This month, Craig and I passed the 18-month mark since our move to Tokyo. Sitting at dinner on Sunday, we couldn’t believe fall was almost upon us. It’s flown by so fast, but what I realized had happened since my six month and one-year posts is that I’ve learned to relax a lot more. I’m able to laugh off my mistakes and confusion instead of letting them keep me inside the house the entire next day.
No matter where you move, starting over somewhere new is bound to bring with it a collection of little mishaps and challenges as you learn to settle in and navigate your new community. It’s not a matter of not caring anymore about getting it right. I’m just at a place now where I know I can’t be perfect at this. For a type-A person like me, that’s a tough pill to swallow some days, especially since Catholic guilt is real and I tend to stay up all night rethinking everything.
So, without further adieu, here are the top-13 (lucky number 13) mishaps that only ended up strengthening my resolve and adding to the collection of memories we’ll cherish from our time in Japan. Enjoy learning some cultural tidbits and have a good laugh:
- At a nice restaurant that didn’t allow shoes to be worn during the meal, putting on the slippers that were meant for the bathroom and heading to our table.
- Standing in stunned silence after the time I attended a meeting that was adjourned in the traditional way, referred to as tejime, with everyone chanting and clapping in unison.
- Getting on the wrong subway line and having to ask the station attendant to reset my train pass so that I can try again.
- Handing my credit card to a cashier with one hand instead of two, an act so rude that I might as well have just thrown it at her.
- Blanking on all my vocabulary when asked the most basic, moment-of-truth question: “Do you speak Japanese?”
- Tripping and falling in a crosswalk. In the new pants I just had altered to avoid tripping. On my birthday.
- Burning my mouth on tea in front of my host. Multiple times.
- Buying the wrong protein for a recipe — or any ingredient really. This happened tonight.
- So. Many. Mispronunciations.
- When the cashier counts your money for you, because you’ve gotten too flustered and confused.
- Having to return several items of clothing because I’m “American small,” not “Asian small.”
- Being scolded for wearing shoes into the changing room while shopping for said clothes.
- Not knowing how to eat certain foods and having to creepily stare at the stranger next to you to see how they do it.