Saturday, October 22, 2016

Postcard from Japan: Part Two, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016

Mama-san and I at Mos Burger

It’s fully light here by 6:00 a.m.  I miss that with Daylight Savings Time at home.  There is a 13-hour difference between Japan and Eastern Standard Time in the US.

When Mama-san and I walked to her bank on Saturday, I saw two butterflies--- a bright yellow about the size of a white cabbage moth.  It’s still rare to see flying insects of any kind here.  Then late afternoon today I saw a large butterfly that resembled a yellow and black swallowtail. I’m so glad to see these. 

I’ve been trying to encourage Mama-san to go out and walk with me.  Yesterday she stayed in her nightgown and bathroom all day long…. I finally talked her into getting dressed and going for a walk with me because I needed to go to Seiyu (again) for body lotion.  She even put on face powder and lipstick.  She is extremely unsteady on her feet and the shoulder of the roads (no sidewalks here) are always at an incline so the rain will drain off quickly.  With her flower printed cane, she walks with a little more confidence.

Mama-san and I with Kameda-san

Finally at Seiyu Departo, we walked through almost every aisle on the main floor because she hadn’t been there in a long time and many things had changed.  I found some lotion (Johnson & Johnson lime or apple scented--- US and European products are very popular and all are labeled in Japanese), paid for it and then we decided it was time to go to Mos Burger which has a very small restaurant on the first floor near the entrance.

Choosing the right kind of burger (baga as it’s pronounced) takes time.  We look at the pictures on the sign board and read the descriptions.  So, we’re getting: one hamburger with lettuce and tomato, one “roast tonkatsu” (deep fried pork steak with shredded cabbage), two French Fry sets and two cokes.  Well, surprise surprise.  The cokes are not Coca-Cola but some very odd, synthetic tasting dark carbonated liquid.  The fries are fabulous (no ketchup given, which is fine with me).  The hamburger with lettuce and tomato is drowning in dark watery tonkatsu sauce (yuck) and the burger is pork not beef (or maybe pork and beef), and is so slippery to eat that everything slips right out.  I leave the lettuce (which is really green green) in the paper wrapper and attempt to eat the rest.  Mama-san’s “Roast Tonkatsu” is the best find but oddly doesn’t have any tonkatsu sauce on it--- yeah!  So we swap burgers!  (I’m also trying desperately to swear off fried food, bread.  It’s really hard since the easiest food is fried and cheap white bread is everywhere.  Too American--- it’s scary.)

I see that they also serve hot dogs and there are two women down the row of tables eating them, one with what looks like everything on it.  I mentioned this to Mama-san and, because she has become hard of hearing, responds “Huh”?  I say it louder and more distinctly and she still is “Huh”?  I try again and she thinks I’m saying something about a dog that’s too hot or “hatto” which is a dove….  I search around in my purse (new one in which I still can’t figure out where things are) for pen and never finding one.  The woman at the next, very close, table hears the word “pen” and offers me her pen.  “Arigatoo!”  So I write the words “HOT DOG” on the place mat, subtly try to point to the woman down the row eating the hot dog, and still Mama-san doesn’t understand.  Oh well.  All we can do is laugh.

I always have my camera with me and I want to take a picture of Mama-san against the Mos Burger brightly colored poster.  Three pictures later she’s still not smiling.  I stand up and encourage her to stand so I can take her picture.  Finally, a smile.  Now she wants a picture of both of us together, of course.  So I turn to the young woman who loaned me her pen (I did return it to her) and ask if she would mind taking our picture.  Ureshii (so happy that she’s willing).  Then, of course, Mama-san wants a picture of me with this young woman and I attempt to explain what button to push and how to look at the display.  The first picture has our heads cut off.  The second attempt works.  Of course, then Mama-san wants a picture of herself with the young woman.  (Do you see where this is going?)  So I take the picture of both of them.  Then it’s a picture of the three of us.  An elderly woman in a rather amazing hat and layered wrap and multiple diamond rings walks up and says she’ll take our picture.  (I’m sure she was watching this comedy of errors unfolding the whole time.  Gaijin, the foreigner, that’s me, always stand out.)  Well, of course, you know the picture grouping.

My mother-in-law, being the social extrovert she is, then wanted the young woman’s name and address so I could send her a picture (I asked for her email address)--- Mama-san was really taken with her (Kameda-san--- “kame” is turtle and “da” or “ta” is rice field, so this family long ago had a rice field with turtles in it) and so we made copies of everyone’s address, phone #, name and more.  Even the older woman with the hat and wrap who, after hearing us talk, decided she wants to take English lessons with Mama-san.  All around, it was an amazingly wonderful afternoon.
Saito-san joins us in the pictures.

I asked Mama-san if she had ever heard the saying, “Just show up.  And the rest will take care of itself.”  So here was the woman didn’t want to get dressed or leave the house today, and look what happened.  All she had to do was show up at Mos Burger and the universe brought her joy and new friends.

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