The International Studies office here at the University of Wyoming is having a photo competition. They're looking for photos from anyone affiliated with the school who spent some part of the last year abroad. Going through my thousands of photos from my year at Tohoku, I've found a few folders of photos that never made it anywhere further than my own hard drive. One folder like that, dated February 22nd, is photos from a night I finally convinced my good friend Sarah to come to Tomiya with me.

I've posted about Tomiya before - it's a fantastic little izakaya a bit of a hike from where I lived, but the owner, his clientele, they were all great people. Best of all, everything that crazy man in the brown jedi robe cooked was god. damn. delicious. Even now, some nine months later, I remember the magnificence of this unassuming little pizza.

Sarah also approved of the pizza, and let her approval be known.
But after the first dozen photos, Sarah stops showing up in this album. If memory serves, she had a cold that night and the inevitable drinking that follows (and comes before and with) food at an izakaya doubtlessly wouldn't've been the right sort of medicine for her that night.

So, that photo is goodbye to Sarah. She walked out, my good friend, and left me...
these guys.

Terrifying, I know. I was clearly in an unsafe situation and needed to go home, but I think something may have been slipped into my drink to cloud my judgement (alcohol?).

The booze (and omelets!? what can't this man do?!?) kept coming. At a place like this, each of the regulars has his own bottle on the back wall with a tag and his name around it. You'd swear you were drinking your drink if it weren't for the fact that it was always full whenever you looked away and back.

When Master gets caught up cooking food, he's always got his young girls from the nearby college to cover for him, keeping the customers tipped up and happy. Sometime's I'd watch one of them make herself a something befittingly colorful and fruity for herself, and ask her to make one more.

As the evening wears on and carrying on a conversation becomes too much of a cognitive burden, Master breaks out his tiny Karaoke system. With the words written on the screen, it's no longer so difficult to vocalize (somewhat) recognizable syllables.

The last bit of some pass-the-mic Karaoke at Tomiya in Sendai, Japan. The song is known in America as Sukiyaki, in Japan as 上を向いて歩こう

One of the guys that I would see so often at Tomiya became an actual friend of mine. Watanabe was his name, and he was just an all around good old guy. I can't tell you what he's doing with the pink hanger in the photo below, but I can tell you that he's the blue collared man wearing it.

While I was gone traipsing Japan and then Thailand for two months, he moved down to Tokyo for work, and I didn't see him again. I'm still hoping someday there'll be a serendipitous reunion back in Sendai, where we exchange hearty slaps on the back while drinking beers and sake and singing Japanese songs from the sixties.