Sean and I are having lunch in Little Tokyo on St. Mark’s before our yoga class. Little Tokyo wasn’t Little Tokyo when I moved to Japan. There were a couple of sushi places, a JAS Mart, and the now-famous Kenka Ya; one of New York City’s first izakayas. I visited Kenka Ya once with Erma. I remember thinking it was such a unique location. Before I moved to Japan, Japanese food in New York City consisted of sushi, tempura, udon, teppanyaki, katsu don, and robatayaki. Now I find takoyaki, curry, gyu don, okonomiyaki, ramen, and yakiniku. There are Japanese signs and writing all over the menus. I can’t tell if it was always there or if I only notice it because I can now read it.
So, somehow, in New York, we’re in the same place as we were 6 months ago. Sean has gyu don and I have ebi ten. We are the only non-Japanese people in the udon shop. The food tastes exactly the same as the food we ate in Japan. J-Pops is on the sound system and we hear Japanese spoken around us. If we stop for a second, we can imagine that we’re back in Osaka and nothing has really changed.
“いいな,” I tell Sean.
“いいよ,” he replies.