Sumimasen, English Is Hard: Japan Day 5, a Travel Log

The dreaded day had finally come: the day we were to teach two college-level English classes at Wayo Women’s University. Let’s just say I did poorly and leave it at that. I was expecting a class of ten or more and there were only three students, meaning that the opening warm up game didn’t work.

I stood there numbly, wracking my mind for a way to make the game work. It finally worked, but boy was it rough. I was sweating. After that misdemeanor, it smoothed out. Thank goodness. Still not good, but you know, whatever. It was a good experience, I guess.

The view from the 15th floor of Wayo Women's University
The view from the 15th floor of Wayo Women’s University

Directly after coming back from the university, I had my first meeting with my one-on-one student, Kami’s boyfriend (let’s call him Ramen). We took the train to her school. I was a bit sick because I took Advil on an empty stomach, but I bought a milk tea at the station and getting some sustenance in me took care of that by the time we reached our stop.

Kami introduced me to a tasty Japanese treat called taiyaki. It’s a pastry shaped like a fish that’s traditionally filled with red bean paste. Near the place we were going to meet Ramen there was a taiyaki shop which boasted a new chocolate flavor, so I got that one. Yum. It was the first Japanese sweet I had in Japan, oddly enough. It’s not like I’ve been avoiding them or anything.

These Japanese sweets might be the death of me. Thank goodness there isn’t a taiyaki place close to where I’m staying, or I would make myself sick with them, they’re so good.

Walking in Waseda with Kami towards the taiyaki shop.
Walking in Waseda with Kami towards the taiyaki shop.

We met in a coffee shop and had our first meeting. Ramen is very nice and our talk was a lot of fun. I’m excited for our next meeting.

I took the train back but one stop before getting back to Kanamachi, I wasn’t sure which train was going which direction. So, like the intrepid explorer I am, I asked the station guy standing on the platform: “Sumimasen, Kanamachi?” (there’s no real translation, as it wasn’t really a sentence. Just “Excuse me” and the name of my station.) and gestured to the train. He responded, “Hai, hai, Kanamachi.” (or something. Literally, “Yes, yes, Kanamachi.”)

Laugh at my Japanese if you wish, but it was the most successful communication in Japanese I’ve had to date.

In Japanese McDonalds, you can order a smile for 0 yen.
In Japanese McDonalds, you can order a smile for 0 yen. Right under #13.

I made it to the Kanamachi Station, but I still didn’t know how to get back to the house from the station. The town spreads out around the station and I especially didn’t want to go wandering off on the wrong side of the tracks (not “the wrong side of the tracks” in the sense that one side is more dangerous than the other, but I didn’t want to get any more lost than I already was, and in the dark nonetheless).

Why are you so cute, devil shoes? How I long for the day when you no longer pinch.
Why are you so cute, devil shoes? How I long for the day when you no longer pinch.

So I found a Starbucks, ordered a mocha, and with their wifi, I used Google Maps to figure out how to get back. That was more difficult than I thought it would be. I had walked that street extensively just the other day, but I didn’t know what any of the businesses were called. I know I had passed a building with a fence with flowers painted on it. I had assumed it was a kindergarten, but I didn’t know for sure.

Finally, I found the convenience store on that street and set the directions to take me there. Impressively, Google Maps worked the entire walk; the dot even followed me and the cursor pointed me in the right direction the whole time. Very impressive, since there isn’t wifi in the street. If you plan on traveling, I would highly recommend downloading the Google Maps app beforehand. I’ve only used it once, but it got me where I needed to go with no trouble.

The moon!
The moon!

I was still in my Wayo Women’s University clothes. Tights, dress pants, and the beautiful but horribly uncomfortable shoes I always end up wearing (tricksy shoes. Luring me in with their pretties, and then eating my feet). I hadn’t planned this well. I had to walk all the way from the station to the house in these pinchy shoes, after barely tolerating them all day. I made it, one step at a time. I just pretended I was a Japanese businesswoman coming home late from a hard day at the office, and it was okay.

My celebration udon.
My celebration udon.

I made it home. It was already almost 7pm, so I changed my shoes and went out to find some food. I bought a bowl of udon noodles, which the combini (convenience store, but better) checker heated up for me. I ate it in perfect bliss. When S and R came home, we talked about Quakerism, religion, ghosts, UFOs, and reincarnation. I talked in perfect bliss, too. Those are my kind of topics.

Well, to bed. Class comes early.

A/N: If I ever need to dress up and go places, I’m going to bring another pair of shoes with me. Walking in those high heels all day took some serious mental focus and breath control techniques.



2 thoughts on “Sumimasen, English Is Hard: Japan Day 5, a Travel Log

Add yours

  1. Japan sounds very interesting! I’m going there with my friends for a holiday this May and I’m hoping it’ll be a blast! The schools there sound very interesting too and I do hope an opportunity arises for me to go for an exchange there 🙂

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