5.23.2011

Bow to your neighbor

 We love our van!  Here is Adam driving through Yomitan.  The steering wheel on this thing is like driving a bus!  And you are sitting on top of the engine, and it rumbles like a bus.  So maybe it's not a van...it's a bus.  Anyway, we've been trying to fix some things here and there...we recently took the backside apart..

We've been working on it outside of our apartment for the past few evenings.  The back door is jammed and so we've removed the bumper to find that it is totally rusted underneath the plastic panels.  We've taken the thing apart, rolling around underneath the van, crawling from the inside to the outside, inspecting this fossil of transportation, all the while being covered in grease!  It took us a few days to remove 2 parts...the locking/latch for the back hatch.  The best part of all of this is that being outside has introduced us to a few neighbors.
There is a Japanese couple that lives in our building who are TOO nice.  They speak a small amount of English, and they have a long haired chihuahua named 'Bit'...(bit, you know who you are.  I smiled from ear to ear when I heard this.)  Every night the man of the house runs down the street to get a picture of the sunset...seriously, every single night.  Love them!  And they drive a mini cooper that is white and dark green; classy.
We also met a neighbor who lives in a different building across the street named Jamie (but Adam swears its Jamal), an African guy originally from Sierra Leone who sped up on his superfast road bike and introduced himself.  His wife just had a baby, and he rides off the stress.  Hopefully, when our bikes come (in JULY!) we can go for a little group ride around the island.
We've also exchanged 'Konbanwa' or Good Evening with our sweet little old wrinkled Japanese neighbor who is always outside of his house.  and the other day he came walking up behind us and just stood there staring at our handywork... and sort of laughing and pointing at the rusted out bumper.  He probably stood and watched for a good 15 minutes as we unscrewed bolts and took of panels of rust, saying something in Japanese every now and then.  The next night, we were back at it, and here he comes to inspect our progress.  He went back inside his house and came out with a beer and handed it to us (I think he feels sorry for us, haha!)  He was also there when we finally got the door opened and started cheering and laughing. He was entertained.  I introduced us, and asked for his name: Mr. Tomashito.  He is 90 years old and proud of it, a chain smoker, is shorter than I am, zips around the neighborhood on one of those electric wheelchairs and looks like he could pass for 60.  He likes us and viceversa :)

As some of you may know, most Japanese people, especially older generations, are pretty modest about most things.  You rarely see PDA or scandalous dressers.  They also have a strong desire for personal space.  You don't approach a Japanese person for a handshake, and definitely never a hug!  They are all about respect.  You keep your respective distance and bow accordingly.  There are 3 levels of bowing; First, a slight bow of the head and very slight lean forward (this is a common bow, saying hello in passing, a polite gesture).  Second, is a stronger bow of respect, a little extra thank you.  Like if you make a purchase at a store or restaurant, they will give you the second bow.  And the Third is less common, and Adam and I really, really want to show respect so we probably use the third when it isn't appropriate...it's the highest form of respect you could show.  Like WOAH!  You just risked your life for me..I'm going to bow all the way down
Adam made me laugh so hard the other day with this story...He went for a run through the neighborhood and he turned a corner and saw about 20 soccer players and a few coaches also running full speed towards him.  The first coach gave him a slight bow and he bowed back.  Then a few students all bowed as they passed him, he bowed to every kid.  and suddenly a dozen of them were all bowing as they passed.  Adam said he was bowing up and down, while running, trying not to miss a single bow and keep his balance.  I can just visualize 20+ kids running and bowing, all these heads going up and down.  SO funny!  Adam and I have this thing about bowing first...we never miss a bow.  We are kind of bow crazy. We want to be SO respectful that they are like ok, those Americans aren't so bad afterall.  We want to learn Japanese as another show of respect for them.  The Japanese people are SO kind, so friendly towards us, and they are always happy!
Hopefully, we will make the most of the culture while we are here...integrate and let their way of life change our own for the better.

2 comments:

  1. OMG...LMAO!!!! Too Funny! That Adam!

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  2. Miss you guys like crazy. Love the stories.

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