Nestled among my childhood memories of visiting Gardena and West L.A. is one of my Dad taking us to RocketBowl for a big, steaming bowl of Saimin. It is a simple soup that sort of bears a resemblance to ramen, but the noodles are wavy, and the broth is almost pho-ish, served with red ginger and green onions.
Along with waffle dogs, locomoco, various spam dishes, and plate lunches, I remember eating some good saimin on my last trip to Hawaii. Up until that point, I just assumed that Saimin was a hybrid food, the result of a fusion of Japanese, Chinese, and Hawaiian cooking, but I was wrong. I found out where Saimin (for all of you haolies and mainlanders, this is a noodle soup popular to Hawaii) originated: that place is Okinawa, and over there it is known as Okinawa Soba. Bringing things full circle, the Okinawans make their fried rice with Spam! Ah, those islanders, they know how to eat!
Until I am on my way back to California! Time is flying, but I want that Alerto's carne asada burrito now!
Will I have reverse culture shock when I get back?
Will Orange County smell foreign?
Will driving on the 405 seem like jumping to ludacris speed?
Will Justin or I drift onto the wrong side of the road?
Will watching television at home be more confusing than watching it in Japan?
Will I know of any of the current movies that are out?
Is the Seal Beach discount movie theatre still open?
How many friends or people I know will I randomly meet? How many of them have gotten married, have successful jobs, have recently gotten laid off or died?
How much will I spend at In n Out, Alertos, Pho 69, Tommy's, Jack in the Box, and all of the other places that I have been craving for over a year?
To what extent will English have changed? What words have faded from or been added to the lexicon? Will it sound "stupid"?
Does everyone now use a cellphone, as I have heard? How far behind are the phones compared to Japanese models?
What will the landscape of California look like? Is is all charred and brown, or has regrowth and regeneration started? What is it like having Arnold as the Governer? Are people still talking about him?
Will I feel more comfortable surrounded by strangers who speak English, or by strangers who speak Japanese? Will anyone tell me that my "English is really good!" and ask me why? Will anyone tell me that my Japanese is horrible and ask me why?
How fast does Brent's black Z go? How fast does my dad's Q and the Odessey go? How fast am I going in kilometers? How many pounds will I gain during the stay? How many will I lose immediately after coming back to Japan? How many of my kids will tell me that my face has become "really fat"?
These are just a few of the thoughts that come and go when I think about the trip. Time is zipping by, as work has been really busy, but I am ready. I am looking forward to wearing shorts and t shirts again, as I sit here typing, my fingers numbing from the cold.