Today was the day where it sets in… All the running around, especially with the addition of the heat, wore us out. After the last of our at home granola breakfast we passed out and slept until nearly 10:00. No getting started early today. It was a nice morning to be lazy… Weather was calling for temps of 91+.
For lunch we walked up the street to Tanaka-san’s favorite okonomiyaki place. He said this 72 year old lady made the best and we were dying to try it. Okonomiyaki is big here because there is a country wide rivalry between the kind made in Osaka and the Hiroshima style. We had the Osaka version last trip to Japan at a little local joint so this seemed like the appropriate test. There were 9 seats around the 6×6′ griddle she was working at and 10 seats at the back of the place. There were 9 people eating when we arrived. The rest, I can’t say enough and wish we had it all on video, was pure entertainment.
This lady was completely on the ball. First, she put two Tupperware tubs of raw squid and shrimp in front of us to see if we were ok with seafood. Yes, of course we were… although at the time we had not yet figured out that this was the “special” and would be 400¥ more. Wielding two large spatulas and working multiple meals at once it goes like this:
She pours a thin pancake mixture like a crepe… Sprinkles it with spices… Tops it with cabbage and panko… Puts on some pieces of dried squid cake she has pre-made. All the while that is cooking she has individual piles of cooked soba noodle on the other side of the griddle. Back to the main attraction she adds the seafood (squid, shrimp, scallops) and tops with strips of raw bacon… Then she flips the entire pile over so that the bacon is now on the bottom… That cooks for a while. She the slides that pile onto the soba pile… Cracks an egg and spreads it like a crepe… Slides in onto the egg pancake and flips the whole thing again (pancake is back on the bottom)… Paints the egg top with sauce (texture of hoisin), sprinkles it all with herbs and pickle and slides it over for you to eat. Everyone gets a small spatula to cut and serve with… Some folks ate right off it. She made 7 of these all at once while we sat there all the while telling her husband what to do and chatting up the locals. Genius entertainment and totally delicious. We had great fun and were stuffed. Dan already wants to go back.
Even the end of the meal proved entertaining. When we went to pay the 1800¥ we gave her a 2000¥ note. This currency denomination is no longer made and they are rare in Japan, similar to the $2.00 bill in the US I think. So we had gotten a bunch of them with our exchange in NY and they have been eliciting all kinds of responses here. Well, one of the customers wanted it, so she traded two 1000¥ notes for it. Dan pulled out another one and joked that she could have it for 4000¥ … Hearty laughs all around!
We took the tram up to Hiroshima station and walked over to the Peace Memorial Museum. It is difficult really to speak much of the afternoon. We were there for hours and it is hard to get through emotionally. But the people of Hiroshima convey a strong and beautiful message to all of mankind that we need to love and respect one another. Peace should prevail.
At the end of the afternoon we wanted only to have a quiet meal and turn in early. So we walked to near the station, took an escalator to the 6th floor of the Pacela building and rested over a meal of Vietnamese food at Miss Hoa.