From above, Sendai is characterized by a number of wide roads that run through the city, acting as the main arteries for the busy traffic. One key intersection is located at the meeting point between two of these arteries, the Hirosedoori road and the Kotodai road. From here, both the arcade as well as the party district of Kokubuncho are very easy to reach. But there is another interesting and somewhat quieter corner close-by. If visitors turn away from the flashing lights and masses of people that make the Hirosedoori road, and head into the opposite direction instead, they will soon reach what is known as Honcho, where low-key restaurants and stores make for an entirely new experience.
When making their way into Honcho, but only if their timing is right, visitors will stumble upon a truck shining in a warm yellow and decorated with large German flags parked on the sideway, right next to a furniture store that seems to act as a haven for many individual artisans and their styles. Just looking in through the wide glass façade will reveal a plethora of items in various sizes and made from different materials. IKEA this is not.
Drawn in by the unusual appearance and the large pictures advertising a number of dishes, visitors might approach the truck. Taking orders, most likely with a big grin on his face, is the owner of this mobile piece of art. His name is Watanabe-san, affectionately also called Masa. He spent two and a half years in Germany to master the art of wurst making, in a small town close to Nuremberg, called Neumarkt, and even learned some basic German during his stay. Coincidentally, "Neumarkt" is also the name of the sausage truck.
After completing his training he returned to Japan and jumped around in the country for a while, from Tokyo to the southern island of Kyushu, before settling back in Sendai.
In order to put his newly gained expertise to good use, it was necessary to adapt the German style of sausage making into something that is compatible with Japanese taste buds. According to Masa, this process took roughly one year. Now he is offering a wide range of sausages (such as the "currywurst" pictured above) and other meat specialties such as Leberkäse and ham in his truck that can take him anywhere in the country. Amongst other places, has also promoted German-Japanese relations by means of delicious food in Aomori, some 350 kilometers north of his home base.
The sausages are juicy, rich in flavor and varied with subtle and not so subtle differences between local variations making each bite something to look forward to. When closing their eyes and letting the flavor overtake their senses, customers might feel for a moment as if they had been teleported to Germany, digging in at one of the many small sausage places that are scattered throughout most cities. The mirage will hold up even after reopening your eyes, with the black-red-golden flag of Germany draped over and down along the side of the truck.
A visit to the truck comes recommended to those people who are curious about how German food culture is represented in Sendai, and those who simply want to experience a culinary, very pleasant adventure.
With a solid customer base consisting of both Japanese and foreigners living in Sendai, Masa has big plans for the future. He is currently putting together the recipe for a completely new product – a sausage containing Yuzu, a locally grown type of lemon – and in the near future he also plans to open a proper restaurant. Right now, from his truck, he can only offer his dishes once a week, on Wednesdays between 12p.m and 6p.m., so curious folk will have to plan accordingly. With a store, Masa might just be able to carry one great part of Germany a bit further into Sendai.