The Wild, Wild Wet

, , , , , , | Working | February 28, 2018

My dad traveled to Japan a while ago from the USA. When he was at a restaurant, he wanted to order fish.

He asked if some fish they had were wild fish or farm fish. In the US, some fish are caught in the wild, and some are from fish hatcheries where they were fed and raised for consumption.

His waitress didn’t know what my dad meant, and after a while she brought her manager.

My dad asked again whether the fish were wild-caught or farmed. The conversation went on for a few minutes.

After a while, the manager smiled and talked to the waitress in Japanese. Although my dad can’t speak Japanese, the conversation’s meaning was clear due to hand gestures.

The manager told the waitress that the stupid American was asking whether the fish were grown in dirt on farms (pretending to swing a garden rake and other farming motions), or if the fish were hunted in the wild by cowboys (as he pretended to throw a lasso)!

The waitress and manager both had a good laugh about that. My dad just ordered the fish.

The Culture Barrier Doesn’t Have To Be A Barrier

, , , , , , , | Related | January 27, 2018

As a college student, I spent a year studying abroad in Japan. I chose to live with a family, instead of in a dorm, to really immerse myself in using the language, etc.

My host family was lovely, and I found the differences between our cultures interesting, especially with food. We had traditional Japanese foods for lunch and dinner, but my host mother would often try to give me “American” foods mixed with Japanese foods for breakfast. One morning, it would be one sunny-side up egg, a salad, and a bowl of miso soup. Another day, it was yogurt, an egg, and a piece of karage (fried chicken). Another day, a bowl of rice and a couple pieces of bacon with toast. The combinations were endless! I thought it was sweet of her to want to give me foods from my home country, so I always just ate what she gave me.

My host father also had a thing about persimmons. He thought they were nature’s magic fruit, and would have one laid out for me each day when I got home from school. It didn’t matter if I was hungry or not, I had to sit with him and eat the persimmon, for my health!

We still keep in touch, and I hope to go visit them again soon! Also, I now occasionally have a small salad and an egg for breakfast.

Unfiltered Story #104097

, | Unfiltered | January 21, 2018

I had the opportunity to study abroad in Japan while I was in college. During our orientation week, one of the staff volunteers mentioned that those of us who were taller might get some extra attention, but not to worry about it. I didn’t think much about it, because I’m an average height by Japanese standards, until random events like the ones below started happening to the taller students in the group:

1) While visiting a Japanese onsen (public bath house), my friend (who was at least 5’10”) had just removed her robe and was about to step into the water (we’re both women, so we were on the women’s side of the onsen) when a tiny, elderly Japanese lady popped out of the water and hustled over to us, completely naked. I thought at first maybe we had forgotten to do one of the pre-bathing steps and she was warning us, but when she reached us she stretched up as far as she could and patted the air somewhere around my friend’s shoulder.
“Takai!” (big/tall) She giggled, and then quickly hopped back into the onsen where her friends were all cracking up.

2) Another friend of mine in the group (a man) was over 6 feet tall, and had long hair down to his shoulders. One day, we were waiting for a cross walk sign to change, when a group of Japanese middle school-aged girls ran up to me, asking if they could take a picture with him. I said they’d have to ask him, and he was usually a good sport about that kind of thing, so I ended up with five phones/cameras shoved into my hands to take pictures of them with my friend. I don’t know if they thought he was a celebrity or were just excited to take a picture with a tall foreigner, but they were so happy.

3) When the same male friend was going through the airport on a flight from Japan to Korea, he got pulled over to the bag inspection table, but when the customs agents pulled out a pair of his shoes they forgot about the check and instead spent a few minutes talking about how big big his shoes were! That was it, they didn’t pull anything else out of the bag.

Overall, there were never any negative encounters for my taller friends, except for maybe not fitting comfortably in some spaces, and house slippers never fitting.

The Needling Issue Doesn’t Have To Be

, , , , | Healthy | January 16, 2018

Due to a chronic condition, I needed to have a series of blood tests done, some of which required larger gauge needles than normal. I headed to the hospital closest to my apartment in Tokyo, waited to see the specialist, and got my notes to take to the blood draw lab reception.

The intake nurses were a bit flustered to be treating me, but my Japanese was good enough that I got through the first steps just fine. Then, I headed into the blood test room and the nurse there started telling me that the tests would hurt, the needles are pretty big, etc., and that in Japan, they don’t use skin-numbing cream. I assured her that I’d be fine, but she didn’t believe me and stomped out of the room to find a nurse that spoke English, despite the fact that we had been conversing in Japanese just fine.

I took off my cardigan, and my heavily-tattooed arms were now visible, right when the nurse came back, dragging a young doctor behind her. He looked at me and said to the nurse, “I think she’s okay with needles,” then burst out laughing as the nurse just gawked at me. Turns out I was the first foreign patient she’d ever taken blood from and she was terrified I’d flip out or faint because of the needles.

How To Be A Total As(thma)

, , , , , | Working | December 7, 2017

(I am five years old at this time. I have had trouble breathing, and so my mom takes me to the ER. Note that she is a nurse.)

Doctor #1: “What seems to be the problem?”

Mom: “She can’t breathe, and some of her symptoms are matching up to asthma.”

(The doctor examines me.)

Mom: “What is it?”

Doctor #1: “She’s fine. You can just take her home.”

Mom: “What? No! Look at her. Do you think she’s fine? I’m a nurse, and I can tell that this is asthma.”

Doctor #1: “Ma’am, I am part of the board of Asthma Awareness. She is fine.”

Mom: “No, she is not. If you will not listen to me, then I demand to see another doctor.”

Doctor #1: “Ugh. Fine.”

(My mom overhears this:)

Doctor #1: “[Doctor #2] We have one of THOSE moms in there. Just patiently listen to her and send her away.”

Doctor #2: *walks in and looks at me* “Oh my gosh! She needs to go to the ICU.”

(I went to the ICU. I made a full recovery, and my asthma was well controlled after I was diagnosed.)

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