Thank you and yes. I could understand the words when said to us, and could use them at the appropriate time…. and that’s pretty much it. But in my book, that’s a foreign language “win” when the language is as vastly different from English as Japanese is. Our recent visit to Japan was the first time I’d ever been in a country that uses a completely different alphabet. It was odd not being able to understand what was said or written, but I did perfectly fine roaming Tokyo by myself. OK, so maybe perfectly fine is exaggerating a bit… I usually found what I was looking for after a few tried. (Largely thanks to the English signage on the subways.)
Here’s a rundown of the fun we had while in Japan:
Our first day was cold, snowy and rainy but we managed to get some amazingly fresh sushi for second breakfast. We let the chef choose for us and aren’t sure what we ate.
This fish was alive 5 hours earlier. Some of it still may have been when we ate it.
Lots of goodies for sale at the fish market
Plus more citrus varieties in one place than I’ve ever seen
We took the bullet train to Nagano then travelled to Shibu Onsen for some hot baths and Japanese Macaque (aka Snow monkeys!)
Two bullet trains nose to nose
We are both furry, though only one of us was warm (hint: not me)
Those eyes say, “Put me in your pocket and take me home”. I just know it.
Dave’s new friend
Zero degrees, 7am, wandering the streets in a kimono on our way to an onsen (hot bath)
Sure we were cold, but the water bubbling up from the ground was hot enough to boil eggs
That week, I explored while Dave had meetings.
Some of my favorite places were the food markets in the basement of department stores. Besides the copious amount of “sweets” and baked goods (two things I didn’t know the Japanese are obsessed with), they have top-notch produce stands. $140 melon? Check. $7 strawberry? Yep, got that, too. And all of it perfect.
That’s one strawberry, for just a bit over $7.
I found a sushi restaurant that makes conveyor-belt-sushi look antiquated. We sat at a bar with our own tablets to order from and the food arrived in front of us on a little shuttle train. Such a treat since it required no speaking or understanding of Japanese.
On one fun night we went to the Robot Restaurant. I still don’t know what we saw, I am barely on board with the fact that it wasn’t all dreamt.
Welcome. I am weird.
A two-headed robot rolling by, because why not?
Midweek, I took a day trip to see Mt. Fuji. The Japanese are really proud of it, but other than being elusive it’s not all that spectacular. Sorry dudes.
The peak is apparently only visible 30% of the time.
Clouds overtook the mountain right after this and it was gone for the rest of the day.
Here’s a link if you want to see more pics, and also the videos (in the “vid” folder at the top of the page) which wordpress doesn’t let me upload. I’ll just say that you need to see these videos– I’ve got a monkey donkey-kicking an umbrella, robot boxing, and sushi on-demand. What more could I hope for from a trip abroad?
Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu!
(or, “Excuse me for leaving first.” It’s typically said when someone leaves the office at night, and they are literally apologizing for leaving before others– which may be at 10pm! )