Joi has kindly let me stay at the Lab in Meguro-ku, Tokyo this week while Fumi and I visit local companies to rally support for the iCommons Summit in Sapporo next July. I love Tokyo, and the area that I’m staying in is unreal. Along with the beautiful dark fiber network in the lab, there are equally unfamiliar things like the incredible ‘Three dog bakery‘ down the road (picture of doggie cakes left).
I’ve read a lot about Japanese people being over-polite and ‘crisp’, but I have loved every second of my interactions here.
When I arrived at Narita Airport, I was walking out of the bathroom when a lady stopped me to kindly and quietly pull my skirt from my underwear. ‘Sorry sorry,’ she said as I smiled at her and blushed and thanked her profusely.
The next evening when Fumi and I went to dinner at the soba restaurant that I demanded we eat at, the chef watched me intently as I drank my soup from the bowl and then rushed at me to kindly explain how to add the soba broth to it so that it wouldn’t be too salty. He ended up giving Fumi and I a pair of lovely paper fans that they were giving out at the traditional street dancing festival the night before.
Later, at the pharmacy, the young cashier first wrapped the tampons that I had bought in a brown paper bag and then painstakingly packed that and the other things I’d bought into another bag. When it didn’t fit perfectly, she giggled and blushed, and went to find another bag so that it would all fit at the bottom.
I feel a bit dumb most of the time because of my bad Japanese, but completely safe at the same time. If this is over-polite, then I’m very, very happy with over-polite – at least for now…
Picture: from www.threedog.co.jp/ (they don’t allow you to take photographs in the store and I just had to show you!)