And This Would Be?

Naha City, Okinawa


Getting Back

It takes something funky and special inside to walk into a local bar in a foreign country. Why? Because the moment your foreign foot cross that threshold, every local eye is staring at you.

Tonight was no exception. The look on the owners face was nothing short of a cocktail of shock and dismay. The two old men sitting at the bar eyed me like a stray dog who had wandered into a wedding reception. For a scant moment the music stopped, everyone looked up. It was now all up to me.

With a priceless grin I greeting the girl behind the bar in Japanese and without breaking stride took a place at the bar. As each eye in the bar followed me, I ordered a glass of the local specialty, Awamori Sake. (An alcohol that can best be described as a mix between Korean Soju and Chinese rice wine.)

For a moment the girl behind the bar did not register that I was speaking Japanese to her. So I repeated what I wanted twice, then three times. After the third time she regained her composer and told me that there were cheaper Awamori Sakes. However I had made my choice and asked her once again for a glass of the bars special Awamori Sake.

With slight hesitation she poured me a glass, the music resumed, and one of the old men at the bar started talking to me.

Thirty minutes later the men at the bar were ordering me local delicacies, while the girl behind the bar was laughing away like I came in there every night. Forty-five minutes later the everyone was joking how the squid fried rice (which was jet black from the squid ink) was going to make me poo black tomorrow and that I need not go the hospital, because that was normal. Fifty minutes later, the old man I had been talking to in Japanese since I came in, warned me that the fish heads I had just eaten had bones that might get caught in my throat and kill me. Sixty minutes later everyone was talking about the difference Eastern and Western girls and male counterparts penis sizes while I just laughed and buried my face in my hands.

And so it went till I had to borrow an umbrella from the bar, thank my hosts, and run out into a downpour on 70 degree evening in February thinking maybe I was, "living the dream."



Have you ever had someone tell you that you are, "Living the Dream"?

When someone tells me that, I wonder if they truly know what they are saying. Its true that the snapshot of my life may look like some sort of fantasy. However, what does the day to day image show?

The day to day struggle to continue along down a road, that at times appears to be invisible, is hard. For to travel upon the road less traveled, means to walk upon a road with fewer guide posts. This means that at times you will find yourself at at place for which there are no reference points.

With no signposts to lead the way, parents, peers, and your general knowledge of the world at times will fail you. Not because you have a poorly equipped field manual. Rather because you are merely in water beyond those which your world calls normal.

What do we do here? We continue on and learn. Why? Because it is in these moments that we gain the experience that will aid us when we push out past that next unknown.


Daiyusan Temple

Daiyusan temple is in the mountains outside of Odawara, Japan.

Tomato Wine?

Can you really make wine from Tomato's? And if you could, how would it taste? While the Japanese may not have been the first to come up with Tomato wine, they may be the first to have mass marketed it.

Having an eye and stomach for the unusual, when I came across this in the local supermarket I had to buy it. The taste can be described as sweet tomato juice. The alcohol itself looks like a white wine when it separates from the tomato juice. Personally I enjoyed it, but if you dislike Bloody Marys, Red Eyes, or tomato juice in general you may want to steer clear of this unusual wine.

The Deadly Fugu

On the right is Fugu Sake, which is made from a dried blow fish fin and rather strong sake. When the chief removes the lid he or she lights the sake on fire to burn off the blow fish poison in the drink.

On the left is a blow fish salad. It is made from the blow fishes skin, chives, and minced spiced radish. Over all the salad does not have much flavor and the blow fishes skin is a little chewy.

This would be raw blow fish. Since it has almost no taste, usually it is eaten with chives and minced spiced radish. If the blow fish is high quality and fresh the poison in the meat will make you mouth and tongue tingle slightly.

Fried blow fish is quite delicious and all of the poison is burned off from the heat of frying.

The final course was blow fish nabe; otherwise known as boiled blow fish. This restaurant uses a special kind of paper that somehow holds up against the boiling water. The blow fish is boiled together with tofu, mushrooms, noodles, and cabbage. Once again the heating process neutralizes the poison, make this a "safe" dish.