Saturday, July 24, 2010

Doing it Wrong


The JR attendant stopped us at the ticket taking machine in Takasaki Station. It had alarmed when my son inserted his ticket. We were hustling to catch the Shinkansen train, but we found ourselves in a scene out of Lost in Translation. 


The attendant spoke; we stared blankly. We called in our six year old, the translator. She, our daughter listened intently for a good five minutes as we stewed about the Shin (speed train) we were about to miss. After a seeming eternity she turned from the ticket keeper to us and summarized ever so succinctly, "He can't go." Argh!

They never believe the moose is five! He is supposed to travel for free. I think the agent took pity on us as she let us go- a rarity in Japan. We had a good laugh as we ran from the local train to the Shinkansen. We were thrilled to off for our steam train adventure. Hey, we got up at 5:30 am for this! We bought the tickets from the Tokyo station with our friend assistance so we were confident we had the right tickets. Later we found the another ticket and realized that the Moose should have had both a local ticket and a Shin ticket; we were doing it wrong.

"Doing it wrong" is a line from Mr. Mom. It reflects my attempts at being a mother in Japan. Just this week I found that I was doing it wrong on a few more fronts.

At playgroup at my house on Thursdays, the mamas noted my jar of floating ume (a homemade version of plum liquor that nearly everyone makes here). The problem was my ume were too small- "they are for pickles." I am doing it wrong.

At the yochien preschool summer festival our son caught several dojo fish in the fountain. Who's idea is it to stock a fountain full of fish that are then going to have to come home with every family?  They do this every year! I told a mama friend about the dojo's near death experiences.

In trying to get the three dojo from the yochien to our house alive- it's a ten minute ride- the water dumped out of all three bags in the car and onto the ground next to the car. Disaster! Fish went flying and the water ran. One dojo flopped into the gutter and wriggled wildly while my husband grasped for it again and again to the shrieks of my daughter and I. Then my husband poured ice water on the fish as that was the only water we had left. The other two ended up sloshing about in an half an inch of water I managed to salvage in the remnants of the plastic bag. My friend then cautioned me to not put the dojo in with the goldfish as they have a lot of diseases. I'm doing it wrong, but I'm still feeding all the darned fish, dogo and gold fish alike. Some how no one remembers to feed them but mama. 


Today was about trains, the local, the Shin, and the steam train. We also soaked in a nice onsen and lunch at the "Almond Poodle" which had awesome Napoli style pizza.  The trip was about getting away from the crowds and seeing the rice fields. Being lulled to sleep on the lurching, chugging train was ever so pleasant.

We chatted a lot about the lack of trains in America and the shame of it all. Train travel is so pleasant here- space to stretch, everyone can nap or watch a lot of videos, and play rock, paper, scissors (the whole car competed for prizes). Yeah, we're doing it wrong in America too- train travel rocks!