Eating on tour in Japan
The only person in my band who had toured Japan before was our vocalist, who toured with one band in 2003 and another in 2008. He’s the most finicky of us when it comes to food, but remarked that it didn’t matter because “We’ll be eating from 7-11s. I’ll be fine.” Now, he says some stupid shit from time to time, so I dismissed this as hyperbolic moping. We didn’t eat from convenience stores in the U.S., Canada, or Europe, and it certainly didn’t make sense that we’d be doing so in Japan. But as soon as we got to the first hostel in Tokyo, there it was, right across the street. 7-11. I’d also assumed he was using their name as a generic term for convenience stores, but no, he meant seven fucking eleven. Sure enough, we got our dinner from there, as well as our breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack the next day. Oh, and our breakfast, lunch, and dinner the day after that, and breakfast the third day before leaving for Nagoya. It was only by then that I actually got sick of it. They’re nothing like 7-11s here.
One of the foods he was most looking forward to was natto. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll explain it the way it was explained to me, which made me never want to eat it. Natto is fermented soy beans. They smell like feet and taste like death and have the texture of a freshly hocked loogie. When we walked into 7-11 on that first night, he scored a little 3 pack of natto for 98 yen, or about a dollar. Each little pack comes with mustard and soy sauce, which you add before stirring. The stirring process is very important. By stirring, you create “spider webs”, strings of sauce and bean goo that will stretch as far as you can extend your arm. Our friends in Osaka said you have to stir it 100 times to get the right spider webs. He prepared it, and handed it to me to try. The smell was kind of like pungent cheese, which I enjoy, so not a problem. The taste was kind of nutty, which didn’t bother me at all. The texture in the mouth was unusual, but not unpleasant. Natto is believed to be good for your health, in part due to ancient folklore. It is high in vitamins and has been shown to contain immunity boosters, but not much unlike any other soy product. The only thing I don’t like about it is the spider webs. It is impossible to get the chopsticks to your mouth without a dozen strings of goo stretching up from the container. The best way to eat it is to hold it all up to your mouth and shovel it in until it’s gone. And then take a shower.