Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Roads to Sata

This one is definitely worth a mention. Any similar experiences?

...the woman at the ryokan door stood twisting her apron about in her fists.
"Are there any rooms free?" I asked with an encouraging smile.
"Well, yes, there are, but we haven't got any beds. We sleep on mattresses on the floor."
"Yes, I know," I said. "I've lived in Japan for seven years."
"And you won't be able to eat the food."
"Why, what's the matter with it?"
"It's fish."
"I like fish."
"But it's raw fish."
"Look, I've lived in Japan for seven years. My wife's Japanese. I like raw fish."
"But I don't think we've got any knives or forks."
"Look..."
"And you can't use chopsticks."
"Of course I can. I've lived in Japan for..."
"But it's a tatami-mat room and there aren't any armchairs."
"Look..."
"And there's no shower in the bathroom. It's an o-furo."
"I use chopsticks at home. I sit on tatami. I eat raw fish. I use an o-furo. I've lived in Japan for seven years. That's nearly a quarter of my life. My wife..."
"Yes," moaned the woman, "but we can't speak English."
"I don't suppose that will bother us," I sighed. "We've been speaking Japanese for the last five minutes."


The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan, Alan Booth

5 comments:

wim said...

thanks, you reminded me again that i really should buy this book.
Wonder if I could find it as an e-book ... hmmm...

Lex Van said...

Ah, that's my favorite part of the book, very nice :) I'll have to reread it soon!

Bob said...

The only experience I've had that runs along the same vein is when I emailed a ryokan asking about room availability. They responded to my email in Japanese and asked if I was a foreigner because of my name in the sender field.

"The rooms that you are inquiring about is very small. We are not sure if it will be to your liking."

I was put off, but chuckled at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Hhmn... Trying so hard to 'disqualify' her ryokan...

My first thought is "What is she hiding that she doesn't want any gaizin staying at her place?"

So the next question is "Were you actually able to stay at that ryokan? Or did you have to go to another one? Or did you have to stay at a Buddhist temple or foreign hostel in the area?"

ターナー said...

Not my experience - it's from the book The Roads to Sata. Alan Booth did manage to secure lodging there, but he has some other stories that are beyond rude (asking politely if they have lodging, only to not be spoken to and pointed out; two seconds later he called them on the phone and they answered "Oh yes! How many of you are there?") Granted, it was in the 70's, but we still see some of this go on; I might understand the inconvenience if he didn't understand Japanese, but that wasn't the case here.