Shout of exultation at the Empire State Building
It’s a bit strange having to admit a “first time” at my age but my week-long trip to New York in November was just that. It was to take part in an event to exhibit our products at the Japanese restaurant, Kajitsu, which also offers shojin or Bhuddhist vegetarian cuisine in New York. It is operated by Fuka, a popular *namafu shop in Kyoto I went there with my staff although quite frankly, I must admit I wasn’t of much help.
Kyoto’s famous Japanese tea shop, Ippodo, has their shop on the first floor of the same building as Kajitsu, offering a unique take-out service of Japanese tea. It took me by surprise to see many New Yorkers come by for not only Japanese green tea and brown tea, but also for macha to-go!
The sight of many skyscrapers piercing the sky is not a familiar sight in Japan and was indeed quite amazing. However, due to these buildings, I could only see a patch of blue sky through the gaps between them nor enjoy much sunshine. Moreover, there were no mountains around the city as in Kyoto. However, I was most impressed by the magnitude of Central Park, which lies smack in the middle of Manhattan, as well as the Metropolitan Museum which I couldn’t fully do justice in a day.
Even though I was there for only a week, I felt that New Yorkers were truly interested in Japanese tradition and culture, most especially in that of Kyoto. When a civilization has progressed as far as it has, does it swing back like a pendulum to appreciation of the good old days?
At Kajitsu, only giant kelps are used to make their dashi stock; not even bonito fish is used. However, each dish was just right and sophisticated in their creativity so much so that I knew I had discovered a tiny bit of the real Kyoto in the very heart of New York! Furthermore, there seemed to be many vegetarians in the city for the restaurant seemed to be doing a booming business
Our business of selling neatly turned out canvas bags made by our craftspeople by hand, repairing them when our customers had lovingly used them until they were worn out and not selling them online must have seemed quaintly antiquarian to the New Yorkers so that many famous designers and journalists came to our event.
Contrary to the worries of our staff, family and friends as our trip was shortly after the terrorist attack in Paris, my impression of New York was that of a peaceful and vibrant city. I prayed that this peacefulness would continue at One World Trade Center, as I took in the names of the victims of 9.11 that had been engraved onto the monument. Why would turning the world into a global village, where many ethnic groups and religions mingle freely, lead to acts of terrorism and conflicts? I am heartily sick and tired of such fighting and conflicts.
If asked whether I’d make another trip to New York, I must confess that that is a consideration I might pass up on given the brutal 14-hour time difference on the body.
*Namafu is a traditional Japanese delicacy made using refined wheat gluten that is combined with short-grained mochi rice flour and steamed.
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