First, you take a dried snake. A dried poisonous snake.
Then you chop it into little pieces.
Add some dried ginger and garlic and a few other secret ingredients.
Powderize it all in your industrial snake grinder and pour it in a medicine bottle.
Mix one teaspoon into a cup of hot water every morning before you eat anything, to keep your eyes sharp, your legs strong, and your skin young. Or so I was told by the traditional medicine vendor who comes three times a month to market day on Koshinzuka street, as he whipped me up a batch. I did try a sample of his snake tea first, to make sure it wasn’t killingly horrible, but it was actually a lot less awful than the miraculous OTC Chinese medicine stuff I take when I have a cold.
Apparently, making snake medicine isn’t easy. You have to grow the snakes yourself from eggs, then kill them and coil them up and dehydrate them. It’s not a business that’s very popular with the neighbors, because they’re always worried the mamushi will get out. Poisonous snakes are hard to love, it would seem. He also told me that many foreigners stop to gawk at his wares, but I am the first one to buy any. Except for a Columbian woman, but she didn’t count because she was married to a Japanese. In honor of this landmark occasion, he gave me twice as much as I paid for, as a special favor. So now I have plenty to share with my friends, bwahahahaha!
If you’d like to visit the market on Koshinzuka Street the next time you’re in Tokyo, a map is on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had. The market is held on the 4th, 14th and 24th of each month.
“Without question, the best book I have read all year.” —Susan Spann, author of the Hiro Hattori mystery series
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon!
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!