Saturday, 28 November 2009

time flies...

Although my family moved out a while ago, I was born and grew up on Omotesando Street in Harjuku, that was originally an approach to Meiji-jingu Shrine through the Aoyama area.

This highest street in Tokyo is now known as the “Champs Elysees” in Far East, the epicentre of shopping and fashion trends. In the pre-booming period of a couple of decades ago, however, the atmosphere had a different face. According to my mom, she hardly passed her neighbours when taking an afternoon walk with me in buggy. Low-rise buildings and houses were dotted around, and our apartment was located next to a birds-singing garden attached to a big Catholic church. All were in peace and tranquillity, but, those days have gone...

If you say that giant metropolises like London, Paris or New York are changing “monthly”, Tokyo is changing “minutely”. So, it happens that your Tokyo guide book (even Michelin's) is turned into rubbish easily. Beware!

In my childhood, eating out was still a special activity because the food-service industry was limited in variety such as sushi restaurant, hotel dining, ramen (Japanese-born Chinese noodle) bar, Korean BBQ, coffee shop (not chichi cafe yet) and some McDonald’s & KFC outlets. It is quite recent phenomenon that Japanese became fussy for international cuisines with incomprehensible words of “patisserie”, “boulangerie”, “gelateria”, bla bla bla.

My sweet reminiscence is traced back to American 70’s style “Olympia Diner” on the ground floor of Coop Olympia Apartment near Harajuku station. (Obviously, both were named after Tokyo Olympics in 1964, when the building was founded.) We used to stop by there before or after shopping at the supermarket in the basement. For me, that's such a grown-up space to offer “decent Western foods" including burgers with chips, coleslaws, sugary doughnuts and chocolate shakes. The diner has gone too, though.

Today, my burger recipe is a homage to the diner’s chef.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another of your nicely written piece. I can almost sense your nostalgic feeling for those bygone days when the pace of time was much slower than what we're encountering now.

I myself was born in a big city at a time when the city was still wrapped in all its provincial attire. It is now trying very hard to join a race when others have already moved far ahead, and as a result, losing most of its charm in the pursuit of becoming same as others.

In my school days I could virtually cover every corner of the city riding a bicycle through many of its empty roads. With the swelling of population, gone are those semi-deserted roads and also the greenery that once was so admirable. I still remember how frightening in time it would have been to return home after dask, as if all those devils and spectres that I came across in stories kept on hanging high above the branches keeping their eyes fixed on anyone passing below.

What is left now is only the memory of a town drifting slowly towards the rat race of modernity and surrendering itself in the hands of destiny.


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