When we were in Japan (words that continue to amaze me), communication was a challenge. In truth, beyond hello, thank you, bows and smiles (all of which go a long way there), it was more or less impossible. At least with people, you could so some mime. But in a convenience store…
Take a chance? Wind up with fried eel bones (which Paul ate and claimed to enjoy) instead of yogurt?
But I never tired of the signs written in earnest, endearing, endlessly creative not to say lyric English! The country-wide effort to conserve energy has resulted in lowered air conditioning and dimmer lights; in one store I read a sign apologizing for the “quenching of the lights”. In another, a closed cash register said, “This counter is stopping.”
At the gate to a temple graveyard, we found this notice:
At the Kyoto Museum of Modern Art, the catalog was clearly perplexed by some of the work on exhibit:
“An artistic disorder we have never known have brought us now ‘ruins of old styles’. Contemporary art of Japan, also in spirit of his own history and situation, could not be saved from this universal tendency.”
No matter! We ate bread called Smile Forever and drank coffee in the Pure Friend cafe. When I was young, I used to beg to be allowed to drop in the coins and pull the stopper to dispense my parents’ Winstons from the cigarette machine. In Japan, I could still buy these:
On our last day in Tokyo, we spent all afternoon in one of the students’ favorite spots, Yoyogi Park. Families, lovers, musicians, artists, poets, frisbee players and tiny, tiny dogs! And across the way, a street fair straight out of the ’60’s, with a message anyone can appreciate, if not quite translate.