Thursday, July 28, 2016

San Francisco Day 2: Turning Japanese, I think we're turning Japanese ... I really think so

J at the SFMOMA with a friend ... 
Lovely breakfast in the Red Velvet Room in the hotel ... the kid is sacked out and it's just the two of us. The husband is annoyed with the perceived fussiness of the old married couple beside us who make the waiting staff run around in circles with everything from serious requests ("No salt in the dish!") to frivolous ("When my wife comes please make sure there is no ice in her water."). Sometimes R reminds me of the Woody Allen character in the film Annie complaining about the Marshall McLuhan "expert" in the cinema line behind him ("I can't ignore him, he's spitting on my neck!" Allen rages futilely, as does R when I tell him to ignore the couple)

The three of us walk down to SFMOMA, 151 3rd St. - seven floors of modern paintings, multi-media art and sculpture. We are there for several hours and only make it to the top three floors. R is reluctant to leave. I am a philistine and eager for a break - rest and sustenance please!

On the way to SFMOMA ... What is this? 
Later when we return to the hotel we have a disappointing lunch at Katana-ya, 430 Geary St., a Japanese restaurant, across the street from the hotel - very good food but sloooow service, sloppy presentation (which is very uncharacteristic in the presentation of Japanese food), millennial 'tude. and nothing is cheap here whether it's of high quality or not.

After lunch we venture into Japantown west of the Mission, which J is eager to see. We learn this is one of only three Japantowns left in the U.S, all of which are in California. The area is not beautiful - clean perhaps but a bit antiseptic and virtually bereft of people on the street unlike the hurly burly of the Mission district further east.

We talk about how we know of no such similar entities in Canada - certainly not in Toronto, perhaps in Vancouver but it is unlikely. After WWII and the internment of the Japanese, the Japanese Canadians were ordered to disperse geographically (R's mother's and father's families travelled east to Ontario eventually and settled in Toronto where they met and married) and were ordered not to engage with other Japanese people. That law was in effect for many years after the war. Perhaps this is why the Japanese here rarely intermarry with other Japanese Canadians and the community is so fragmented. At least this is our theory. 

J spies a curious store called Diaso Japan, 22 Peace Plaza, that sells household products for $1.50 -
"Everything for $1.50!" he says excitedly. He goes on a spending spree with small gifts and Japanese food items. He is also intrigued by a small, somewhat claustrophobic mall called the Japan Centre that is almost all filled with Japanese merchandise and food. In a shop called Sakura, Sakura I spy, and purchase, a heavenly red paper parasol for less than $10. Completely impractical but gorgeous.

R finds a charming, small independent book store called Forest Books, 1748 Buchanan St., across from the Japan Centre. I purchase an exquisite hard copy of Taking Tea at the Savoy - a book about afternoon tea for a friend with whom I practise making the ever elusive scones that I crave. It is here that I meet the ex-monk (now the current bookstore owner) with the elaborate theories of why the number of homeless have proliferated in the city. A lovely man, eager to talk. 

I am exhausted and not hungry so I decide to stay at the hotel and sleep. My babies venture out for a disappointing meal at the overcrowded, loud and overrated Sears Fine Foods, 439 Powell St.

I don't know what this is ... but I like it.  But is it art?

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