Only in JapanBlistering Social Commentary by Fukuma Fletch
The other day my girlfriend Mihoko invited my friend Gareth and me to join her and her friend for an excursion to a local soba (noodle) restaurant. I thought it sounded like a good idea. It was Sunday, after all, and I didn’t have anything urgent that I needed to do (do I ever anymore?). Why not take a quick drive to a local soba restaurant that Mihoko had heard was especially delicious? “Sign us up!” I told her.
Nearly three hours later, after driving halfway through another entire ken (prefecture), I realized I had once again made my near daily mistake of assuming I actually knew what was going on. When Mihoko had asked Gareth and me to join her for lunch, she wasn’t talking about going to local restaurant down the street. She wasn’t talking about a restaurant the next town over. The restaurant she wanted to eat at, the one she had heard was especially good, was THREE HOURS AWAY!!!
Were the noodles good? Yes. Were they better than the roughly forty-three other soba restaurants (before I lost count) we passed on the way there? Probably. Were they three hours better than the noodles in town? Probably not. Were they worth waking up at 9:00 on a Sunday morning that had seen me only go to sleep five hours earlier? Definitely not.
Apparently however, this is actually quite common.
I mean, seriously. This is like me driving from Portland to Seattle to eat at a Subway that I’d heard made especially good cold-cut combos. And I don’t mean driving to Seattle for lunch and Mariners game. I’m talking about driving to Seattle, eating my super tasty turkey based chicken and bologna sandwich, and then driving back to Portland.
I will freely admit that the drive was very scenic and, in fact, quite enjoyable. The restaurant was very cozy, nestled into a small clearing in the woods with nothing else around for miles. But it better have been nice. The extremely high gas prices ensured that those noodles cost a tad bit more that the price printed on the menu.
Now, let’s establish some facts and see if we can draw a logical conclusion to explain this phenomena (oops, I’m about to make another near daily mistake).
- Mihoko wanted to eat soba.
- We’re in Japan.
- For those of you who don’t know, that means you could stick me in a straight jacket, shackle prison-issued ankle manacles around my legs, and while blindfolded, I’d still have a better than 50-50 chance of finding a soba restaurant in ten minutes or less.
- I’m not Japanese.
- Don’t tell anyone, but I actually wouldn’t mind doing it again. On a day that I’d gotten some more sleep the night before, of course.