Postcard from... Tokyo

We are in Roppongi, my new friend telling me stories of black marketeers turned into real estate moguls who made their first money from US soldiers stationed at a nearby barracks and have now built skyscrapers and shopping malls.

“Are you hungry?” he asks, and I nod. It feels like we have been walking these streets for hours.

He takes me to Shibuya, where he used to live before he started his family and moved further out, closer to the hills and mountains he loves so much. We walk through residential streets where all is quiet on this January evening. He points out some places he knows, bars and restaurants where he is no longer as regular as he would like to be, now that that he has moved. We duck through a curtained door and into the restaurant. Inside there are five women, sitting at the counter, and a family at the single table. We sit down at the last two seats.

I have no influence on what follows. Between my friend and the cook they work out what we are going to eat. We drink beer and eat with our hands. It takes us two hours to finish our meal, and at quiet moments our neighbours ask questions about me. The questions are polite, the answers - once translated - received with reassuring smiles. In any case, I don’t mind. I feel safe here.