Four and a half weeks into my Japanese odyssey and, after a tentative start, I’m now at the point where I’ll pretty much eat anything our magnificent hosts put in front of me.
I’ve eaten some sublime dishes, and I even know what was in some of them; others I have no clue but they were delightful. It’s hit and miss, of course. Some of it has been forgettable but kept me alive. Certainly at no point have I reacted violently to anything as much as I did the disgusting “Salt Cod” I had while in the Algarve for Scotland’s pre-World Cup training camp. Fellow media in attendance that night will take great delight in describing in grim detail how violently I’m sure.
Now back in Tokyo I ventured out to a local eaterie. I have a system now whereby I spot places which have queues of locals at peak times scrambling to get in, assume they must be good, and go myself at less busy times.
This place did what I suppose you would call Tapas if it was Spain and not Japan; lots of little dishes brought to you at a staggered pace by the fabulous serving staff.
As I have, shamefully but with an acceptable excuse, got through this trip with only three Japanese words – hello, thank you and goodbye – I make no judgment on the unintentionally hilarious options that pop up on “English” menus. On this occasion my eye was attracted to the simple choice of “hormone”. I’m at the “why the hell not?” stage by now so instantly ordered it.
My bravery lasted a few seconds before I got my phone out to check how on Earth “hormone” could be an edible choice on a menu. Turns out it was a typo. The exact translation from the Japanese would be “horumon” which is a kind of pig intestine offal dish. A bit like haggis. And yes, dear reader, it was delicious.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, pictured, admits he will be slightly distracted before the epic quarter-final showdown against Ireland in Tokyo as a horse he part owns runs in the world’s richest sprint race a few hours earlier.
Hansen is a member of a syndicate that owns Nature Strip, one of the outsiders in The Everest, the world’s richest sprint race held at the Royal Randwick course in Sydney, with a prize of £7.5 million.
When it was put to Hansen at the All Blacks press conference that he has two horses running tomorrow, he said: “I have a horse racing in Australia and you think the All Blacks are the second horse do you? I don’t think the boys would be that keen on being called horses.
“Obviously it’s a highlight to have a horse in a race like the Everest. There’s not a lot I can do. I can’t ride him, I can’t carry him, I can’t train him so it’s just a matter of sit back and enjoy that for what it is.”
Aidan O’Brien’s Ten Sovereigns will carry Irish hopes in the race before the rugby.