Sometimes I feel Japan has about 18 months to live. The threat of nuclear apocalypse, real and imagined, is quite depressing. It`s either jump on the track of the Yamanote line, listen to The Fall for 24 hours or ideally, go for coffee shop therapy.
“The eel itself is nice, it`s the sauce that`s the problem. It`s made by a doshiroto (complete amateur)”, bald man in grey track suit said.
Bald man is my highlight of this two-week tour across Japan. I discovered him in a Kurashiki coffee shop, sat talking to the lady owner. He was nursing a mug of cafe au lait and a can of Calpis soda.
Feeling totally wired after ten straight days playing the clown/guide, I wanted frivolous conversation. The Calpis man helped out.
“The eel sauce is sarasara (runny)”, he exclaimed.
“It should be torotoro (sticky), shouldn`t it?” pipes in lady shop owner.
“Honma ni nah“(yeah, it should), Calpis spoke with emotion.
Diverting conversations like this make coffee shops cherished sanctuaries. Forget the coffee – it usually tastes like heated dishwater, not even cow piss could redeem it.
Conversation structure is easy to follow. Start with a banal comment about the weather, then introduce a fish story – `the sanma (saury) at Seiyu supermarket are on sale at 300 yen`.
It`s far easier to talk about dinner options for tonight than the chances of death tomorrow.
For a Calpis-style flourish, add a couple of `jinsei iroiro arimasu wa`, (life is a mixed bag). It will make you seem wise/mental.
A refuge from the terrifying world outside, an air-conditioned womb you will never want to leave, coffee shops are heaven. If and when apocalypse comes, please let me be inside one talking about fish.