Both Star Wars and Central Japan are distinct and hugely different subjects full of possibilities; so how in the world can one link Star Wars with Central Japan?
Way back in time, around 1983, Jabba the Hutt made his appearance in Return of the Jedi. Many of us are old enough to have first seen Jabba on the big screen at the movie theater. Other younger folks met Jabba later through video and DVD. Regardless of age, we were all struck by Jabba’s less-than-friendly reputation as an evil and powerful crime boss with a huge appetite who enjoyed dark hobbies such as gambling and torture. Moreover, he’s ugly.
Not so far back in time, around May 2014, my friends and I were driving the scenic route along beautiful Lake Biwa in the town of Hikone in central Japan. (Off the subject a bit, but don’t confuse Hikone with Hakone. Watch that second letter. The “i” Hikone brings you to Lake Biwa. The “a” in Hakone gets you to Mt. Fuji much further north by Tokyo.) Then, my friends suddenly veered off into the city as if looking for a certain place. Of course, I’m totally lost but don’t care—I’m in the good hands of friends. Chatting back and forth, they suddenly broke their Japanese conversation (I’m also totally clueless to what is being discussed) and announced in English that we were stopping for lunch. They wanted to treat me to lunch at this new place in town.
We pulled in the small parking lot, got out of the car, and headed to the second floor of a small modern plaza. Looking up I noticed the restaurant sign said, “Jabba the Hutt”. “Cool”, I thought while reminiscing back many years to the ugly gangster from Star Wars and how he managed to make it all the way to Japan—it’s a small world. So, we climbed the stairs and stepped through the door to the café/coffee shop/uptown upscale-style big city restaurant nook. The “cool” thought popped back into my head. Even the light bulbs were cool; big, curly que open bulbs I’ve never seen.
The food was moderately priced, delicious, and served attractively with great service. However, I remained unable to connect the interesting café’s name to the dark character Jabba the Hutt other than the fact that Jabba had an insatiable appetite and the food here at the café was delicious. Jabba would have enjoyed it.
We sat at a table on a sofa that were both lower than the “norm” here in the U.S. I had fried chicken in mustard sauce served with a heaping bowl of rice served beside my meal in front of me. At least I hope the rice was all for me because I ate it all, later thinking “oops”, maybe it was intended for everybody and my friends were too polite to say anything. And, can you believe I had to go all the way to Japan to try iced coffee for the first time? Then, dessert came. A tiny little dab of custardy pudding with raspberry sauce in a tiny little cup with a tiny little spoon, just right for satisfying the after dinner sweet tooth. But, again, tiny and satisfying is not akin to Jabba; however, my gobbling of all the rice could be Jabba-like. Maybe that was the reasoning behind naming your restaurant “Jabba the Hutt”–folks would love the food, eat (and order) heartily making for good business.
Anyway, how could I e-v-e-r imagine that someday I would connect Star Wars of many years ago to a lunch outing with friends some 31 years later way far away in Japan?? For me, a couple good friends connected Star Wars to Japan with the middle word “food” and did what only friends can do to turn a vast universe into “it’s a small world.”