If you were a celebrity, how would you feel about being called Joytoy? Well, there’s a girl on a show that I watch, whose name is “Yingling of Joytoy”. Yep. She’s what they call a gravure idol — a sexy model. It’s one thing to pose with your legs spread apart, but I still can’t get over why she’d agree to be called something like this. I also can’t understand why someone called Joytoy would be allowed on primetime television (though she seems to appear within normal sexy boundaries).
We had dinner at Shomin, one of PMK’s favorite restaurants, this evening. The restaurant serves homestyle bar food if there is such a thing. Vegetables marinated in different sauces, oden, yakitori, sashimi and the world’s best grilled rice balls — crunchy like rice crackers on the outside and soft inside. The chef uses the freshest ingredients of the season to make whatever he feels like making. It’s the kind of neighborhoody place that makes you think that anyway.
The chef told us an interesting story today: Toro, the fatty part of tuna, is a cut that has only been popular in the last 30 to 40 years. Before then, toro was thrown out because transport was not as good as it is now, and the cuts were too smelly to eat by the time they go to their destination. He said tuna was never a fish that Japanese ate either until the Edo area when someone decided to try soaking it in soy sauce. The historically favorite fish are white fish like snapper or flounder.
I get my hair cut in Harajuku, a hip part of Tokyo frequented especially by young teens. I learned today that the area is known as a mecca for hair salons. Every aspiring hair stylist’s dream is to one day own a salon in the area. The result, according to my stylist, is that there are 350 hair salons within a six block radius in Harajuku and Omotesando, a tony section of town adjacent to Harajuku. To clarify, this doesn’t mean that all of Tokyo comes to this area to get their haircut. There’s an ample number of salons throughout the rest of the city as well.
You may wonder how a tiny area can support so many salons and why half of them don’t disappear. I did anyway although not anymore because Aki Watanabe, my stylist, has enlightened me. He says that there are salons that don’t succeed, but for every stylist that wants to open his own salon, there are endless number of investors looking to invest in one. So — even if a salon fails, it’s usually another salon that replaces it. Every real estate agent in the area knows of several investors waiting for an opportunity to open a salon at any given time. When you consider that there are new salons that pop up in addition, the total number increases rather than decreases.
If you’re wondering how they all can make money, the answer to that too is that they don’t. But that’s okay as well. Many of the salons are satellite “flagship” salons to a chain outside of Tokyo. An owner with 7 or 8 salons in Kanagawa, for example, could advertise his salons as branches of a Harajuku salon, and customers come in droves just because of that. They also get relatively good stylists, lured by the possibility of being able to transfer to the Harajuku salon one day. It’s brilliant.
The first entry of the year is about my pet hermit crab — Gonzo. Believe it or not, that’s a very traditional Japanese name that has been around long before the Muppets. PMK bought me Gonzo, who came in a kit with designer shells for him to move into. He hasn’t switched shells yet, but there is a soccer ball-shaped shell and a blue shell dotted with tiny mirrors with his name on it. I keep Gonzo in the office and I must say that he’s become a little mascot.
The only problem with Gonzo is that he’s a bit of a picky eater. The manual that came with him said he would eat pieces of apples or vegetables. A cameraman in our office said he would probably eat dry fish or seaweed since hermit crabs come from the ocean and typically feed on that kind of stuff. He did neither. Gonzo is a true 21st century first world hermit crab. He only eats popcorn. Salted popcorn is acceptable but his true love is popcorn by Frito Lay that is flavored with butter and soysauce. He snarfs the stuff down, eating as many as eight kernels a day — which is a lot for a thumb-sized hermit crab.
Now my biggest concern is that he’s become overweight and can’t get out of his present shell. That would be just great. Having a pudgy dog is one thing, but a pudgy hermit crab is just embarrasing.