Every so often I find myself really missing Japan. The gleaming row of vending machines opposite my tatami lined flat, selling everything from freshly pressed shirts to dodgy burgers. Or bumping into my students whilst perusing the fascinating aisles of assorted fish, tofu and vitamin drinks in our local supermarket. Hanging around with friends in Ueno park, scoffing Makudonurado in Harajuku and cycling around late at night with my front door unlocked and wads of yen in my pockets. After a couple of life-changing years teaching English out there, it’s the people I really miss. Like Takahiro my deaf student who was mercilessly bullied because, as another teacher explained to me “the nail that sticks out must be hammered down”, or Kasahara sensei, the kindly science teacher that taught me how to make the most delicious yakisoba; and of course Masa and Kei.
Masa and Kei were my neighbours and the first Japanese people I became really good friends with. Masa was a keen surfer and Kei a fantastic cook. They introduced me to their huge circle of friends and invited me round for dinner almost every night. They fed me wonderful things. They took me to hot springs, barbecues, to a friend’s yakiniku shop, to the best ramen restaurant ever in a tiny side street in Akihabara. They got me hooked on all manner of cheesy soap operas. They cried when I left and I can’t watch the news without thinking of them.
The lovely Miss CakeHead has organised a bit of a pop up cake bake, from which all proceeds will go towards helping relief efforts. There will be a number of these taking place around the country, the main one will be at Maiden, 118 Shoreditch High Street this coming Friday (18th March). I’ll be donating a cheesecake and some sushi, and The Kooky Cake Company and Edd Kimber will also be doing their bit along with a whole host of other impressive cakey types. It might not make the hugest difference, but it definitely beats feeling frustrated and helpless in the face of the horrific events taking place out there. You don’t have to be a professional baker, anyone can donate a cake. Go on, get involved – you know you want to.