Japan – Shichi

August 29, 2007

When:  August 24, Late
Where:  Somewhere in Kyoto

My buddies Poncho and Izzy came to Kyoto last year in December.  Somewhere in the heart of Kyoto they found a bar, and in that bar is a picture Izzy drew of the bar tender.  I was sent on a quest to find this bar, photograph that picture, and add a paper crane to the mix.  But, the instructions on how to get there were kind of fuzzy.  Route 113, near the Kyoto Tower and a big temple, a two story place with lots of visible bamboo.

After wandering around for a couple of hours (and somehow getting involved in a group portrait with a bunch of drunken salary men), I finally found a place that fit the description.  I slid open the door, ducked inside, and was ushered in to a seat next to the open kitchen.  It was a small place with ten seats on the bar and a small table tucked into the corner, decorated with bamboo and dark wood, and their specialty was … beef tongue.

This was a mixed result.  I’m pretty sure Poncho would have mentioned tongue if it were a fixture on the menu, and there was no picture to be seen.  However, I love tongue.  No doubt about it.  It’s very flavorful and tender, and prepared correctly, an amazing experience.  So, I sat, ate tongue, and drank beer.

Thirty minutes passed while I relaxed, watching the chefs prepare and serve food.  It’s pretty fascinating to watch a Japanese kitchen at work.  The basics are still the same, but the techniques and tools kept me thoroughly entertained … until a man walked over, and in broken english, invited me to sit with him and his friend.

Their english was good enough for us to have a lengthy conversation about traveling, beer, traveling, sake, traveling, soju, traveling, and whisky.  Apparently, words lost in translation are easily replaced with alcohol amongst friends.  I’ll have a place to stay next time I come to Kyoto, and they would always be welcome at our place if they came to Portland.  Friends in far away places are a great thing to have.

It was a good night, with good people.  These are the sorts of things that make travel worth while.

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