The Day I Ate Bugs (Scorpions) in Chinju-ya Yokohama

Living abroad as a sailor has taught me many lessons. One of these experiences has been the world is a very strange place filled with magic and wonder.  A secondary lesson is that the world is that what is weird for us in the western hemisphere is not necessarily odd for the other half.  Furthermore, living abroad assists in opening the minds of those who experience it and are willing to try everything that the world has to offer. This is, however, only an opportunity which the bold of heart are willing to take.

Especially when that opportunity involves eating cockroaches, scorpions, newts, and grasshoppers! Now, to us in the western world, we had been taught that eating bugs was something of a nasty behavior, akin to acting like a savage. But, in the eastern world, bugs are seen as a delicacy (one which is surprisingly expensive) filled with protein and other goodies for the body. I don’t think it needs to be stated twice; that when some friends challenged the swashbuckler to eat some bugs with them, this sailor simply said “let’s do it”.

This is what eventually led us to Chinju-ya, a bar located conveniently in the China Town district of Yokohama inside of a buildings second floor. You go up a few steps and look to your right and there it is in all of it’s glory, capable of seating at least 20 people max, it’s also reservation only. We were the only ones in there that night with a staff of 2 Japanese girls (both very beautiful), and 1 young man, it was certainly a night to remember. The first thing we did was drink a few shots of sake (I’m a lightweight so it only took a little bit of liquid courage to have me going), and thus began the moment with our first order…

Fried Cockroach (648 Yen): Now, you might be thinking about how gross this is, and you’d be right. As you eat cockroaches you can feel every little hair of the legs on your tongue as you savor the crunchy flavor of… shrimp? Yes, you’ve heard me right fried roaches taste exactly like shrimp except hairier. Their insides are squishy and look terrible, so it’s not really a food that has stylistic appeal. You can see in the video below as my face contorts to match my feelings as I ate this. Needless to say, I still have nightmares about them crawling on my insides. However, 10/10 I would eat again.

Scorpion (2000 Yen): This one was certainly more appealing, with the fact that they are potentially less gross looking than roaches, and also cooler since they have 3 weapons in their body. Scorpion also tasted like shrimp (or chicken?) which was surprisingly tasty. This is definitely something I would eat again. The exoskeleton is surprisingly hard and has a tough texture when chewing. The pincers are almost hollow and have very little meat inside, but the shell is edible and thus you can get to enjoy saying that you fought a scorpion by biting it’s claws off. My friend ate the tip of the tail and while we all thought he was going to get poisoned it turns out that the cooking eliminated all of that away. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this dish for the pricing alone, but if you’re feeling like a big spender connoisseur then this dish is definitely for you!

Newt (1498 Yen): I have one word for this dish and it is “chicken”. Lizards taste almost exactly like chicken and this is no different. It was truly well seasoned and I liked how crunchy it felt. I ate the head of this particular dish in order to gain its essence and powers. I felt like a lizard for the rest of the night that day too. It was a great dish and this is definitely one I recommend to anyone who decides to visit this place.

Grasshopper Pudding (980 Yen): I hated this dish. I hate dessert in general, which meant that eating badly sweetened pudding with caramelized grasshoppers was the worst experience in the world. It had legs sticking out of the pudding, which in my case did not do it any favors presentation wise. My friends and I each had a third of this dish and it was truly awful for me (both of them loved it though). I will not suggest anyone ever try this dish, but let me put it this way; I tried Google translating what it said on the menu three different times and the results were as follows:

“Come to dessert foreign matter sprint gly Shishi-ya of horror, with respect to different Churi adult dessert! To eat be attributed es regret was that Hiroshibun, it is possible to answer 3th” (SIC)

“Once you come to the contamination the small 3 13 Hiroshimata people st880 no feedbacks in Te eav to the home was y 33 in your Hiroshie can dress people” (SIC)

“Desserts foreign material mixed of horror, 3 I E Always Daiuma dessert you come Nenbe and hi Le is not possible to answer the Te retrace 3E5 33 skin ala afil te gu” (SIC)

None of these gave me any idea what to expect after my friends ordered it. I was simply held back in terror when the dish came by. The fact that not even Google figure out what the menu meant was terrifying. 12/10 I would not recommend the grasshoppers.

This marked the end of my night in Yokohama and I had to go eat ramen afterwards to cleanse my palate. The ramen place by the train station with the green sign above the store is pretty amazing, it’s one of those where you put money into a machine and it gives you a tag. The pink one is extremely tasty and especially if you boil an egg in it. If you’re ever in Japan please make sure you visit the bug eating restaurant.

Now the moment you were waiting for please enjoy this video:

 

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The Fear of Rejection.

It seems that people often have great ideas which never come to fruition. When we want to create something, whether it be a blog, book, or a series of YouTube videos, one thing can often stand in our way and it is called fear. There are several manifestations of fear ( for example: social anxiety or humiliating yourself), but most amount to the same one, the fear of rejection. We are social creatures that seek the approval of our peers and thus,  take rejection especially hard. At times, our fear of trying is the only reason for which great creations are never born.

This is, however, a terrible inhibitor for us as individuals. It is horrible because at times we fail to realize that people will hate us in spite of everything we do. We have to accept that hate is a regular part of our everyday lives, and it can’t be avoided unless you simply have no opinion of your own (and even then people will still despise you for having no particular viewpoint). The faster we accept this reality, and come to terms with the fact that no one is entitled to being universally adored, the quicker we will understand that the only choice left is to try your hardest at life despite the hatred.

Hatred is a powerful tool utilized by others, but the worst part comes from when the hate is being ushered by those which aren’t attempting half of what you are. It is a measure of control which leads to nobody’s happiness; not even those which revel in hate are truly enjoying themselves, they are miserable and as we know, it simply loves company.  Worst of all, the capacity of people to spread hate is nearly limitless, if left uncontrolled then it will lead to ruin. But, we can rise above it all, even if the extent of hatred is unmeasurable, we can’t let it inhibit our attempts at greatness.

The greatest gift you can give yourself is the chance to try. To give a shot to those things which are ideas simply waiting to be developed into fantastic pieces of art and love.  Great creations which might not start out as what they will eventually become, but at least were given a fair attempt. No person starts out being great at what they do, oftentimes the only thing we need is luck and the patience to develop our skills. Given time our skills will blossom into the beautiful flowers they were destined to become. But, this won’t happen if you give into the fear of rejection. The fear of being criticized for trying out your best at something which you aren’t particularly skilled at, but will certainly improve in.

Remember to take this criticism with a grain of salt, it can be a powerful tool (use it to the full extent of your ability). Criticism can be the wake-up call required to motivate yourself at being a better person. If you take the good with the bad and accept that perhaps some of the people are inadvertently motivating you to improve (trust me, they do not have your best interest at heart), then you will gain another opportunity at becoming even greater.  At times the critiques can appear overly harsh (I know this all too well), and even hurtful, but you can’t let this bring you down. Keep fighting those battles until you eventually reach your own final boss. It is at that moment in which you’ll realize that it was all truly worth the effort, even if you sacrificed a lot on your way there.

Don’t let the fear of rejection become the only reason for which your ideas never blossomed, for at the end of the road you’ll only have yourself to blame…

Peace and Boredom

I firmly believe that seeking peace should be the goal of every individual in a society on earth. Peace is great, after all everyone is seeking their own little slice of heaven. But, people fail to realize that peace is also extremely boring, thus people seek to disrupt it. I even dare say,that we might be biologically challenged when it comes to seeking peace. People seek strong emotions, excitement, fear, happiness, anger, and other forms of expressions which are at contrast with a state of peace. Let me put in terms we could all relate to, think back to the second half of summer vacation, did you ever utter the words “I can’t wait for school to start again”?

Of course you remember, every kid/teenager on the block agreed with you. We aren’t built nor taught to handle harmony, sure people preach about it constantly. But, this is one of those things which are preached, not practiced. We aren’t taught constructive methods to handle boredom, which should be nearly synonymous with peace. Thus youngsters resort to more extreme methods of coping with their boredom, drugs, sex, minor crimes, and other means by which to release some of that pent up energy. It’s not necessarily their fault, it’s  simply the way we are built.

While this does not excuse the behavior of those individuals, it is important to take note of why it happens. The education system in the U.S. is not equipped to teach youths about coping mechanism for boredom (as with many other important life skills). Parents are often too busy with jobs and other responsibilities to do the same. Thus we are left with a society of youngsters who aren’t taught by anyone how they can cope with peace in a fruitful manner. There is a very important reason humans are built with this flaw.

Furthermore, if we were always content, if we were able to cope with boredom and peace, humans would not have achieved some of the greatest creations of mankind. While boredom is dangerous in the hands of certain individuals, others use it to create wonderful inventions. Indeed, in 1947 Josef Pieper wrote the following about leisure:

“The mode of discursive thought is accompanied and impregnated by an effortless awareness, the contemplative vision of the intellectus, which is not active but passive, or rather receptive, the activity of the soul in which it conceives that which it sees. The ancients regarded intellectus as being already beyond the sphere allotted to man. And yet it belonged to man, though in one sense superhuman; the purely human by itself could not satiate man’s powers of comprehension, for man, of his very nature, reaches out beyond the sphere of the human. “Although the knowledge which is most characteristic of the human soul occurs in the mode of ratio, nevertheless there is in it a sort of participation in the simple knowledge which is proper to higher beings, of whom it is therefore said that they possess the faculty of spiritual vision.”

In shorter words, Pieper stated that leisure is a state of recreation. This is part of the reason why I think the show “Phineas and Ferb” is so amazing, these kids beat the summer vacation drudgery (fantastic elements aside if you just pretend this is all in their imaginations). We often find ourselves with too much time in our hands being squandered. This world of ours is filled with distractions that keep us from reaching our true potential. Even worse is the war on peace which is often confused for boredom. But, let’s never forget that without boredom there would be no peace, and without it there wouldn’t have been a place for the world we have created today. Leisure is not a time for complaints, it is a moment to elaborate on your thoughts and ideas. To sow the seeds of creation, and harvest the fruits of innovation, we must teach the future generations to promote their creativity during these bits of freedom. If we don’t, humanity will stagnate, and we will cease to grow as people.