Excitement and anticipation of the unknown surged through my body as my friend Taguchi drove me through the foothills of Japan in the Kansai region.
We were headed to a local observatory which rested atop one of the higher foothills in the region. As we drove further, the urban sprawl of modern Japanese cities steadily declined, replaced by lush Asian foliage.
Before we reached our final destination, we stopped at a little shack for lunch. The shack was only six feet in height, even at it’s highest point. There were gaps between the planks that made up its walls. And in the back was a pen full of the chickens that they used to make their delicious kara-age.
As we approached the shack, the chickens seemed to grow more anxious and jittery—as if our presence was an omen of their future demise. Their squawks seemed desperate as they ran nervously around the pen.
And sure enough, at least one of those chickens did wind up on my plate that day. The juicy, succulent kara-age I enjoyed was a testament to the diligent care that the proprietor put into caring for those chickens.
I am grateful to the owners of that shack and their chickens for the delicious meal that I was given—and the strength to continue up the foothills to enjoy the beauty of the Japanese countryside.