Opinion: Yes to Japan, hard pass on eel


Friends, I have recently returned from Japan! The trip was part of a 2021 grant to study World War II that I could take only now thanks to dumb COVID-19. I was super excited for the history and culture parts but also anxious about the long flight (I don’t sleep on planes) and potential food situation (I don’t do raw fish). Obviously, your gal rose above. Here’s what happened.

The Chicago-Tokyo leg was rough, I won’t lie. For starters, my husband Doo tagged along because he suffers from severe FOMO anytime anyone goes anywhere without him, and since he’s over 6-feet tall, he took the aisle seat. This meant I was relegated to the middle for 13 excruciating hours, both directions. I couldn’t stay comfortable or use the bathroom sans two minutes of decamping. Even worse, I had to have the gross chicken as Economy Row 56 means the pasta primavera is no longer available. But, recognizing the amazing opportunity I’d been given, I stuffed the complaints and caught up on all the Oscar-nominated films I’d missed except for “The Whale” because there’s no crying on airplanes.

The culinary scene proved much better. Most places offered a variety of East Asian dishes, including noodles, dumplings and fried stuff, so I never went hungry. And when we finally stumbled upon Doo’s most magical of magical eateries – a tiny, 10-seat hole-in-the-wall sushi joint that served whatever the catch of the day was — I did just fine with rice and soup. Apparently, I do like Japanese food!

Although I still abhor long flights and would hard pass on eel sashimi, I’d go back to Japan in a heartbeat.

Peace out.