Remember when your mother told you not to take sweets from strangers, don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and never NEVER accept blue sushi handed to you from a mythological water demon?
Unfortunately, not even the strictest of parental safety measures is enough to counter a two day pop-up store offering all-you-can eat blue sushi made by demonic hands for just ¥400. Look, let me just show you:
As I said. Mythological water demons serving blue sushi.
The 48 hour creation of unnatural delight was a publicity campaign organised by ‘BIGLOBE’, an internet service provider in Japan. Their symbol is usually a round blue ball with eyes but on their website this seems to have morphed into the face of a kappa; an amphibious water imp in Japanese folklore. I remain unsure if this advertising adjustment is permanent, merely that it resulted in sushi.
As with any barking-mad-activity-that-encapulsates-the-reason-I-live-in-Japan, I found out about this event through SoraNews24. Based on the quick survey in the shop, I was not alone in dropping all my plans to sample each batshit crazy idea that website suggests. I have no regrets.
What I was less prepared for was the queues, tickets and queues for tickets. To be fair, I did suspect that all-you-can-eat sushi for ¥400 (about $4 / £3) would attract… one or two… million… people. To prevent the hungry hoards charging and the kappas being eaten in the confusion, the shop handed out tickets three times during the afternoon to the first 60 people who lined up outside the store. The ticket then gave you a 15 minute time slot when you could return to gorge on the flesh of raw fish.
When I arrived, it was before 3pm. The next ticket dispatch would be at 5pm. There was already a queue of people. Like any evil fairytale experience, you were expected to prove your bottle first. In Japan, that meant queueing for several hours. For the person who joined the queue after me, it may also have meant marriage counselling as he was forced to explain to his partner why his ‘15 minute sushi stop’ was about to be around 3.5 hours. But once you’ve started to queue, how could you back out? You couldn’t. There were kappas watching.
At precisely 5pm, the tickets were handed out. I scooted away to grab a coffee and forced myself to resist having a snack. I was mid-way through a mission.
The little pop-up shop sat 10 people around the sushi preparation area. Kappas are famous for their love of cucumber, so much so that “kappa sushi” refers to cucumber rolls. However, in this instance, they seemed content to prepare traditional fish sushi on platters that had six pieces of deliciousness on blue rice. Once you finished one, you could have a second serving. Yet, this was not the all-you-could-eat of western restaurants where humungous bowls of food were placed before you so you did not need to waste time with breath. Sushi had to be treated with respect.
We were not offered some pre-packaged sushi to be slurped onto a tray for you to cram into your over-full maw without chewing. The kappas were proper sushi chefs, carefully preparing each beautifully presented wooden platter of thick slices of fresh fish that consisted of tuna, salmon roe and amberjack and flounder. No one gobbled; sushi was a savoured treat even at ¥400.
It was delicious. It was civilised. And it was undoubtedly blue.
In the end, it was possible to eat up to four platters; 24 pieces of (demonic) hand prepared sushi for a price cheaper than a coffee at Starbucks. For people who couldn’t manage that, there was a small sign you could put up to say you were done. I did not use this.
I was impressed and not just because it was blue.
(But mainly because it was blue.)
We rolled out. Me to run through the sudden downpour to the station. My new companion to run home and save his marriage. Will report back on the state of demonic curses.