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Day 377 - June 4th - Over the Sea and Far Away, Again

Forth time to Japan in less than a year. Jet lag hits me hard this time. Usually I deny it's incapacitating grip but instead I just give in and rest my back and indulge in being horizontal. I could care less what the time is when I sleep or rise. Exhaustion from my marathon run at home during the tour break sets in. Nap after nap, computing at all hours and the 24 hour local quick market has fishy rice balls and water that sustain my hunger. A full night and day and night and day before a midnight load-in forces some reality into my mix. At some point while living this bleary timeless state the phone rings and it could be 6am or pm and it makes no difference.

"Lobby call in 3 minutes, the van is already here, we are headed to the fish market, hurry up" Lampi Scott's voice, I am pretty sure, is coming from the phone. Well, it's all news to me and I was out the door before I even bothered to ponder where or why I was going. The fish market we did, shopping with Wayno the Chef, in the seafood equivalent of New York's Wall Street. Passing through the gates, we are informed that we have entered a no-man's land where city laws no longer apply. The police don't enter except to haul out the occasional body from a miss step off off a high place or other questionable demise. The fish mongers rule this land and whatever you do, don't get run over by a cart.

Turns out there are two types of carts, old and new and one type gives you a bigger owie than the other when failing to move from it's path, though it is tough to figure out which is which. The old one was born in centuries past while the new one is nothing like anything I have ever seen. A rotating turret with a motor inside and a steering wheel and thinner round wheel brake on top. The powered front wheel can turn so sharp that it can nearly go backwards and turns inside less than its own length.

Isle after isle of any and every species of ocean life, now food, endlessly fills this massive warehouse and most surprising is what is not seen, the smell of fish and that fact that it is practically non existent. Amazingly, barely hint of scent of the fish as far as the eye can see, all perfectly iced or dry iced

and messes scrubbed clean into the constant flow of fresh water steams disappearing into rough gutters and away.

The king of fish here is the tuna. Massive multi hundred pound swimmers flash frozen on the boats to what I am told is the optimum 60 degrees below zero storing temperature. Earlier than the 6:30 am it is now, the booth buyer was earlier out bidding up to 10's of thousands of dollars for prime specimens. Check out the modern giant band saw slicing whole tuna

Followed by the old school method of hacking out the bones with a hand sharpened axe like knife

to be thawed, sliced, packaged and delivered to fill the daily orders from the endless multitude of restaurant's demand.

**** Ponderings ****

As we wander the endless labyrinth created by one species to consume a myriad of others, the potential to be aghast highlights the human hypocrisy of needing and enjoying to eat. Yet so many turn a blind eye to the foundations by which our polished food is acquired. Whether it be plants or animals, each person decides to draw their personal line of edible acceptability but it makes little difference as everything is interconnected. It is just a matter of which illusion we choose to present ourselves as reality. Is it better to eat the critter or hack down it's habitat to create a field to grow vagatarian crops leaving the critter with an extinguishing fate, and what do they feed those plants we eat anyway? Not unlike the self and society censored parallels where humans publicly gloss over their underlying desires and act in patterns of sexual interaction while pretending to ignore the necessity and natural humanly allure, not unlike an amazing meal on a hungry stomach. Then I ponder the true and unavoidable cause of global warming to be caused by both sex and food. As clearly as we humans are creators of the unraveling predicament, we as a species have the power to halt man made global warming merely by convincing all humans to simultaneously refrain from sex or food and the problem would soon be enough as we extiguish ourselve. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that we as individuals and a race are incapable of treading upon this planet so softly as not to impact it. A quandary indeed unsolvable, given the acceptable choices. Then it becomes clear that trying our best as a species to attempt to slow down the eventual and unavoidable reality is really the only sensible option. How hard, how much and at what rate becomes a personal choice with global ramifications for each to decide and rally for or attempt to dictate. In the mean time, I am quite hungry and there is a fresh Sushi meal in my near future I predict.

**** End Ponderings ****

To Be Continued...

Dave Rat


Day 376 - June 3rd - Unexpected Smiles

Japan Airlines flight number whatever bound for Tokyo. My back hurts, my body is crooked and I went to a chiropractor on the way to the airport. Must have pulled a muscle and it knotted up like a twisted rubber band does when let loose in someone's hair. Have ya ever done that or had that happen where someone would twist up a rubber band and let it go in the small hair behind your neck? Ouch! I seem to have acquired a bit of a hitch in my get-a-long which is just what I need right now.

So I immediately pass out on the plane and wake up hour after takeoff to discover I am sitting next to a mid meal Japanese businessman who is a few drinks into the wind. Handing me the menu, "oh, which one do you order? Japanese meal o American meal?" he asks while perfectly combining al R's and L's in into a hybrid that makes me smile. "Well," still trying to hack through the haze, "Um, which on is that?" as I point at his food. While the presence of small rubbery flower shapes, chopsticks and bowls of brightly colored mystery globes clearly gave it away, he nearly shouts "Japanese meal!" Well, then that is what I will have then. Engulfed in excitement he yells down the isle for the flight attendant, orderes my meal and then proceeds to partake in what appeared to be some sort of joke telling session with her that suspiciously felt like it was at my expense.

"To drink?, um water, please," still trying to form words awaking from one of those slumbers that leave your arms feeling like lead. "Water? why water, no wine? why no wine?" he stares, loud and curious as can be. Ummmmm, well, how about a wine please. "Ahhhh yes, Cab Syllah, velly good!" And so it went, with him asking me each time I ate something if I liked it. I could only come up with two answers able to break the language barrier without insult; "yes, good" if I liked it and "hmmm, so-so" when it was beyond the realms of edibility. He loved "good" but really loved "so-so" and so once again he calls the flight attendant over followed by more laughing, a bunch of sounds I don't understand mixed in with the occasional "so-so" followed by more laughing. Wine and more wine and more laughing and I soon figured out that whenever he did not understand something he would invariably look forward as if think intently and nod his head and say yes, yes, ah yes. Then I realized that he barely had understood anything I had said the whole time except "yes" and "so-so."

His English was very limited and very hard to understand and yet still light years more advanced than my Japanese which is primarily relegated to names of Americanized sushi items, "hello" and "thank you." But that did not stop us from chatting away and in the middle of a jumbled question I hear what sounds familiar but not English. So I ask if he speaks Spanish, in Spanish and that is when the fun really began. Turns out he is a car parts distributor for Latin America and he can rock the Spanish. Though I may not have the syntax all down, I fair pretty well as well. So there we go, a common language all good as we both get yelled at several times to hush down. Too much fun and say hello to my plane ride friend Tsuchiya!

Landing at the airport, turns out that all that wine has left me a bit less chipper than the average bear but not so bleary to miss this after Leif pointed at it. Check it out, up there under the C-Clamped webbing is a birds nest with little birdy chicks in it. The webbing and triangular roped off area is to prevent poo bombs from taking out unsuspecting travelers. Cool stuff, I like the awkward mesh of different speiceis looking out for each other.

Next stop, hotel and the 'day of landing production meeting' where a bunch of delirious western roadies attempt to discuss things we pretend are important through interpreters with a sharp team of Japanese perfectionists that tend to be damn good at what they do.

Dave Rat