Drinking saki, one of my favourite forms of physical exercise, is no longer restricted to Asian restaurants requiring large meals and wildly excessive bills; you can now indulge in this inscrutable habit in the comfort of your own home and surround yourself with the appropriate paraphernalia.
In fact, you can dress up as a geisha should that be your heart’s desire, and gobble down succulent raw fish with any pair of a wide range of colourfully decorated chopsticks.
Japon.es is the answer to any would-be Samurai’s dream, and it’s up and running in central Valencia.
The shop doubles up as a coffee bar, where you can partake of ‘normal’ coffee, teas and beers, or consume or buy a wide range of Japanese beers and teas. And if tea is your thing, especially green tea, you can buy a tasteful wind-chime shaped like a tea pot, or even the real thing in porcelain, along with various oriental ceramic serving dishes to serve roasted seaweed upon. And of course they sell the seaweed too.
My favourite is the miniature sand and rock garden kit, no bigger than an average size tea tray and consisting of no more than some sand, rocks and miniature gardening implements; but full of Zen and guaranteed to get today’s stressed businessman chanting ‘Om’ to himself contentedly while the children squabble over the remote control.
There are in fact all kinds of kits to prepare and present food with, ranging from Japanese woks to sushi knives and boards and for a more modern touch there are tinned drinks such as guava, passion fruit or tamarind.
If dressing up is your thing there are several kimonos just waiting there for that wild moment of total surrender and those funny sandals, shaped like tennis rackets that you can only along with by shuffling your feet (so I’m told).
Noodles abound in all their versions, even pot noodles; and there’s an interesting freezer full of packets of brightly coloured blobs that would liven up any dinner party.
Japanese perfumes are available, and children’s toys. You can buy a toy samurai and then read a Spanish translation of ‘Hagakure’, the book of Samurai while sipping your barley tea.
Other books could help you to make origami dinosaurs, watercolour those typical Japanese pictures of vague shapes hovering in a vast expanse of nothingness, create your own Manga cartoons, or learn Japanese in ten days.
There is a large range of serving cups and I particularly liked the ones with a single word in both English and Japanese; words such as ‘victory’, ‘dream’ and ‘longevity’.
They also have OCS News, Spain’s own Japanese newspaper available to read at the bar, although I might get into trouble for mentioning such a fierce rival.
Garlic flavoured cracker nuts are on sale, although I suppose that’s pretty obvious, and there are all kinds of sauces and strange glutinous liquids oozing away on the shelves, some of which have instructions that are almost comprehensible on close inspection, although it’s probably more fun just to sling them on your whole roasted goat and take a chance.
Japon.es is run by Mirian-Sayuri Okuyamain and is situated in Avenida Reino de Valencia 52.