A long time ago Marks company used to have a Tokyo office so when we visited Japan on holiday in 2007 we met up with Maki and her husband Mitsu and had a lovely dinner.
We fully intended to do the same in 2011 but of course events conspired against us and we didn’t manage to make it happen. So here we are in 2013 and we have been invited to the Nagatas for lunch.
To say I was nervous was an understatement, I was worried about finding the house, making a fool of myself or not being able to eat the food. We arrived at the station in the rain with time to spare and the first thing I spotted was a shop called Yellow Submarine which was a toy store spread over 5 floors. Mark spotted it first but I couldn’t believe my eyes when they had a Danbo little box man just begging to be purchased. So after buying that and a few other wacky little bits and bobs we were winding our way through the residential streets in search of Maki’s house.
It only took a quick phone call when we were in the right area and we were quickly welcomed inside out of the rain and bestowed with slippers. They live in a slit level house with Mitsu’s parents living in the lower floor apartment and them above. This was very homely to me as we used to have a similar situation where I lived in Scotland with my nana living in the flat below ours.
Upstairs they apartment was very spacious with lots of running around space for little Haru and boy does he need it, he is bright, intelligent and full of energy and it didn’t take him long to warm to the huge strangers in his house making his mum and dad speak in silly words. After a nice coffee and a good old catch up Maki suggested it was time for lunch. We were having Sukiyaki which is a Japanese hot pot dish.
She said we would have lunch down stairs but I wasn’t prepared for the room we were to have lunch in. It was beautiful, a traditional Japanese room with tatami mats and low table looking out on to a small but very elegant garden space. Mitsu told us that the previous owner of the house used to teach Japanese tea ceremony and there were even places under the mats for boiling the water and conducting the ceremony. He even ran the large bell left hanging in the corner of the room for us.
Lunch was a casual affair with Haru happily running round and playing, Maki and Mitsu adding various things to the hot pot to get the flavours just right and Mark and me enjoying a beer as we ate probably the best meal we have ever had in Japan.
I felt so honoured to be invited into their home and given a true insight into normal Japanese life just confirming even more that I want to spend some time living there. I hope to be able to repay the favour if from one reason or another they ever found themselves in Berlin but I am sure it wouldn’t be nearly as impressive.