International conversations.


Last Sunday, I was on the train between my home station and 平和島 (Heiwajima). There was a family seated beside me and across from me: mom and dad, grandma, two little girls, and a baby (at least). They were discussing the next stop, and the oldest girl (who was no more than eight) said, “平和島は平和だ” (“Peace Island” is peaceful). That struck me as funny, so I looked across at her and said (in Japanese), “Precisely.” She gave a shy smile while the adults chuckled. Her younger sister finslly spoke up: “American?”

“Good guess!” I replied.

After another moment, the older girl moved across the aisle, sat down beside me, and said (in English), “Hello, nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, too,” I responded. “How are you?”

She had to double-check with mom on that one before coming back with, “Fine, and you?”

I told her I was okay, and we exchanged names (as is polite). It was about this time we arrived at our stop and got off: I was changing trains, and they were leaving the station.

While waiting to pick up some insoles in 梅屋敷 today, I stopped by a small restaurant across the street from the clinic to see what they’d set out for takeout. The owner and I started talking (in mostly Japanese), and I told him why I was there (plantar fasciitis). He said he had the same thing. After a short conversation, I told him I’d come back after buying my insoles to get something from him.

When I returned, I chose a small tray of garlic bread (hard to find here) and one with a hamburger patty and some tomato penne. The guy then proceeded to reach over and gave me a piece of house pizza by way of thanks for our earlier conversation.

While writing this entry on the train to work, an older Japanese gentleman noticed me typing and started (in English) talking about how much of a hassle it was to type in English. We ended up having a nice chat covering multiple topics until he got off at 田端.

Sometimes, people here are just glad to talk to a foreigner.

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