Old Friends

posted in: Japan, Journal, Life In, Tokyo | 2

Yesterday, for the first time in oh such a long time, I got together with some close friends whom I hadn’t seen in more than a year, to just spend the day talking and strolling. It was a molasses kind of day, waking up late, taking time to putter to the station, milling about while waiting for my friends at the meeting spot, and then just taking the rest of the day to put one foot in front of the other as we wandered around Kichijoji, an area in the western part, sort of outskirts, of Tokyo, where a distinct atmosphere of cosmopolitan creativity and traditional street markets mix in a quiet and stimulating labyrinth of tiny alleyways and stalls.

Fish Monger Kichijoji
Fish monger preparing to bag a sale in the Kichijoji covered market.
Alleyway Kichijoji
One the many winding alley ways through the marketcovered market at Kichijoji
Main Arcade Kichijoji Covered Market
The main market arcade through the center of Kichijoji

What was so surprising for me was how much I enjoyed just dilly-dallying around, shifting weight from one storefront to the next, mainly goggling at the mouthwatering food in each window or basket. Usually I get antsy when I have to stand in one place shopping for more than ten minutes, but it was delightful to be regaling each other with completely silly jokes, laughing till our eyes ran with tears, and not taking anything seriously. For lunch we ate a traditional Japanese meal of broiled mackerel and saury, boiled bamboo and radish, pickled vegetables, and brown rice. From there, at various stalls, we sampled fried pot stickers, Ghiradelli chocolate, dried Okinawan plums, and gazed at stall after stall of food that left us dizzy with all their aromas, fragrances, and odors. It was food, food, food, like happy dogs. We joked that if we were to eat at MacDonald’s there would have to be a temple or church built next door just to confess the feelings of guilt that eating anything other than food good for the body induces.

Feeling a little sluggish from the hours of walking, we decided to take in a movie, the totally forgettable “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. It was so bad that afterwards we spent probably less than ten minutes discussing it. Instead we headed for an Italian restaurant, where we sat for another three hours laughing and talking over cream minestrone soup, crab sauce fettucine, garlic and tomato spaghetti, garden vegetable salad, wine, and beer. As a diabetic I very rarely indulge in this kind of feasting, but by god does it do wonders for the soul when I let up the iron fist of abstinence!

A thoroughly satisfying and soul-sating day. Friendship fills the gaps that nothing else can, and even makes food taste better.

2 Responses

  1. What a fabulous day you had! Thanks for reminding us that spending time in the company of good friends where laughter is more nourishing than the incredible food you seemed to find is an often neglected healer. Difficult, sometimes, to fit in to our busy schedules where we spend so much time chasing our tails/tales.

  2. These last two years I’ve spent so much time alone that having such a wonderful weekend really lifted my spirits. I haven’t been down so much as feeling “on hold”. I’ve needed the time alone to evaluate a lot of things, but every now and then it is nice to be reminded that there are other people on the same planet.

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