Not as a society or culturally. But even after six years here, I'm still a stranger in a strange land. I know most of it has to do with not knowing Japanese. Yes, I've been here for more than half a decade and my Japanese level is still the same as it was when I arrived. Maybe even worse. But that is (or is not) another post. I admit that sometimes I am afraid to go out my door.
A lot of times, especially on weekends, I create a little bubble around myself. Most of the time it isn't on purpose. I just get to watching movies or TV, listening to music, reading, and it is all in English. Then it's a quick jaunt to 7-11 and I'm reminded I'm half a world away from where I grew up as soon as the clerk opens her mouth to welcome me to the store.
It's this fear and dislocation that often prevents me from trying new places. Case in point was Cafe Ange, a little coffee shop only a few hundred meters away from the door to my apartment's lobby. I have passed by numerous times and always told myself I would go in. Months passed and I never did. Last week I plucked up my courage and went in. The inside was very beautiful, although how you can mess up a BLT sandwich is beyond me. The point is, I had to force myself to go. Sure, it's a little cafe but when you can't read or pronounce 90% of what's on the menu, it's a daunting task.
I've realized that since I've been married, I rely on Yoko quite a bit; possibly more than I should. Living on my own, I was forced to interact with postal clerks and waiters. Now, I just put off what I need to do until Yoko and I can do it together. That's not good. I need to regain a bit of my independence. But when someone makes your life easier in a foreign land, you find yourself leaning on them more and more.
I'm not blaming her. Also, I love Japan, as many of my friends (here and abroad) will attest to. But I admit I sometimes have to make a conscious effort to get out the front door.
As always, thanks for reading.
|Not my lunch at Cafe Ange. This is a nice breakfast at Primavera.|