We arrived in Japan late at night with very little idea of what to expect. We got a train outside of Osaka towards our air bnb. This was the most beautiful traditional style building with a lovely garden and very traditional sleeping arrangements. Behold tatami mats and futons on the floor- this is JUST what I wanted!!
After a good, but hard sleep we woke up to breakfast included. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind- think I’ve gotten a bit used to the Balinese banana pancakes. So the home owner’s elderly mum served us some cheese sandwhich soup (I am convinced that was the flavour), a yakult, a sushi triangle and some miso soup. She spoke zero English and served us speaking constantly in Japanese. No gesturing at all, I haven’t a clue what she might be saying, or what my facial expressions might have been saying back. She asked if we wanted soup… well actually she spoke for 3 minutes in Japanese at us and pointed at a small bowl. I thought she was asking if I wanted a bowl for my sushi triangle. I nodded and said yes but it wasn’t computing… for either of us. Eventually she just got on and made it.
So after a hearty breakfast we went back to the train station and attempted to get to Nagoya. This was near enough impossible. Fortunately my friend speaks Cantonese and he can decipher some characters of Japanese, he is also very quick at character matching (even when he has no idea what they say). To get a ticket on the fast train (which is what we thought we had bought) you don’t just need one train ticket- but two. We thought for a moment we were getting a good deal. We went for the slower one- which interestingly is still called a rapid service. Frustrations were high when communication and understanding was so minimal. I really didn’t expect the Japanese to speak so little English.
Even the currency isn’t clear. They do not say Japan or yen on them in English so when mixed with other currencies I couldn’t be sure what I was holding. There are some coins which don’t even have a digit on them! It could be a random piece of metal for all I know! There will be lots of standing and staring into my purse in this trip!
The supermarkets are also totally baffling! It’s extremely hard to figure out what things are and there is no English written on anything. I choose things simply by guess work. It takes me three times as long to choose food or drink! and believe me I take a long time to make decisions as it is!!!
We got to Nagoya in the end. It felt like a lifetime but we made it. We even made it out for ramen and some drinks.