Today was busy. I spent several hours cleaning up the apartment in which I was staying in Kōenji before moving out to Shinjuku for a week. This area of town is almost (not quite, but almost) overwhelming enough to curl me up into a ball from fright and the energy is palpable. It’s nothing like where I was for the last three weeks, which can be a good thing.
For dinner I went with two new Japanese friends to an Indian restaurant named Samrat and an embarrassing, funny thing happened during the meal. When our waiter put down the food he also immediately placed the bill on the table. I found this so strange and assumed that I needed to pay right away, and as such reached into my pants to retrieve some cash. My friends looked at me like I was out of my mind and asked, “What are you doing???” I replied, “Ummm, paying?” They promptly responded, “Have you never eaten in a Japanese restaurant before?!?!” Naturally, the answer was no. All this time in Tokyo and I’ve mostly just eaten at home.
Apparently it’s commonplace for the bill to be put on the table early during one’s meal in Japan, whereas if someone did that in the States (or Vietnam for that matter) I would be really put off, feeling like I were being asked to hurry up, eat, and leave. No matter how much I travel I’m reminded that there will always be silly hiccups like this and the best there is to do when awkward situations come up is to laugh, which is exactly what my new friends and I did.
Tokyo is a great city.