Magic Onigiri

An errand took me to Industry City in Brooklyn, where I discovered Japan Village. Readers of my memoir, The Wrong Calamity, know I lived in Japan for five years and spoke Japanese fluently. And only a subway ride from my New York apartment, I felt I was back there. There were so many people speaking Japanese! I eavesdropped shamelessly but couldn’t muster the courage to use my Japanese, even to ask a simple starter-question, like directions to the restroom. I was so annoyed with myself. I’m always hungry for a chance to speak Japanese, and when I had the chance, I got shy.

I’m also always hungry for Japanese onigiri: a triangle or cylinder of rice, stuffed with tidbits and typically wrapped with nori for easy eating by hand. In Brooklyn’s Japan Village, my onigiri antennae led me to a stand where they were made on the spot and dropped into a plastic bag, so I could carry them to a table. I intended to eat one and take the other home. So much for that plan. I couldn’t resist. I ate them both.

As The Wrong Calamity makes clear, I went through some hard times in Japan, but wonderful times too. The Industry City onigiri were not only delicious but also magic. They summoned many memories of living there, but only the happy ones.

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