Today falls neatly into three parts. First I had to improve the waterproofing on my tent, so I needed silicone gel and stuff to mix/spread it with. Given that the hardware store is within 100m you’d think this would be easy. First we had to talk our way in before the store was officially open. Masami’s company is a regular customer here so that worked ok. Then I had to explain ‘gel’.
The clerk had brought some spray on stuff for clothes to show me, the same stuff that I had bought yesterday for my jacket and Masami had tried to give me this morning.
“Thank you but no. I need silicone gel. Like toothpaste, that you can spread”
Both of them look at the aerosol in their hands and read the label carefully.
“Sorry, spray only”
The clarifying point was to point out the seals around the windows. I needed that stuff and we found it near the back. Then I needed to explain that even though ‘SuperGX’ did indeed stick things together very well, I still needed silicone gel, not glue. And yes and yes this one would be fine, yes it will spread easily when I mix it with denatured alcohol, and yes I have done this before and it works. I know I wasn’t able to explain everything in Japanese, but once I was in the door I could handle it myself. Like the supermarket yesterday. I’ve been buying my own food for a few years now. Not being able to express myself in Japanese doesn’t mean I can’t find a bunch of bananas by myself. Moving right along….
The three of us drove through the pretty Magomi Valley and across to the pacific coast to see Matsushima, another of Japan’s three famous views. The bay has an archipelago of hundreds of pine-covered islands which we saw by boat. Great day for it too, a few clouds for interest but mostly sunny skies. One of my Japanese audio lessons recently taught me words for describing tea and I was able to put this to use when I heard the waitress and Masami deciding I should have cold soba rather than hot. I think I might surprise people by how much I understand when they’re talking about, but not to, me. The unusual rock type that made the islands also makes up the inland cliffs that have been turned into caves of worship and made a really interesting sight before the long drive home.
For dinner another family grouping assembled at Kitanofuji, a sumo-style restaurant run by the sister of a champion from the late 70s. The conversation was rapid fire and I didn’t understand many of the jokes going around. Even with a lot of rib-jabbing from my host and his English explanations. The Japanese sense of humour is well beyond me. Or was it just behind me? Something in my direction was very funny. I made attempts at conversation but I’m still too slow, the pauses I make mid-sentence were enough to let other people in so I’d end up saying something like
“yes, 15kgs, but before now…..”
and having to leave it there as I was no longer involved.
Word of the day: do-ko-tsu = cave