It is a whirl, a twirl, a blur.

Facades of steel and glass form angles against the blue sky. Mind-boggling crowds of humans move like liquid across wide intersections, down shopping streets, and through perfectly manicured parks. Kitschy pop music finds my ears as I stand on a corner.

Press a flashing button to order a steaming bowl of ramen, and listen to the salarymen slurp.

Under the massive red lantern of Kaminarimon, the gold-topped pagoda caches the sun as a girl in a gem-colored kimono shuffles by. Incense fills the courtyard. We’re transported back in time.

A long dirt road passes under a graceful torii. Hundreds of wishes, written on wood, dangle in the dappled light. The curve of a roof, the shape of a tree, etch themselves into my mind.

The evening lights up. Neon! Bells and balls and flashing lights. We run through the cacophony of a pachinko parlor, laughing.

We steal away to the narrow streets. Magic alleys. Little doors. A zig. A zag. The smell of sweet soy and sizzling meat. We nestle into a tiny spot.

Skewers of kushiyaki hot off the grill: shishito peppers, perfectly charred, mushrooms, and savory balls of minced chicken arrive. One stick, two stick, three stick, four … The food keeps coming.

Foggy windows, foggy heads. We spill back into the Japanese night.

Lara grew up the the wilds of northern New York, in a valley not far from the toes of the Adirondack Mountains. She studied sculpture and film at Hampshire College, and is most comfortable in the realm of the abstract, consumed with uncanny thoughts in a studio filled with scraps of nylon, string, crayons, bits of rubber, and half-filled coffee cups. Recently, she decided to try her hand at the written word, sharing stories from her travels, along culinary adventures (with recipes!) inspired by places she has been...