Now it is Golden Week in Japan, when four public holidays coincidentally occur in quick succession, meaning the entire country can put their feet up for a week. Nice!
However, when everybody in a densely populated country takes time off at exactly the same time it means flight and hotel prices are so expensive you have to sell a kidney to leave the house, and holiday destinations are more crowded than an Austrian basement.
I’ve emptied my bank account to fly to England for a couple of weeks to attend a family wedding, and I have discovered that the place has become more Japanized in my absense. Whereas not ten years ago most folk would have recoiled in horror at the idea of chomping on raw squid, sushi is now readily available throughout the country.
A chain of Japanese noodle restaurants called Wagamama has also been growing in popularity (although most of the customers are unaware that they’re eating in a place called “Selfish”.)
Manga T-shirts, once only worn by sex-starved comic-book nerds, are now flying off the shelves of high-street shops.
While meeting friends in London’s Soho area, I even ended up strolling through Brewer’s Street, which is a popular place for Japanese and Japanophiles, due to the preponderence of Japanese restaurants and shops. There used to be a popular grocery store called “Arigato” which seems to have disappeared.
An evergreen favourite is the Japanese used-book store operating out of an old dry-cleaning shop. The owners have never bothered to change the sign, and it’s been called “Deluxe Cleaning” for decades.
Highly recommended for ex-pat Japanese, and students of the language.
At least if I end up leaving Japan, I won’t be starved of Japanese culture.