On a cool and rainy day last week, I toured Kaizoji temple in Kamakura with my teacher and her friend S.

The temple was all I expect in a Japanese temple, lots of dark wood and perfectly clipped plants dripping with rain, lots of dusty multi-century-old wooden Buddhist statues, and a cool cave with mysterious depressions that always have water in them. Some people I know here say they no longer visit temples because they all look the same. I laugh because it’s true and yet completely wrong. I never get sick of Buddhist temples, their beauty, the way they tell me something whispered and refreshing. At Kaizoji there was a well that contained a swarm of fat, squirming tadpoles. This in itself was worth the visit because I can’t remember the last time I saw a tadpole. Aren’t they supposed to be dying out all over the world?

After the temple we had lunch and then burabura shimashita (walking slowly and letting one’s head flutter back and forth: window shopping).

We went into an upscale supermarket that stocks a large selection of Western food. I go there from time to time to buy lamb, which Japanese people don’t eat very much, if at all. I didn’t have anything in mind. Instead, I was feeling proud of myself for my day of speaking Japanese. Then I saw the cheese section.

On one wall of the supermarket are the cheese shelves and next to them the bakery. Suddenly I was ravenous for bread and cheese. Like my DNA was screaming. I bought 200g wheel of Brillat-Savarin and a baguette.

On the way home, I can’t believe how much I want it. I get home and the cheese is unbelievable, unctuous; it has a slightly sour taste with a musky odor that is for me the essence of cheese. It barely needs a knife, it is so soft and creamy; I can just wipe excess across the bread with a finger.

Bread and cheese. This market sells a lovely assortment of serious cheese, funky blues, tight, hot cheddars, and unctuous camemberts. The cheese stocked at a standard Japanese supermarket is basically string cheese, cream cheese, and Velveeta-like melting cheeses. I’m not sure the average Japanese person is up for the full onslaught of an honestly made, washed rind, sex funk piece of cheese. But then neither is the average American. Good, more for me.

I ate the whole baby wheel and was truly satiated. Maybe it’s my partially Swiss ancestry, but I felt someone approving as I licked the cheese off my fingertips.

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