We began, with coffee. To be blunt, however; specialty coffee ranked second in priority, only to our reunion with hot water and toilet seats.
The Land of the Rising Sun, is a loose interpretation of "the sun's origin," translated from Nippon, or, what most of us refer to as, Japan. Discussing its largest prefecture- the largest city on Earth at thirty-eight million, many draw assumption on what to expect from what visitors call the future of the 90's. And while in truth, Tokyo, may be laced with amber-lit ramen corridors, compartmentalised complexes, and flashing sidewalks, decorated with self-aware vending machines, it, and its country, embrace so much more- yet to be understood even by their own inhabitants.
This cultural shift is largely responsible for our draw to Japan, and the execution of our first feature documentary- By Nippon. (Nee-Pone). Boarding the metro at Shinjuku Station, a complacent working class of black-suited salary men make for a strange backdrop to the citruis-dotted, miniskirt-manifesto that is Japan's female throng of cram-school students. The country's recent natural disasters see to the employment of a utilitarianism workforce. All the while, the world's growing demand for fish from a climatically challenged planet recast the nylon nets of Japanese fisherman, as political ones. And somewhere in it all the Japanese chef humbly practices his mastery, abstaining from industry ferocity and performing at such exacting degrees, the gods know only as perfection.
Our first week was spent trekking and reallocating with the fast-paced, unforgiving flow of the city. A few missed trains and mistranslations, and we felt at home. While the iPhone in its entirety has drastically altered the selfless nature of the culture we learnt to love five years ago (and accompanying billboards), we made do with our new friend, Google Maps- which lead us successfully to each coffeeshop on Dylan's list.
It was while in transit, however, from Airbnb to Airbnb; we explored the famous Bear Pond Espresso. Stowed away, down a gloomy Kitazawa, Tokyo, you'll find behind the tiny bar and his self-built La Marzocco espresso machine, Katsu Tanaka. He will determine if you're allowed to stay and sit in his shop, whether you know it or not. Fortunately for us, we have a penchant for coffee, and made long-lasting conversation as he told us of his time in New York, at ASU, and on A Film About Coffee. He allowed us to stay after 2PM, (though he refused to pull a shot, as he felt his calibrated machine fell too far out of precision beyond this time), and shared with us his unfathomably intricate sketch pad, where he records his new findings and configurations- every morning. He claims he's not tried another coffee than his in Tokyo, for twenty years, and on his return visits to NY, he withstands from eating for seventy-two hours, to prevent any sort of digestive irregularity. Katsu is a character, if we've ever met one, and we expect to visit him on our return, to Tokyo.
Japan is intriguing. It is alluring. It is always content and never satisfied. We love it, and align with it. We pay the $7 for a cup of coffee, and smile at the bag for $38.