Yesterday I went into Omiya, Saitama to meet my friend Kaori. I finally managed to take the bus to Takasaki station, so I didn’t have to tackle the 30 minute walk this morning. It did mean that I had to leave the house at 9:30 in order to be on time to meet her at 1p.m. though…
The bus route was kind of nice. There were lots of grannies who got on and off the bus, but it was kind of like a mini-bus and not really all that crowded. The baby seemed to enjoy it too and was kicking all the way – although I was listening to my I-Pod, so could have been that. Anyway, 45 minutes of rice fields later, I got to the station and then took the train for an hour and a half to Omiya.
Omiya is in the next prefecture and is fairly big, as the bullet train stops there and it’s fairly accessible to Tokyo. Just like Takasaki, the bullet train is responsible for much of the city’s growth. So we went to lunch at Capricciosa, which has a lunch set for 980 yen, including a pasta dish, salad, and an unlimited focaccia and drink bar. Kaori’s planning to go to England in August to study. She’d rather do an internship, but it’s tricky to find that without going through an expensive agency. She seems to be getting on ok though. I’ve been trying to help her, but can only really help out with language and areas. She contacted the British Council but of course they can only give information, not recommendations. Going through G.E.O.S. would be futile, because their Overseas section never recommend the U.K.
We talked about the fact that language is not the only problem, but how to communicate a point. Kaori’s found that she often gets slated in Japan because she’s started to communicate in an English way, that is, she’ll start with her point directly and then talk about the details. In Japanese, it’s usual to start with seemingly irrelevant details and then move onto the point, so her Japanese co-workers often get annoyed with her.
On the other hand, it seems that I have started to communicate in a Japanese way. When I was at the City Office a few months ago, I had to call the immigration bureau to ask about how to change the name in my passport, and they told me to call the embassy. When I called the embassy, I should have said:
“Hello, I’m a British Citizen who just married a Japanese Citizen and would like to know how I can change my name.”
What I actually said was:
“Hello, I’m now at the City Hall with my husband.”
Of course the woman on the other end of the phone (who was Japanese, but who I was speaking English too) was confused by the Japanese communication style in English, and got quite ratty. Most of the Japanese employees at the Embassy are really snappy, but that could also be because I’m used to the false niceness and maybe they only display that with a Japanese system of communication…
So all in all, Kaori will be fine when she goes to the U.K. and I will not be.
So after a brief wander around the shops and another cafe stop, we headed back to the station. Stupidly, we’d hit rush hour and it was six o’clock. Kaori got on the train back to Tokyo, and I got on the train back to Gunma (which was way more crowded with everyone commuting home from Tokyo). There are technically “priority seats” on the train. Above these seats is a huge sticker displaying a man with a pacemaker, a man with a walking stick, A woman carrying a child in her arms, and a pregnant woman. Now I’ve suddenly started putting on weight and my stomach is obviously pregnant in my mind. Added to this, I have a tag on my bag which displays a picture of a pregnant woman and says, “I am Mom”. So I thrust my stomach in their faces and my bag (holding the tag) and NOBODY got up. As far as I could see, from the six available seats, there was only one person who really should have been sitting there. Now I’ve sat on those seats before when the train is crowded, but I would always get up for an old biddy or anyone who fitted the description of the pictures detailed above. They all pretended to sleep or read. I felt quite disheartened. So I stood there for about 30 minutes until someone got off. Then when I sat down, the girl next to me looked annoyed because my huge bum was touching hers. I could have slapped her.
When we got closer to home, the sky suddenly turned purple and there was the most amazing thunderstorm. This worried me a bit, because I had no umbrella and my shoes were made of wool. It stopped about 20 minutes later though. The day had been really hot and humid, so it was inevitable really.
Anyway, I finally got to Takasaki station, and half ran for the last bus (at 7:20p.m….). Just seconds before I got there, it pulled away. I’d thought there was another at 8p.m., but then I realised it was going to a different station, so I went back to catch another train. Again, nobody offered me their seat..So I got to the station and did the 30 minute walk, which was really draining. I finally got home at 8:30, which meant I’d been out for 11 hours. Since I’d been so tired from the day before, I was really exhausted.
Yusuke was doing overtime and didn’t get home until 10:30p.m., so I was supposed to eat dinner alone, but I couldn’t be bothered to move from the settee..I ended up going to bed at about 1a.m., largely because of the messenger, but it was really nice to chat to everyone. I slept the sleep of the dead.