Sunday night, I went to Kushitomo with some friends celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary (and apparently the 10-year anniversary of the UK's return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule). Kushitomo is a small restuarant on Sakanamachi-dori, downtown Hamamatsu. Their specialty is fried food on sticks.
On my last night in Hamamatsu- during my first visit to Japan way back in 2003- these same friends and I went there, and it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I had during those incredibly fun two weeks.
Like then, we sat on pillows around a low table in a semi-private tatami room. The servers brought us several courses of fried things- fish, chicken, pork, asparagus, ginger, cheese croquettes, crab, shrimp. Even small eggs. At Kushitomo, you can get a special set where they'll bring wave after wave of food until you tell them, "Stop."
For dessert we had fried bananas on sticks, whose seemingly benign exterior crusts held mouth-destroyingly molten interiors. And to soothe our injuries, bowls of some kind of delicious fruit sherbet.
By the time we finished, the little glazed cups on our table were stuffed with thin wooden skewers with dried crumbs of fried batter clinging to them. Similar crumbs covered my socks.
It was fun eating delicious fried food and making fun of Die Hard movies, then walking back up the long hill to Hirosawa-cho, my old neighborhood. I bought today's lunch at the Takamachi 7-11 convenience store, my first visit back to one of my regular shopping haunts since the day I dragged my heavy suitcases that far before giving up and having them call a taxi for me on the day I left my Nova life behind for good.
In a few weeks, I'll be leaving Sanaru-dai behind, too, and moving into a newer, high-rise apartment closer to the downtown area. I'll really miss Sanaru-dai. It's quiet, had trees and little coffee shops. It's one of Hamamatsu's nicest neighborhoods.
The new place will probably be more concrete and less pretty or homey. But the apartment won't be as run-down as this one, with its sagging, soft spots on the floors, scuffed tatami and dull brown walls. And its frequent plumbing problems.
Being downtown will re-engage me with the most vibrant and active part of Hamamatsu, and get me out and around more.