When two loyal readers from Hawaii said they’d be in Tokyo for a few days, Mr. Sato sprang into action.
When he’s not putting his life on the line in the course of writing articles, RocketNews24’s Japanese-language reporter Mr. Sato sends out messages from his Twitter account. His tweets are all in Japanese, but recently he was contacted through the social networking service by one of his overseas fans from Hawaii, who we’ll call AS.
AS and his wife were coming to Japan on a trip, and among the sites they were hoping to see in Tokyo was the RocketNews24 office. Mr. Sato was touched by this show of enthusiasm, and it is true that our headquarters is centrally located in the Shinjuku neighborhood. However, seeing as AS was coming all the way from America, Mr. Sato wanted to extend a little more hospitality than he could in his workplace, and instead offered to take AS and his wife out to dinner.
To aid in this international exchange, Mr. Sato also extended the invitation to his friend Mademoiselle Yamaguchi (of course Mr. Sato has an acquaintance who goes by “Mademoiselle”), since she’s a passionate learner of English with a stronger command of the language than Mr. Sato, who hasn’t formally studied it since his middle school days.
Mr. Sato arranged for the group to gather at Shinjuku Station. Now while it’s undeniable that Mr. Sato’s unique aura and appearance generally help him stand out in a crowd, Shinjuku is the busiest station not only in Japan, but the entire world. So to make things easier on his new friends, he arrived early and snapped a picture of himself in front of the Lumine Est department store, so that they’d know the exact location to find him at.
Then, right on time, our reporter heard someone calling out “Sato-san!” from behind him. He turned around, and there were AS and his wife.
“Nice to meet you!” managed Mr. Sato, expending most of his English proficiency in making the greeting. “It’s nice to meet you too!” returned AS warmly.
At this point Mademoiselle Yamaguchi also arrived, and Mr. Sato was expecting her to take the lead in communicating and interpreting. He looked at her, wondering what sort of smooth, fluent phrase she would open the dialogue with, and heard her say…well, actually nothing at all. It turns out that while she loves studying English, Mademoiselle Yamaguchi is pretty shy about actually speaking it, and so it was up to Mr. Sato to keep the conversation rolling.
To give his guests a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine, Mr. Sato wanted to take AJ and his wife to a restaurant that specializes in okonomiyaki, Japanese-style crepes or pancakes filled with meat, vegetables, and other ingredients. So he took a deep breath, and said:
“Hey, AS, we want go to Japanese okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is famous food in Japan. Osaka-jin and Hiroshima-jin loves okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is like pancake.”
Much to Mr. Sato’s relief, AS could understand him just fine. It turns out that not only has the Hawaiian RocketNews24 fan studied a bit of Japanese, he’s visited Japan more than 10 times, picking up bits and pieces of the language and also getting used to idiosyncrasies in how Japanese people tend to speak English.
So with that, the group set off for the restaurant Honjin, located in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho district.
Honjin is an Osaka-style okonomiyaki joint, which means the customers cook their on food on flat grills set into the table. Mr. Sato wasn’t too confident about using his limited English vocabulary to explain the process, but he launched into a narrated demonstration anyway.
▼ “First, mix, then on hotplate.”
▼ “And bake one side, then shibaraku waiting.”
▼ “Japanese kote reverse, then sauce, mayonnaise, aonori, and katsuobushi wild on!”
Sure, it may not have been flawless English, but he managed to get the major points across: Mix the ingredients, pout them onto the grill, let one side cook for a while, flip it over with the small spatula, then add as much sauce, mayonnaise, seaweed powder, and dried bonito as you want.
Next it was the Hawaiian couple’s turn to try, and…
…they did a beautiful job! As a matter of fact, their okonomiyaki came out looking as least as nice as Mr. Sato’s.
For their next course, the party tried their hand at making a batch of takoyaki (octopus dumplings), another specialty of Osaka. Once again, AS and his wife had no trouble making perfectly cooked morsels.
Full and happy, eventually it was time to say good-bye. “I’m really glad we got to meet you!” AS told Mr. Sato as they parted. “Come visit us in Hawaii!” It’s an offer Mr. Sato hopes to be able to AS up on some day, and in the meantime, if any other Sato fans are coming to Tokyo, drop the guy a line.