We have met the nicest people while we have been here in Japan.
Tonight, we went to our usual neighborhood conveyor-belt sushi restaurant – we go there maybe once a month or so – and we sat, as usual, at the counter watching the sushi chefs fill orders. We sat next to a Japanese man, eating his sushi and drinking sake. We started taking plates off of the conveyor, and we ordered a small bottle of hot sake.
As we pondered what to order from the Japanese menu, the man next to us observed our deliberation. Soon he started talking to us, in pretty good English, pointing out the specials written in Japanese and posted on the wall adjacent from our counter. He had to look up the English word for one – it turned out to be mackerel – but he patiently explained the half dozen or so items on the list.
As we continued our conversation, he asked where we were from. He was surprised to learn we live in Japan. We explained how much we enjoy life here. Seeing that we were drinking hot sake, he explained that many people here opt for cold sake when the season changes and the weather warms. He was having cold sake, and asked if he could order some of the sake he was drinking for us. He called the waiter, and soon we were enjoying a glass of cold sake.
We talked more about sushi, and the different kinds of fish. He explained that Westerners sometimes don’t like sea urchin. Had we ever tried it? We said we had not, and he promptly asked the sushi chef to prepare some sea urchin for us to try. Turns out it is really good – kind of sweet and juicy, almost like a paste – not at all what we expected.
We talked for a few more minutes, explaining that we are struggling to learn some Japanese. He mentioned he is also working on English, and we told him that his English is quite good, as he was able to carry on a very good conversation.
Soon the man said farewell, and left the restaurant. We later found that he had paid for our cold sake, and for the sea urchin. A very kind man who simply wanted to share with us his enjoyment of sushi and Japanese culture.