Thursday, July 5, 2012

Foreigners in a foreign land...

Nine gaijin (non-Japanese) walk into a bar, and oh how the chaos ensues. Never mind the language barrier it's a whole new ball game and don't tell me "oh but I've been to a Japanese restaurant." It's a whole new ball game (and I'm not even talking about the baseball games yet!)

First question is where will you sit? Will it be at a counter on a stool, a table with chairs, a table with sunken chairs, a table with no chairs, will there be a smoking section, no smoking at all or smoke all around you? Will the waiters know some English, broken English, no English? Will the menus be in all Japanese with no pictures, some pictures, only pictures? Will there be a machine at the door where you will buy tickets, a menu at the table where you will be asked, a menu at the table where you will then press a button for service, or ring a bell when you need something or will the waiters just appear when you need them like magic (as so often happens)? Will you wear your shoes in, leave your shoes at the door, or put your shoes in a locker?

Then the food! Oh the food! Will you go to a soba, udon or ramen restaurant (all noodles by the way)? Sushi restaurant, okonomiyaki (pancake-like) restaurant? How about Shabu Shabu (hot pot), or a teppanyaki (grilling on your own)?

The chopsticks will be your best friends, but you should be aware that spoons are also your best friend because you use them when eating saucy dishes as well as anything soupy.

Mostly it doesn't matter what happens when you step in the door...when you sit down and that magical waiter appears say "Nama biiru kudasai (draft beer please)" and go from there, all will be good. This blog will not be all about food, although there will be a lot of that. It's a working piece that will log all 9 GTFs best and worst stories. Some of them involve dropping chopsticks (everyone does it) as well as misuse or mispronunciation of a word (the Japanese use many words in several capacities that sound VERY similar, i.e. the words for prisoner and husband sound almost exactly alike, I don't think that's an accident).

 Enjoy reading about our adventures and misadventures!

 Lee Ann Erickson

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