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Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban

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Tsukushi Torn Mouth Rash Shop
Following up from yesterday, I spent quite a long time reading reports from Japan today, and looking at Google Maps of Japan, and reading up on the physics of tsunamis. I was looking set to produce another report on the earthquake and tsunami.

But I didn't have the heart. Instead I started using Google Maps to revisit the only place in Japan that I've actually been to: the city of Fukuoka. I was there in late 2005 to co-present my idea for an Orbital Siphon - a 170,000 km piece of string extending out from the Earth's equator, which doesn't fall down, or just hang in space, but totally weirdly goes upwards of its own accord - with Professor Colin McInnes of the University of Glasgow, who now has his own Perpetual Motion blog. I must write something about the Orbital Siphon one day.

Anyway, Google Maps has a feature whereby you can 'drop' someone onto a street in the map, and you can see the street scene there. Google sends round vans with cameras mounted on them in quite a few places. I've spent hours using it to wander around Barcelona.

So I started wandering along streets in Fukuoka down which I'd actually walked, and revisited the Hakata Green Hotel where I'd stayed.

And then I remembered the little restaurant I'd discovered on my first night in Fukuoka, when I'd stumbled out onto its streets without my Japanese phrase book. I wrote about it a year or so back. So I went looking for it in the warren of streets just south of Hakata station.

Tsukushi torn mouth rash shopAnd I found it! That's it on the right. The only thing I could remember was roughly where it was, and that it had a wood framed door and windows, and there was nothing in English in it at all. So I never knew what it was called.

Today I found out its name. It's the 'Tsukushi Torn Mouth Rash Shop'. Well, that's what its name is when translated from Japanese into English. What a wonderful name! None of your Philippo's or Grant's or McDonald's. Nope. Just the effing Tsukushi Torn Mouth Rash Shop. What more do you need to know?

I also turned up a Japanese review of it:

There is lively, cheap and delicious.

All staff are running comfortably.
Service in the hall three daughters smile.
The dashing older brother is also in charge of the hearth, suggesting that attitude to work.

The store itself, but no ordinary nondescript pubs,
Such attentive staff, has produced a very good space.

As noted by previous authors,
Small menu] [thank you in three hours and was written.
But this is where opinions are divided, particularly because it was not a problem alone., But if you were going to be kicked out, maybe another problem.
As far as the hospitality of the staff here is the first time,
That way they think is a very
How truth.

How truth indeed! Lively, cheap, and delicious pretty much hits the nail on the head. It must've been the dashing older brother who first welcomed me into the shop. And it was perhaps a couple of the daughters that I spent several hours flirting with using written English and hand claps. And I was only ever kicked out of it once, and that was when it closed at midnight.

Another Japanese reviewer, who seems to spend most of his life in Fukuoka restaurants snapping pictures of the food he's about to eat (or is actually in the process of eating), also provided a blow-by-blow record of his experience there.

It's not the only restaurant in Fukuoka with a rather surprising name. Here's a small selection of other ones:

One thousand Sea Museum
Head Sea Throne
Grandfather tiger dumpling kitchen
God Flower Japanese beef
Healing Bear
Cat bottle teahouse
Incense return
Delicious real meat restaurant
Very beautiful shot grilled squid
Alcohol treatment goats
Round pan with a lion
You can also burn charcoal charcoal mad

You won't find names like that in Barnsley. Grandfather Tiger Dumplings sound interestingly dangerous. And to come across the Delicious Real Meat restaurant must be rather reassuring, particularly after you've just been to half a dozen fake meat restaurants. And the Very Beautiful Shot Grilled Squid suggests that the Japanese occasionally catch squid by shooting them. And why not? It's probably better than dynamite, or whatever they usually use to catch them. Certainly more beautiful, leastways.

One day, when the present difficulties have passed, I'll go back to Japan, and to Fukuoka. And I'll make a point of dropping into the Cat Bottle Teahouse, and look into the Round Pan with a Lion. But if you want to find me, I'll almost certainly be in the Torn Mouth Rash Shop, sitting at the end of the counter with a beer and a cigarette, and flirting with the daughters while waiting for whatever I'd ordered to eat - just by pointing at it in the glass cabinet - to land in front of me, just like I was 5 years ago.

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TheBigYin says:

Excellent piece that is as far away from "banging on about the smoking ban" as you can get and a welcome respite from the constant drip, drip of hatred towards us smokers.

Unlike yourself I've never really been abroad apart from my stint in the army garrison town of Munster, Germany many moons ago.

I am fascinated by your many sojourns abroad and your colourful painting of the people there and their surroundings.

I noted from your Google map link that, apart from the Japanese writing, I could be walking down a side street here in downtown Middlesbrough but the thing that makes it a million miles away from here is the people you describe and their excentric (to us foreigners) and discriptive use of words. I am convinced their words make perfect sense to them, it's us that do not understand their meanings.

I cannot understand us brits abroad that demand that for a couple of weeks they stay in a 'little part of the UK' and want to eat and drink as though they had not left these shores...barmy or what?

My heart goes out to the wonderful people of Japan as they face extraordinary circumstances.


a welcome respite

We need them. Or at least I do. Particularly in a time when all news seems to be bad or even worse.

I am convinced their words make perfect sense to them, it's us that do not understand their meanings.

Either that, or the translator is trying to make sense of proper names, a bit like translating 'Hampton' into 'Pig Weight'.

My heart goes out to the people of Japan too.


The thought of working in Japan has crossed my mind on more than one occasion. What's there not to love? I marvel at their clean-lined art and architecture, seafood is far and away my favorite food group, and it sounds like you can still smoke in peace there.

And just what would I do there? Well, I'm a natural born linguist. I picked up Spanish in ten months using a pocket dictionary and some reciprocal learning from an English-speaking/learning Mexican friend in Mazatlan, Mexico. I've always thought that there is a useful work occupation just waiting to be filled in re-translating Japanese into English. The nutty translation thing happens in Spanish also, with the reversed adjective/nouns and all. I'm pretty adept at translating it into street English.

Let me give it a try:

The Merry Goat café = Alcohol treatment goats
The Calamari Cutie Grill = Very beautiful shot grilled squid
The Nurture Bear Restaurant = Healing Bear

I must say, although it may seem a bit "commie" at first glance, I like their approach to tobacco production and distribution. The government is a 50.1% shareholder in Japan Tobacco and they get most of their money the hard way -- they earn it (from dividends). It's better than brutally strong-arming the cash from its customers and then kicking them in the teeth, like we do in the West. The incentive to demonize and chase off purchasers is lessened. They tax it too, but the take is nowhere near ours, where the government makes more than the manufacturer. I'd rather the stake was held to 25% or some such thing. It brought in $354 million in dividends to the Japanese treasury.

China takes a similar approach but they're 100% stakeholders and could suddenly pull the plug on the whole thing if they chose to. The one-quarter slice works out the best.

I wrote up an article last year about the latest Japanese tax increase here and ended it with a link to your impressive Japanese Restaurant posting.

just to echo the first commenter. A beautifully written and fully-felt piece. You should really be getting paid for your writing.

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