Halloween day is food day in Tokyo
Halloween is the day of superstition, when strange things happen and the spirits of the dead are up to a lot of mischief.
For us, Halloween day was food day. We didn’t dress up, but dressed nice enough to attend a photography workshop in Tokyo, to learn how to produce delicious food porn. That weekend we hosted our Japanese friend Takumi who came from Nagoya and suggested the workshop to improve on image quality (hint hint – he is not the one writing a blog).
The day started out calm and I hoped for the haunts of Halloween to spare us. We do travel with a blue penguin mascot – which should be considered normal. In Japan anyway. Donpen, the blue stuffie is an icon in Japan.
As calm as it all started out, I seriously do not remember why exactly I ended up standing on the chair. Some kind of uplifting spirit I think.
I cannot explain either, how breakfast suddenly consisted of our so far treasured welcome presents – a gesture from our hosts. Two packs of pink coloured and flavoured Japanese sweets – all strawberry themed. Even the popcorn tasted like strawberry, as fruity as chewinggum.
Lunch was pretty normal. At a Japanese vending machine.
Hakosoba noodles with tofu, seaweed and fried shrimp cake.
With extra shrimp cake.
Nothing strange thus far.
Nothing to worry about.
BTW soba is very nutritious and may accelerate thinking as well as problem solving skills. Because when we went to the photography workshop where Takumi made strange finger signs, I understood.
It was obvious he had drunk from that rabbit cake-liquor bottle at the workshop kitchen.
I recall to have understood most of the lecture (held in Japanese obviously). It could have been related to Takumi’s translating efforts. But no. I think for some reason I must have Halloween powers.
Our task was to take pictures of presented food, then we internalised the photography tips (close=more interesting) and tried again.
The only distraction were armies of Franziskaner Weissbier glasses in the cupboards behind us.
Only at times did flashes of Halloween came through. Boo!
During the introduction of participants, Tomek was mistaken for a fashion designer but even that is not unusual. He once forgot to take his new suit to a friend’s wedding after he had bought an ensemble especially for the occasion. Tomek ended up standing out with his casual look at the wedding party, which gave him the reputation of being an artist.
Yes , I did get distracted a bit but I tried to focus. Here are my before/after attempts of food picture enhancement:
Five foods ‘Before’.
Same five foods ‘After’.
And this juicy pomegranate was just too tempting not to be captured by my camera.
I felt very spirited after the workshop.
いらしゃいませ - irashaimase – welcome to the shop. You will hear that term pleasantly shouted at you, when entering a restaurant or the conbini. So cool!
The pictures aren’t bad right? I saw at least one person utterly amazed.
I got the same look on my face after I peeked behind Tanuki’s tiny red apron. Now if you are one of my faithful readers (hi there mum), you do know what Tanuki’s characteristic is (or should I say ‘are’).
With seven vending machines in one place I can assure you that was not a Halloween prank. That is Japanese practicality.
More food was to be photographed and consumed at one of Japan’s fantastic izakayas.
Takumi generously brought Chianti to stock up on izakaya nomihodai.
More spirited than me after the workshop, Takumi started to do some kanji calligraphy at the restaurant. Although let me tell you, the wine was not wasted writing.
Nor were fishheads.
After dinner I spotted these bottles and wasn’t sure how many we had actually emptied. Bedevilled drink.
Takumi was rather chipper.
Where as Tomek was the first to notice strange things.
Like… pointing to…
…a carousel. In an instant it was occupied by these two blokes. Call it Halloween prank or nomihodai aftershock, no one noticed that Tomek’s wallet stayed behind after a merry-go-round.
I have no idea what was going on here but things got jolly.
We seemed to have climbed physical barriers. In particular after crossing this light…
…we were in NY?!
And how did anyone know about the photography workshop.
Too confusing of a night, we thought the conbini would be a safe bet to get us back on Tokyo grounds. I believe conbini stands for come eat more. Anyhow, Takumi went for oden – the simmering broth of Japanese soft snacks.
Our Japanese friend made noteworthy finger signs (again) and offered his oden in way it made me think it was jinxed.
I preferred to ogle at those fresh pasta dishes but decided to go with fluids.
I took zima (in Polish meaning winter) because winter is strawberry season and… screw pumpkin.
Just as we were about to pay at the cash register Tomek noticed his wallet went missing. But we were in Japan. Obviously it wasn’t stolen. But waiting by the carousel, guarded by one of the horses. Our Halloween experience of getting tricked then treated.
The other mystery that night, was how Takumi lost his sole in Tokyo (and his soul to Tokyo).
I should have noticed the omen looking up.
Well, maybe just some spirit was watching over us after all, because one conbini owner thought not to trick but treat us to a serious serving of ice cream.
Oh what fun a cone can bring!
My precious. I am going to love you, at least until I grow up to be an adult.
Riding through Tokyo on Halloween was eventful but not full of dressed up party people. Halloween is very new to Japan and just about to make baby steps, slowly sneaking into Japanese tradition. It seems to be more popular with a gaijin crowd than with the Japanese but I can see potential growth.
I am not sure, if there was actually a bishops conference these days. I mean, clerics know how to party.
Spot Horse in the background. In foreground gaijin girl in maid outfit.
Shibuya tree decoration. I thought it was for Halloween but it turned out to be for some kind of fashion/other event.
Riding through town was a pleasure. That is, for me and sole-less Takumi (a puzzling barefoot Takumi a bit later on). The real Halloween stunner was Tomek who, always the gentlemen, looking out for jolly Takumi, carrying his bag and walking the tiny bit of 15 km by foot, while Takumi and me rode comfortably home. Sometimes Tomek enjoyed pushing us up strenuous hill. Japan makes some solid silly juice on Halloween.
Led by haunted souls or simply by chance we passed a second hand shop selling everything from pants to porcelain.
While Takumi got himself some badly needed foot gear, Tomek exercised Halloween.
I couldn’t convince Takumi to ride the micro version of the Batmobile. And so, me and Takumi on bike, Tomek on foot, carried on through the night. Rest assured, we finally arrived home. Safe and sound.
Halloween Sunday started with a cryptic message but ended with food. Not cat food.
Takumi had concocted a surprise kimchi soup in the morning…
…which regenerated Tomek’s legs while generating superpowers – which came in handy as the guys were about to make another dish – mochi cake. No joke, here they are, beating it out of rice!
To make mochi, cooked rice is pounded with wooden mallets (kine) in a traditional mortar (usu). Two people alternate the work, one (namely my hubby) pounding and the other turning and wetting the mochi in a steady rhythm.
Mochi cake – hand made. In our neighbourhood in Setagaya.
In Japan it seems, the mochi making tradition wins over pumpkin carving. The colour of the soft and warm mochi was orangy Halooweenish.
Mochi is kinda dry and every year some elderly die because it gets stuck in their throat. Not only during Halloween. But I ate my kimchi this morning and was fine. Ehem.
Making mochi is like making your own booze. I guess. Tomek looked pretty satisfied.
Salt and fruit helped the mochi go down. The perfect strangeness for an extraordinary day. Salt and fruit. Welcome to Japan.
I hope you all had an unusual, if not …