Not the Natto.....
27.08.2011 30 °C
I arrived into Tokyo Narita airport late Thursday morning, after a 13 hour flight from Munich. The jet lag hadn't seemed to kick in yet, but the excitement definitely had, as I bounced my way through arrivals to meet my work colleague who landed 30 minutes before.
After along car journey, we came to Hachioji, and to a small university campus known as Seminar House, which will be our base for the next 2 months. We were told that here we have breakfast served each morning--one day an American breakfast, one day Japanese breakfast. The rooms were small but comfortable, and we spent the next few hours meeting and speaking with our administrators, and catching up - as we hadn't seen each other since July.
That evening we went to an Izakaya, which was amazing, exactly how I imagined, but never expected the Japanese to eat. It was sashimi, sushi, udon noodles, rice, vegetables, plate after plate of amazing food all delivered to us as we sat without shoes in a small booth surrounded by paper walls...amazing. The night was a bit of a blur, thanks to excitement, jet-lag and probably a little too much Sake. When I woke up the next morning, it was 30 degrees and time for breakfast...
The 'American breakfast' was the first thing I tried, which I don’t think any American person would ever recognise! It was a salad, a weird omelette which was soft in the middle, and 2 bits of bacon. With it, a bowl of sweetcorn soup, some bread, and a lemon jelly
The Japanese breakfast the next day was a little more extreme!! It was a piece of fish, some Miso soup, a big bowl of rice for the boys (and a small for the girls!) with it a raw egg spring onions and soya sauce, al of which had to be mixed into the rice before eating. The, the piece de la resistance, Natto. Simply put, its almost rotten soya beans in a small tub, which come with a sachet of soya sauce and strong mustard to disguise the flavour. They are supposed to be extremely nutritious, but taste absolutely disgusting, I never, ever ate anything like that before in my life. This stuff is so stringy, the way it sticks to your chopstick and dribbles down you chin like gloopy trails of snot..... I tried it, but I don’t think I will be doing that again..!
The next few days were spent preparing for the shows, building the set and doing line-runs (which we really needed!). I also had my first few goes in our automatic van, which was interesting! Its huge and my first ever automatic, but it went fine (only my second time driving on the Left since I passed my test) and today I have a few hours drive to get used to the motorways. Thankfully the Japanese are very, very polite, so they should be quite forgiving of my driving
So far I find it to be a really fascinating culture, painfully polite and respectful. We receive and give presents to people we meet on a daily basis, and I am slowly getting used to bowing, avoiding too much eye contact (very different to the Germans) and learning the language--which feels very weird in my mouth when I say it. I learned yesterday that Japanese has the least amount of sounds in its language than any other, which is why English is so hard for them. So really I guess that means it shouldn’t be so hard for an English person to learn???!! we'll see!
The symbols are extremely confusing, its the first time I have had genuinely no idea what the hell is happening around me. This makes everything more mysterious and exciting! The supermarkets here are like stepping into another world... They sell Bento boxes, boxes with meat, fish, beans, vegetables, everything for between 2-8 Euros, but really good, healthy stuff... the diet here is amazing. The only thing is, generally I have no idea what I am buying. Last night what I thought to be a deep friend king prawn in my sushi box, actually turned out to be a deep fried octopus tentacle....! it was like chewing an armband...but... all part of the experience. My lunch today is also questionable, soooo... I’ll keep you updated