people, rocks, sourland mountain
© Khürt Williams
Charcoal (

… in Japan, charcoal — real, serious, gorgeous, perfectly proportioned, cylindrical, rings-like-a-chime when you clank ‘em charcoal — is still very much a thing. Stop by one of the classic taiyaki shops in Azabu Jyuban or Kamakura and what are they cooking their anko filled pastries with? Charcoal. Why does excellent yakitori taste so good? Charcoal. When you hit up a grilled fish shop, where does that delicious bitter crisp on your kamasu or sawara or hokke come from? Charcoal. And when you’re at an inn in the countryside and they present you with a river fish impaled on a stick — when you shove it in the sand pit for cookin’ what’s sitting right below? Oh, yes, charcoal.

I enjoyed reading the “little note”, “End of an Era”, with its short story of the men and the meat and the dancing girl and a link to an article Craig wrote about “real” charcoal, which reminded me of the smell of breadfruit roasting on “real” charcoal in my grandmother’s “rustic” kitchen.

On the last day of Heisei I went on a little walk.

And I am walking. And a little girl dances. And the men eat gizzards. And the pizza toast is prepared. And the coffee is good. And the emperor abdicates. And Heisei ends.

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