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Ep. Finale 12: "Garlic Chive-Egg Rice and Shrimp Chili of Hatchobori, Chuo Ward, Tokyo"

Episode Synopsis. Inogashira Goro is in Hatchobori to visit a long time client and friend, Igarashi (Otomo Kohei) who manages a music bar. The last time they've been in contact was four years ago when Igarashi made some drunken, unreasonable job request to Goro. This time, he has another "unreasonable" request... After finishing business talks, Goro starts looking for a shop to eat lunch. There were high-end shops within the area but eventually, he found "Chinese Food, Shibuya". It's exactly what he was looking for, an eatery that offers "the common people's meals". Inside, the shopowner (Kadono Takuzo) ushers him in. There were so many Chinese-style dishes to choose from, Goro had a hard time deciding. In the end, he orders Nira-Tama (Garlic Chives Stir Fry with Eggs), Shrimp Toast, Shrimp Chili...

Featured Eatery:


Address: Tokyo, Chuo Ward, Hatchobori 3-2-4
Tel. No. 03-3551-9021
How to get there:
2 minutes on foot from Takaracho Subway Station
5 minutes on foot from JR Hatchobori Station
tabelog, ohirunomitaka, nobanonch

Hatchobori [八丁堀]. Located in the eastern part of old Kyobashi area of Chuo ward, Tokyo. Its name literally means "8 Town Moat", since during the Edo period, a moat was dug up around this area that enclosed eight towns. Today, it is considered an "office town", which includes general trading companies, and publishing houses. Condominium buildings are also being built. Places of historic interest are the Sakuragawa Park (pic above), the Yasuba Taketsune Horibe Monument, and Kyoka Square.
(info: (pic: tokuhain)

Ebi Chili

Glossary of Chinese food-related items found in this episode. (I chose only terms that seem interesting or have not been tackled yet):

Chuuka [中華]. Literally means, "China" or generally refers to anything "Chinese". A Chinese restaurant or "chuuka ryori-ten" [中華料理店] sells Chinese cuisine or "chuuka ryori" [中華料理]. When it says "chuuka", it's really not authentic Chinese cuisine but one that's been modified and developed to suit the Japanese palate, like how the "chop suey" was for the Americans for example.
Nira-Tama [ニラ玉]. "Nira" means "Garlic chives" while "tama" is short for "tamago" (egg). This shop's specialty dish is stir-fry chives with pork, topped with scrambled eggs (usually the eggs are mixed in with the chives). Recipe here.
Ebi Chili [エビチリ]. Goro said whoever was the creator of Ebi (Shrimp) Chili was a genius. It was said to be created by Chen Kenmin (a Chinese chef who migrated to Japan) in the 1950s. He modified the original Sichuan recipe to suit the Japanese tastes, by making it less spicy, for example. Recipe here.
Chinjao Rosu [チンジャオロース]. Often translated as "pepper steak" which can also be confused with beef with cracked pepper corn or "Steak au poivre". Chinjao rosu is stir-fried beef and green/red bell peppers, flavored with soy sauce and ginger, and has a sauce thickened with corn starch. It's taken from Fujian cuisine, qīngjiāo ròusī (青椒炒肉絲).
Mochigome Nikudango [モチ米肉団子]. Found in the shop's menu, these are Chinese Pearl Meatballs, or pork mixed with glutinous rice and formed into meatballs. Recipe here.
Xiaolongbao [小籠包]. Chinese steamed bun, traditionally filled with pork.
Pitan [ピータン]. Century Egg.
Toribanban [鶏バンバン]. Bang Bang Chicken. Recipes vary depending on the region and taste. It's a kind of salad that has shredded chicken meat (usually boiled, but others use breaded, deep fried chicken), mixed with your choice of veggies: cucumber, coriander, carrots, lettuce, and then, doused with sweet spicy sauce. Recipe here.
Menma Ramen [メンマラーメン]. Ramen that's topped with braised bamboo shoots or menma.

Other common terms often heard in the show.

Ura Menu [裏メニュー]. Literally means "back or hidden menu". It means, "off-menu item", "secret menu", "special menu" or items that are not found on the regular menu. Usually ordered by regular customers who feel comfortable enough to ask for a certain specific way to prepare a dish. Classic examples of ura menu from the show was when the regular customer in this episode ordered Nira-Tama Ramen; and also from the very first episode in Season 1, if you remember, a customer ordered chicken meatballs and smooshed it in raw bell peppers.

Shime [締め]. If you notice, Goro often ends his meal with a soup-based dish. "Shime" is the last item a Japanese eats at an izakaya or yakiniku, usually a soup-based item. In the subs, I often translate this as "meal-ender". It can also be called "finisher". Since there aren't much explanation on the internet about this, I asked my Japanese friend/consultant, Yuuki. He said:
"In kanji, it's written as '締め' or '〆', meaning close, shut, finish, etc. (an example of the idioms with this is, 締め切り, 〆切り = deadline, due date) During meals, it's 'finisher'."
Why the need to have "shime" and why is it always a soup-based item?
"This is a very difficult question (w = laughs). Japanese people usually eat rice, miso soup and okazu together, it's a long lasting food culture/habit. But, at yakiniku, izakaya, etc, we eat meat, fish first (without rice, miso soup), and finally, they feel like having some rice or noodle with soup. Perhaps, we're only shuffling the order of eating them. We want them all for every meal (w)...
Here is another thought. After eating much meat, they don't want to chew anymore. They want something easy to eat, something they can almost drink. Ochazuke, small-sized udon or ramen (which has soup in it) makes them really relaxed and send them to bed in peace."

What Was Actually Said.
"No punchy gimmicks". Goro talks about his preference for the traditional ramen (like shoyu-based) which danburi already explained in S1E5 notes (tldr: old-fashioned ramen are hard to find, because more and more shops offer new ramen recipes to attract customers). What Goro actually said, was a bit longer: "どうだ どうだという 押しつけがましさが みじんもない", but due to lack of time in the subs, I chopped the line and shortened it. What he literally meant was, "There's no cook asking you 'What do you think? It's good, right?' and no "in-your-face", trying to impress you with forceful, punchy, gimmicky new flavor, in this ramen.".

Qusumi Interview (Part 3 of 3). Google translated (with some modifications from me) from the Korean interview here:

On Dining Out Alone. Kodoku no Gurume started in 1994 and finished in 1996, The drama was made in 2012. In Japanese society in the 1990s, there were a few people who would dine out alone. It is especially rare for a woman to dine out alone, Qusumi remembers. However, recently, it is said that the scenery of dining alone is not strange. Qusumi thinks that the perception of dining out has been changing with the times.

Q: The early 1990s saw the end of the Japanese economic bubble. Do you think there is a socio-economic reason behind the recent increase of dining out alone?
A: "I don't think so. When the Japanese economy worsened in the early 1990s, there seemed like a boom in visiting delicious food in Japan. The editor of the publishing house originally suggested that I try to conceive of a work with the theme of a woman looking for a restaurant. I wanted to tell a more universal story about the common people looking for very ordinary food. At that time, there was a strong belief that ​"delicious food should be expensive". I wrote "Kodoku no Gurume", thinking that it would be better to have a restaurant that does not change even after 10-20 years, even though there are expensive and tasty restaurants around."

Q: What message did you want to convey through the character of Goro?
"Frankly, I have no intention or heart to deliver a specific message to the reader through my work. Only that, those who are poor, those who are going through hell, or in heaven, they all have the common instinct of hunger. I thought that it would be interesting if I had a story on this subject."

Q: Why did you choose the theme of dining alone?
"It was actually on the news. If you eat with many people, you can taste this and that. But when you eat with two or more, you have to be considerate of them. Like, engaging in conversation. On the other hand, if you're alone, you're free (laughs). (When alone), a lot of thought changes such as where to go and what to eat, what and how the other customers next to you are eating. If you look at a plate of food in front of you, there are many thoughts that come to mind. I thought this was really interesting so I wanted to show that. It takes about 10 minutes for Goro to enter the store and finish the meal in the drama "Kodoku no Gurume". It takes about 8 hours to film it. It's to convey all the situations that Goro feels so that viewers feel and sympathize with him."

Q: In the drama, the scene of Goro working, then suddenly, he'll be looking at the air in a striking pose, and says, "I'm hungry", is repeated every time.
(Laughs) "At that moment, the sound effects come out like 'pun, pun, PUN!' He'd say 'I'm hungry' every time, but it does not mean anything. The feeling of hunger felt by humans is paradoxical, but it has two conflicting meanings. The hunger is both the sense of safety that the signaling system in your body works, and the sense of urgency to eat something quickly. In the moment of faithfulness to such instinct, man thinks that he should do something."

Q: What was the reaction of the audience in the early days of the TV show?
"Until Season 1, it wasn't a popular program. Because it was airing in the middle of the night. However, viewers began to develop "Meshi Tero" [飯テロ] (or "food terrorism"). It's when Goro ate the food, viewers become hungry and are not able to eat. Because at that time, almost all restaurants are closed, and delivery isn't even possible."

On his thoughts about walking. Qusumi, who was born in 1958, made his debut in 1981 as a short story manga writer. He was awarded the 45th Bungeishunju Manga Award for his "Chuugakusei Nikki" (Junior High School Diary) with his brother, Kusumi Takuya. He is also an essayist, book designer, and musician. Qusumi collaborated on two works with Japanese mangaka, Taniguchi Jiro. These were "Kodoku no Gurume" and "Sanpo Mono". "Sanpo Mono" was a manga depicting the everyday trivials of the main character Uenohara Joji when he walks around freely. The protagonists of both works resemble each other. Goro eats food at the restaurant, while Uenohara takes a walk and seeks full freedom in daily life.

Q: What does a walk in "Sanpo Mono" mean to people?
"The original title of 'Sanpo Mono' was 'Sanpo' (walk). I think the walk has three meanings: encounters, landscape, freedom. There is no fixed destination, but if you see someone who lives completely differently through 'graceful wandering', he encounters the scenery, and has his own time."

Q: You set up three principles covering "Sanpo Mono": First, do not check in advance. Second: Take the side roads. Thirdly, do not schedule or plan.
"You will realize the pleasures of walking when you walk without meaning. You can see more if you walk slowly. What we usually do not see and hear are being picked up by all our senses. Through such small materials, old memories come to mind."

Q: How often do you actually walk?
"Around 3km from Mitaka, where my house is located, to the studio. I walk the roads everyday."

Memories of Taniguchi Jiro. To Qusumi, Taniguchi Jiro is a lifelong unforgettable experience. Taniguchi is one of the most famous mangaka in Japan, receiving the Excellence Prize from the Nihon Mangaka Kyokaisho (Japan Mangaka Association) in 1994, for "Botchan no Jidai", and was awarded the Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts at des Lettres from the French government in 2011. Qusumi recalled that Taniguchi had filled the feelings in the manga which Qusumi could not express with his writings and photographs. Taniguchi died last year of a chronic illness.

Q: I won't be able to interview Taniguchi. He is no longer with us now.
(Eyes downcast) "Yes. My connection with Taniguchi began when the editor of the publishing company linked Taniguchi Jiro to draw my 'Kodoku no Gurume' manuscript. At that time, he was a very famous person, and people wondered, 'Why would he work with people like Qusumi who has no name?'"

Q: What do you think of Taniguchi's drawings?
"When dealing with food-themed stories, the mangaka would ordinarily focus on the food. Taniguchi did not do that. With the food, he delicately and equally portrayed all the elements surrounding the food, such as the background, the scenery, the person, and the shop. He enjoyed the drawing act itself and always tried to paint in a new way."

Q: What was the most memorable thing about his drawings?
"Taniguchi would do the work in a way that he drew a manga after I handed over the photographs and manuscripts that I covered. Once, I wanted to express the nighttime in the city, I went around and took pictures. I could not take a picture of what I felt and saw in my head. In the end, I explained the situation and handed over a hundred pictures. But he was able to express the nightly feeling of the city in the manga perfectly. It was amazing."

Q: Did you have any memorable conversations?
"One day, I went to hand over photos and manuscripts of 'Kodoku no Gurume'. Then he told me this, 'Qusumi still walks around and eats something delicious. While I sit here everyday and draw pictures, what's up with that?'". (Laughs)

Do you like drinking?
"Actually, I don't usually drink alcohol. Normally, I don't drink at night. There's only one moment when I purposely drink. A glass of draft beer after the manuscript deadline. I only enjoy that one glass."

Q: There are a lot of "Kodoku no Gurume" enthusiasts in Korea.
"There are times when Korea and Japan are not on good diplomatic and political terms. Still, I am surprised and curious that there are Korean fans who love my work."

Q: Wasn't it because "hunger is the instinct of everyone", like you said?
(Laughs) Yes. Anyway, I am very grateful to you. If you share a meal with a person or eat his food (offered to you), the uncomfortable feelings will fade a bit."

End of Interview

[There are other excerpts I didn't include anymore. One is about actor Matsushige Yutaka. Qusumi says they do not interact much on the set but during the filming of this last episode of Season 7 (which happened the day before this interview), they were able to chat a bit]
Date: 2018-07-10 11:06 pm (UTC)

sutekinaj: 1983-87-90 (Default)
From: [personal profile] sutekinaj
Thank you very much for the final drama notes, otsukaresamadeshita.
And of course thanks for the hard work in completing the subs. Otsukaresamadeshita.
Date: 2018-07-12 07:17 am (UTC)

From: (Anonymous)
Otsukaresama desu...


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