Matt had mentioned that sushi and beer were the main vices in the Aikido world. In San Francisco, that only narrows the search down to a few hundred venues. My first break came once I jimmied my way into the room in the Tenderloin. There wasn't much there: a couple of tattered and torn gym mats in the middle of the floor, and on the wall a piece of paper with some Asian writing. I tore it down and was folding it to fit into my pocket when I looked down and spotted a matchbook. "C.G.'s Slice'n'Slash Sushi/Fifty Beers On Tap/Open 24 Hours." An address in the outer Avenues. Fogland by the beach. Surfer city. Who'd open a sushi joint out there?
Well, Chinatown and Japantown were closer at hand and it wouldn't be happy hour for a couple of hours, so I decided to try to get a translation of the writing I had before trekking across town. I closed the door behind me and on my way out tossed a five spot on Uke. "Get yerself some grub, kid." She mumbled something like "Don't mow, awright-oh." Pathetic.
As I reached for the door at the foot of the stairs, leading back out into the watery midafternoon sunlight, my eyes crossed another door I hadn't noticed before. The dirt of the past 100 years or so blocked out most of the lettering on the door. I could see "Ak" peeking out, though, like the heiroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone. I brushed off the rest of the dust, backing off to arm's length and exhaling as the dust went spiraling into the air. "Akiyama Institute," the lettering read.
"Well hit me with a .45," I thought. Maybe this Akiyama punk is right here, and I'll have that whole retainer left to stave off my wolfish landlord until next week. The only way to find out is to knock, though. The door rattled hollowly under my knuckles.