Friday, November 13, 2009

10 Things I Thought I'd Never Do That I Do in Japan

1. Drink instant coffee. The coffee here is pretty mediocre all around, so instant coffee is about as good as everything else, and delightfully convenient. (I can imagine my former Starbucks coworkers shaking their heads in shame and disgust as they read this. My dad will likely disown me).

2. Ride a bicycle. It's hard, and we all know how I feel about exercise. Someone should have warned me that there are a lot of hills in Japan. Actually, I take that back; Japan is a fairly flat country. There are just a few hills, and they are all located between my apartment, the grocery store, and my place of employment.

3. Order "Two of anything" at a restaurant. Katie and I went to a restaurant with no pictures, English, or simple Japanese on the menus. We asked, but they didn't have chicken. So we looked up "anything" in my Japanese dictionary and ordered two. Not sure what we ate, but it involved a delicious meat that had a rather funky texture.

4. Pay roughly $15 a month for my cell phone! I don't understand why my phone here is so cheap. Did I mention it comes with a fancy schmancy Phone Ninja?

5. Forget basic French. Apparently there is only room in my brain for one foreign language at a time. Each time I learn a new Japanese phrase it replaces the old French one, though I still remember the French for which I haven't learned the Japanese equivalent. More problematic: if I'm trying to say something in Japanese, my brain switches to Generic Foreign Language Mode. This has forced me to create my own language: Franglanese. Last week in my Japanese class I said: "Watashi no heya o nettoyer." The beginning is Japanese for "my room" and the end is French for "to clean." Just great.

6. Put my fingers in a three year old's mouth. See my last blog entry for details.

7. Eat bags of chocolate breadsticks. This is becoming a real problem. In Japan, they sell bags of 8 ruler-sized chocolate chip-filled breadsticks that I think are intended to be snacks but which I consider to be breakfast, and sometimes lunch and dessert. I figure they're no less healthy than a doughnut, and a doughnut is an acceptible breakfast food, right?

8. Sing solo in front of strangers. I'm not just talking about karaoke (though I've sung there a few times); I also go once a week to a kindergarten (which is like an American preschool, made up of 10 different classes of 3-6 year old kids) where I perform for 15 minutes in front of 4 random classes, holding up flashcards and singing everything from "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" to "If You're Happy and You Know It." "The Wheels on the Bus" was a big mistake, because while the students can sing along to most songs, "The Wheels on the Bus" is far too hard for them, and I was left singing completely alone (they just chimed in for the "swish swish swish" of the wipers).

8a. Sing solo for an audience of one 3 year old. I have a new student who gets a private lesson, and not only is he adorable (he just turned 3) but he's smart and well-behaved and loves repeating whatever new vocabulary I teach him. His only (rather large) flaw is that he doesn't like the songs on the CD I have for my preschool classes. I taught him the words and accompanying hand gestures for the "Hello Song," and he did them perfectly. Then I started the CD, and he literally backed away from me and sat quiety on the other side of the room, just staring at me. However, when I sang the "Hello Song" myself he had no problem with it. This led to me singing "The ABCs," "The Eensy Weensy Spider" and "The Goodbye Song" as well. The 3 year old didn't mind, but I tell you it wasn't pretty.

9. Wear tennis shoes with work clothes. How very "Working Girl" of me. At my school, you always take off your shoes and put on work slippers upon arrival, so I quickly realized that it doesn't matter what shoes I show up in, as no one will ever see them. However, if you spot me on my bicycle on my way to work, you'll catch a flash of pink Reeboks as I cycle by.

10. Go several months without seeing a musical. I must be going through some sort of withdrawal, because in New York I think I saw a musical at least every month, if not every three weeks (wouldn't you say, Lorianne?) and here, well, I don't see any theater at all. I think the only reason I've managed to survive this long is, in one word, "Glee."


  1. I don't know what's worse - instant coffee or not seeing a musical in over a month!!!! I saw Memphis a couple weeks ago and it made me think of you. Broadway and the wine bar are missing you Meg! :) I need to know what a phone Ninja is. When you get back we need to have a theater marathon.

  2. Do you think they could do "The Itsy Bitsy Spider"? At least it has finger motions.

    Also, is #7 like Pocky? Cause that is delicious.

  3. Dude! Gimme your address and I'll send you some of the new VIA (Starbucks instant coffee!!) -JGRO