Return to Japan 2013: July 19 – Beef and 4D ZOMBIES!

Lunch Special at Cocochee Hotel

On July 19 I had plans to hang out with my old roommate Klaxman. For those who haven’t read the cast of characters, Klaxman used to be a video game programmer for years, but retired and moved to Japan to teach English. Usually when I return to Japan we end up at a game center (Japanese name for arcade) playing games. This day was no different.

Before we headed off for some gaming, we went for lunch at the Cocochee Hotel on the north side of Numazu station. The hotel was a relatively new addition to the area, and featured two different restaurants. Thanks to Happyko’s recommendation, we went to the Japanese restaurant. The daily lunch specials included a few different options featuring Wagyu beef, which is beef from Japanese cows raised specifically for their fat content. I ordered the Kuroge Wagyu steak (pictured) and Klaxman ordered the Asuka Steak.

Some of the appetizers arrived for one of our orders. We couldn’t completely understand the waiter, so I happily claimed them for myself and started eating. A few minutes later the main courses arrived. Seeing the appetizer dishes in front of me, the waiter served me Klaxman’s food and gave him mine. Apparently the appetizers had belonged to Klaxman. A waitress came over to our table as we switched dishes and started apologizing. I apologized to her for misunderstanding the waiter. She apologized for the service. I apologized for my lack of Japanese ability. After about 3 solid minutes of apologies from all involved, we got to eat.

I have eaten beef in Canada, the US, Jamaica, Japan and Korea but the Wagyu beef on served on rice in my lunch was quite possibly the best beef I have ever eaten in my life. The steak was perfectly seasoned, cooked to about a medium and sliced into strips. It was so tender I likely could have cut it with a fork (if there were any forks in the restaurant). About half way through I had to remind myself that there was rice as well, and that I should pace myself on the steak. I would like to think that I have a fairly large vocabulary, but I don’t think I have the words necessary to describe how amazing the food was.

After lunch, we hung out at the restaurant for a bit and Klaxman showed off his new Intellivision game Match 5. Yes, you read that correctly. When not teaching English or studying Japanese, Klaxman spends his free time programming games for defunct gaming systems in machine code. The game is one of those simple to learn, difficult to master puzzle games that really make gaming fun. If Match 5 is ever released for mobile phones it will sell a billion copies. I also got to see a preview of an upcoming game project featuring different variations on Pong. My favourite was a kind of Space Pong where you have to maneuver the game board away from asteroids while playing Pong.

Seeing the new classic games got us excited for the nearby game center. Like most Japanese game centers you had to enter through an impressive gauntlet of UFO catchers featuring everything from candy to plush toys to goldfish. Past the UFO catchers were the collectible card video games, medal games, regular arcade games, rhythm games and print club machines. We took some time to try out a bit of everything, except the print club machines. Two adult males going into a girly photo booth to make duckface pictures and draw on them afterwards in a game center full of high school kids would probably attract the police.

The highlight of the day was trying out Dark Escape 4D, a zombie shooting game. 3 of the D’s came from the screen courtesy of 3D glasses, and the 4th D was the moving seat and sudden bursts of air designed to scare the player. The guns feature heart rate sensors and will register any spikes in heart rate or removing your hands from the handles as a “panic attack”. The game cabinet featured very loud surround speakers for an immersive game experience. Dark Escape 4D was a lot of fun, although it did get a little predictable after a few minutes. Talk talk talk SURPRISE ZOMBIES!!! Don’t worry guys the coast is clear and ZOMBIES!!!! Hey, let’s climb into the air vent and OMG ZOMBIES IN FRONT OF YOU!!! Despite being predictable, it was a lot of fun, even for cynical jerks like me.

My day finished off with a trip to Don Kihote to pick up souvenirs. My gym buddy, Karate Junk is a big fan of rum. I was determined to find a bottle of Japanese rum to bring back home. Japan is known for sake and whiskey, but rum is no terribly popular nor easily available. After much searching and katakana reading practice, I was able to locate the one bottle of Japanese rum in the store’s expansive liquor section. Spoiler alert: it was pretty good.

If I could spend every day eating Wagyu beef and shooting 4D zombies, I would die a happy man.

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