Another day, another dollar! Or rather, another pound these days. (Just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it though does it? ((Side note: sometimes I catch Haitham saying “bucks” and it blows my mind because let’s be honest… pounds ≠ bucks!)) )

After work I scuttled into town to meet my gal pal Emma who’d booked us some tickets to the University of Edinburgh’s Japanese Film Festival. We watched two short films, both total heartbreakers, both anime (as you do), both from the amazingly talented director Makoto Shinkai. The animation style for both are incredibly different, but both stories will probably squeeze a few tears out of you whether you like it or not!

Voice of a Distant Star was the first, which I’d actually seen before. At the time it left me emotionally crippled and I cried buckets. It’s the tale of a girl being employed by a galactic enterprise, leaving behind her best friend, a boy whom she has feelings for, back home on Earth. She remains in contact with him through e-mail as she journeys beyond Earth. However, her messages take longer and longer to reach him as she transcends not only distance but also time. Eventually, though she is still the same 15-year-old girl who has messaged him only moments before, 10 years have passed for the boy she left behind. It’s an incredible story that really makes you think. At the time I first watched it I was doing the long-distance thing with H, which is perhaps why it struck such a boogeriffic chord.

The second, Garden of Words, is nothing if not stunning. The story is sweet and inspiring, but the art. Holy cow. The story is about a high school boy who aspires to become a shoe maker. When it rains, he skips his morning class to sit in the quiet of a garden in the heart of the busy city. There he meets a mysterious woman, and thus the story quietly, beautifully unfolds. I’ve never seen any animation depict rain with such loving detail.



Even the animation of food… ugh! How can something look so delicious when it’s not even real?!


It’s totally worth seeing if you ever get the chance.

Afterwards, Emma & I traipsed down to street to conclude our evening embracing Japanese culture by visiting a wee Japanese/Korean restaurant nearby called Cafe Andamiro. It’s delicious and adorable.

First up, an okonomiyaki starter. Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum! So okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake that is  (I just looked this up, not gonna lie) sometimes called the pizza of Japan. It’s normally got kewpie (sort of like Japanese variation of mayonnaise) and a dark sauce that tastes similar to barbecue sauce on top. This may look a hot mess to the inexperienced eye, but trust me when I say this thing is magic, folks. Even if it’s a struggle to pick up the pieces with chopsticks!


After we cheated a bit and embrace Korean culture with bibimbap, which when I first tried reminded me of having sushi, just unrolled and without the fish. Bibimbap is traditionally served in a piping hot stone pot as you see here, very elegantly assembled. You then stir all the ingredients together into a delicious mess, adding spicy sauce as needed. The result is totally filling treat. Don’t pick up the bowl though–that thing stays hot forever.



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