Sasebo and Pomatomus

So I'm in Japan. Sasebo to be exact. I love it here. I haven't gotten to roam very far. I'm really too tired at the end of the day, but everything I need and want is at my fingertips. I also get to pass through the Navy Base twice a day so if and when I get a little culture overwhelmed I can find a little slice of home.

I found a restaurant immediately beside our hotel. It is one of those grill in the middle of the table places (yakinoki as my local informants tell me, though I'm not sure I spelled it right). I say I 'found' it because even though it is right beside the hotel, none of my co-workers have eaten there and none that came before us that I know of. They all just kinda glossed over it. I think it is in an effort to explore. To some it means moving a lot and taking a lot of samples. To me, exploration means becoming intimately familiar with a few.

Anyway, back on track. So I had a wonderful dinner with some co-workers. One of my big intimidating bosses (who it turns out is not so scary), and two new guys from Norway here to install some new systems. It was a really excellent visit, satisfying meal and left me in all around a great mood. The front of the restaurant is western style with booths. However they took us deep into the back of the restaurant, the Japanese style seating. It is still like a big booth, but you are sitting cross-legged style or on your knees on mats.

I have begun a tour of Asian social services. Accidentally of course. It turns out I lost my passport in Singapore which resulted in a tour including a local police station, the US Embassy and the immigration offices. Now I am in Sasebo and I ended up visiting a hospital this afternoon to get an infected fingernail checked out. I got to spend an hour with the ship's Agent (who is a very nice and friendly man) sitting in a waiting room and learning a little Japanese. I walked away with a prescription for antibiotics which has my name in Japanese characters on it. I like that I got my name in characters from the hospital. I've been wanting to know what my name was, but I was afraid they would get it wrong or rip me off by giving me Mary or something. It seems more official from a hospital.

The little things that are different here are what really get my attention. The fact that they change the plant arrangements on every floor of the hotel every week. Many places won't take your money until you place it in the tray. When they do have to hand you items like credit cards, room keys, receipts, they do it with two hands. They can't seem to decide what side of the sidewalk they walk on. Sometimes it is the right and sometimes the left. I was actually in two different subway stations in Tokyo last time I was here and the one I boarded on had arrows on the left (where they drive, not surprised) but where I disembarked they had arrows on the right (what?).

On the knitting front. My Pomatomus socks with the gifted yarn (love you Jolene!) has been my project. I turned the heel and was about to begin the pattern up the leg when I noticed I had somewhere lost 6 stitches in the lace pattern. Six! How the hell did I lose six stitches? I couldn't figure out how to solve it so I ripped it out and started over. I'm not really hurt about it because there were all kinds of mistakes and I'm glad they will be better, but you know... It always hurts to rip it out.


vagabond bettie said...

I know what you mean about getting your name in Japanese and wondering if it's the "right" name or not. I always wonder when I see an American with a Japanese tatoo if the wording they thought was peace or something nice actually said "screw you stupid american"!

brandilion said...

A friend of mine bought a T-shirt along those same lines. It apparently says stupid white tourist or something and another that says taking applications for Japanese girlfriend.

I don't know if that is what they really say or not, but he always gets laughed and pointed at by Japanese when he wears them.