Last week while the kami-san was ringing up a customer's bill, I happened to glance down at the scrawled notepad where she keeps track of a table's order — a list of all the food and drink consumed.

What color is your miso?

Orders are usually relayed to the kitchen verbally but the young ladies that carry the food to the dining rooms keep track on paper to expedite settling the check. As in any restaurant in any part of the world, waitresses very quickly scribble down an order on this little pad — a little shorthand jot that to anyone's eyes but the originator's looks like nothing more than chicken scratch.