The Kimochi Warui Diary
Having a room booked for more than one night had its perks, like being able to sleep in past 9:00 am. Even so, we were awake before long.
We started the day by walking through some of the narrow alleys and streets of Osaka, eventually coming across a diner. Our booth had an ashtray on the table, inviting us to smoke. Even if we chose not to, we were still surrounded by the pervasive smell of stale cigarette smoke.
We shrugged, pulled out our new pack of Seven Stars cigarettes, and lit up.
“What are we doing today?”
“Let’s go do the Nara Park thing, with the deer.” Sounded harmless enough. “Then, tomorrow, we’ll do Mount Kouya.”
“Mount Kouya?” Jotaro repeated. “To see the big boodher?”
“Yeh, roight. The big boodher.”
We finished breakfast and took the train to Nara. Despite the cloudy weather, the cheerful deer didn’t seem to mind. They walked around the park as calmly as domesticated dogs, hunting down the flat biscuits sold solely for the purpose of feeding them.
This also meant they were prone to mistaking any object in your hand as a biscuit—that’s how we lost our map of the park.
Women with long hair were also targets for hungry deer, as well as anyone with straps hanging from their backpacks.
But it wasn’t complete chaos. Many deer were content to sit in one place. You could easily approach them—with or without food—and they would lower their head down toward you. It was this “bowing” that made the park an infamous tourist attraction.
After exploring the park, we made our way into town, exploring the gift shops and eating snacks. It was enough to tide us over as we made our way back on the train and returned to Osaka.
But before going straight back to the hostel, we decided to check out Denden Town—Osaka’s answer to Tokyo’s Akihabara. We were content just exploring the shops until our hunger caught up with us. When it did, we happened to be in front of a sushi restaurant.
“How’s this look?”
“Sushi anywhere in Japan is probably as good as it gets, right?”
This time around, though, we weren’t subjected to conveyor belts. We had live chefs, happy to scoop the fish from glass tanks and gut them right in front of us.
We took our seats off to the side of the restaurant, in front of a tank with a lethargic fish inside. One of the sushi chefs was standing behind the tank, preparing something unseen on the other side.
Jotaro called out to him. “Is this fish sick? Dying?”
The sushi chef was looking for the right words and finally landed on “弱い.”
“He said it’s weak,” I told Jotaro. I made sure to keep my voice down. Even though Tomoyo and the others were nowhere near us at the moment, I didn’t want to get in the habit of casually speaking up about my Japanese knowledge. It’s more likely no one cares.
“You want drinks?” Jotaro asked.
A sheet of paper on the counter allowed us to mark off which sushi rolls we wanted—not too different from back home.
The waitress came out to receive our orders but, before she went back, Jotaro ordered some expensive sake. While he was pointing out which sake he wanted, I noticed that she was actually pretty cute.
A lot of Japanese girls faces are round, but hers was a bit thinner. She also had freckles, which was a little uncommon, too. She was completely dressed for work—hair tied back, white sleeves, black apron—but none of that betrayed her looks. There’s no point.
The cute waitress came back a few minutes later with a couple of our rolls, along with our sake.
Except something about the sake was all weird—it came with a wooden box without a top. She set the sake pitcher inside the box.
“The hell is this?” Jotaro said. “Some kind of Japanese Jägerbomb?”
Maybe I could use my Japanese, just this once, to ask how we’re supposed to use this thing.
Dou… Tsukuru? 作りますか？ Is that correct?
I almost pulled out my phone to start looking up the words, but I was already getting exhausted with myself. This much effort for Japanese… What will it even bring me? Being ousted as some dirty otaku? I’m sure they have to explain the sake box to non-Japanese tourists all the time—it’s not a problem.
The waitress went away, but we were still there with sake and a box.
That’s when we noticed two older women just a couple of seats away, leaning out of their seats toward us. They were both tiny, middle-aged women with short, curly hair. They were wearing matching red coats, lipstick, and, well… they were total obaasans, or “aunties.”
The auntie sitting nearest pantomimed for us to pour the sake into the box. Yeah, I guess it was pretty obvious, but we weren’t sure… Plus, how are you supposed to drink out of a box without it spilling all over the sides?
It turns out that the sake box is a pretty serious tradition in some contexts—just not this one.
After we took turns downing boxfuls of sake—and spilling all over ourselves—we heard applause. The aunties were clapping for us!
We politely laughed and thanked them, but they wanted to keep talking.
“You two look the same… Are you…?”
“Brothers,” we said.
The two women looked at each other and smiled. They pointed to themselves proudly and said, “We, too… Brothers!”