I went back two days later after my interview to start my first day as a sushi chef.
My shift was from 3PM-2PM, an eleven-hour shift with a little break in the middle. I never worked at night or had a night job, except, overtime. I got up in the morning and found myself relaxing, eating lunch, and waiting for time leave for work.
I was a bit nervous, thinking if there was anything I should do, in preparation for my first day at a sushi bar. I had no idea. What should I bring to work? I thought no one told me what to bring and what to prepare. I never worked in the restaurant before. I was anxious and eager and thought everything would be just found. Sen was pretty quiet during the interview. He did not say much, so, oh well, I told myself.
Around 2PM, I got in my car and headed over to Hollywood from Santa Monica. The drive was about forty minutes or so, and decided to leave early. I decided to go through the Sunset Strip passing Whisky A Go, Viper Room, Tower Record, Sky Bar and House of Blues. Rockin’ Hollywood Sushi was almost at the end of the Sunset Strip, or the beginning, if you drive from Hollywood. Just right across the street was what used to be a famous club, Roxy. After Roxy was closed, now, it was a huge sushi & Japanese restaurant called “Miyagi’s,” supposedly named after Mr. Miyagi in the original Karate Kid movie, played by Pat Morita. Miyagi’s was more club than a restaurant. It had three floors of dancing and dining areas with each own sushi bars. Some of them were round instead of a traditional straight long counter bar. I heard the rumors that girls would start dancing on top of the sushi bar when things got “hot.” Miyagi’s was known for the “party” and “happening” scene than its food. Many customers who came to Rockin’ Hollywood Sushi told us that the food was “basic” at MIyagi’s and they went there for the scene and drinks, not for the food.
I pulled my car into the back parking lot, which was right next to a strip club, “Body Shop.” I never realized that we were right next door to a strip club. “Interesting,” I thought. How interesting? I had no idea then. Eventually, well, some things got interesting indeed.
I climbed the wooden back stairs leading to the door to the kitchen. Every step I took, made a squeaky sound. The building was painted in washed-out red. The building must have been here for some time, I thought.
I walked into the kitchen and greeted the sushi chef, Jun.
He replied saying “good morning.”
“Good morning?” I asked.
“Yes, good morning because we are seeing each other for the first time today and this is the start of our shift. Ordinary people’s work shift start working in the morning, so that’s why we say good morning, even if it’s three in the afternoon.”
It felt so wired to greet my co-worker “good morning” at three PM.
In the beginning, it was really perplexing and confusing. It took me a while to get used to it. Later, I learned that in Japan, this is very standard practice in the restaurant and hospitality, as well as the entertainment industry. I suppose one way to look at it is so that employees feel somewhat “normal” even though they start work late afternoon or evening. (Gives them sense of starting work in the morning?)