I sometimes wonder if becoming a historian is just a haughty excuse to “gossip” on people’s lives. Well, technically, they’re dead but, not gonna lie, I love reading biographies of living folks too — if TMZ and Daily Mail clickbaits count. Hollywood and Hiddleston aside, over the last few years, I’ve been enjoying autobiographical essay manga. Essay manga are a bit like those 24 hour comics where a comic artist shares a part of their lives or their opinions in manga. The best example in English are the essay manga of Shigeru Mizuki — Nonnonba, Showa: A History of Japan series, and Onwards Towards our Noble Deaths. In Japanese, I’ve enjoyed Ishinomori Shotaro’s and Takeuchi Sachiko. One particular title has caught my heart mostly because it mixes four of my favourite things: travelling, manga, Hideyoshico, and food. Oshaberi wa Asagohan no Ato de (Conversations after Breakfasts, 2012) is a treat to read.
First published in Yawaraka Spirits, Oshaberi wa Asagohan no Ato de features chapters of Hideyoshico’s breakfasts when she travels all over the globe. I know. It’s a bit crazy to be engrossed over people’s breakfasts. For a moment I wondered if this is similar to girls just watching what Taylor Swift eats for breakfast. In this case, I questioned if I was so obsessed with BL manga that I am now stalking BL authors and the food they ate.
….Yes. Technically. That is true. I do stalk BL authors in their twitter and I oggle over their food choices in life and kinda dream that we’ll be brunching like the girls in Sex and the City except we’re talking about the sex lives of seme and ukes and fujojo world.
Please don’t tell me that I’m the only fujoshi who dreams this!
Anyway, the book itself doesn’t really talk much about BL. At best, it has cute boys on the cover. Oshaberi wa Asagohan no Ato de is more focused on Hideyoshico’s experiences when she travels or when she goes out of her way to have a decent breakfast. It features mostly her travels in and out of Japan — from bread hunting in Tokyo, eating grilled veggies in Kyoto, and having fish from the soon defunct Tsukiji. She’s also gone abroad and ate breakfasts in Paris, Hawaii, and New York. Her life is almost like Yamaoka and Kurita’s from Oishinbo except she’s not out to prove her bitter dad wrong. Her only mission is to have a great meal before her day begins.
Now Hideyoshico was not the first BL artist who oggled a little too much about food. Yoshinaga Fumi fans know that Not Love But Delicious Food has also done its fair share of foodie oggling. While I have read the manga, I never made an effort to seek for the restaurants featured because most of them were already closed. However, since Hideyoshico’s book was quite recent, I figured that perhaps, some of these places are still alive. Thankfully, the ones I visited, which were shops in Tsukiji, were still open. While I wasn’t able to enjoy exactly the same meal as Hideyoshico (since they said it was out of season), I was able to immerse in the atmosphere that she tried to depict in the manga. Thanks to her suggestion, I was able to avoid the wickedly long lines of sushi shops near the market and still enjoy the wonderful seafood the market had to offer.
The food was just as delicious as Hideyoshico illustrated it and as I chatted with the obachan in the restaurant, I realise the sincerity Hideyoshico had in portraying the people she encountered. The obachan in the shop was just as nice, albeit a bit wary of tourists who mistakenly enter her shop in hopes of having sushi. Still, she was like a happy grandma who was happy to indulge a curious visitor who read about her shop in a manga. After that experience, I fell in love with the manga and Hideyoshico more.
I haven’t gone to Hawaii or Nagoya but I’m definitely considering planning another trip with Hideyoshico’s breakfast recs in mind. What I love about Oshaberi wa Asagohan no Ato de is it reminded me the joy and beauty of breakfasts. Just like dinners, breakfasts can be enticing and luxurious. It’s also an opportunity to socialise and connect with people who want to make sure that you start your day right.