Sunday, March 16th, 2008
We arrived in Nagoya in the late afternoon, quite exhausted by a 14 hours long flight from New York to Tokyo, and a connecting flight from Tokyo to Nagoya. Yasuko's parents welcomed us at the airport, and we all went together to the apartment we had rented. After we had settled down, we all went to have dinner, together with Jutaro, Yasuko's brother, and his wife Rie.
Although I had seen all of them multiple times via Skype, it was the first time for me to meet Yasuko's family. And for them it was the first time to meet Yasuko since her departure from Japan two years earlier, in the Summer of 2006.
The dinner was simply amazing, especially for me and Yasuko. For her, it had been almost two years since her last meal in Japan. For me, it was my first opportunity to taste sashimi the way it is supposed to be. We also had some of the best tempura I had ever eaten until then.
In New York we had Japanese food at various restaurants, both in Long Island and in Manhattan, but, from this first dinner it was already very clear, even to my untrained palate, that nothing in the US tasted even close to the way food tasted in Japan.
After dinner, we went to grab some sweets and a cup of coffee at the local Komeda. My very first time at Komeda's Coffee, the largest coffee shop chain in the Tokai region. Of 413 shops in Japan, Aichi prefecture is home to 263 of them, so you absolutely can’t miss seeing them around the city of Nagoya.
The interesting thing about the chain is that it keeps true to the traditions of being a coffee shop rather than a cafe, if you can understand what I mean by this. When you enter there is an older, rather deeper atmosphere – the old timers sitting and smoking, the coffee tickets, the pine wooden decor, the magazine rack for those wanting to read in peace – all make it feel less cafe like. There are less younger groups, no window-facing high counter seating, and you are served at the table as opposed to standing and queuing up.