Tuesday, February 05, 2013

"Television Izakaya - (January 2013)"

I looked in the window of the small izakaya under the overhead railway tracks.  The location had the type of by-or-under railway atmosphere that often makes for a great izakaya - with reasonably priced drinks and tasty and reasonably priced yakitori.  It was closed, so I wasn't sure if it was still in business.  Walking up to a window, I peered inside and saw that it appeared to be just closed (too early in the afternoon) and not derelict.  I saw the potential of the place, but wasn't all that eager to go there really - I basically thought "Oh well - it's not worth a special trip to come back and check it out, so I guess that's that".

So I continued on my way - taking pictures and video in the area.  I ended up spending a little more time on recording images than I had planned to, so as I headed back towards the station, it occurred to me that the small izakaya might be open...

As I approached it, I could see that it did indeed appear to be open, and I peered in the open door and saw a pile of already cooked yakitori and the shop owner(?) grilling (or just reheating) some more.  I stepped a little closer and called out "Sumimasen!" and asked (in Japanese) if he was open.  He looked up, locked his eyes onto my face, and stared.  So I asked again if he was open and he said "Not Yet".  [Just to be very clear, all communication at the shop was in Japanese.]  So I asked what time he opened - which generated another blank stare, so I asked again, and he said "Around 4:30", so I nodded, and walked off, thinking his behavior was a little weird, but assumed he wasn't used to seeing space creatures from other galaxies wandering around on this planet near his shop.

Since 4:30 was just 20 minutes away, I went to a fast food place and ordered a Y100 chicken something-or-other.  Strangely, the time in the fast food place turned out to be pretty nice.  The air in the middle of the place was standard fast-food-greasy, but fortunately, a table right next to the entrance (one of two entrances actually) was unoccupied, so I sat there and thanked the power of convection for the rush of cool less-greasy air that came in every time the automatic doors opened (which sometimes happened when the motion sensor(s) picked up the motion of a passing pedestrian).  The Y100 something-or-other didn't taste too bad, and I enjoyed the jazz(!) music on the store's PA - relaxing until about 4:40.

Then I went out and took some more pictures and eventually returned to the yakitori izakaya place about 5:10.  I cheerfully poked my head in the door and said/asked "Is it OK now?".  The man looked up with a startled "What?!  You came *back*?  Why?" look, stared at me without answering for a few seconds, and then finally said OK.

Walking into the small izakaya, I immediately began to regret being there.  When I first saw the place with the lights out, I imagined standing inside with dim incandescent bulb lighting, and windows open for ventilation, and being able to easily look out them.  As I walked into the small room (which strangely had a very high ceiling), a number of things I hadn't noticed from outside quickly became apparent.  The windows were shut, it was overheated, a bloody TV (up in a high corner) was going, and the windows were too low to look out of without stooping way down, etc.  Aside from about every atmosphere-killing device known to humankind being in the room, something else didn't feel right.  When you get that kind of feeling, you should never ignore it, but I thought it would be too rude to suddenly leave (I wish I had) and so I decided to stay for one drink.

I unhappily ordered an uronhai from the man while standing under the blasting florescent lights (I would have noticed the horrible lighting if it had been after dark when I came) and irritatingly droning TV.  By and by the drink came, and while it didn't taste bad exactly, it was the strangest tasting uronhai I've had in almost three decades of living here.  I then stupidly ordered a couple of sticks of yakitori and he pretended to grill a couple and then gave me a couple of lukewarm ones with a lot of cinders still on the meat.  At this point, I didn't care if I was polite or not, so I picked off the cinders (said to be a cause of cancer) and ate most (unfortunately), but not all of it (I should have just left it uneaten).  With each passing second, I wanted out of that space more intently, so regardless of having drink and food remaining, I paid my bill and got out of there.

What does it mean?  I honestly don't know.  What I do know is that I never, ever want to go to that place again, and the next time I get that feeling that it's better to leave - *now* - I hope I pay closer/better attention.

I felt... polluted... or something, and so I really wanted to get something else in my stomach, so I bought some junk food and can-chuhais at a convenience store and went off to a spot near the railway where I could consume the convenience store food and chuhai while watching the trains go by.  This was a vastly more pleasant experience than being blasted with florescent lighting and TV, while drinking mysterious brew and picking through black cinders within sauna-level heat (in the winter)!  Later on, as I walked back to the station, I looked in the windows (from a distance) of the TV izakaya place and saw what appeared to be a room full of exactly the kind of people I least get along with.  Standing there under all that florescent lighting, watching TV.  A vision from h**l if you ask me, but they seemed to be - sort of - enjoying themselves.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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