It's the eve of the eve of my 27th birthday. The birthday week began yesterday when my phone rang. It was Makoto saying that he was almost at my apartment. I asked, "should I wait for you downstairs?" and he replied "yes." Upon opening the door, I was pleasantly surprised to find my favorite Nihonjin already standing outside my door holding an orange rose. Once again Makoto has proven just how well he knows me by giving me an ORANGE rose and not one of the classic red variety. Since dinner reservations were made for two hours later we passed our time playing dress up... I dressed up and he patiently commented on my choices. I changed my shirt about 5 or 6 times (I have so many clothes and nothing to wear) before Makoto said, "sono jitsu..." As I was completely perplexed as usual when presented with most words in Japanese, he whipped out his handy dandy cell phone dictionary to look up the English translation.... "In fact," he continued "I have something for you to wear." This "something" was a blue silky button-down shirt with white daisies on it. He explained that this was the style of shirt that he thinks looks "cool." I thought I looked like a grandma in it but was charmed nonetheless and decided to wear it to dinner.
The restaurant he took me to is called "Tofu Yaukai" (there was some kanji so this may be a little wrong). It's a gorgeous wooden structure with dozens of fountains and impeccable Japanese gardens. The place is designed to make you feel like you and your date (or family of 6) are the only ones there. I only noticed the family of 6 because the children ran through the gardens screaming like banshees... this, however, only added to the charm. Each table is in its own room which looks out into the central garden. When the doors are opened, you can hear the hum of the cicadas and the trickling of fountains (and the screaming of banshees). We also had a view of a spindly spider tirelessly winding and winding its dinner plate. I tested its strength by throwing a bit of tempora crumb into it. The spider pounced on it, checked it out, decided it was not edible for a spider, and flicked it off its web... once again, its trap was invisible. Unlike the spider, my plate was constantly replenished. I counted about 7 or 8 courses of tofu, soup, tempura, sashimi, rice, sake, dessert... each course looked so tiny and perfect but I could barely move by the end of the night... onaka ga ippai deshita! (I was full) I don't know how it's done but Japanese food is magically nourishing and fulfilling. It reminds me of a tiny clown car with an endless line of passengers streaming out of it... but much more elegant of course. Speaking of courses.. I've uploaded pictures from dinner here.