A manga dinner in Akihabara.

After work tonight, I wandered over to Pancho, an underground stodge-server in the maid cafe district in Akihabara.  Pancho is an odd spot, part of a small chain of bastardised Italian restaurants which focus on the speedy delivery of vast quantity.  Quality is not a choice.  The only options are for adjustments in portion size.

Chuo-dori in Akihabara at 8pm.

Chuo-dori in Akihabara at 8pm.

Unsurprisingly, most customers seem to be single blokes.  Sometimes it is nice that way.  There`s a shared focus on the food, a unique camaraderie around the trough.

Pancho feels like it came straight out of a manga.   Lining the walls were posters of classic films, Jackie Chan in Project A, Bruce Lee in G.O.D. and a Japanese film called Let`s go to Hospital!  In the middle of the table, a half pint-sized bottle of Tabasco and a Tupperware bucket of parmesan stood primed for action.

I slowly chomped my through a cheese-covered Fuji of karubo -carbonara.

Our eardrums were treated to the theme tune from the hit basketball manga, Slam dunk.  Slam dunk is the story of a high school basketball team coached by the wise, old jelly-belly, Anzai Sensei.  According to my source, Slam dunk has sold 119 million copies – almost one for every Japanese inhabitant.

I have one too.

Whilst teaching at a high school in Mito, I became obsessed with the animated version of Slam dunk – muchu ni natteita.  I even talked about it in my English classes, so much so that one boy hung back after class to give me his copy.

Manga meigen (famous quotes) adorn Pancho`s walls.      

一枚の葉にとらわれては木は見えん。

Captivated by the leaf, we don`t see the tree.

一本の樹にとらわれては森は見えん。

Captivated by the tree, we don`t see the forest.

230px-Vagabond21[1]

The words are from a monk called Takuan who lived 4 centuries ago.  They appear in the 4th book of the popular manga series called Vagabond which is based on the life of legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.

The manga is drawn by Takehiko Inoue.

He also created Slam dunk.

Basketball and Buddhism must have more in common than I thought.

Either that, or Inoue is a genius.  Perhaps he even designed Pancho.

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