Thursday, July 28, 2005

Okonomiyaki, Hiroshima style

I think I figured out how to expand my pictures. Try clicking on them, and they may expand in your browser.

Spent most of the day studying and writing my manuscript. But I got hungry, and decided to go to Paku Paku, a Hiroshima style okonomiyaki place just down the street. I went here frequently when I was studying in Hiroshima in 1993. Now what amazes me about this place is that I do not know the propreteir`s name, and she does not know my name, but whenever I go to this place, she still recognizes me! Even if I plop in once every year and a half! Today was no exception. I walked in and she said in Japanese, "Ah, it has been a long time! What would you like to eat?"

Much like how Americans have different types of pizza (New York, Chicago, and California), Japan has different types of okonomiyaki (Osaka it is all mixed together, Tokyo looks like glue, and Hiroshima the foods are layered). You must try Hiroshima okonomiyaki, and it is a sneaky way to serve people their vegetables. My okonomiyaki (served on a hot skillet) had soba, cheese, mochi, and corn in it. Yum!

When I asked her about the changes in the area, she and her helper said that crime has gotten worse in Hiroshima. Too many young people committing crimes. After dinner, I went to an Internet café on the south side of the station at 11:00 pm at night. Aunty kept warning me before I left not to go, as it was too dangerous at this time of the night. When I said that it was safe compared to America and that I am stronger than most Japanese men, she kept saying that the road outside the apartment was dangerous, and I could be stabbed. So Japanese now beleive that the whole area is dangerous.The perception that crime has gotten worse has spread throughout this nation. What we consider safe in America is dangerous by Japanese standards.

Despite the fact that I am pushing middle age and working a professional job with responsibility, your elders in Japan will always treat you as a child, as if I have no judgment. So I promised Aunty I would be careful and walked to the station entrance anyway, about 12 minutes from the apartment. I saw groups of drunken salarymen, and even a policeman sweeping up the street. Yes, keep the streets clean as part of your duty to protect the nation.

Sad to say, I could not understand what the internet clerk way saying to me when I tried to close out my computer session. He spoke too rapidly, and used some strange honorifics. Can you believe that? All those years of studying Japanese and I still cannot understand an Internet café clerk! He then told me in English, “You finished Internet?”

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