This past weekend, we discovered that both of us have been using our hashi incorrectly. Now we look like idiots that have their own fancy collapsible chopsticks but haven't a clue how to use them. Feh. We'll get better, it will just take some practice.
Last night we went to a restaurant upstairs from the Grocery Ox where our server was a tiny old lady that didn't speak any English and tried very hard to explain to me exactly how I was supposed to eat my meal, but I don't understand enough Japanese to get it.
It kind of looked like this, plus a teapot of broth and a bowl of veggie tempura (plus one giant shrimp)
She stopped by the table more than once to encourage me (and giggle at me, for which I can't blame her, I'd have giggled at me too). She wanted so much for me to understand, and for that I'm grateful. I think by the end of the meal I figured out what I should have done, and it was tasty, so I think we might go back there sometime. I think I was supposed to add the broth from the teapot to the cup of soy sauce, then dip a bite's worth at a time into the cup, but I can't be completely certain.
In other news, we're busy this week with the Japanese Headstart Program. It sounds ridiculous, like kindergarten or Orientation, but it's great. We're getting a pretty serious crash course in Japanese vocabulary, grammar, useful phrases, history, culture, and anything else that comes up. We have two teachers that trade off a couple hours at a time (class is 8am to 4:15pm), and they're both hilarious. At the end of the week we'll have a field trip to a castle, and it should be pretty neat.
Today's New and Exciting Beverage: Melon Cream Soda. I approve of this drink; oishii desu.
Tonight we went to Denny's. Just to see.
It is absolutely nothing like the Denny's in the States. The Mew had a plate of mango waffles that were proportioned like the photo, but were half the size of an American serving and an ice cream/fruit/gelatin cube dessert that was full of yummy. I pointed at a salad and something that looked like baked veggies with french fries, but it turned out that the entree came with a seasoned beef patty (Salisbury steak or whathaveyou) underneath, so the Mew got that part. The entree came with a side of bread or rice, so we both had enough to eat. Overall, I approve and I'd go back to try more things, because it's all so very different from the starch-with-side-of-high-fructose-corn-syrup we're used to.
Something I haven't mentioned yet - the servers, while excellent, do not check on you while you're eating. This isn't because they're inattentive, it's because more often than not your table is equipped with a summoning button, and whenever you press it they yell their acknowledgment and hustle right over to address whatever request you have. It speaks to the Japanese work ethic that they're all very good and efficient and pleasant, just not motivated by tips. There is no tipping here; if you leave money on the table, they will run after you to give it back.
One day I'll even be able to read and speak and figure out what the hell is going on around me. That will be a good day.