Haiku reflections on Japan

Maths and sushi

Book much enjoyed so

far despite the maths theme, so

very strange for me.

So this book The Housekeeper + the Professor by Yoko Agawa is proving to be a good find.   It`s about an old maths genius who forms a close relationship with his housekeeper and her son through maths and numbers.   Who`d have thought?    I wasn`t a fan of maths at school, not at all, and so this aspect of the novel is a bit hard to appreciate – but it`s still enjoyable somehow!! I only started it yesterday but am bound to finish it quickly.

Speaking of maths, one of the two main characters in 1Q84 – Tengo – is a maths fan as well and teaches it at a cram school.    Interesting.  Is maths a popular subject with students at school in Japan?  I happened to catch the middle of some interview on radio about a month ago with a guy who was doing research on the teaching of maths and he seemed to be focusing on Japanese students – so I stayed tuned – saying they recited their maths tables like poetry.   Well that`s what it sounded like to him.   But if poetry is seen as a series of lines of words, then any recitation of maths tables would sound like poetry.   The presenter pretty much pointed this out to be fair.    Not the most riveting subject for an interview … but of course I`m biased against maths!! The same presenter however then struggled with the pronunciation of Kyoto and you could nearly hear the catch in the throat of the interviewee.  Even if he has never been to Japan, Kyoto is widely known and surely he had seen Kyoto mentioned in newspapers and heard it mentioned enough to associate the Ky with the sound `key` (as most people who have not studied Japanese probably pronounce it key-o-toe anyway) like for example, the Kyoto agreement in the world of environmental affairs.    It`s mentioned everytime anyone talks about environmental matters on a global scale and this guy was taking the place of someone whose specialist subject is the environment (mostly wildlife who are affected by the changing environment).  This guy gets on my goat anyway.  I don`t know why I mentioned him only to mention the mathematics-related interview.

Anyway, enough about maths.   I happened to have lunch in a sushi bar last saturday on a trip away and unfortunately it came back to haunt me a couple days later.     It was a lunchbox setup with 2 hosomaki, 2 futomaki, 2 nigiri and 1 chumaki as well as a bit of teriyaki salad.   I`m not sure which one  was the culprit.  I used to eat different types of sushi/sashimi quite a bit in Japan and I have also eaten it with friends and I enjoyed it then and on Saturday but prior to Saturday it had been quite a while since I last ate it so I suppose my stomach wasn`t used to it anymore and got a shock!!   Or maybe it was just prepared in a bad way or was made with bad fish in the first place. Apparently, according to the website, the chefs train with a Japanese sushi chef in London.   They give the name which must mean he is pretty well known in the sushi world.  They are also schooled in French cuisine in Holland.  I`m not sure what French cuisine has to do with the chefs of a noodle/sushi bar, much less one in Holland, but anyway.  Hmmm.  I think I should have gone with the ramen or some other other hot dish.  As I said, I enjoyed the food as I was eating it (no idea of what was to follow) but I was disappointed  in general with this sushi/noodle bar.   I was expecting to get my tea free as you should in a real Japanese sushi place (or in another Japanese establishment I know where they fill you up with all the tea you want at no cost).    Tut tut.   It also doesn`t have a very nice layout.  I might give it another try and check out their ramen next time but that`s a big MIGHT.

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