I had a pretty great birthday yesterday. Greg had given me a present just after midnight, which is a wonderful artistic work (which he created - he got all the arty genes) of a samurai which looks fantastic backlit.
Later on in the day, he took me out for my favourite Japanese dish which goes perfectly well with a cold beer.
Since Greg had to go off to work, he had to forgo the beer
Since he was going to be at work, he kindly arranged an evening out for me. Calling his friend Tsune, he arranged for me to tag along to a dinner party, telling her to "look out for the tall white girl" at Kakogawa station. I got myself there easily and waited out the front of the ticket booth. A tiny girl approached me, and after ascertaining I was indeed Carly (the only white girl in the station) her first words to me were, "you're not as tall as I was expecting." It can't be helped that my brother is a 6'4" kaibatsu (monster of abnormal proportions) and I stand a meagre 5'7"!!
We caught a cab to Emerald's house, which was a teeny tiny apartment packed to the brim with charm. Emerald has done some amazing adventuring of her own, and has wonderful photographs, mostly portraits of interesting characters she's met. The other member of the party was Kasumi, who's a yoga teacher and a performer of a particular type of Indian dance. She also told me she studying belly dance, and I struggled to see how a tiny Japanese woman would belly dance with absolutely no body fat! :-)
On the menu was somen noodles, which look like so:
There are different flavours and they take only 90 seconds to cook, after which, they're immediately placed on ice.
We ventured upstairs to where the air conditioning was to eat, and slurped our refreshing cold noodles with a variety of toppings. Kasumi had also brought some eel, which was wrapped around some sort of root, it's a special time of year when the Japanese eat eel, and it was surprisingly tasty.
We talked the night away, sharing stories of our travels and it was wonderful to make some new friends and just enjoy a typical Tuesday night with other young women. We all walked back to the train station together, thankful that the temperature had cooled off a little. The girls hadn't known it was my birthday until late in the evening, and had lamented that we didn't have cake. Of course, I was just so happy to have been let into their lives for an evening, that cake was the last thing on my mind. Kasumi snuck away at the station, and returned to say goodbye and presented me with a piece of cheesecake and some chocolates. I was absolutely touched.
It really was an unforgettable night, and I'm sure I'll run into these wordly travelers somewhere else in the future.