I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Yuuka Ueno -- Shiawase no Kaeri Michi (幸せの帰り路)

I lived in a very convenient neighbourhood just south of Minami-Gyotoku Station on the Tozai Line in Ichikawa City, Chiba Prefecture. There are four supermarkets within good walking distance of my old apartment and a number of restaurants and izakaya, including the tonkatsu restaurant that you see to the right. Tonki was there long before my 17-year-stay in Nangyo (the local nickname for Minami-Gyotoku) and it is still there. It still has the inviting decor, the TV and the collection of manga.

Sometimes when I just didn't feel like cooking or picking up a bento on the way home, I often made a beeline to Tonki in the station mall just under the tracks. I ordered my usual which was the hire katsu teishoku, the lean deep fried pork cutlet meal with bottomless rice, miso soup, green tea and a mountain of shredded cabbage. It was so satisfying especially when I dipped the piece of tonkatsu into the thick brown tangy sauce mixed in with sesame seeds that I ground while waiting for the meal. Plus, the dab of pungent Japanese mustard added further flavour notes. Simply remembering shoveling the pork, cabbage and rice into my mouth has me in a state of bliss.

I've taken friends from Toronto there for lunch or dinner to Tonki (and some of the other places in the station mall) when they've come to visit, and when I went back to my old neighbourhood last year, of course, I had lunch there with one of my old students. 

In the last month or so, my anime buddy has been showing episodes of a new series called "Wakako Zake"(ワカコ酒)which has been adapted from an original manga continuing since 2011. Watching it reminded me of the soft food porn anime (just tongue-in-cheek there) "Koufuku Graffiti"(幸腹グラフィティ)which I saw earlier in the year, except that "Wakako Zake" is just a tenth of the length of an average episode of the former show at just 2 minutes. But, boy, does it make sure we get our money's worth of bar food vicariously through the company employee, huge-eyed Wakako Murasaki, as she goes into loving detail about each dish served such as the fried salted salmon from Episode 1 above while she downs some of that booze. And she always goes alone on the way home. My friend always shows it before we head out for dinner just to get our stomach juices flowing. 

(karaoke version)

And what always adds to the inviting atmosphere is the theme song sung by 17-year-old singer/actress Yuuka Ueno(上野優華), "Shiawase no Kaeri Michi" (The Happy Way Home). Written and composed by Yuuta Matsuura(松浦雄太), it has that great country swing feeling as Ueno sings about coming home after a hard day at work and having those familiar and appetizing smells from the various eateries around her home erase any of the bad feelings as they entice her in like a beloved aunt offering to serve dinner. I can certainly relate to that feeling. Of course, making something out of the fresh produce and other fare at the supermarket can ensure a healthier meal but having a fine meal at the local izakaya, ramen-ya or tonkatsu-ya sometimes can be quite nourishing for the soul as well.

For Ueno, "Shiawase no Kaeri Michi" is her 6th single from July 2015. I don't know how it has done on the anison charts, but I will be more than happy to use it as my own theme song for memories of my visits to Tonki.

That's my baby at the top there!

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