Day Two, I am a Fraud

When I was in high school I resided in Japan, but I did not really live here. Yesterday as we toured a little bit of Shibuya, Hiroo, And Roppongi I saw and did things in a single day that I never did before or don’t or at least don’t remember. We’ll see if this improves as the trip continues, but those were all places I should though I knew well. As a military kid living off base I was pretty pleased with straddling both worlds when I lived here. I could jet all over the city on the subway, play video games in the arcades with all Japanese instructions, I could give adequate if halting directions to my cab driver if I missed my last train – although more often I would just walk, I even loved Japanese food. However I always had the fall back of the American school that I attended and the military establishments I had access to as a dependent of an Air Force Officer. My memories about Tokyo have more to do with typical high school stuff, going out with friends and having fun than they do with cultural or even practical knowledge of Japan. I was young and egocentric (as opposed to now when I am old and egocentric), but it came as a bit of a surprise how much I didn’t remember about Japan.

Maybe I am being too hard on myself. Maybe that is just the difference between being an expat and a tourist. Lets just take that last comment I made about liking Japanese food. Guess what I never really ate Japanese food while I was here. I was mostly fed from the base commissary and during the summers I worked at the New Sanno military hotel with easy a access to cheeseburgers and milkshakes. I was the kid who get you pop tarts. I did eat some Japanese food and I liked what I ate, but it was pretty limited to things like yakitori, tempora, and pokey. It should be telling that my favorite culinary experience in Tokyo was an Indian restaurant.

I guess it all started with breakfast.

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We decided to have a Japanese breakfast our first morning instead of the Western option. A good way to immerse ourselves and with our limited time here it just makes sense to make the experience more authentic. The first thing I should note is that I have no idea if it was authentic, because I can’t remember ever having a Japanese breakfast. Maybe I blocked the experience because I liked my Captain Crunch too much.

The breakfast was amazing and it is fair to say I have a much more adventurous palate than I did 25 years ago. I ate everything and there was only one brown mushrooms thing that I didn’t care for. I think of my kids as picky eaters, but they probably did better than I did when I was their age. Melanie is a veteran traveler and is not afraid to try anything as long as it is vegetarian or seafood which this entire breakfast was. (OK, there was a small sausage that her brother eagerly ate for her. )Along with the many items I couldn’t identify there was a piece of grilled salmon perfectly cooked, a fried egg, rice , and a bowl of what we all thought was just plain miso soup until we discovered the mini clams at the bottom. While Michael gladly a yielded his salmon to Sarah, he decide that the clams were good and prayed the small pieces of meat out of each one. It was a great breakfast and we all started the day off with full bellies.

I’d love to keep typing and tell you about the light rain we had as we were leaving the ryokan, having to run back for the train passes, visiting Hachiko, eating at a noodle shop with no idea of what we were ordering, going past the New Sanno Hotel where I worked all those years ago and then visiting a park 10 minutes from there that I had never bothered to notice before. I would love to write about that, but I used up all my time this morning with my nostalgic angst and now I need to get ready for another day of new memories.

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