“Please take special care of those enjoyable times. . . “


"Please take special care . . . " Ikuno Hanten. Autumn 2001.


You know, we Westerners often get a kick out of “strange Japanese”, but sometimes, as with the case of what the Steady Bears tell us — what they admonish us to do — in the photo above, it’s bang-on.


Please take special care of those STEADY BEARS enjoyable times and happy moments.



The photo above was taken at Ikuno Hanten, a restaurant like thousands of other restaurants scattered about rural Japan, but this one was, and remains, a favorite of mine, deep in the heart of Hyogo Prefecture, serving up the best “Bahn Bahn Men” (an incredibly spicy ramen) I’ve ever had, and I’ve had many from around Japan.  The woman just opposite was from a local city hall, and holding up the Steady Bears pillow (or “zabuton”) is someone else, whom I assure you is smiling mightily out of frame.  Notice that we’re all seated on the ground.  It’s actually a slightly raised and tatami mat-covered platform, which makes up half the restaurant seating.  It’s not a fancy place.  It’s where many hours were enjoyably whiled away back in 1990-91 by me and a couple of dear friends.  This photo, however, was taken on a return trip there in late September 2001.  Ah, Ikuno Hanten — you’ll forever hold a special place in my heart and memories.

Such sentiment, though, puts me square in the middle of the things I detest about most blogs: the “me, me, me” aspect of them; the assumption that what the blogger experienced, or is experiencing, is of any interest to any person “out there”.  Heh, how often is that not the case, eh?  Nevertheless, on occasion a personal moment/episode/memory can remind us all of a universal truth, can illustrate a transcendent lesson worth teaching about something that does apply and relate to us all, right?  If that’s the case, then, I’ll repeat:

Please take special care of those enjoyable times and happy moments.



    • Lois
    • January 18th, 2010

    I’m so gratified to hear Ikuno Hanten still exists!!

    I thought we ate Bahn bahn ji. Does my memory fail me?

      • letsjapan
      • January 18th, 2010

      You and I suffer from what I will call Empathetic False Memories (i.e., two or more people “misremembering” something in the same way). That, or they were just gas-lighting me. The things some people do for fun.

      When we walked into the Hanten that afternoon in 2001, I swear to you all the guys behind the counter at least acted like they remembered me (you can imagine how flattering that was after 9 years). I ordered “Bahn Bahn Ji” (just as you said, and remembered). They said, “Bahn Bahn Ji? Ah, you mean Bahn Bahn Mehn.” (as in ramen). I didn’t argue and, yes, it was the same thing and the flavor took me to heaven and back to earlier times…


  1. Rick,

    Good blog posting. I think you should open up a Japanese noodle shop– in the rural Alabama Prefecture!

      • letsjapan
      • January 25th, 2010

      Thanks, Dave. A special place to me on so many levels. Let me know whenever you
      want to go to Japan, I’ll take y’all there (to Ikuno Hanten, and elsewhere).


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