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FreezeFrame: We Are What We Eat

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Exhibit A: I almost forgot my wallet again…

Ever crave something, then get exactly what you wanted?

So this past weekend, I dropped by San Francisco’s Japan Town for the first time. I had just gone to Chinatown the night before, which happens to be right next to the red light district (you know, the place where Duke Nukem became a legend with his “shake it baby” line), so I wasn’t expecting much. Anyways, it turned out to be actually pretty nice, a sort of mini Kyoto contained in two city blocks. I was really quite surprised how complete it was – there were some real nice seafood and sushi restaurants as well as those little side cafes, a bookstore with stacks of Nodame manga and a Haruhi figure in the display window, a couple of toy stores, plenty of purikura and vending machines, and even a 100-yen store which had a bunch of imported goodies (wasabi crackers, anyone?) So I’m walking around feeling pretty good about myself when I catch something out the corner of my eye. Right next to the colorful crepe shop crowded with kids wearing mashimaro tshirts was this oldish looking store with burgundy-colored trimmings and a small sign that read “taiyaki.”

YATTA

Something about me changed that moment. Maybe I was just hungry and wanted a snack that I haven’t had in several years. Maybe I was intrigued by the “choco-banana” flavor they offered. Or maybe, just maybe, somewhere inside me, my chin got a little bigger.

It wasn’t even that good. I didn’t care – bought another for the trip back.

Exhibit B: Eureka

It was one of those moments that I felt so proud of and then immediately regretted…

Some months ago I was in my Japanese 4 class reading about the seasons, and how during the autumn, some Japanese like to go out and have picnics amongst the trees – much like what they do during the spring, when the sakura bloom. Anyways, my partner and I were stumbling along the hiragana one curvy symbol at a time, occasionally having to look up the kanji whenever one came up. It was pretty standard fare, stuff about where they go, the kind of food they bring…and then we came upon this one particular kanji we hadn’t learned in class. I knew from Chinese that it meant “leaf” — wait, don’t I know how to say that in Japanese? I probably saw it in some anime…and in one of those enlightening moments where two people come to the startling conclusion at the exact same time, our eyes darted up – facing each other, eyes glistening, we exclaim in unison –

KONOHA!

Archimedes had one of those moments in his bathtub – it’s a good thing I wasn’t near water, or I would’ve promptly drowned myself. I could just feel the plastic forehead protector on my head, the otaku chakra oozing through my veins…ohh what have I becomedattebayo.

Regardless of how we may feel about them, most of us have had some of these anime-inspired moments in real life that have caused us to act on some impulse or behave in some weird way. Some may just crave a little more Pizza Hut – others might be compelled to scream GYABO in public.

Share with us all! What moments have you had?

-jaalin

March 6, 2007 at 1:32 am
35 comments »
  • March 6, 2007 at 1:46 ammewmew

    San Francisco’s Japan town is actually not bad, I agree with you there. :D Of course, the only things I can really afford from Kinokuniya (the book store) are ultimately the manga volumes, and nothing more, since almost everything there has an inflated price…:/ (incl. the stationery store with Japanese “bungu” almost 2-3x their original price in Japan T.T)

  • March 6, 2007 at 1:56 amAshley

    I remember someone asked how Christopher Reeve’s wife died shortly after she passed away and my friend almost blurted out “She was killed by Hollows,”. She managed to stop herself, but hell if that keeps me from harassing her about it.

  • March 6, 2007 at 2:23 amNeverwhere

    The best okonomiyaki I’ve ever had was in SF’s Japantown. Mmmmmmmmmmm. I’m salivating just thinking about it. *giggles*

    Real-life anime inspired moments? Oh GAWD, too many to list. I suppose it’s simply because I’ve been addicted for 20 or so years, so I’ve had a lot of time to have these ‘eureka’ moments. I have indeed cried GYABO though. Many times. *grins*

    Whenever I watch Naruto I crave ramen (thankfully I live close to several excellent ramen-ya in LA, yayyyy), and like you jaalin I’ve found it very useful for figuring out complicated kanji, thanks to all those marvelous, descriptive jutsu.

    I’m trying to think of more concrete examples but there’s just too much — from accidentally exclaiming いたいのだ~ or キーター to, well, just plain relating everything in life to some aspect of a beloved series (*cough cough* ;- ), ‘eureka’s’ happen every day. And I’m okay with that. :)

  • March 6, 2007 at 2:25 amGenestarwind

    I went to japan town in sf little but just right in miyano mall^^.

  • March 6, 2007 at 2:29 amjeffng9

    hm… taiyaki~~ i really wanted to try one out if i can next time.
    Kinokuniya… that kind of palce is like heaven for hardcores japanese manga readers (basically i’m one of them XD) same with u mew mew i would dump all my money on the mangas and face the music because of the spending spree by my parents XD

    I’m trying to be more onto figurines this time and i’m wondering how far can i go. ^^;

  • March 6, 2007 at 2:43 amSpiritsnare

    Wait, did I hear that right? SF Japantown’s taiyaki stand now stocks choco-banana? SINCE WHEN?!

    I’m totally hitting that up next time I’m in the area.

  • March 6, 2007 at 2:46 ammangaka-chan

    Kinokuniya for me. I can’t read Japanese so I see no point in buying manga there, so I go for the art books and magazine section instead. But the greatest attraction has to be the Copic markers. I can stand in front of the markers, pick one up, examine the color, put it back down, pick up another for almost an hour until my friend gets fed up with me and drags me out. The crepe shop by the bookstore is also really good. Orange + whipped cream + chocolate syrup = yummy! XD Although eating too much of it too fast can make you feel nauseous. :p

  • March 6, 2007 at 3:16 amKiraTakuto

    Wow, I didn’t realize so many of you guys lived in the Bay Area.

  • March 6, 2007 at 3:28 amtsutsuji

    neverwhere, where did you eat okonomiyaki in SF Japantown?

  • March 6, 2007 at 3:29 amMindOnAir

    Yeah, I know the taiyaki stand you’re talking about and I had a few last Winter and they were exactly what I was craving.

  • March 6, 2007 at 3:30 amJay

    watch more naruto

  • March 6, 2007 at 3:43 amYuri Rocks

    Actually, the Kinokuniya bookstore has a great selection of Manga in English right by the cash registers. As for the taiyaki, I still am a fan of the red bean flavor. For a truly “Kanonesque” experience, I think it would be nice to bring in a cat to knock over the stand, and then eat and run. But then again, there is practically nowhere to hide in Japantown given how small it is.

    To indulge your inner Naruto, go to the Ramen place diagonally across from the bookstore. Miso ramen with barbequed pork anyone :)

  • March 6, 2007 at 5:03 amVexx

    We were down there a few weeks ago guiding my son’s debate team at a tournament over at UC Berkeley and hopped over to SFO for half day tour… if I’d known about the okonomiyaki and the taiyaki, we wouldn’t have spent our time at Coit Tower.

    Last time I was at the SFO jp mall was a few years ago — sounds like it is time to swing by again.

  • March 6, 2007 at 5:05 amblerg

    gyabo is my ring tone. it replaced the multiple uguus from the movie date scene.

  • March 6, 2007 at 5:08 amGunsou

    When I’m in SF I always stop by Benkyodo for their Manju the ‘Age’(donut w/red bean paste) are the best, tucked away in a corner of Buchanan Mall

  • March 6, 2007 at 5:57 amthenightsshadow

    Interesting. I’ll have to pay a visit next time.

  • March 6, 2007 at 7:36 amKris

    Everytime I use chopsticks i feel like saying ‘itadakimasu’ when i snap them apart, everytime i’m thinking hard about something i feel like saying ‘ettou…’. I think anime has shaped my sense of humour – which none of my friends now get! But it’s so worth it.

  • March 6, 2007 at 8:03 amStorm

    I have suddenly started wanting more Pizza Hut and I developped the habit to use “Uguu~!” instead of my usual “Ugh~!” XD

  • March 6, 2007 at 9:24 amGStrike-

    Can’t have enough of Taiyakis. ~2 months ago my mom made me some ramen and I was going to say thank you ,but I sang the first line of the Kanon theme song… O.o ~Uguu!~

  • March 6, 2007 at 10:37 amlinkinstreet

    I teached my friend “Uin uin~~” and “Manko” as “important words” when he went to Japan for holiday. You should see his face when he came back and met me. I wish I was there when he used that XD

  • March 6, 2007 at 11:11 amSana Jisushi

    Hm… well, ever since seeing Azumanga Daioh, I try to concentrate hard when breaking my chopsticks. ^^; And I have a habit of singing randomly… “Super Love Songs!” from Pichi Pichi Pitch is great to belt out in the car in summer when people will stare at you with the window down.

  • March 6, 2007 at 12:08 pmLikkun

    The only reason I go to Japan Town nowadays is for the food. I had fun doing HG impressions there with some of the locals at the restaurant. During when Haruhiism first started up, it wasn’t hard to tell that the fever had hit Japan Town pretty hard as well.

    I forget which restaurant in the area it is, but they have ramen that I still drool over today. The taiyaki they have there is pretty good as well as the crepes. The mochi ice cream is good too.

    Actually I’ve known to throw out the occasional pyo, nyo, or ni-pah in public.

  • March 6, 2007 at 12:25 pmShinn Agami

    I’ve always liked the clueless faces of Saudi and Indian drivers when i shout “Bakero!” whenever they try to cut me off, then I start blabbering random japanese words like Hentai, Skeebe, Ahoge and Banzai and start swerving my car in and out on their side while raising my fist in the air (since roads in Saudi Arabia are really wide) . The look on their faces was priceless.

  • March 6, 2007 at 3:05 pmDarklynerZ

    I was on a plane about to take off and i was listening to my mp3 player, as the plane started accelerating, i noticed that my mp3 player was playing the song: Akatsuki no Kuruma from Gundam Seed. I suddenly felt like i was on the kusunagi leaving my home. the feeling i felt was so awesome and i felt sad the same way i felt sad when i was watching that scene in gundam seed when akatsuki no kuruma was being played. just my experience of how anime coincides with an event in my life ^^

  • March 6, 2007 at 3:49 pmwontaek

    Well, we occasionally make the Egg Flower Hamburger of Rozen Maiden Fame: It tastes very good, Thank you. Did I mention we also make our own taiyaki in our home with the taiyaki mold we bought over the internet?

  • March 6, 2007 at 4:00 pmShippoyasha

    I eat Taiyaki and other Japanese confections a lot, but the ones they keep showing on anime aren’t even the best ones.

    Gyoza can be really good with the right vendors and buns with Anko/Red Bean filling are the best in my experience. Takoyaki is great too, if served freshly and well prepared.

  • March 6, 2007 at 4:10 pmNeverwhere

    tsutsuji… I’m afraid I don’t remember the name! It was tucked in the very back corner of the mall, beyond Kinokiniya and on the right side. They had great gyouza and takoyaki too. But the okonomiyaki was divine. :) I live in LA and although there are lots of fantastic japanese resteraunts here (of course) I have yet to find a place that serves *really* good okonomiyaki. It’s rare anyone has it at all, and so far the few places I’ve found are mediocre at best. But even bland japanese ‘pancakes’ of joy are better than none at all, right? :)

    This discussion is making me need a taiyaki right now. *giggles*

  • March 6, 2007 at 8:51 pmshirokiryuu

    I love SF’s Japantown. Even if the CD prices are riduculously expensive. I mean, the manga prices are good (around 5-7 dollars for import manga), but the CDs in Kinokuniya are $50 (for L’Arc~en~Ciel’s ark album) also the CD stores around aren’t better either. I bought akfg’s Kimitsunagi 5 M for $36 (considering the normal price is $26).

    I personally prefer the red-bean taiyaki. I actually wasn’t inspired by Kanon to eat it, but rather Azumanga Daioh, because those fishes looked so cute.

  • March 6, 2007 at 9:22 pmRasmiel

    Gyoza can be really good with the right vendors and buns with Anko/Red Bean filling are the best in my experience.

    You do realize Gyoza (otherwise known as dumplings) is Chinese food right?

    I don’t think I’ve had that many anime-inspired moments yet unfortunately. If I did, bishoujo’s would be going crazy around me enough that I could build my own harem kingdom. XD

    I have, however, had many morning bagels with fruit jam. And I don’t even like fruit jam. I always like my bagels with light cream cheese, but I often find myself dyeing my crispy bagels with strawberry jam. This phenomenon is beyond knowledge of a human mind. It’s a work by outer force unreachable by me. Other phenomenons include making “Aguu” sound when my toe trips over edge of my bed. But I’m just assuming it’s a natural sound effect for someone with my voice tone.

  • March 6, 2007 at 9:23 pmSyaoran Li

    Damn it! I went to SF four years ago, but my uncle only take us, my sister and me, to a spa for her and then to a fancy restaurant (I was good, but still not Japanese). That was the only day I went to SF, then stupid rides to Oakland and Sacramento. Damn it…

    Easy one…. I have the patented laugh of Lelouch when he is crazy over something that went wrong. That mad laugh of him…

  • March 6, 2007 at 9:31 pmfireflywishes

    Oh yes… for the taiyaki at May’s you’ve gotta go there early (when they first make them)… otherwise they get all soft. Teehee, I wonder if we passed each other and didn’t know it…? I was in Jtown on Sunday. ^^

  • March 6, 2007 at 10:50 pmBobDole

    Or maybe, just maybe, somewhere inside me, my chin got a little bigger.

    That line is pure gold…

  • March 7, 2007 at 12:46 amShippoyasha

    Yes, Rasmiel, Gyoza is traditionally a Chinese dish, but it’s a Japanified version of it. As in the ingredients and the subtleties there are of it. Hell, there’s even some Japanified Kimchi floating around nowadays.

  • March 7, 2007 at 4:34 amN

    In one of the courses I’m taking, there’s an older Japanese woman that sits next to me all the time. Since it’s an IT class, I occasionally (ahem…) lose track of what the professor is saying and wander onto some site or another. One day, I happened across a fanart site and started delighting in the fact that I sort of understood a word or two of the Hiragana on it.

    She (the woman) started eyeing me suspiciously and I felt like the biggest fool ever.

  • March 7, 2007 at 12:29 pmShinSenshi

    I’ve learned so much Japanese from anime lol. Studied it in school for 3.5 years, but watching anime is such a great complement, with all the use of casual speech. I even started understanding a lot of raws and such. But one embarassing moment can be attributed to my over indulgence in anime with largely female casts (I’m a guy). So once after Japanese class I was chatting with some friends in Japanese and slipped into a bit of feminine speech without even realizing it XD. Yeah…most people LOL’d.