He called and I answered: Yaki Imo

Groggy, exhausted from yesterday’s 14km hike around Oku-Tama, I cajoled myself into rolling out of bed just before 10 this morning. Sleep all day? As if.

I was only half dressed, cleaning the mud off our hiking boots when I heard the call.

“Yakiiiiii imoooooooo!”

He called and I answered.

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On went the long cardigan. Into crocs went my feet. On went the glasses – no time for contacts. The Yaki Imo Man was here!

Almost as good as Santa in this neighborhood, the Yaki Imo Man brought the promise of succulent gifts: sweet, savory yams grilled to perfection. I couldn’t wait another minute.

I popped out onto the balcony, but no truck in sight. Should I run down the block?!

Back inside, I remembered to grab my phone to photograph the momentous moment when the truck would roll on by, and money would be exchanged for delicious nutrition. Outside again, I saw the man make a great choice: drive right down my tiny street. Hellooooo!

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I ran down the stairs and popped open the gate. There was no way he would escape me now!

The truck came to a halt. Maybe it was the hunger in my eyes, or perhaps my disheveled hair and outfit, as if I’d just rolled out of bed (snicker snicker if only he knew!). Either way, out came the driver, who walked around to offer me choices. Choices!?! Just a regular, delicious potato, please, sir. He moved back a wooden plank to reveal large sweet potatoes wrapped in foil. It was the size of a small dog but much more filling I’m sure. 500 grams of sweet, filling carbs for 500 yen. I’ll take it.

And so I did. I invited the tender potato home with me and into my belly. Mmmmm. Thank you Yaki Imo Man.

Your song has captivated my heart and stomach.

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