The Japanese man flung Dad onto the pavement, his bad leg smashing against the fire hydrant. “You stare! Problem? Problem?” he shouted while his glazed eyes struggled to focus.
Furious, I grabbed him by the collar, my eyes watering from his whisky-and-cigs breath.
Ah, Tokyo’s Roppongi district in the summertime. The last place on Earth you’d expect to be randomly accosted by a drunkard at 9am.
Just as I was about to deliver a good kick between his legs, Justin – my friend of 13 years – smashed his massive fist into his throat a split second before he saw it coming. I watched as his Adam’s apple got knocked up to his eye sockets. An anguished screech emerged from his throat, which was already purpling like an old eggplant.
He swung his arm, hoping to return the punch to Justin, who pirouetted to the left. The blow landed straight in my gut, displacing last night’s meal, shirako, from my stomach… oh God that shirako.
Something Fishy This Way Comes
Rewind 12 hours, and I’m having a lovely dinner with my parents. Well, half-lovely: I’ve never been a fan of sashimi. And yet, my parents never give up teaching me to ‘appreciate’ slabs of slimy fish, which I cringingly swallow after no more than seven chews.
My family had indulged in a twelve-course omakase meal the night before the Streetfighter: Tokyo event and by some stroke of luck, I managed to convince the world-renowned chef to serve me aburi-style sushi, which I much prefer.
Eight courses in, my luck started to change. “Yes, no sashimi,” said the chef with a cheeky grin. “But this, try! In Japan famous!” He presented me with a spoonful of something I didn’t recognise. Something that glistened eerily under the soft lights.
For the Love of Cod
Realising I had no choice but to give it a try, I put the cluster of soft, creamy goop into my mouth. I heard a snort and looked up. Next to me was Dad, nearly in tears from trying to stifle his laughter.
“Shirako!” exclaimed the chef. “Cod sperm!” I squeezed my eyes shut and swallowed it.
Oh god that shirako.
- Lesson Learnt: never stare at any Japanese man
- My Useful Travel Hack: always learn how to say “I’m going to call the police!” in the language of the country you are travelling to
- Did You Know? Roppongi Station is built 42-metres below sea level, making it Tokyo’s deepest station. So it’s probably a good place to hide after your drunken street brawl