sweden both recognize and quite appreciate. At least people of our generation probably feel that way.
Here, you are treated (and judged) based on how you behave, especially us foreigners, the so-called “Gaijin.” I haven’t bowed so much in a long time. But it felt natural to respond to politeness with at least as much politeness.
Yesterday we ate at Jam, one of Okinawa’s many teppanyaki restaurants where a skilled chef cooks your food in front of you on a massive steel grill.
The first time I had Japanese food was in the mid-1980s seated along a teppanyaki table at Mikado in Gothenburg. Mikado was located above White Corner at that time if anyone remembers that place.
There was a lot of showmanship yesterday, but the chef also made really good food, and the drinks at Jam were not watered down. We even had a bit of interaction with the family from Nagano sitting next to us.
After dinner, everyone around the teppanyaki table was ushered to the restaurant’s lounge area where dessert was served (ice cream and green tea).
It took a while, but the Nagano family couldn’t resist and approached us a bit shyly, asking if they could take a group photo with us in it. We agreed, of course. Much chatter and laughter ensued!
I think it was a full moon as we walked back to the hotel at Moon Beach on Okinawa late last night.
Right now, here in Osaka, it’s raining (not to be confused with Åsaka, where my grandfather Eskil comes from). But it looks like it will be sunny in Bangkok tomorrow afternoon…
Sayonara, Japan, and thanks for a couple of magical weeks!