Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Real Sweet Shop

I sometimes read blogs by other foreigners living in Japan who speak fluent Japanese. They often complain that when they are out in public, even if they speak Japanese, Japanese people usually respond in English. I hope nobody listens to their complaints because I rely on Japanese people speaking English.
Shortly after I first arrived in Japan, I got lost walking around the city of Kawasaki, about a five-minute train ride away from my home. I met a number of old ladies on my journey and in my limited Japanese asked them all for directions to the train station, but the response was the same every time I asked, “I don’t speak English.” Finally I happened upon a farmer working in his field (I didn’t even know they had farms in the city of Kawasaki and in retrospect I may have strayed farther than I thought). I asked him for directions in halting Japanese and he replied in perfect English! In less than five hours I was home again. Today I speak Japanese a little better and know my way around a little better too. I still get lost though, both in conversations and walking around the streets, as well as frustrated with my lack of progress. When I get really down in the dumps about it I go to a little manju shop close to Temple Valley. It’s not just the sugar in the manju that lifts my spirits there's something else about this place that offers sweet sustenance for both body and soul (or the ego at least). My last visit went like this (maybe you can get the picture):

Me: This one.
Manju man: One box of manju cakes? Coming right up.

Manju man: If you put them in the refrigerator they will stay fresh for up to three days.
Me: Oh.

Manju man: They go well with both hot and iced tea alike.
: Oh!

Manju man: You speak Japanese very well. You rarely encounter a foreigner who speaks so fluently. I've put a little something extra in the bag for you.
Me: Thanks.

Shinsen Gummies

Each bag of Shinsen Gummies comes with a miniature sword.

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