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Garlic Emergency!

It looked like a mild-mannered plate of spaghetti, but it was PURE EVIL. I was halfway through this cherry tomato carbonara, when I realized those delightful crunchy bits I was wolfing down with abandon were FRIED GARLIC! Noooooo!!!

Two trains away from home, there was no way I wanted to be the Smelly Foreigner everybody went home and complained to their families about. People spend so much time in crowded conditions here in Tokyo that they’re super-aware of offending others with perfumed products, and everybody who exercises towels off and changes shirts before boarding a train. Japanese food never causes offensive odors, but garlic…aieeee!!! Even I notice if I get a whiff of it from the salarymen crushed against me on the morning train, wondering if he ate kim chee for breakfast.

What to do? What to do? I quickly posted on Facebook, seeking triage. Gum, my Japanese friends advised. I ducked into the train station convenience store and bought a pack that promised Deep Mint flavor. I guess the smelliness problem must be more widespread than I’d realized, because when I popped a piece in my mouth, the gum was so industrial-strength, it was almost painful. It took care of the problem temporarily, though: nobody quickly moved seats when I sat down on the train. Immediate disaster: averted.

When I got home, I was further advised to eat an apple and drink an entire cup of green tea without breathing, in order to avoid smelling like a vat of aioli. I certainly hope it works, and so does everybody else I encounter in the next 24 hours…

My knight in shining armor! Check out the cool packaging too: a little drawer slides out, presenting the pieces of gum like neatly rolled socks.

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

A young woman dressed as a Gothic Lolita is found dead in a car with two strangers. But the more Yumi Hata learns about her friend’s death, the more she’s convinced it was murder…read more

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

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