Stage One of Culture Shock “Euphoria” – underway!

We have a home in Nagoya! At least the paperwork is going through for us to move in on the 19th of June!! It is in a hilly and quite green (for nagoya) suburb called Kakouzan which is about 15 minutes by train to Superman’s station in the centre of Nagoya – we are really happy with it and pictures will follow when we get back to Sydney.  We spent yesterday being given a tour of the area from restaurants to pharmacies and supermarkets.We are getting quite confident about using what little Nihongo we know because if you try even slightly people will happily take your stilted grade 1 vocab and your insane gestures and work out what you are saying. When we were in the pharmacy I took some items to the counter and made my first purchase in Japan (Superman has been holding the money and doing it mostly lol) and the phrases we had been taught really worked hehe! The lady at the counter responded in Japanese (instead of breaking into English as most people do) and asked me if I had a loyalty card and if I would like some coupons for next time – I choose to believe she thought I lived here teehee. BTW getting the yen thing down is quite easy if you think of the yen as cents – it so happens that one yen = about one australian cent atm (and milk and groceries are about the same as in Sydney – 269 yen for 2 litres of milk for example or 315 yen for half a dozen free range eggs) but even if it did not it helps to think of them that way to get your head around the huge numbers you are working with. There is no such thing as the japanese “dollar” they simply speak in cents.
Last night we found the most AMAZING restaurant in the Fushimi district called “Show Ryu”. We were walking down a road closed to traffic, which is kind of like China Town in Melbourne with lots of restaurants, and I heard some saxophone coming from somewhere – we followed it up some stairs found a restaurant with a menu out front with NO ENGLISH or even romaji except for “Charcoal Grill and Sushi” and “modern japanese cuisine” so, of course,  we ventured in. It turned out the sax was not live but the food was AMAZING – particularly a mackerel sushi which was very very lightly seared on their charcoal grill so there was a slight smokey/char flavour to it. The lady who greeted us at first did not speak English to us but was patient and sweet as we did our best to order. “what is the fish of the day” became “today, what is fish?” hehe and then when she said it we realised we didn’t know what the Japanese names of fish were so we got it down to a white fish and a blue fish (which turned out to be red bream which IS kind of blue!) Each time she returned to the table she ventured a little more English  – she didn’t have much but by the end of the night we had communication going well! It turned out that her name was Yoko and she and her husband were the owners and her husband the sushi chef whose food we were complimenting. I asked her if she could slowly tell me the japanese name of the fish we were enjoying so much and she did and then returned a little while later with the names written down in kanji, hiragana and English so I could find them at a “sakana ya.” (fishmonger) We will be going back on Friday night to try some more of his delicious dishes!

At the moment Superman is off buying a nintendo DS because you can get Japanese dictionary programs in which you can use the stylus to draw in kanji and it will translate it for you! Of course he won’t be buying any games to play at all hehe!

Tonight we are going to a restaurant recommended by some other Toyota guys called “Szechuan Restaurant Chen” – the Nagoya restaurant of “Iron Chef Szechuan” Chen! It will be a big change from the subtle delicacy of Ryuji’s food but I’m sure it will be wonderful!
Superman’s colleague will be waiting at the lift soon so I’d better get ready – ja’a mata!

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