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Monday, November 28, 2011

Hindsight: Our Biggest Fan

We left Tokyo and headed to Sendai via bus.  The bus would stop about every hour.

At the first stop, #1 got her first feeling for being a celebrity.  She got off the bus and a bus of Japanese school kids drove by.  They went nuts smiling and waving and pointing at her.  I think she loved it.

Between our first and second stops, I struck up a conversation with the guy in the seat across from us--I believe I've written about this somewhere, so I may have told this whole story before.  If so, forgive me, but many of the things that happened at the beginning of the trip had to wait to be shared because of all the internet problems there at first.

The guy was typing really fast on a QWERTY keyboard.  I was so impressed by this, so I leaned over and asked him if he was typing in English or Japanese.  He told me Japanese and then shared how it's done--turning English letters into Japanese kanji.  It also explains a lot about how Japanese people will write their language in English letters when on facebook chat.  You'd have to understand the language to get what I'm saying.  It's not always easy to read, but now I totally understand why the sound we'd write as "shi" to them is "si.," etc.

At the second stop, a cute little woman came back and very slowly said, "Konnichiwa" as if she were unsure that I spoke the language--a good guess since it'd been 20 years (except for the information desk at the airport and the fast typing guy).  I responded and the conversation began.  She asked me where I was from.  I told her.  She asked why we were there.  I told her that too.  Her response was so cute--"Really?  Oh, that makes me want to cry.  Thank you so much!"

Before the next stop, she snuck back to us four Americans and handed us each a hard candy with kind of a butterscotch flavor to it and went back and sat down.

At the third stop, she came back again.  "I have nothing to give you to show my gratitude for what you're doing, but I'd like to introduce you to everybody and tell them why you're here, so they can all clap and cheer for you.  Is that okay?"

What?!  No way--was what I thought, but that probably wouldn't be very nice to say.  As politely as I could, and with as much of my rotten Japanese that I could muster, I told her "No thank you.  That's not why we're here, but thank you for the offer.  It's very kind of you."  She went back and sat down.

Oh, so I have to share a little detail that I forgot about fast-typing guy.  After the lady asked where I was from and went back to her seat, he leaned over to me and said, "You're from Oregon?"  I said yes, and he said, "Oh, I've been to Oregon.  I went to school for my masters at New York University.  On my way there, I went to Oregon."

My response to hearing this was, "WHAT?!  You speak English?  Then why are we speaking Japanese?!"

So, after the lady offered to make a public display of us, I leaned over to fast-typing guy and asked, "Was that rude of me?  Did I handle it right?  Did I come across rudely?"

He assured me that I had responded just right.  PHEW!

When we arrived in Sendai, she came back again.  She handed me a small package of tissues.  She explained, "This is all I have.  I want you to have it.  It's cute.  Isn't it?  Thank you so much for coming!"

I accepted it and thanked her and agreed that it was cute.
Mine was all pink with a cute drawing of a fish on it, but this gives you an idea.

We got off the bus at the station, fast-typing guy said good-bye and handed me his business card and public display lady continued to follow us around for a little while.  She was just SO cute!   After that, she was referred to as our biggest fan.

What a great and funny start to our adventure!

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