Sunday, August 28, 2005

why Japan is wonderful.

sunset in the pool
Originally uploaded by Bob Jones.

this is NOT a picture from Japan. in fact, this is Dave and Dagmar's backyard (from North Pelham)! we don't get too many nice sunsets here in Japan in the summer, but that's not what makes it wonderful.

Kathy and i arrived back less than a week ago. here are just a couple interesting interactions. remember in each case, the Japanese person involved speaks little or no english.

1. the photography store. i arrive with a roll of film for developing. the son of the owner (who works there during the week) greets me with a great big smile and in mostly Japanese he tells me about the weather the last two weeks, hopes my trip to Canada was safe, gets excited about typhoons, and wants to know what my pictures are about. he really liked the ones from our hike in Balls Falls.

2. i go to the grocery store. i see a couple of students i teach. one of them tells her mother who begins bowing and thanking me. i check out and as i'm bagging my stuff, she comes over to me and says something (i think very kind) in Japanese (i have no idea what she said really) and gives me two boxes of salted crackers. salted crackers you ask? i guess that's all she had in her cart that she thought was appropriate. she was kind enough, she knew that when she saw me she wanted to give me a gift to say thank you for teaching her daughter. it's the thought that counts.

3. i go to the convenience store. the ladies that work the weekday shift are really nice. they treat Kathy and i like royalty. everytime one of us comes in they come right over and try to talk to us. they keep saying something like (loosely translated): "it's so good you are an english teacher. i can't speak any english. i'm sorry. thank you for teaching english. that's really good. thank you." and then they bow a lot. this time, there was a new lady i hadn't seen before. the one who is normally the most outgoing told the other in Japanese something like this: "he's an English teacher from Canada. they live close to here. his wife is very beautiful" and then she looks at me and says in english, "charming". i didn't really understand what she was saying (i pieced it together after) and so i thought she was still talking about Canada. so i said, no, not charming - to which she made a pretty funny face (i guess i was confessing that i didn't think Kathy was charming!) i figured it out quick and pretended i was joking. they bowed and said thank you lots as i was leaving.

4. we went to Dai Dai restaurant around the corner from our apartment yesterday with Ayako and a new teacher. as soon as we walked in, the waitress that usually serves us (and speaks some english) got a great big smile on her face, welcomed us, and then told some of the other staff we were there. a couple of them came out with big smiles. we sat down and the fellow who took our orders and served us just kept smiling - almost laughing. it was like we made his day. he kept saying things like it's been a while, it's good to see you, and then he laughed and said - "i was lonely!" when we said we had gone to Canada for two weeks.

it seems there are a lot of places we go in this town where people recognize us. people are really kind when we see them - it's a bit of the movie star syndrome - an ALT (we are ALTs) is a bit like a movie star because we are foreign, and different, and in this part of Japan strange enough to be noticed, but not unusual enough to be stared at. but everyone is really friendly and seemingly interested in us.

it's good to be back.


JD said...

Welcome Back! Just to add that those of us in the Net Community have missed you and your lady as well. Hope your photos go up soon! Take care...

James said...

And when you come to Canada you are treated like dirt by all the other movie stars. Man, movie stars can be such jerks. I agree, let's sack them all.