Here I am. I finally have unlimited internet time (which is good, because I’m out of 100¥ coins for the moment) for an update. I’m in Shin-Yokohama, in a lovely and elegant hotel room, looking over this hilly section of Yokohama and marveling at how the thickest, greenest patches of trees are wedged in so gracefully with houses, warehouses, and train stations.
We arrived Sunday night after a very long flight followed by a very long bus ride from the airport to the hotel. Eventually, we found ourselves wandering around the block in a light rain, looking desperately for food. Luck brought us to Mer de Napoli a moderately priced (dining out can be super pricey in Japan) Italian restaurant that was still pretty Japanese. They played inexplicable salsa music and the cheerful interior was decorated like a seaside villa. I ordered iced tea with milk and it came with two tiny pitchers, one of creamy milk and the other with sugar syrup. It was delicious.
We spent yesterday napping, unpacking, and getting D ready for his first day of training (today). And then napping.
Today was my first day on my own and I was adventurous enough to leave the hotel and take a long walk around the neighborhood. I made it to a Circle K (!!) where I bought lemon water and barley tea. All by myself, without D, the miraculous translator man. His college Japanese is serving us very well. But it’s hard not knowing the language. You feel cut off, left out. I’ve been practicing, though. Here is what I know:
…the numbers, 1-10, except 7. I cannot for the life of me remember 7.
Of course, you all know that next to last one because of a certain 80s song (it’s going to be in your head all day now, I promise). Gomen nasei has proven very, very helpful to me as I’ve fumbled around counting money, stumbled around walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk, and generally bumped into people in my usual way. “I’m very sorry!” I squeak, again and again. I’m getting very good at it.
Kawaii, cute, (say it with lots of enthusiasm and really hold on to that “i-i” sound: Ka-wai-eeeeeeee!) is a good way to refer to almost every product for sale in this country. It is all so cute and a lot of it is pink and much of it folds up tiny or nests into other cute, pink, tiny things. But I haven’t started any serious shopping yet, even though there is a four story department store (Prince Pepe) attached to the hotel. The stationery section alone is enough to keep me occupied for a day or so. You should see the Snoopy notebooks! Kawaii!
So, I’m adjusting, even if I keep falling asleep at weird times of day and I choke up and keep thinking of French numbers instead of Japanese. And today, when I ended up in the sleek, black hotel elevator with two French businessmen, I finally had the perfect opportunity to speak a foreign language I know. So what did I do upon leaving the elevator? I bowed.