I thought that it was about time that I exposed my brother to some traditional Osaka cuisine, so I brought some takeout back home for dinner: takoyaki and okonomiyaki.

Takoyaki are balls consisting of a small piece of octopus in batter, fried in a specially shaped pan which resembles an iron egg box.

Okonomiyaki is a mixture of chopped cabbage, egg, flour and water fried in a flat circular shape and topped with some strips of pork, squid or similar.

Both takoyaki and okonomiyaki are usually topped with a brown sauce, katsuobushi (dried tuna flakes) and often mayonnaise as well. Too much of the brown sauce, however, tends to overpower the flavour of whatever it covers.

The cost came to JPY 661. I handed over a JPY 10,000 note, and JPY 211 in coins in the hope of getting sensible change: JPY 9,550. The young woman serving was confused by this, but typed it into the register anyway with a confused expression. I get that a lot. I don’t know exactly why. It’s not rocket science, after all, and Japan usually ranks pretty high in mathematical aptitude.

As an aside, the coinage system here makes it easy to calculate how to get “nice” change, because there are no 2s. Just 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500. It also means that if you don’t get it right, you end up carrying an awful lot of the 1s, 10s and 100s. The notes, likewise, are 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000.

There’s a JPY 2,000 note as well. We don’t talk about that. It’s an anomaly that was introduced in the year 2000 for no apparent good reason other than a weak link with the year. That’s a really weak link when you think about it, because the year 2000 was actually Heisei 12 in the Japanese calendar. It’s rare, and you can’t use it in most of the vending machines. That’s obviously a big problem in Japan where every street is served by two or three vending machines, selling soft drinks, cigarettes, alcohol, porn and, most notorious of all, used schoolgirl’s panties. I have never seen the last; maybe it’s a Tokyo thing.