Chanko-Nabe and London in Romania

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to go with some Chuo-Gakuin Coko teachers (from the High-School I’ve been working at) and others to a Chanko-Nabe restaurant, in Roppongi in Tokyo. It is a famous place, started by the former sumo-champion Wakanohana, whose trophies you could see in a cabinet built into the wall of our private room. It wasn’t cheap- at 7,000 yen each (about £35) – but it sure was good! The waiters and cooks come and make the chanko-nabe, a kind of stew designed for sumo-wrestlers, at your table. First they let the delicately-seasoned broth simmer, then put in the vegetables and finally add shaped balls of minced chicken with spices and bacon-like strips of pork. Nabe is a popular kind of home-made stew in Japan, but this was by far the most amazing one I’ve ever had.

I stayed the night at a friend’s apartment in the area, which is looking a lot better now he has moved in more. Then the next day I went to a nearby station to help do voice-overs for a film. I don’t know too much about it, but it’s a Japanese film being made jointly with Britain, including the British Embassy. From what I could see it is about a small group of Japanese going to England during the time of the Meiji Restoration and has scenes of them being shocked and amazed by the advanced technology and social differences there. It seems that some are kind to them, whilst others cause problems, which they manage to overcome.

It is being filmed in Romania, as there they could find cities more similar to late 19th century London and the background actors are all Romanian. So they needed us to fill in the background conversations and squabbles of the time. I’m not so sure about the main actors. So I made voices with others of travelers on a train, drunken revelers, a policeman trying (and failing) to help the victim of a child pick-pocket and dock-workers taking about their approaching holiday. To cap it all off we sang the choruses of a song in the manly voices of sailors, going something like-


With a way, hey, blow the man down

Give me some time to blow the man down

With a way, hey, blow the man down

Give me some time to blow the man down

Blow the man down, bully, blow the man down

Way, hey, blow the man down

Oh, blow the man down, oh, blow the man down

Give me some time to blow the man down…


Why we should want to ‘blow the man down’ and what exactly that means are a mystery to me… must be some strange thing sailors get up to…

At any rate, it was a great experience to be involved, even in a small way, with such a production and also to spend time with the other varied characters doing voice-overs. Supposedly, everyone was meant to have a British accent for it, though the various Americans and Canadians did a pretty good job of putting it on! Probably no-one will ever hear my voice in it, let alone know it’s me. The real thrill, though, was just to be involved.

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