Friday, April 4, 2014

Japan Trip Part VII: The Coffee Shop/Communicating Without Words

I'm never been so into Japan that I've wanted to move there. In fact, until a few months ago I was content with the idea of never even visiting the place. It simply wasn't a priority.

That said, having spent time there I couldn't help but take note of how well I would be able to survive there, assuming that employment was not an issue (a big assumption). Having spent some time without Lindsay there to interpret for me, I actually think I would be able to make due despite the language barrier.

First, I should note that in my experience many Japanese people are a bit intimidated by foreigners. In fact, calling back to my previous post, when we went to get food at the restaurant in the onsen I watched out of the corner of my eye as the lady meant to be our waitress started to approach our table... then kinda freaked out a bit and went to get her superior to take our orders. It was kinda cute, but also a bit sobering.

Luckily, mutual patience and politeness made most such encounters pleasant for everyone involved, even if we couldn't speak to each other.

For instance, most mornings I would walk down the hill from our house to visit the nearby coffee shop for breakfast. It's lovely how much you can communicate with simple gestures: pointing at things, a questioning look, a bow, a smile... these were the tools I had to work with.

That said, Japan loves to hide things inside their food. Rice balls are the more common culprit, though I didn't eat any of those. Instead, my surprise was reserved for things hidden inside bread.

Quick tip: if it costs less than 100 yen, it's probably just a plain roll. Anything more, something's in there. If you can't read the sign next to it, then either pass or get ready for an adventure.

I've bitten into rolls filled with some sort of cream, cheese, meats, and who knows what else. I'm adventurous in many ways, but not so much with food; eventually I stuck to plain rolls and combinations with their ingredients plainly visible on the outside instead of the inside.

For instance, at a nearby bakery they sold bread twisted with bacon, which was pretty tasty and cheap.

Anyway, between my grasp of katakana, my ability to point and grunt, and the fact that many signs and such include English anyway, I'm pretty sure I could at least survive in Japan for a while. However, I'm pretty happy to stay in the US instead.


  1. "Quick tip: if it costs less than 100 yen, it's probably just a plain roll. Anything more, something's in there. "

    ^ my new favorite charlie quote

  2. One of my favorite morning snacks ended up being a bread roll with chocolate cream inside from the 7/11 directly across from our hotel.