Haiku reflections on Japan, Snapshots of Japan


Meshi, shokuji,

call it what you like but that

food is pure heaven


I just watched something the other evening called Midnight Diner・深夜食堂, the Japanese version of a Korean drama and only one series of many I am told. It’s also in full-length film format.  It’s an interesting series, with not many episodes, which makes my mouth water at the simple but delicious food the ‘master’ makes with no fuss, from midnight to dawn, as he says at the start, in a Tokyo backstreet, for the various folks who drop in.

Interestingly, his sign outside says meshi-ya which brings me to a language issue.  Meshi・飯 is a very colloquial word for meal, which sounds like it should come from meshiagaru・召し上がる, the, albeit, honorific, form of to eat though it has a different kanji and I have heard it’s only used by ‘certain’ people, like soldiers in the army – it does sound like the English word ‘mess (hall)’ after all, army lingo for the canteen where soldiers eat on a base and I do remember it being used in Japanese army-related films – or people with a limited grasp of vocabulary.  The person who told me this turned her nose up at the word and said I would look rough if I used it, but why? It’s probably the equivalent of ‘grub’ and this meshi-ya is clearly a greasy spoon-type of establishment with various tokyo-ites mulling over their issues (some of them really irritating people I have to say) and the ‘master’, who seems really well-lived and gives good advice in a taciturn way, is well-played by an actor called Kaoru Kobayashi (who shares his name with, among others, a female singer so clearly Kaoru is a unisex name in Japan).   I’d recommend it.  Anyway, I tend to use ‘grub’ a bit but if I didn’t, I certainly wouldn’t look down on someone else who used it.

Speaking of learning Japanese, Memrise has got very ‘messy’ (get it?) lately and I don’t enjoy contributing to forums at the moment as certain people just don’t respond to my suggestions.   Memrise clearly has its fair share of egos and I can think of one in particular in the Japanese lot while the more polite, obliging ones seem to have given up on the forum which I am sorry to see but for which I can’t entirely blame them.

Memrise is still extremely useful though and I have long since moved onto using it to build my vernacular, including idioms, in other languages.

I haven’t been around for a while but I hope my posts have been enjoyed in the meanwhile.

Haiku reflections on Japan

Saké flavoured chocolate yes please

Saké oh saké

I did not know you appeared

in chocolate form


Well l am in Belgium at the moment, home of great chocolate and great beer (and heavy metal fans and 80s music fans if the radio shows are anything to go by).   I`ve been here a couple of weeks now and only went into a chocolate shop yesterday (too much choice and overpriced chocolate rendering my ability to make a decision impossible – strange for a sweet tooth like me but I don`t like to be ripped off either).  What lured me towards this one shop was that I read a tip about it selling saké flavoured chocolate – I`ll give you a bit of a clue where it can be found later.  So I was sold even before I was sold the chocolate.   €3.90 for 3 very small pieces of chocolate means I haven`t actually touched the chocolate yet!!   I`ll obviously have to bite (or nibble) into one of them soon so I can tell ye about it – that is anyone who hasn`t experienced saké flavoured chocolate.    Maybe they can be found everywhere in Japan I don`t know but it`s definitely an unusual treat in Europe I would think. I hope they do really taste like saké and that it is not just a gimmick for gullible Japanophiles like me.   This city is very much a touristy city I think and it can be seen in about one day.  As I said though, I was intrigued.



Isn`t it cute?  Well the clue I will give to which city I bought it in is:

A film by an Irish director starring a couple of Irish actors who have had Hollywood experience features this city and its name appears in the title.  One of the characters  says of this city:  “If I was raised on a farm and was a bit of a retard I`d be impressed with (name of city) but I wasn`t so I`m not”.  Now now.   The other actor`s character who does like the city ends up dead at the bottom of its main attraction.  Brilliant film by the way.  Apparently, locals get annoyed by tourists who ask if the tower was built especially for the film.    I would get annoyed too at such a stupid question.

Of course you still have to find the actual shop.  It`s in one of the smaller squares in the city (place in French, plein in Dutch which actually means full in French).


Haiku reflections on Japan

I`ll have a Yamazaki please

Actually I

probably won`t as I`m not 

a whisky drinker 


Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky from near Kyoto has recently been named the finest whisky in the world, scoring 97.5 out of 100, and described as `thick, dry, round as a snooker ball`.     3 american bourbons came 2nd, 3rd and 4th.  I don`t usually drink whisky though I sometimes might have it hot with lemon if I`ve a cold so I`m hardly a connoisseur but the snooker ball metaphor is apt.   Don`t you think?  It`s probably really expensive this yamazaki whisky.  Japan has a man by the name of Masataka Taketsuru, who set up Yamazaki Distillery back in the 1920s after moving back from Scotland,  to thank, or not,  for introducing whisky to Japan.

Still a whisky or some other strong drink would maybe help me with the book I`m reading at the moment!!  The Sea and Poison by Shusaku Endo, yes another one by himself.   The experiments that the Japanese made on captured allied soldiers, mostly American, during world war II  at a university hospital in Fukuoka among, possibly, other places, and how a man reacts when he finds out his own doctor has been involved with this, is basically what this book deals with.    Before this book, I was reading The House of Sleeping Beauties by Yasunari Kawabata but kind of put it aside.  That`s another strange one.   I might come back to that.  Both books were held for me, along with a little book of Japanese fables, by a bookshop owner friend I know who remembered I have a fondness for Japanese literature.

I definitely need to read something lighter soon, well literature wise. The travel guide I`m having a look at at the moment, along with various guides on-line about moving abroad , is nice but not fully relaxing either as it is part of a mission and not reading for the sake of reading.