In 2008 I visited Japan. It is a country of great contrasts with bustling modern cities. ancient temples and traditional villages surrounded by rice fields. The city of Kyoto is a good example. It has 17 Unesco World Heritage sites, 1600 Buddhist temples and over 400 Shinto shrines. And if you come to Kyoto by train you arrive at the Kyoto station building. This impressive modern steel structure is so unexpected in this ancient city.
Railway stations in Japan are major shopping malls. There are designer labels boutiques, department stores, fast food outlets, restaurants and bars. They are great places to eat and I loved the variety on offer from the usual global rubbish to the freshest sushi and sashimi. There was also the quirky, something I think the Japanese do so well. They take something from one culture and adapt it to suit themselves. I know all countries do this but in Japan it often has an element of humour and surprise. I don’t know if this is intentional but I know I enjoy it. Like sock glue. School girls use it on their legs to keep up their knee-high socks. It looks like a glue stick because that’s what it is, I suppose!
We called this restaurant ‘The Pig Place’. How imaginative is that! The waitresses all wore piggy tee shirts and inside the restaurant there was a diagram of a pig showing choice cuts and the prices. This was the menu. As we had no idea what it said the staff were very helpful and gave us a printed menu with English translation. It seems as though someone had used an English biology book to translate the dishes as they were strangely unappetising! I wrote some of them down as they were so bizarre.
Pig anus –not a hole lot going for it (sorry!)
Fish guts pickled in salt- maybe fish eggs?
Two hormones- no idea
Not sure how the fish got in there. Maybe as an entrée? We ended up with a delicious meal which we cooked ourselves on a hot-plate. I have no idea what it was. The following evening, by contrast, we had a traditional sushi snack prepared as we watched. Then I saw these clothes for pets and thought ‘Only in Japan!’
How wrong was I! I was in a cafe in Newcastle having a coffee and browsing Australian Vogue and there at the back was a four page spread on pampered pets. There was Moggy and Muff. It’s a shop with a Pawtique and a Pawtisserie; Bowhouse-Bondi has doggie raincoats, jumpers and doggles (sunglasses for dogs); Madison West has a range of homemade bedding and neckware in designer fabrics such as quilted satin and velvet all topped off with antique rhinestone sparkles.
So, sorry, Japan. You are not as quirky as I thought you were. Seems there are people everywhere willing to humiliate their pets. But I’m sure you’ll come up with something else to bring a smile to my face.