This is rather out of order, but until I can post further on events, I’m posting the post I made for my blog for school. You can find that blog here.

If you wander into Sanjo in Kyoto, you might stumble upon a certain restaurant tucked in an alleyway. I was first taken there by a group of Ristumeikan University students, but I managed to find it a second time. I desperately sought it out after having one of the most enjoyable nights of my life, eating a delicious array of Japanese-Mexican fusion food. The restaurant has a fascinating story behind it, one that permeates its atmosphere, food, and conversation. The name of this restaurant is Vicuna (ビクーニャ), and its logo is a painting that hangs up on its wall – a sumi-e painting resembling the famous Picasso painting “The Old Guitarist,” but bringing a fresher, more vivacious take. The restaurant walls are covered in vibrant murals, and souvenirs from Central and South America enliven the space. (from Vicuna’s website, http://www.spicy-kyoto.com/pics/mise01.gif) Our meal started off with real tortilla chips, salsa, and drinks. The restaurant on its website boasts over 30 different kinds of tequila – a friend of mine who tried some enjoyed it greatly. Vicuna offers a wide variety of delicious foods – in particular we enjoyed a spicy chili with overtones of nutmeg, tacos, quesadillas, and a smoked bacon omelet, all of which were delicious in their own right. One of the Ritsumeikan students commented that it was the “most authentic Mexican food” he’d ever had since living in America near the border. A warning though – all the food really is spicy, and without a soother like milk it can easily become overwhelming! There are more Japanese twists – taco rice, for example – in the menu, and all the food is cooked in an open kitchen, so that you can see the owner bustling around, coming out to the bar to shake drinks, or, during slow times, to come out and talk with his guests. His name is Pancho F., an open, congenial man with a fascinating story. It was difficult to get the full of it, because I don’t speak Japanese (or Spanish) easily. Around 32 years ago (1978), Pancho left Japan to travel the world. He spent around 5 years travelling around Central and South America, but also traveled across North America and Europe extensively, living for two more years around San Fransisco. He pulled out his laptop and showed us pictures he had scanned into his computer – brilliantly captured photographs from around the world, showing breathtaking landscapes and portraits of daily life in South America. When I asked him why he decided to pick up and leave, he answered with “music.” His love of Latin music compelled him to go and study it, and he learned much while travelling. It used to be that every night Pancho would play for his guests, but nowadays the business of the restaurant and his health mean fewer performances. However, on the first late night I went to the restaurant, my friends and I were the only patrons as the night wound slowly down. When we were almost finished with our satisfying, hearty meal, he came out from the kitchen, picked up his guitar, and plugged in the microphone. Then he sang. There are no words to describe this man’s talent. It wasn’t just the brilliance of his music, but also the emotion in his voice – clear, raw, and sad. He wasn’t over-emoting for the music, but using it as a means of expression, something I have rarely seen in a performance. It was moving. A note of interest – even though Pancho’s music contained some Spanish, many of his lyrics were also in Japanese. Pancho’s restaurant, music, and way of life show the way he mixes cultures together to make a more enriching, vivacious experience. The second time I came to his restaurant to interview him, and bought one of his cds. His music is just as powerful. I wish I had the language ability to be able to learn more from such a fascinating individual. He encouraged me to read his blog, in which he recalls much of his world travels. I submit to you a sample, translated through the rough Google engine. Even though it isn’t clear, what he has to say is interesting and descriptive. I enclose the link to his blog below.

“Since the first Latin country to Marseille and – France, the French remained there truly was the most impressive cake, chocolate cake that’s delicious and reminiscent. Latin America seemed to be more patient Hachikireta Katta of sweets. Ate in the United Kingdom, I was more impressed by the delicious chocolate mousse in a convenience store. Next I went to Nice. The beach here is amazing sight met. There are lot of topless women on a beach next to the road through town is full of nice, you do not drive, never is a sight not seen in Japan, I can not forget the feeling of doubt and ashamed knows. Were also impressed with the delicious French bread. Butter is also delicious, the sandwich is also delicious, I think France was brought to this. Travel in Europe because of course, poverty, and restaurants, did not feel bitter because they have a very good cook, but we are glad to have something delicious to eat in cheaper bread. Kingdom of Monaco, the impression left here is more than I expected so I stopped at a shake. Very good and the Doll Museum, Casino, are also memorable for the delicious onion soup that I ate in the back. Overnight train to Venice, because it was bought in Europe, the Eurail Pass in the United States, Because the train is unlimited rail travel in first class and express all that was very comfortable ride.” (from http://blog.livedoor.jp/vicuna/ ) (entry: 1/25/2010)

I can only hope to become as much of a traveler in my future, and be able to blend cultures together in my life to create a richer whole.

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