Samantha in Japan

Food and the Art of Loitering: Japanese Style

Posted on: February 2, 2009

This weekend was hella busy.

Since when have I used the word hella?

While I’m getting onto the subject here, let me just say that for the record, my command of the English language is slowly deteriorating. Day by day, it gets a little worse. Through speaking Japanese so often and making my English sentences a little less complicated for any Japanese students who aren’t so confident about speaking English with me, I can feel my English skills just… slipping away. By May, I’ll be a linguistic wreck. Did that even make sense?

Well, anyway, back to the weekend. It was about 1 AM Saturday morning when my roommate asked me if I wanted to go to Kobe in the morning. I agreed to the plan, and… well, being me, I stayed up until 5 AM. I woke up around 9 AM, and ended up running around Japan for … at least 13 hours.

But it was fun, at least. I wasn’t being rushed around and whisked away all the time like I was when I went to Kyoto on Friday. Much the opposite, actually. Have you ever seen about 10 foreigners just doing nothing all over the place before? Wikipedia tells me that loitering is “an intransitive verb meaning to stand idly, to stop numerous times, or to delay and procrastinate.” Read: my trip to Kobe. We saw lots of things! LOTS of things! Went lots of places! But to fill up the rest of those 13 hours, we also loitered. A LOT. It was physically painful to stand around doing nothing for so long, but at least the company was good.

So, yes, anyway, pictures–

Pretty self-explanitory. A street in Kobe; lots of shops and restaurants.

Ladies and gentlemen, loitering at its finest:

One of the more bizarre things I came across that day. Apparently if you take a picture of it, it brings you good luck. I’ll let you guys know how that one goes.

There was a Chinese New Year parade… display type thing going on in the streets. The dragon was pretending to eat people, I think. There was a lot more going on past the dragon– drums, more guys in dragon suits. But I was too short. And for the record, yes, I’m still short in Japan.

Kobe is famous for its Chinatown. This is the entrance to it–

Welcome to Japan. The streets are narrow, and there’s a lot of people crammed into a small area.

There’s even Hello Kitty custards here.

There was a… tai chi show going on in the middle of Chinatown. Couldn’t see much because of my height again, but at least the setup of the place was nice.

Japan has this runing theme of mixing old with new. Perfect example– a traditional-style building in the middle of a huge, modernized city.

Marimekko bags! In Japan! My Finnish host family would be so proud if they saw this.

One of the stops the crazy trains make (like the bus system in Kyoto– absolutely no personal bubbles allowed on the trains in Kobe. Your body is getting SMASHED into places you don’t want it to be. Deal). Everyone here knows “YES WE CAN!”

And now for my favorite Engrish finds of the day– taken while loitering in a book and music store. It’s covering up the “Classical” sign. No, we didn’t mess with it. It was just setup that way. Hopefully the shopkeepers noticed all the English-speakers giggling, pointing, and taking pictures. We’re such little kids.

I’m telling you, someone broke out the thesaurus for this one. The text along the bottom reads: “For the sake of irreplaceable persons, we’ll dramatize a specially preserved extravagance.” This was for a shoe store. There’s nothing wrong with the sentence, grammatically, but… it’s like a schizophrenic person just word vomited something and they ran with it. I love it.

So that was Kobe. Random, busy, and fun.

Sunday was a mess. I had to move from my first temporary room into a second temporary room while I wait for my host family to come back to Japan. Even though Seminar Houses 1 and 2 are connected by a bridge, they left the bridge locked yesterday. So I had to take all my luggage down and up stairs and across to another street. At least I got help from a random good samaritan along the way. Thanks guy, whoever you were.

Then I had to check out of my old dorm, check in to my new one, move my stuff into my new room… ugh, just a silly, unnecessary mess. At least I have my own desk and place to put stuff in this room, even if it is for only four more days.

After all of that, I shopped at 99, the equivalent of a dollar store in America, because I’m running low on cash and need to eat, since CIE isn’t going to give me a stipend for these extra days of host family-less-ness (see? English. Down the drain) until I move in with my family. … uh, yeah, thanks guys. Ended up going out to eat at a cheap restaurant that served some DELICIOUS food. I wish I remembered the name of what the dish was. Damn.

On the topic of food– here’s a list of the things I’ve eaten while here. For those of you who know me, this is kind of a big accomplishment already: omuraisu, curry rice, chicken katsu, udon, ramen, mochi, miso,  some kind of daifuku, and… a few “I have NO IDEA” things. The sweets here are REALLY GOOD, too. Lots of strawberry-flavored things are everywhere, much to my delight.

Also, I do have to mention that the portions of food that I eat tends to shock people here. They just… don’t understand that I don’t eat much at all. Sumimasen (excuse me) and onaka ga ippai (I’m full) have to be the two phrases I’ve used the most here. Japanese meals come in BIG servings, or they’ll have smaller servings and LOTS AND LOTS of stuff to make up for it. I don’t think I’ve honestly FINISHED a meal yet. I’m not going hungry, I’m just full from what little food I do eat. At a restaurant in Kobe where I ordered omiraisu, it was me, and two other guys eating into this huge meal, and all three of us didn’t finish it (well, they’d already eaten their meals and were just taking their own helpings of mine, since they wanted to try it, but still… three of us couldn’t finish it!). It’s crazy. I think it’s going to be really difficult to emphasize this to my host family, too. And I don’t want to end up somehow insulting them. It’s not that I don’t like the food, it’s just that I’M FULL. I prooooomise.

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2 Responses to "Food and the Art of Loitering: Japanese Style"

Sam: I love that you are keeping a journal. Although, I’d love it even more if I could see you in a picture or two. (Not just your feet!) Have you tried the KitKat’s yet? Once you do, there’s no turning back.

Sam, How exciting! Those photos make me want to fly over to join you (unfortunately, I can’t). Too bad about your living dorms (fow now). I hope you get settled in with your host family by this weekend. It is great to see that you are sampling all the wonderful Japanese cuisine. My mouth is watering.

I wish I had something exciting to say other then I’ve cancelled the house I was building and have contracted on another house which is a little bigger and on one level (which will make it easier for Kelly). The latest house is still in the same community that I was going to build in. We are 1 1/4 miles from Robin.

Keep up the great blog. It is so interesting to read.

Love you,
Aunt Sandy

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  • Isa: No, there can't be two ninja dogs in Kyoto. But in April it was in Arashiyama! http://westwards.typepad.com/westwards/2009/05/fashionable-pets.html
  • Paula: Hey: I'm so glad you are swine flu-free. A little over-kill, don't you think? Anyway, I'm so glad you are enjoying your last few days there. Live it u
  • Paula: There's no place like home, there's no place like home!!! Can't wait to see you...we are counting the days.

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