That night, I headed out for my first solo dinner. Around the quiet streets of the hostel were lots of neatly hidden izakaya's. At first I was a little bit nervous about entering one, when I peered into a couple it seemed more like a family gathering in a small living room than a place open to the public.
|This was a particularly intriguing entrance to one nearby bar|
Finally I did take the plunge, I don't know why I chose the one I did, but I just walked in. The mamasan and the middle aged Japanese men drinking inside did indeed looked very shocked to see me standing in the doorway. This reconfirmed my suspicions about this area being a local part of Asakuru. Nevertheless, they invited me in to sit down, by this point I knew there was no turning back.
Nobody really spoke much English, there was one older man who could speak enough for us to find out a little more about each other. With no offering of a menu, the incredibly graceful mamasan cooked me up an assortment of Japanese food, right in front of me. I have no idea what any of it was (it wasn't sushi or ramen) but it was fresh, delicious and like nothing I have ever tried before. Along with the food I was given a very generous portion of sake, naturally. Finally over the shock of seeing a young british girl in their local, they others started warming up to me. The older man who could speak a bit more English asked me what my favourite Japanese food is, I told him I liked ramen and sushi (very boring and predictable of me). Almost immediately after, the mamasan began making me a bowl of ramen, I was already full but of course I couldn't object. The ramen was, again, like no ramen I have had before, but it was undoubtedly the best ramen I have ever had. After this, I spoke a little more to the others, I tried to teach them some English phrases and in turn they tried to teach me some Japanese, little progress was made on either part but we got on companionably.
Just as I was about to retire back to the hostel, the older man received a delivery. It turned out he had ordered some sushi for me, apparently it was from the best sushi place in town. Almost fit to burst after all the other wonderful Japanese dishes I had been presented with, again I felt like I had to eat it. The sushi was, again, fresh and delicious and they filled up my sake glass this time with the bars 'finest whiskey'. Despite having ate enough to feed the entire izakaya, I managed to finish nearly the whole box of sushi and the whiskey. More than ready for bed at this point I said my farewells and headed of to the hostel. It had been a long day, especially considering the brutal hangover I had started it off with.
This experience was truly special, it's moments like this that i'm sure will keep me burning to travel for the rest of my life. Being embraced so fully by people of another culture, and in spite of the language barrier having a laugh together and learning a little more about each other. This also reflected the amazing kindness and generosity I experienced all over Tokyo from the Japanese people, I think they truly have a special culture.
|The izakaya from the outside|