Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Out to Lunch

In late February, we visited our favorite local Italian restaurant, Wordsworth, for lunch.

As always, the food was great. We had nice salads with greens and sprouts, and as is common in Japan a few kinds of what us Americans would call "seaweed". Which is about as silly as referring to spinach, romaine or raddichio lettuce as "landweeds". Oh, well.

The main course was pasta with spinach and oysters in cream sauce topped with salmon roe. Delicious!

We of course had not been out since then due to the earthquake(s), but on Sunday I wanted to see if Wordsworth was open. Kimie had driven past it a week ago on her way to visit a family member in hospital and reported a lot of damage in the area. But I wanted to check on Wordsworth, so I bribed her with an offer of lunch and we went.

The restaurant is located about six miles south of us and one mile inland from Kashima Port in the city of Kamisu. It is fairly low lying flat area - easy pickings for a tsunami that was, along this stretch of coastline, up to 5 meters high (16.4 feet).

Along the way, we passed UniQlo clothing store. There were two shipping containers in the parking lot which had floated in from the port and bashed in the store's windows. Containers are still strewn across the landscape and in the canals. The store had also suffered a fire.

From there, we saw lots of buckled pavement, sunken roads with the concrete curbs and drain boxes sticking up, and leaning power poles.

Wordsworth was closed. The patio addition at the front was sunken a bit and the land there was lower by quite a bit relative to the street than it used to be. It had also be flooded. A sad sight. I hope they can recover eventually.

Along the back service road we saw three houses which either due to liquefaction during the earthquake or water from the tsunami, sunk into the ground a bit - one of them a burned out shell.

Ibaraki Net TV took video of the exact same area.

We decided to head toward another restaurant which Kimie's sister had recommended - "tratteria Luce". Judging by what we had already seen, we were not optimistic. But, as we approached we could see the chef/owner standing out by the street waving a huge Italian flag to attract customers.

The owners told us that Kamisu City has electricity, but will not have water service for three months. The restaurant hired a porta-potty to meet legal requirements for a toilet, and is cooking with bottled water. They aren't able to wash dishes so are using paper and plastic ones to get by. By the way, the owner's house is behind and over the restaurant, so they are living day to day with the same conditions.

Lunch was simple, but very good. A chicken wrap, minestrone soup, pasta with tomato sauce, and freshly baked bread. We took the wraps home for later. We'll go there again.

Another news video shows the fishing boat harbor at the entrance to Kashima Port. Pretty much trashed:

The man interviewed said he and his son had to be rescued here. He says it is hard, but "shoganai" - it can't be helped.

And closer to home, the bridge connecting Kashima Jingu Station to the rail line which connects us with Tokyo, is under repair:

The other line out of Kashima - the one I take to lake Hinuma - also has sections out which will take quite a while to repair.

Compared to all this, the damage to our roof, bath tiles, and driveway entrance walls, seems pretty minor. If it were not for the aftershocks, things would almost seem normal. We've been fortunate.

We're looking forward to warm weather, once again sailing Bluesette on Lake Hinuma, seeing our friends up there and eating at Mama's Kitchen again. For now, we hang on and do the best we can, along with the rest of Japan.

Until next, sweet sailing.


bonnie said...

Shoganai. I didn't know that word but I learned the related "shikata ga nai" from the book Farewell to Manzanar.

It seems like there's almost an inferred "but we'll carry on as well as we can" in those terms. No giving up.

Thank you for another update, and I'm glad you found some good Italian food, and I hope your favorite makes it back, too. That pasta dish with the oysters and salmon roe looks incredible!

Baydog said...

I love that Luce are doing what they have to, (using bottled water to cook, disposable plates, cups, and utensils.....) They are carrying on as well as they can, as all of you are. It's easy to look past the plastic dinnerware when a place has the moxie to keep on keepin on. And every couple that walks through their door reinforces their decision to remain operating. Great example of dignity and perseverance.

Pandabonium said...

Bonnie - yes, exactly right. Shoganai is a way of verbalizing the reality of the situation along with a dedication to persevere in spite of the burden.

Wordsworth does amazing things with seafood and pasta. :p

Baydog - We loved it too. Seeing them make do under such trying circumstances made us appreciate the food even more. We'll go back to give them our business again.

Anonymous said...

How is K and her family dealing with everything? I believe they are "locals" in the sense that they go way back with strong "roots" in this region!

Pandabonium said...

Anon - Thanks. They are fine and dealing with repairs and inconveniences day by day. This immediate area was not devastated, so the sense of loss is not so great. The talk now is of the rice harvest this year. Bound to be difficult due to broken irrigation pipes. K has some time off until the next school season starts and is focused on her job having been transferred to another school.