Monday, November 12, 2012

Food, Writing and Inconclusive Thoughts

And once again I find myself at the counters of my regular kaiten sushi in Saitama, observing my thoughts marshal by, in time with the little plates. I wonder what it is about movement and noise that make a conducive writing atmosphere.

While I am a regular customer and big fan of Lu's Cafe (which I have written about before, and where I recently had French toast with a friend) I simply cannot write there. As welcoming and relaxing as it, or as my room or Shinjuku Park are, all I want to do is chat or curl up with a book.

But put me in a busy, crowded cafe, kaiten sushi or, better yet, train or plane, and my hand automatically reaches for a notebook or (more recently) smartphone.

Perhaps it is the coming and going of other people that is inspiring. I see my thoughts projected on other people. Odd for an introvert, you would think.

But perhaps a silent room leaves too much space for all my thoughts, which all come to quickly and then dam up, leaving me with an empty or doodled page. Perhaps the act of writing in public is a kind of escape from the busyness around me.

As a lover of great food, I nonetheless cannot write in its presence. I am far too busy enjoying it, and doing little seated dances of glee. But I do not need to feel that enryo about kaiten, train onigiri or (kami forbid) plane food, which I usually don't eat anyway. Writing replaces food, perhaps?

I am currently reading an odd little book, published in the 90s and found in a delightful used bookstore in Kagurazaka, called 'Tokyo Kitchen' (which is unavailable in translation, I fear). It is rather fascinating, as I often wonder how people think about day to day things, if they think like me, or I am unique in my weirdnesses (unlikely). Food being so intrinsic, it is interesting to hear what others think, what dishes speak of home, comfort and love, how one eats alone or in company.

It becomes obvious that those who chose their surroundings well are often more settled and likely to cook. Others seem content to eat pancakes or conbini udon everyday, usually in a cramped, noisy usagigoya. The presence of a stable, welcoming home is comforting, and the act of writing is a 'home away from home' for many.

Hmm. Kaitenzushi musings.


  1. "Perhaps the act of writing in public is a kind of escape from the busyness around me."


    Also, I have to jot down my astute, wise & witty observations, otherwise my fuzzy brain will forget them. :D

    PS: Seriously, though, I do my best writing at home, surrounded by my books. Editing? That has to be done in silence and solitude.

    1. Ahhh, but editing is an entirely different animal, especially if it is another person's writing :)