Sunday, February 22, 2009

Japan Town - San Francisco

edible crepes, karaoke bars and dodgy ramens…

…all seem but a distant memory as I embarked on a New Year tour of California, stopping off at none other than Japan Town, San Francisco.

Not quite Japan but it was the nearest I could hope for having negotiated with my better half that the Land of the Rising Economic Crisis will be next on our ‘must do’ travel hit list.

A man of simple pleasures, probably the highlight of my trip was spending half a day in the Kinokuniya Book Store. Wall to wall bonafide Japanese books, magazines and comics written in actual Japanese by actual Japanese people, I didn’t know where to start.

Using what Kanji knowledge I had I could just about negotiate myself around the store and I amused my self as Japanese shoppers gave me somewhat quizzical looks as I happily flicked through some of the Japanese books on offer.

After ‘investing’ a modest sum in the whole manga series of Death Note my work here was done.

Japan Town (or J-Town to the locals) is a curious place, not quite a full blown town but more a shopping mall with a few surrounding restaurants and supermarkets. The focal point is a quite spectacular white pagoda which appears to be some sort of congregational area for mainly young white kids to prance around to J-Pop while stuffing their faces with ‘Pocky’ sticks. Something to do on the weekend I suppose.

As our time drew to a close I did feel slightly frustrated at only being able to exchange pleasantries with the Japanese locals. Coming from central England, contact with Japanese people is non-existent so this was a rare opportunity to try out what Japanese I did know.

The experience only cemented my desire to learn this remarkable language and I promised myself that the next time I returned or went to Japan I would be highly proficient, perhaps even fluent…lets aim high!

Qu: Have you ever been to Japan? If so, was it what you expected?

1 comment:

igor said...

That's cool that you've got that goal. The same thing happened to me. I went to Japan after a bit of Japanese study for an exchange trip. It sucked because, like you said, I couldn't really communicate fully. Now, I'm more determined than ever to be fluent before I return.