Looking at photos like this reminds me of all the meals I had in Japan – between 1986-1994. I did over 60 trips to Japan during that era, and the ONE consistent thing that every trip had in common (besides giving gifts, handing business cards to each other in the proper fashion and of course – the cool, new multimedia technology) was doing lunch and dinner.
Man – do these people know how to schmooze!
BY my own estimate – it takes between 7-10 meals together – before they woruld EVER consider actually doing a deal with you. It’s ingrained in their culture. They need to get to know you first, see how you act when you’re drunk and if you like blonds or redheads. They need to feel comfortable with you and they LOVE to eat out on expense accounts!
I already have told the story of Inakaya – but I wanted to recant a couple of other memories (that would typically unfold at meals like the one Joi shows – above.) Each time we’d sit down to a meal, with 8-10 of us – my heart would jump at the possibilities of what was about to transpire!
First of all, I don’t really drink alcohol, so I’d find myself at these meals with (in order, lined up as a semi-circle in front of me) cold water, a Coke, Irish whiskey (on the rocks) cold sake, hot sake, and some hot tea. This assortment of drinks would buffer me from the ‘pour it down the hatch’ attitude of drinking that they (the Japanese and any Gaijin trying to keep up) would partake in. I didn’t want to insult them and just have a Coke and some water, but I wanted to make it impossible for them to keep pouring more Sake into my square box container (which is typically what happens.) As soon as you take a sip of whatever you’re drinking, they’ll take it upon themselves to refill your drink.
So by keeping so many drinks surrounding me, I found that I kind of nullified their attempts and I could focus in on the food and what the future of multimedia was.
And what food it was! If you’ve never had Shabu Shabu – I highly recommend it. Or drunken shrimp or lobster? Or how ’bout Soshimi – which is kind of related to Sashimi – but………..the fish is still alive, his/her mouth is twitching, his/her tail is wagging, but all of the meat on their body has been expertly removed, without cutting their nerves – and you eat the soshimi – while the fish is presented, alive, in front of you. Quite a trip!
More on Japanese eating later………[Marc’s Voice]