Come Grocery Shopping with Me in Rural Yamaguchi?

My first vlog! I recorded this months ago – probably six months or more. I’ve never posted it because it takes forever to upload videos to youtube… and because, to my ears, I sound wildly uncomfortable talking to the camera. I’m much more at home talking with my fingers on this keyboard. But since I’ve returned from China, my head has felt a little dead. I’m unfocused and distracted… and my writing is non-existent. China was an all-consuming, full-immersion experience, and I’m still dazed. The fuzzy haze around my thoughts is starting to clear, though, and by next week I should be doing some real updates on here. For now, this is a great excuse to unveil my first (and maybe only) vlog. So… come grocery shopping with me!

This is a video blog tour of my local grocery store, called Pikurosu (pee-koo-row-ss). I can walk there in less than a minute. In a strange way that’s probably not strange at all, my grocery store is one of my favorite things about where I live. I can’t speak very well to the (mostly) women that work there, but I know all of their faces and they all know mine. They even know what I normally buy. The first time I tried to ask if something had seafood in it (I don’t eat seafood), I stumbled on the new, still strange on my tongue Japanese so badly that the cashier had no clue what I was saying. It took me three or four times to not say exactly what I say in this vlog about beef (gyu – nan desu ka? = What is beef?) but instead ask is this seafood? Does this have seafood in it? Ever since that day, though, if I ever bring a bento to the front that has fish in it on accident, the person checking me out lets me know.

Sometimes I want to ask how his or her day has been, make small talk. Sometimes it frustrates me that I can’t. But most days I go in (I’m there 3 or 4 times a week), I’m okay with our limited conversation. They say the name of everything I purchase as they scan it, even though they know I don’t understand. They tell me the total, that usually I understand now. I pay, and I always politely decline the receipt and a bag – I’m okay, thank you. We smile at each other, and as I leave, there is the normal chorus of Thank You from every cashier. I always thank them back and head home.

There’s an infinite amount of comfort in this gentle routine, and I’ll miss it when I’m gone.

However, this vlog isn’t about my sentimentality with my store at all – it’s about how bizarre and overwhelmingly different a Japanese grocery store experience can be for a newcomer! Enjoy!

Side note: my car is there only because I had just come back from a run. I swear I’m not that lazy! …..most times. 🙂

~ by C on May 21, 2010.

4 Responses to “Come Grocery Shopping with Me in Rural Yamaguchi?”

  1. Okay, the strange yellow root looking thing that you showed us at the beginning of the video is ginger root…which incidently is also the thing you pointed out in the boxed lunches which was the pickled stuff you referred to. You generally eat that stuff with sushi. Okay, pretty impressed with your video….it was fun to watch and nice to hear your voice! Love you girl!

  2. hahahahaha you are the second person to tell me that. Let me use this moment to pull the, “Oh well, that was sooo long ago. Now I’m sooo experienced in Japanese ways” card. Did that work? Did you believe me? 🙂 Glad you enjoyed. It’s good to hear from you, Omaha Mom! I hope things are well there! I’ll be living in Kansas City for a while when I get back to the States in August, so maybe we can plan a rendezvous!

  3. Haha that was my first thought when I watched the video too. I love that you actually wandered around and asked people if it was beef. I bet they stared at you really funny. 🙂 I always felt that grocery shopping was a little bit like gambling. One time we bought a nice safe bag of what we thought was bamboo shoots in water. We cooked them up in lo mein only to find they were actually stringy mushrooms…EWWW I hate mushrooms. We made a point to learn the kanji for mushroom after that!

  4. I think that ALL of us should be forced to shop for a week’s grocieries just like that!!!!!!!! What a hoot!!!!

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