A Night With Friends

On the 7th of March we flew to Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost islands, to meet up with my Japanese friend Fumi.

We stayed in Okinawa for a week and despite rain and wind we had a great time and saw many beautiful things. Many words could be written on our time there, but what I wish to share is but a simple meal. A simple, home cooked meal eaten in the company of great people. Because as all who has travelled know, most of the time it is not the place, but the people who make a trip memorable.

Having a Japanese with us in many ways made everything easier. E.g. Where as we in our search for a hostel have to either drive/walk around from place to place or book online for a higher price, Fumi would of course just call up and hear if anything was available. In theory we could too but 1. many web pages are in Japanese and thus hidden from “our part” of the internet and 2. many Japanese don’t speak English, which is okay when you are face-to-face with them and able to use hand gestures and Google translate but considerably more difficult over the phone.

Pictured: correct use of rooftop + Jonas ✌️#Okinawa

Et billede slået op af Isa Lykke Hansen (@isalykke) den

The honour of finding Okinawa Motobu Guesthouse therefore also befalls Fumi. Without her we would have never met the owner Niku and have been invited to join him and his friends for dinner.

Left to right: Teruya Jinshi and one of his sons, Fumi, Isa, Jonas, Tamaki Atusi, owner of the restaurant, Asami Kotouge and Morimoto Yuka, two girls from the hostel. In the front, Tamaki Natu, Atusi's daughter, and in the back Niku, the hostel owner.
Left to right: Teruya Jinshi and one of his sons, Fumi, Isa, Jonas, Tamaki Atusi, owner of the restaurant, Asami Kotouge and Morimoto Yuka, two girls from the hostel. In the front, Tamaki Natu, Atusi’s daughter, and in the back Niku, the hostel owner.

We drove with Niku to his friends restaurant, where food was already waiting on the table when we arrived.

The night was filled with laughter as a mix of English, Japanese and Danish was translated back and forth, mostly through Fumi, who speaks Danish almost fluently after a one-year exchange programme 3 years ago. This continues to amaze me.

At one point Asami looked at me very seriously and asked if I loved Jonas. Slightly blushing I answered that yes of course I did. He then turned to Jonas and gestured for him to get down on his knees and ask me to marry him. I declined laughingly and Fumi had to explain that in Denmark everyone is “bare kærester” (just dating) for a very long time.

Tempura fried seaweed. Seriously delicious.
Tempura fried seaweed. Seriously delicious.

Except for the one above we don’t have many pictures of the food – it was just too good for us to stop eating long enough to take a picture.

We learned the hard way that Japanese and Danish dinner party manners are a dangerous cocktail when we sat, on the verge of bursting after 7 different dishes of Chinese “mabodofu” (a tufu and chili stew), rice, sausages, tuna, gyoza and tempura and all of a sudden a bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese appeared in front of us (!)

Turns out that in Japan it is impolite for the host to stop serving food when the guest finishes – and in Denmark it is impolite for guests not to eat up. You guys, It’s The Eternal Circle of Eating!

Later Atusi turned to Jonas once more. “Please come back next time you are in Okinawa, Mr. Jonas”. And we intend to.

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