Adventures in Japan, Part 3: Stupid gaijin ordered too much rice

Sorry it took so long! I’ve been focusing on too many things are once. But here is a third tale of my adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Of the three weeks my friends and I spent in Japan, we spent the whole first week in wonderful, beautiful Tokyo – my favorite city in the whole wide world. But because so many people there assume you only want to communicate in English, it doesn’t always offer the best opportunities for practicing Japanese.

When they spoke to me in English, and I replied in Japanese, many were impressed and delighted. Some, however, just kind of replied to me in English anyway, which was kind of annoying.

But let me assure you, my good friends. Tokyo isn’t full of English-speakers. There were times when we came across Tokyoites who blushed and insisted that their English was terrible. We couldn’t always understand each other. And, while my Japanese was pretty good, I wasn’t 100% fluent. I could get around, order things, ask questions, have conversations, but there were small gaps in my knowledge…. such as how to say, “I’d like this bowl of rice, but split in four, please.”

Three of my friends and I went out to eat at this restaurant, and our server, however adorable, couldn’t not understand English very well. That was fine with us, because we knew how to order food in Japanese. The problem was, when we asked how big the bowls of rice were, he showed us with his hands that the bowls were pretty huge.

So, we thought, okay cool – we can just split that in four. But see… we couldn’t figure out how to say that in a way that our server could understand.

But he eventually nodded as if knowing what we were talking about, and things were pretty great… until he arrived with our meals and four gargantuan bowls of rice. He was smiling until he saw our collective looks of horror, and so he looked worried, too. When he asked what the matter was, we tried to explain the issue…

Meanwhile, the able next to us had a group of drunk Japanese friends around our age. God, they were cracking up. They must have thought we couldn’t understand them, but we knew they were talking about us. The things they were saying pretty much summed up to lol look at those stupid foreigners, ordered all that rice, hahaha!

Wasting food is a big no-no in Japan. But somehow, we were able to get out of being charged a fee for all the uneaten rice. One of us even drew him a little picture of Batman and wrote him a little thank you. On our way out, he sort of laughed and placed it to his heart saying, “It will be my treasure!”

So, all’s well that ends well, I guess.

(Still wonder what they did with all that rice, tho.)

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Adventures in Japan Part 1: Shopping in Shibuya

After shuttling from Narita to Ikebukuro and settling in Sakura Hotel (and catching some much-needed shut-eye), I woke up at 5 in the morning nice and refreshed. Tokyo was mine to explore.

I can’t explain how surreal this was. I’d had dreams of going to Japan since I was 11 years old – and there I was, 20 years old, touring the beautiful Meiji Shrine, eating crepes in Harajuku, and shopping in Shibuya.

Right now, I’m a solid size small and wouldn’t have any worries about fitting clothes in Japan, but back then (two years ago), I was slightly bigger – having to purchase mediums and larges in U.S. stores, so I was worried about not being able to fit clothes in Japanese malls. At the time, I found some Japanese mediums I could fit, but many were too small, and almost none of the stores carried any larges.

Sometimes, I felt like an elephant amongst gazelles, and it really kind of messed with my psyche.

But! It was always a slight self-esteem boost whenever I did find something cute that I could wear – all of which were mediums or one size fits all.

The inside of 109 (a huuuge department store) is pretty much every girly-girl’s dream. The shopkeepers are all so pretty and glamorous, and nice! Some stand in the doorways inviting people in with “Irasshaimasse!!” which means “welcome.”

So, I wandered into one of the stores. The shopkeeper initially spoke to me in English, telling me which outfits were on sale. After looking around, I found an outfit, and went up to her, saying, “Anou, sumimasen.” (“Um, excuse me.”) I gestured toward the fitting room and asked, “Haite mo ii desu ka?” (“Is it okay if I enter?”)

The longer I was in Japan, the more I realized how many Japanese people brighten up when they realize you can speak and understand Japanese. She then explained to me, in Japanese, that the outfit was not a set, so I could get a different color shirt with the cardigan, if I wanted to.

So, when I tried on the outfit, she gushed and said, “Kawaii!!” (“Cute!!”)

Needless to say, I bought the hell out of that outfit. (And it no longer looks slightly too small on me.)

~*~~* Want more life in Japan posts? Stay tuned. *~~*~