Friendly izakaya


Today in class, I was going over body parts with some 5th grade boys, and pointed to my nails. “What are these?” I asked innocently enough. After a short conference, one of the boys blurted out, “Clothes!” I giggled, “No, that’s this,” and tugged at my shirt. He looked confused. Short conference. Then, very clearly, “CLAWS.” One of the other boys pointed at a picture of Sully from Monsters, Inc. Indeed, he did have claws, and they were labeled as such. I had to draw a distinction between claws and nails, which was pretty fun.

My Mondays run from 330 to 9pm, which isn’t great, but not terrible. After work today I was hungry and tired, so I decided to be brave and hit up some random izakaya close to my apartment. I went by several, and finally landed on one located on the street that leads directly to the nearby Hachimanju shrine. It sounded well populated, so I knew the food had to be edible at least. The two women working there were incredibly friendly, and prodded me with questions in mostly Japanese which I mostly didn’t understand. I ordered the soba, and the women seemed surprised when I chose hot rather than cold (frankly, I only ordered it hot because I don’t know the word for cold). They made me promise to get the cold soba next time (which they guaranteed was tastier), and were pleased to find out I knew how to eat it.
We all did the best we could, and they said my Japanese was good (not true), and that my use of chopsticks was excellent. There was a group of salary men in the back (I sat at the bar) making a ruckus and having a good time. One of them came over to ask for something, and started talking to me instead. He called me cute, complimented my Japanese, asked where I was from, and jokingly suggested that he take English classes at my school. The second time he came over, he asked for napkins (they just use tissue boxes for that here, occasionally), and chatted me up a bit more, this time complimenting my nose.

Soon, his buddies got up and started filing out. Each of them either shook my hand or wished me a good night in English (or both) as they passed me on their way to the door. It was very quaint, and perfectly good natured, and the two-woman staff seemed to enjoy it very much.
At that point I was the last patron in the restaurant, so I asked for the bill and was told my total was 500 yen (about $5). I paid and was about to leave when the cook asked in Japanese if I ate onigiri. I sid yes, and she told me to wait while she wrapped up two onigiri for me as a gift. I bowed about a dozen times on my way out the door, and promised to come back. They close at 11pm.


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