I have never liked summer. It has always felt like an invader. I loathe wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts. They do not feel natural to me. I would like to say they don’t suit but I think it is them who can’t stand me.
Dresses, on the other hand, have always been my friends, hiding my bizarre silhouette, they stand by me, no matter what 😊
Summer and I have never enjoyed each other’s company.
And living on an island where the summer is a real summer. You can imagine how hard it is to leave the house to carry on with “life” while trying hard not to melt while doing so.
In Japan, specifically in Tokyo, humidity intensifies the heat sensation, so if the thermometer tells you temperature hits 35°C (95°F), it means we have heat sensation of 43 °C (109°F) so as you can guess my natural aversion for summer increases every year.
Hopefully, sometimes, heat compassionately allows the rain to refresh us for a few days, but then it comes back, as it were saying, it is not my time to go yet. The summer is an enemy who fights until the end.
A sunny day of spring, I bravely made my way to the closest Japanese school and tried to make one of my most precious dreams come true: Stop speaking Japanese like a barbarian.
When I got to the class, there were all younger than me, as I had expected. And all Asians. Most of them Chinese. And as I don’t speak Chinese I was feeling rather left out.
I tried to smile in a rather sad attempt to connect with them. But it was all dead silent. I was cursing myself already for being an idiot. At my 30’s something, I should have known better. I was already thinking to call my boss to apologize and ask him to give me my job back. I am sure he will believe I was “temporarily insane.” When suddenly a young teacher entered the room. Stopping my thoughts at once
He looked at us, smiled and introduced himself as our tutor. When he finished, he asked us to do the same. And if as someone had switched a lamp, the whole room became alive. The youth woke up, and the dead whispers became an animated chorus of singing cicadas in summer. It was a magical moment.
When we all finished introducing ourselves, the veil that had covered the room in the gloom was simply lifted.
And I am sure this was inadvertently for them, but for me, I had just witnessed the power of self-introduction in Asia. I have all these years thought, stupidly, that it was mainly a Japanese cultural characteristic but I was wrong, it is an Asian cultural characteristic.
In Asia, you need to introduce yourself. You must introduce yourself. As if giving the person you meet a rope to not fall off a cliff. And for me realizing this was like a car crash because I do not like introducing myself. But in Rome do as Romans do.
Nobody knows when exactly taiyaki 「たい焼き」appeared for the very first time in Japan, but according to some historians its origins can be traced back to the Meiji era.
But what most people find puzzling is its shape, which resembles a fish. And on this subject, although, there isn’t an absolute theory, I read somewhere, that during the Meiji era, red snapper (tai 鯛）was incredibly expensive, so as to give people the sensation they were eating something special, taiyaki was shapen into fish silhouette. Just to make people happy. As always making people happy it’s the main purpose of taiyaki’s short and yet incredible existence
I personally see taiyaki as the rebel fish, being born in an era of change, somehow it speaks of human resilience and of the untamed determination to survive despite adversity. And while doing so, we can be happy.
It is 4:00 am in Shinjuku, and besides the time and rain, people are walking down the street. Some are making their way home, and others want to stay a little bit longer ignoring the clock’s hands that are dangerously getting closer and closer to reality.
The city seems to be covered in clouds.
Shinjuku, my adoptive city, the place where the unexpected is routine welcomes the drizzle (very light rain) and a new day.
It is time to go now, I just wish I had more time to dance in the rain.
On a weekend nothing better than a burger, but is there really a good vegan burger out there? I mean a burger than can hypnotize you and make you forget all the harsh memories of the week you’ve just survived. And luckily, there is a such in burger in Tokyo.
At “ripple” the vegan restaurant, where I discovered you do not need meat to actually enjoy a burger , you can find a variety of burgers, toppings and delicious muffins. And incredibly friendly staff, who would treat you as family. They will smile at you while happily serve you a crispy “chicken” burger.
We decide to experiment a little and order a falafel “burger” Oh boy..!!! it melted in my mouth
And as it was an especially hot day, we received a little carton of milk to keep us hydrated. How sweet.!! ❤️
I will definitely will visiting my friends from the “ripple” very soon again burger 🍔 very soon.
Ramen is my passion and my addiction, and what is ramen you may be asking. To make it easy to understand, I would say that ramen is a symphony of flavors, well orchestrated as if the noodles made love with the broth. Until their passion exhausted them both (I told you I ❤️ ramen 🍜) But to be technical, ramen is a soup made of broth, which is generally pork, however, there are different combinations, which include chicken bones, and beef bones as well. We have infinite variations of this dish. And they are all ramen.
Ramen’s influence in Japanese cuisine is such that it has inspired movies. And museums have been established to honor this noodly-soupy dish 🍜 And not even in my wildest dreams, I would think to change anything about it, so when friends invited me to try “vegan ramen” I was sceptical. But curious.
Once in the restaurant, I was surprised to see people queuing, which it is always a goods sign in Tokyo. Because if the food is so good that people queue to get it, then, the food is worth waiting for. And as Mr. Ping, from Kung fu panda, who is also a noodle lover, would say “you can’t buy that kind of publicity.”
Once we got seated, I anxiously ordered, not knowing exactly what to expect. And when my steamy bowl of ramen arrived, I received it with a certain nervousness.
I took my first bite. And I lost it. I almost ate the whole thing in a mouthful. Then I remembered that I had come with people, so I tried to concentrate on making small talk. And make the soup last at least a little bit longer. Just a little bit longer.
Now that I have discovered vegan ramen, I’d like to try another dish ☺️ Vegan day 2 on the way 😍
Traveling around Japan, I arrived in Matsumoto, a town hidden among mountains, known for being home of the famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, better known as “polka dot princess”. But Matsumoto it is much more than that.
The Matsumoto castle sits elegantly on the horizon, while life goes around. And it’s in this little town that the frog is considered a good luck charm.
The slimy, green, croaky, bug-eater amphibian has become a popular character in this land.
You probably never heard this before, but the word kaeru, without the complications of kanji, can be interpreted in more than one way.
かえる (Kaeru) = Frog 🐸
かえる（kaeru) = to return home
And taking advantage of this happy coincidence, Matsumoto locals use the Frog (kaeru) to personify this “praying”, because they want good things to return (kaeru). Besides, who wouldn’t want money, work, and health to come their way? 😊But it is in Matsumoto that this beautiful and genuine plead for compassion, to whomever deity might be in charge of Matsumoto, comes to live.