Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Under the Osakan Sun

The screen door opened and the old woman entered the room. She was carrying a plate of writhing purple spaghetti. The plate was placed in front of me.

I had noticed a live octopus in a large tank when we had entered the restaurant. He had been swimming around happily. My manhood test, however, had required him to be plucked from his tank, laid on a chopping block, and have two of his finest tentacles removed with a cleaver. The two wriggling, squirming tentacles had been diced into smaller wriggling, squirming pieces and carefully laid out on an attractive serving platter.

The assembled company gasped. Live octopus tentacles, it seemed, were a rare treat, and a tremendous honour for the guest.

I looked down at the plate. One of the tentacle pieces had managed to crawl to the edge and drop on to the table cloth. The rest were squirming helplessly. Emboldened by the alcohol I’d consumed, I reached out with my chopsticks and grabbed a large piece from the middle of the plate. Magnum clapped and everyone cheered. The tentacle resisted and stuck fast to the plate. I tugged and it came free.

Its slimy coating was, however, difficult to grip with the chopsticks. The tentacle dropped to the tabletop and started to crawl away. I gripped it again and swooped it into my mouth.

There was another drunken cheer and the audience peered at me immediately, eager to see how I would react to this delicacy. The tentacle squirmed madly and attached itself to the roof of my mouth. I gagged, and then proceeded to chew the demon tentacle until it gave up the struggle.

Under the Osakan Sun, Hamish Beaton
A New Zealander’s tale of three years in Kanan Town with the JET programme.

“There were no vending machines, no power lines, and not a hint of concrete. For a few moments, I forgot that I was in Japan”

He says this so offhandedly, yet that kind of numbness to the urban sprawl of Japan scares me.

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