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"Six degrees of separation"

Do you believe in the “Six degrees of separation” theory? The idea is that every person in the world is connected to every other person in the world by a chain of family members, friends, or acquaintances that number no more than 5 people. Traveling lends itself to these types of “small world” experiences that seem to support this theory. Just the other day my mom, while playing golf, met the wife of a cousin of my ex-husband’s father. So, here’s my “small world” travel story from Japan.

As part of our 3 week trip in 2017 to Japan, we were biking the The Shimanami Kaido, a 60 kilometer (37 miles) biking trail that connects Japan's main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, passing over beautiful bridges through six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. Bike route

You can rent bikes in either Onomichi or Imabari and ship your luggage from one end of the trail to another. We decided to spend two days riding with an overnight stay on the lovely island of Oshima at Akira and Rei’s lovely home. Airbnb link

We were in Japan in June, the rainy season, but that also means off-season, so the small island was very quiet. Akira and Rei directed us to the only open restaurant for dinner, just a few kilometers from their home. The diner style open kitchen, with its stack of mismatched plates, was visual from any of the 4 tables inside the mom and pop restaurant. As you can imagine, you were famished after the long ride.

The meal looked like two pancakes stuffed with yummy goodness. After scarfing down half of the meal, I started to look at the words on the edges of the plate which read “Gourmet Times: All The News About Gourmet & Dining since 1951”. The plate was dated February 1, 1980. So, what! But here’s where it gets interesting. It also read “Do the El Jebel Roll - It’s a sushi roll composed of a diverse mix - tuna, snow crab, and avocado. And like the town it’s named after, it’s as good as anything in Aspen.” My jaw and my chopsticks hit the ground. OMG, NO WAY! I bought my first townhome in 1990 in El Jebel, Colorado, population 2,600 then. Here I was in Japan in 2017 eating off this plate!

Well you can imagine our astonishment! Now came the tricky part - how did we explain this to the Japanese owners using the three words of Japanese we knew. Thank goodness for google translate, but it still took a long time. We established that they only had that one plate, not a set. They had found it at a consignment store, and found it difficult to understand why we asked if we could have or purchase the plate. Now think about this, our meal could have been served on any of the plates in the kitchen stack, but no, the El Jebel plate was at the top of the stack!

How in the world did that plate get from El Jebel, Colorado to a little restaurant, on a little island, in the middle of the Island Sea in Japan! Here’s my six degrees of separation theory. A food critic from the “Gourmet Times” did a fabulous review of the El Jebel sushi roll back in 1980. (1) Either the “Gourmet Times” produced these plates and sold them to the restaurant owner or the owner bought the rights to the review and had these plates made for their restaurant. (2) An El Jebel resident, who was a fan of the sushi roll, purchased the plate from the restaurant. (3). That person moved to Japan for work, probably Tokyo. (4) They eventually moved back from the states, selling the plate to a consignment store in Japan. (5) Our Oshima restaurant owners bought the plate from the consignment store. (6)

So what do you think of my theory? Pretty crazy! I’d love to hear about your best “small world”, six degrees of separation story! Please consider posting in the comments or emailing me.

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