Rafter Ninjas

by Kensatsukan Gaijin

If I am getting better at being in Japan, why is it that I keep making the same mistakes? Somehow I again found myself bowing profusely and repeating “moshiwakearimasen” to a subway attendant. Apparently the custom I just invented of getting into the station at Ginza, guiding your wife to Roppongi, and then taking the train back yourself and getting out the same place you got in does not exist in Japan. This action instead demonstrates some nefarious purpose, at least to confuse the machine that reads my Suica prepaid card. And in Japan, you do not confuse the robots.

I know it’s only Tuesday, but I seriously freaking out that we are not going to be able to do everything by Saturday night. The fact that we already have blisters and our bodies are aching from walking is not the issue. Part of it is that we get tired by 10 pm and Japan does not. Tsutaya, the Japanese version of Barnes & Noble, is open until 2 am. No wonder we can’t compete…

I think we have a myth about Japan that Japanese people do not express themselves as openly as Americans do. Except in direct conversation, I have seen quite the opposite. We started yesterday at Akasaka near an ancient temple, where we found a tiny restaurant built in the old style. It was started by a guy who played the Shamisen, which is sort of an ancient guitar. After he brought us the most delicious 12-item bento boxes I have ever been in the presence of, he sat down to play while we ate. Forget the music for a minute – the food was amazing. Sushi, cooked fish, tempura – everything was perfect. I have no idea what the raw things were – one thing was in a hermit-crab shell. Whatever it was, it was delicious. People ask me why I don’t eat sushi, and the truth is, I don’t like it – in America. Somehow it tastes different in Japan. Or maybe I’m just afraid to offend the guy playing the Shamisen. It is entirely possible there are ninjas in the rafters waiting with blow darts if I spit out the wrong thing.

And, by the way, the whole thing cost less than a trip to Saint Maartens on the UVa corner.

When the day starts with something so exquisite, it only makes sense that we went to a club to see a Beatles tribute band. If there is something more fun than watching 4 Japanese men perform “A Day in the Life” like they were on stage at the Albert Hall I haven’t found it yet. But then again, it’s only Tuesday and I have a piece of paper next to me that says “7/29 Mr. [Lastname] [Firstname] Ninja Restaurant Akasaka”