I thought it might be fun to start every one of these blogs with a specific Japanese word that I have found I use or hear most often in Japan. I’ll try to pick a word that relates well to the blog entry each time.
The day had started for me and Bianca a little bit differently than the other students in the study abroad program. Unlike most of them, we have chosen to arrange our own housing. We decided to do this in an attempt to both save money and enjoy an even more immersive Japanese experience. Because of this, while the other students were leaving for a “move in day orientation” me and Bianca decided to explore the area before we went to our temporary housing.
Right next to the hotel there was a long open mall of sorts. It was filled with lots of brand stores and restaurants. My mom asked me to keep an eye out for any funny phrases that are in English that don’t really mean anything, so this one is for you mom:
After walking around for a while, it was time for me and Bianca to head to our temporary housing. In order to do that, we had to ride the trains deeper into Osaka. This was extremely stressful, as Bianca has studied abroad before and was used to the European railways. According to her, the Japanese railways are far different and “don’t make sense.” It was an enormous task to move our luggage across town, and it was particularly difficult because the Japanese railways are very smooth running, and two foreigners struggling to get their luggage out of the way was not helping things run any smoother.
Either way, we made it on time. I also noticed an interesting tidbit: there are women only train cars on JR railways. They are not always designated as woman only, but they are there incase you, if you are a woman, feel unsafe riding the train with everyone else. Japan apparently does have an issue with train molesters known as “ちかん.”
After our train debacle, we managed to find our room with the help of some friendly local people. Thankfully, I knew enough Japanese to understand that the woman trying to help us was asking if we were renting a room from a man who owns a coffee shop, which we were. She was a huge help as we were not sure at all which building was ours. We had chosen the apartment because of its traditional style, and we were not dissapointed with what we got: a beautiful little apartment with tatami and futons.
After we had set our stuff down, we decided to explore the area a little bit. We ran into a very nice woman who had a huge impact on me. So much so that I decided it required its own post. You can read it here in a little side-blog honoring special people we meet along the way.
After that amazing experience, we continued our walk down the streets of our neighborhood. I noticed quickly than Japan has an extraordinary feeling of safety, even in its large cities. Children were playing in the streets, people were riding their bikes, and everyone was playing baseball by the river. That’s right, baseball by the river. The river near our temporary housing was lined with baseball fields, everyone being used by a team for something. The city just had a small town feeling, despite its huge size. As if everyone was looking out for everyone else.
After our walk, me and Bianca decided that we needed to eat. We decided to ask the person we were renting from where we could get the best food in the area. He told us it would either be “やきにく” or “おこのみやき.” We decided to go with “あきにく” which more or less translates to cooked meat. We went to the restaurant our renter suggested, but they turned us away. We weren’t exactly sure why. The person who told us to leave spoke so quickly the only thing we could make out was “sorry.” A bit discouraged, we then decided to go with “おこのみやき” which doesn’t have an English translation, but is pronounced “oh-ko-no-mi-ya-key.” We didn’t have a good idea what it was, but we were hungry enough to try anything.
Again, we went to the restaurant suggested to us. We were told it would be about an hour wait. Hearing this, we nearly turned away. However, we didn’t have any other suggestions of where to go so there we sat and waited. Thinking back, they may have been trying to get rid of us politely, as we were sat about 3 minutes after that. Perhaps they were worried they couldn’t deal with foreigners? Regardless, we then got a seat, and it turns out, おこのみやき is absolutely delicious!
It’s a sort of egg dish that can be cooked a lot of different ways. It’s very hard to explain, but the ones we tried were cooked with cabbage, noodles, egg, and some sort of sauce that looks like mayonnaise. The shop was run by three boys who were extremely nice to us. While we were eating, it occurred to me that they looked a lot like the kind of guy one would see in a boy band. I asked Bianca if they were pretty boys, and she agreed completely. Three boy band members working in a local food shop? Sounds like a movie premise. Anyway, here’s a cute picture of two of them:
In retrospect of the day, I suppose I felt a bit in the way. I had a hard time moving all of our luggage without causing trouble, and caused some hot dudes to have to use google translate a few times to ask if we wanted more water. However, everyone has been so nice and so understanding that even if I feel in the way now, I want to make an effort to help things run smoothly for everyone else in the future.
(That’s all for now)