Christina and I arrived in Tokyo at around 8pm – and by the time we had settled down in our hostel (the trendy Inno Hostel) it was getting incredibly late, and we were starving.
So we roamed the streets of Uguisudani – desperately searching for some food. The guys and girls that managed the hostel recommended a sushi joint next to the local police station – we ended up at the place next to the place they had recommended.
It was here, where we realised how little English was used in Japan.
We walked into the small but cozy establishment, greeted by beautiful Japanese smiles. This was followed by a flurry of Japanese words, which we did not understand.
The Chef looked back at me, bemused.
I call this – Asian disappointment.
Let me side bar and explain quickly.
Asian disappointment refers to a phenomenon when Asians are travelling or backpacking around Asia – and the locals attempt to talk to you in their native language.
When you tell them you don’t understand – you receive a confused look in return.
It happened to me in Cambodia, and now in Japan.
It’s just a funny thing.
The chef motions us to sit down, and the waitress comes around and mimes at us, asking if we would like something to drink (we ordered a lime soda and Grape soju – fire).
Said Chef then pulls out a menu – entirely in Japanese – and beckons us to order some food.
And now you’re thinking, easy, there’ll be pictures that will allow you to discern what is what.
WELL SMARTY PANTS
THERE WERE NO PICTURES!
There were however, cute little cartoon doodles of meat, veggies and sushi.
So the chef begins to try describe the different dishes with hand gestures and key Japanese phrases – in the hope that we would understand.
We had no idea what was going, but felt terrible – so we just ordered the meal we thought he was most excited about.
And that did not disappoint.
A bunch of skewers with different types of fried meats, fish and veggies (so that’s what the cartoon doodles were about ey) were presented to us.
They were incredibly delicious – a great first meal in Japan.
So there we sat, downing our delicious meal – after causing a whole heap fuss with our lack of Japanese lingo – and we really wanted to tell the Chef how great his cooking was.
Then it occurred to me.
If only we had a device that could automatically translate any language in the world at the touch of a button.
I pulled out my Rose Gold iPhone 7 – translated some English to Japanese – and left the Chef smiling as we exited gracefully.
*it was not a graceful exit – I hit my head on the door frame – things are too short here.
Ryan Cheng is the founder of The 88, and is passionate about telling stories surrounding travel, culture and identity.
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