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.
And 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:
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 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:
Head Sea Throne
Grandfather tiger dumpling kitchen
God Flower Japanese beef
Cat bottle teahouse
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.