July 30, 2013

Lost in Mizue...

Technically, I'm never really lost any more since I have an iPhone with Google maps.  However, I still get emotionally lost in Japan.  Like today. 

It's not the best weather.  It's hot and sticky but since I hibernated all winter, I think it's best to ride as much as possible during the summer.  I rode on Sunday.  I didn't ride Monday because it rained all day.  Today I had plans to meet a friend at a faraway station.  It's not all that far, 9km or about 5.5 miles.  This would be the perfect opportunity for a ride in which I could explore new areas!

As I was riding, the bike was wobbly.  I shook it off and continued to ride.  Finally, I couldn't handle the wobble any longer and checked the situation.  The back tire was, of course, flat.  Now at this point, I could have turned around and walked the bicycle back home to my familiar area where I could at least fumble though getting it fixed.  That being the sensible thing you can guess that, of course, I didn't do it.  I continued to walk thinking "This is Japan!  Everyone cycles!  I'll run into a cycle shop soon!"  I didn't.  I walked all the way to Mizue Station.  I continued past Mizue Station.  Now, stop and ask me if I wore sensible shoes.  The answer is, of course, no.  I thought "Hey, I'm biking!  I don't HAVE to wear sensible shoes because I'm not walking!"  Sensible, obviously not the word of the day.

So I continued on past Mizue not knowing I walked right past a bicycle shop (nestled in the station) not to mention a Don Quixote.  I did find a shoe shop and some cute (more sensible) shoes which were unfortunately not in my size.  It was about this time that I had a break down.  Thinking I would never find a bicycle shop, I started to sob right there next to Jonathan's.  I texted my boyfriend and a friend for help but it turns out the friend I was supposed to meet came to rescue me.  She came to Mizue Station.  She told me to chill in a cafe (I think everyone needs a friend who will tell you "Man just chill in a cafe").  I chose Doutor which is easy to find and right by the station.  She came to the coffee shop and even though I was resting and trying to calm down as soon as I saw her, I started to cry.  She told me not to worry, we would find a place.  She asked one of the workers who said there was one real close by, of course.  We had coffee and tea and I finally stopped crying. 

After, we walked the bicycle literally across the street to the bicycle shop.  They flipped the bike over and the rear tire was shredded.  They said they could patch or replace.  I said replace it.  They said 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, we walked to a flower shop next door which had a large variety of plants (I'll blog about my purchases later).

We returned to the bicycle shop.  They had, as promised, put a new tire on.  In addition, they fixed my wonky seat and oiled the kickstand (neither of which I asked for but both things had been bugging me for some time). 

I'm now much much calmer, clean and sitting in my bed writing this blog.  I am not so sure if this is a language issue or what.  I can ask in Japanese "Where is the bicycle shop?"  But it's never as it is in textbooks where the person you're asking provides a simple answer 「あそこ」。  No, no it's always long and drawn out.  I think the main problem here is fear.  I'm scared to speak Japanese sometimes because I don't want to appear stupid.  I know a Japanese person would never be rude about it so why do I have this fear?  I don't really want to live in this English bubble but a lot of times I can't help it.  It's so easy to fall back into English and it's so hard to speak Japanese.  Also, (and I'm really not making excuses) but I haven't studied recently because I was sick and when I tried to study I got a massive headache.  I know I need to study.  I know I need to practice.  I know I need to stop being so scared.  I know all these things.  I just need to DO all these things.

This is actually a positive post not a negative.  It was a bad day that turned into a good day.  The bad was, of course, a flat tire (and non walking shoes) but the good (which totally outweighs the bad) was I have an awesome friend who is an fantastically positive person, I got more things fixed on the bike than I asked for, and I found a great flower shop with awesome plants.

I really do feel so lucky to have had the experiences I have had here already and I am beyond blessed with the friends I have made (some of whom go out of their way to help me).  I am floored by this level of kindness and only hope I repay it somehow.  I often feel like a child.  I want so badly to be independent but sometimes I am so scared to do things on my own.  Other days I'm like "Watch me take Japan by storm!"  Bi-polar much?

Do Japan make you crazy?  Does it make me crazy?  Am I crazy?


  1. I recently found your blog and this is an interesting post about fear of speaking Japanese which is likely a very common fear. I myself am a second generation Japanese American and while I can speak and understand Japanese , growing up and while visiting Japan I also was afraid to speak it. In my case it wasn't that I couldn't understand an answer but because I was embarrassed that somehow my Japanese wouldn't be good enough and because I looked Japanese people would then judge me while it was not my firs language. Does that make sense? Anyway how I got over it was I just one day sucked it up and it got easier. Also I got older and I gained more confidence in myself. Sometimes it's justin experience you have to go through to gain an understanding of yourself. So don't give up! Keep trying and it will get easier!

    1. That's what I try to do but sometimes emotions get the better of me. Anyway, thank you for your kind words. :)