Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Please don't come any closer"

Japan continues to impress. I forgot to mention that at the castle they were playing Snoop Dogg. They were also selling football shaped seaweed crackers with a sweet black sauce, rice crispies, a fried egg, and mayonnaise. Delicious.

What is brown and rhymes with Snoop? (answer at the end of the post)

I've been spending the days going around to different parts of the city. Today I almost made the mistake of getting on a women-only subway car. It had lots of seats and I was making my way towards it when I realized that everyone seemed to be avoiding it like the plague. I followed the masses and got on a crowded car. Then I saw the signs that it was women only. Phew.

I found a huge three story arcade. One of the popular games was digital horse racing. You sit at a chair and choose a horse, I guess, as you watch them run on a huge screen. One guy was using the small touch screen on his chair to stroke his horse in the stable as he prepped for the race. Not being able to read any of the signs, I took the escalator up to the fourth floor. There was no escalator down. I was stuck. On a tiny little landing. The only door was into a fancy restaurant, and I stood outside for a minute, embarrassed, then walked in and just kept pointing down as several very courteous waiters tried to seat me. Ugh.

Tonight I had dinner at a restaurant near my hostel. They seated me at the bar, in between a middle-aged Japanese couple and a Japanese woman. The waiter then brought over a bowl of cabbage leaves and set it in front of me. I kind of stared at it, not knowing what to do. The couple was having a discussion, so I surreptitiously fixed my eyes on the Japanese woman to my right and waited to see what she did. She seemed to be watching my cabbage leaves. I didn't do anything. Time passed. She turned to the couple next to her and asked them in English what the hell she was supposed to do with these cabbage leaves. Apparently you dip them in a tub of communal sauce on the bar, salt them with some special salt, and then eat them.

She and I talked a little bit about traveling in Japan without speaking Japanese. The people around us seemed encouraged by this, and they started talking to us. The middle-aged couple asked in English where I was from and how I liked Japan. Only the woman seemed to know a little English, but as soon as I said "Seattle" the man said "Seattle Mariners" and then all three of us said "Ichiro Suzuki" a few times.

When I was done, I got out my Japanese phrasebook to see how to ask for the check. I practiced a little bit with a different couple (at their behest). There were two local girls at the table behind me that were laughing and laughing at my Japanese, and even the cook had a chuckle. The couple then explained that if I couldn't pronounce how to ask for the check (which I guess I couldn't) I could just cross my fingers and that meant the same thing. That reminded me to ask them about another sign I'd been seeing a lot of--holding up your arms in an "x." I demonstrated, and she said it means something like: "stop it," "please don't," "don't come any closer." Hearing this, the two girls behind me burst into laughter and started making it to each other.

To be fair, though, I'd mostly gotten it from shops that were closing. And one hotel proprietor. I'm enjoying myself immensely and don't think I'm being quite as much of a fool as it might seem.

I definitely feel like I am forgetting something interesting, but I can't remember what it is. Anyways, the moment you've all been waiting for: What is brown and rhymes with Snoop? Dr Dre.


  1. Glad to hear you're enjoying Japan! Glad I told you that it was a great place to go. =) -Sean

  2. I love how well you seem to be rolling with the punches. I suppose that's something you have to do though, right? That's always been a fear of mine when going somewhere new. I hate feeling like I'm the only one who doesn't know what's going on.

  3. Thank for the update. Naturally I want one every day. I guess I am the demanding sort.
    Karen aka JMGM