Then you get off the high street and the names of the establishments become more cutesy, the graphics brighter, and freshly painted.

February 26th, 2015, 3pm

It was 17.8°C with scattered clouds. The wind blew strong.

As one does on a nice sunny day you strap a bag to your back and find the longest road in this new city you are exploring - and run it.

That’s if you are a runner. If you’re a temporary runner/ jogger/ delusional like me, you walk it.

Trying to act local in order to ward off unsavory characters and observing and also assimilating all the new sounds, images and textures, accents and faces at the same time is a difficult balancing act, but with enough effort it is a rewarding experience.

The main artery, with me starting off in a working class neighborhood, defines itself with shops that provide the basic human needs: food and automobiles. The repair shops are neat, the staff polite. The restaurants, an ethic mix of mostly south American food and various permutations thereof, are small and dark, and has more than a thin film of kitchen dirt surrounding the edges. The customers darting in and out of the doorways reflect this; like cockroaches coming upon a particularly tasty heap of garbage.

Barbers catch your eye from inside their shop with their hands suspended over a head and scissors half-open. Then you pass but not without looking back to make a note of the name of the shop, all without breaking your stride. To do so would blow your cover, expose you as a tourist, and open you up to all kinds of unnecessary trouble. Best to observe the locals and do as they do.

I should have known that when I turned off from the Main Street that this butcher, which was on my list of stopovers, the other being the park where I had spent a good hour on my back with a book in my face and for a few uncomfortable seconds with someone else’s dog’s snout in my crotch, was artisan. From the bold name to the cute refusal of using modern methods of butchering; if you’re looking for quality, grass-fed, in-your-face, unapologetic meat, we are it. I bought 2 pounds of delectable lamb neck meat, sawed into 4 thick pieces for a stew I was planning to cook that evening.

I should also have known upon seeing the first beard and short shorts that I have stepped into an altogether different and definitely hipper world. Every step took me past lighter and brighter varieties of the Main Street debacle. I put the Main Street further and further behind me and with just a twinge of discomfort dared this gentrified spectacle.

All I had to do was turn the corner.

David Wade and Christine said thanks.

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Lester X

Enjoying Japan, work, and beer.

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