Birthday Sushi

It was my birthday August 24th, and since it was our last day in Japan and we had not yet had sushi (I know, sacrilege!) there was nothing more I wanted to do than stuff obscene amounts of raw fish into my mouth.

Originally we wanted to go to a super fancy and expensive restaurant, but our rapidly waning budgets dictated otherwise. The famous tsukiji fish market being closed on Sundays, we couldn’t wander the stalls to find a good superfresh sushi bar, so Leslie found the next best thing: sushi train.

It conveniently was located in Shinjuku, the last major district we wanted to hit up before our Tokyo exeunt. Up until then, we hadn’t quite experienced the packed-like-sardines population density that is stereotypical when hearing about Japan, but when we got out of the subway…well…flocks. Flocks of people.


The photo doesn’t quite capture the scope of it. After spending the last seven months or so in the social isolation that was my quiet daily life in Cheongju, the electrified hum of so many people was invigorating.

Not only that, but the diversity of people. Korea has the unfortunate monotonous trend of everyone and everything looking exactly the same. So to see, side by side, a girl with long pink streaks in her hair dressed in frilly anime skirts next to a woman garbed in a traditional kimono next to a chick with cropped bleached hair, ear stretchers, and inked up skin…well, I imagine Dorothy felt much the same stepping foot in the colourful world of Oz for the first time.

After reveling in the crowd for a few minutes, we braved the enormous crosswalk and went to find our sushi train place, Genki sushi.


Well, I say sushi train, but only because there were tracks upon which your orders came whizzing near instantaneously in front of you, but it wasn’t at all the slow rounds of plate that you grab at random. Rather you place your orders on a digital touch screen in front of you and the orders come whizzing out within minutes.

The computer tallies how much you order and you pay per dish. Prices ranged from around $1.50-$5 per plate, and came with a minimum of two pieces.

There’s the screen below…


And here was a full posted up menu to entice you with succulent looking sushi.


So we sat down.

Pretty much as soon as we’d settled ourselves, Leslie waved to the server and said, “Birthday, birthday!” pointing to me.

This was much to my embarrassment, since I get painstakingly awkward in such situations. Ironic, really, considering I used to do it on purpose maybe three times a year at 3 Amigos back in Montreal.

Anyway the lady smiled and wished me happy birthday and went into the back room.

Ten minutes later, after Leslie and I had worked out the computer system and waited for our orders to arrive (I’d ordered myself warm sake, miso soup, and salmon to start), our plates came speeding out onto the track from the kitchen and stopped in front of us. Seriously, it felt like some sci-fi shit right there.

But what was more, the server had clearly listened to Leslie and sent out a surprise on my plate.



It was a phone charm!


I was gleeful as could be.

After that we dug into the most quality sushi I’ve ever had. Thick wedges of fresh fish draped over tiny pedestals of sweet vinegary rice. I favoured the salmon, but I made sure to try tuna as well. It didn’t blow my mind in the way everyone told me it would, but it was still awesomesauce.

And speaking of sauce, they did a masterful job of decorating some sushi with Japanese mayo and other varying and unidentified drizzles. Fucking melted in your mouth, man, it was epic!



Leslie’s small appetite contained her to a reasonable number of dishes.


Mine, however, was a tad more shameful.


#noregrets #yolo #fuckyeahbirthdaysplurge

Surprisingly, it only racked up about $25 on my end – and that was with me being so full I considered being rolled down the street as we continued our shinjuku exploring. In all, Genki Sushi is super recommended by both Leslie and I. I don’t know if she’s posted about it yet, but here’s her blog link to go check her stuff out!

Shinjuku was definitely one of my favourite areas we went to. If I was to make a comparison, it would hands down be like an Asian New York.



We wandered in and out of shops, buying the last of our souvenirs, finding weird bobbles –


This is a carrot person being sexy and also functioning as a photo stand for your desk.

– and I might have fallen in love at first sight with a pair of purple Converse with gold zippers down the sides that I couldn’t resist treating myself to.


Again, #noregrets #yolo #fuckyeahbirthdaysplurge

I haven’t worn them yet…I just keep them in the open box and stare at them when I’m in my apartment like the weirdo I am ^ ^

Anyway that was our last full day in Tokyo and we spent the rest of the night packing. I might have also bought myself beer (srsly Sapporo beer is amazing, why can’t Korea have such good beer??) to lubricate the exit pains of leaving the country.

I should probably say that since then, my life has taken a massive upward swing in eventfulness, because the adventures didn’t stop there!

Leslie stayed until Tuesday morning, where I packed her off in a taxi during my lunch break and we shared sad goodbye hugs. After that, I had three more days of teaching, then headed to Andrea’s for the weekend for a belated birthday bang, getting home Sunday night around 10pm only to wake up at 5am to go on a National sponsored business trip for my Provincial Office of Education where I joined a busload of other foreigner teachers to go to the islands of Ulleungdo and Dokdo. I’ll be posting more about this later, but we got stuck on the island because of a typhoon and it was all kinds of awesome – met so many amazingly cool people!

Sneak preview photo.
Sneak preview photo.

By the time we got back, 11pm Friday night, it was already the Chuseok holiday and I went to Andrea’s again for the long weekend where much vegging out was done in addition to some more sad goodbyes of a good friend of ours in Wonju who’s now back in America.

Soon as that was over, two days of work happened, both followed by nights out with my new group of Ulleungdo friends – I might just refer to them as the Dokdo Crew for simplicity’s sake – and so much drinking on the weekend that I was hungover for three days.


And of course more plans for this weekend. And at some point I should clean my apartment…

6 thoughts on “Birthday Sushi

  1. As for the last photo in this blog . . . .I cracked up with laughter when I saw you with the hat pulled down almost covering your nose. What a bonzo bashful beauty you are ! ! ! I blew it up 400% just to see your quirky smile. And don’t tell me you did that to protect yourself from the sun. Allvays mit de jokes eh Marta.


  2. Me thinks you inherited the epic ‘Converse Shoe’ ‘stay in the box’ syndrome from my DNA. I do that with other stuffffff, cause WE HAVE THE PATIENCE !


  3. Seriously one of the loveliest photos I’ve ever seen of you, that one of you with your birthday gift! So sweet of them to give the charm to you…and it’s a mini sushi to remember them by! SO cute! I’m glad Leslie made the mention…and I’m glad the food was so delicious. The stack of plates is hilarious…though I think I expected even higher! LOVE the shoes. I hope they fit and are comfortable when you finally wear them. I can understand just looking at them for now. They will change so much once worn and are perfect right now…they are art. To be appreciated, gawked at, admired and adored. Afterwards they will be familiar and comfy companions. It’s nice to fully experience both perspectives as long as you can hold out from wearing them.


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