Eaten by a Bear

by Kensatsukan Gaijin

Any trip overseas comes with challenges.The internet connection is spotty, the brands are all different at the convenience store, our phones don’t work at all, despite AT&T’s hollow promises and pathetic tech support (“having trouble? Call us!” Thanks idiots), the house you rented doesn’t have central heat or hot water except from the shower head…

Kyoto is an ancient city, and for whatever reason the Japanese haven’t adopted central heating much around here.And this house is no exception.There is one heater, in the bedroom, labled entirely in Japanese (well, I guess our air conditioner at home is entirely in English, so I can’t complain), and god damn it I was cold yesterday.Paper sliding doors are beautiful, but not made for insulation.Apparently the do burst into flames fairly quickly, though, or so I’ve read since this city has been burned to the ground more than a few times in the last 1000 years.

Yesterday was our jaunt down the path of philosophy (Tetsugaku no michi), a rather storied and now constantly traveled tourist destination.

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As we walked this idyllic and storied path, the same thought kept crossing my mind – “how long before Annie stabs me in the face with a sharp object repeatedly and then dissappears into the crowd?" She’s starving and hasn’t eaten since breakfast, which, if you know Annie, is akin to bear-baiting a rabid, starved zombie polar bear with the a sharp stick while wearing Calvin Kline’s “scent of salmon.”

But starvation has it’s limits, and apparently those limits are defined at one border as: Okonomiyaki (Literally, as-you-like-it grill). It’s an omlette of sorts of meats and vegetables. And it was not on the menu, despite how many we past in a fit of hunger. After passing those up and regretting 30 minutes later, I was so desperate that we nearly considered eating at the Westin Hotel, which would have been so shameful I’d nary have reported it here.

Finally, however, we stumbled on a tiny Udon shop and almost fell into the place over ourselves.Finding a seat we were presented with the menu:

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OK, so this menu isn’t even phoenetic – you need to know the characters to order.Annie was starving and time was short.In comparison, my Japanese mid-term was the equivalent of the MPRE.And this was the Bar Exam – high pressure, and my future depended on it.