University of Wisconsin–Madison

$1 Sushi? Yes Please!

(Before reading, don’t worry about the title; even cheap sushi is good sushi in Japan!)

This weekend was a lot more laid back for me compared to other weekends because I have had so much homework for the internship class I am required to take part in while I intern abroad. Because my weekdays are so long, I have no time to do the bulk of my essay writing but on the weekends. I did have one event planned which was to go to the orchestra to watch one of my coworkers perform! It was in a fancy concert hall in an area of Osaka I had never been to before, but fortunately two other coworkers who were also attending the concert agreed to meet me at the station and we walked together to “Osaka Symphony Hall.) In line waiting to get our set numbers, we just so happened to be standing directly behind the parents and husband of the coworker who was playing in the orchestra! They could not speak English, but they were extremely nice and friendly. After getting our seat numbers, we headed out to find a place for lunch, yet everywhere around the hall was packed with like minded hungry orchestra attendees. Eventually we found an udon restaurant, and quickly ordered the first thing we could because the show started in just 40 minutes. After slurping and gulping down the hot broth and accompanying udon noodles and pork, we hurried to get into our seats before the orchestra began.

The coworker we went to see plays the percussion, and was in charge of 5 different instruments: glockenspiel, triangle, gong, large clap sticks (perhaps Japanese?) and a drum that was taller than my coworker! It was also the 7th anniversary of the 2011 Fukushima Earthquake (if you remember anything about the Japanese nuclear meltdown, that occurred as a result of this tsunami and earthquake) and so the orchestra specifically picked two songs dedicated to remembering the earthquake: one imitating the earthquake and the other about rebuilding.

On my way home, I remember that a woman who lives in my dormitory had invited me and Anna (the other foreign intern at Osaka Gas) to go get sushi with her! I was exhausted, and still had lots more homework for my internship class to complete, but I also had not eaten at a Japanese sushi restaurant yet (pretty much only eating store bought sushi) so I went for it! Only a five minute walk from my dormitory, we arrived at something that can only be described as other worldly.

Our only interaction with another person working at the sushi restaurant (named Kura Sushi) was a host who didn’t even talk to us, just handed us a number card which corresponded to a table among the maze of sushi conveyor belts. We sat down and Anna immediately pulls  dishes off the conveyor belts. She has been to one of these before, but the woman who brought us kindly explained what was going on. I can either pick plates I want from the conveyor belt or order dishes from the touch screen at our table. If I order from the touch screen, my plate will arrive on a different track above the conveyor belt!  We also just stack out plates as we eat, and then count the plates at the end as we place them in a slot at our table for dishes (so there is no table clean up on the part of the restaurant). Better still, everything (except for a couple dishes expressly marked) are only 100 yen each, or $1! I get whatever Anna or the woman from the dormitory suggest, and before I know it I have 5 plates of sushi in front of me.

As the evening progress, I found myself trying all manner of food I would never have tried at home: raw squid,  deep fried squid tentacles, raw octopus tentacle, raw eel, beef and natto (fermented soybean). There was more normal sushi as well such as salmon and mackerel which I also ate. My eyes were bigger than my belly (a problem those close to me know I repeat often) and eight plates in I was stuffed, but I still had four more plates to go in front of me! I had just finished the 12th plate and the woman from the dormitory who brought us asked “dessert?” Even thinking about food was too much for me, so I quickly had to turn down the offer. But Anna said yes, even after already eating 15 plates of sushi. Finally, it was time to head home, so we slotted out dishes into the marked disposal at our table and slowly, slowly walk home.

Now time to do some homework!