I had a LOT of things going on in the second week of being in Japan. I was officially “settled” which meant that I was free to hang out and run around the city like a maniac.
Which, if you know me, means one thing and one thing only – FOOD!
For today’s brief Japanese lesson, I introduce you to the word “ごちそうさまでした.” Go-chi-so-u-sa-ma-de-shi-ta. This is a part of a pair of words that are used before and after eating a meal. When you are done with a meal, you say ごちそうさまでした, which essentially means “It was delicious” and “thank you for the meal” in one. If someone treats you to something, or if you happen to run into someone who works at the restaurant as you leave, you can also say this.
I mentioned earlier I have a few friends in Japan already. I managed to meet up with my Aiko-先輩 (Senpai, noun: people who are senior to you in club or work) for delicious noodles, coffee, and catch up at the end of the week. It was so nice to hear about their different paths in Japan (JET, and 会社員 [company worker] respectively), and also explore a different part of Tokyo near Iidabashi station.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Japanese food, noodles are a pretty big component. Most people know ラーメン, or Ramen, which are the crinkly Chinese noodles that taste WAY BETTER than instant. My personal favorite are Udon, a thick wheat flour noodle that can be had warm or cold, plain or with a variety of toppings, and are generally delicious and awesome.
The place we went to was really nice and kind of 伝統的 (traditional) which was cool. For example, they had tables with tatami mats where you sat on the floor and had to take off your shoes. More importantly, my udon was ridiculously good.
On a separate food related adventure, me and two out of the three other Wellesley students who are abroad in Tokyo decided to hang out in Harajuku. Before going to a lecture on feminism in Japan in Japanese (which is a story for another day), we decided to get some amazing かき氷 – shaved ice, snowball, snow cone, whatever you’d like to call it. We decided to go to a Taiwanese place called Ice Monster, which was also really good even though it was a bit pricey. I can imagine the line being out the door on a sunny day. Mine was almond かき氷, which came with a side of condensed milk, as well as black sesame seed ice cream. おいしかった – it was so tasty.
It wasn’t all traditional Japanese food that week though. I indulged in tacos three times. On Saturday, I had them at Guzman y Gomez, a fairly decent Chipotle-eqsue chain in Harajuku. On Wednesday, the Wells-bury study abroad crew made our own handmade tacos (the best of the week, by far.) Then AGAIN on Thursday, when we entertained some elementary school boy and their mothers at a community center near our teacher’s house.
While our handmade tacos were definitely more delicious, watching people who had never eaten tacos before eat tacos was supremely entertaining. When the meat was gone, the kids headed straight for the plain taco shells and munched on those. Even funnier was watching the mothers interact with their children. The distracted “ハイ、ハイ” sounds exactly like “Yes, yes, yes I am listening” that I remember hearing from my mother when she wasn’t really paying attention. Also you didn’t have to know Japanese to be brought straight back to childhood when one of the kids was being scolded for running into a wall.
To finish off the week, I indulged in the first of many trips to Mos Burger. I don’t know why, but their burgers are really really good for fast food burgers. Also, their fries are amazing. Sometimes you just need a taste of home, and that taste of home is occasionally cheap fast food – ごちそうさまでした indeed.