17 February 2007

Irasshaimase!!! いらっしゃいませ

Ate at Ramen-Ya (despite what the silhouette on their logo suggests, the waitstaff do not wear those ridiculous Japanese ' French Maid' style uniforms, mores the pity), had to get some pig in me for the pending Year of the Boar.

Their Tan Men is excellent. One thing I noticed, unless you are noticeably Asian, you will not be greeted with the customary 'Irasshaimase!!!' (three exclamation points are needed to express the enthusiasm and volume with which this phrase is put out there).

Is that discriminatory?

(of course it is, by definition, the hostess is 'discriminating' which guests would be pleased, and or expectant for a traditional greeting, and which could care less and might possibly be confused by what the hell she is shouting at them)

So even though, I probably knew as much Japanese as quite a few of the 'Japanese looking' patrons within the establishment, I wasn't greeted with the obligatory honor and deference. The neighborhood surrounding Ramen-Ya is predominately Nissei and Sansei (2nd or 3rd and beyond generation) Japanese, but the food there has a good enough reputation that folks visiting directly from Japan also eat there, so you'll see multi-generation Asian families with no Japanese speakers, white guys reading Manga (in Japanese, and usually with their straight from Japan girlfriend in the latest Japanese slutwear), and Japanese tourists/students all slurping up huge heaping bowls of noodles (and these bowls are massive, I mean, really, really huge).

I'll live, and continue to patronize that establishment (did I mention their Tan Men is really, really good?).

What struck me today (besides the warm rays of a near 90F degree day while waiting for a table) was catching out of the corner of my eye an elderly Japanese man eating his noodles with a fork. He was in a wheelchair, out with what appeared to be son, granddaughter and wife, and he had a happy smile on his face, but the way he spoke (in Japanese) sounded like he was suffering from some age related dementia. Seems like giving up the chopsticks and using a fork for your noodles would be a traumatic moment, a bit of a defeat. But then, he seemed happy, so that's all that matters. Bewilderment tends to be more bewildering to those around the bewildered then the bewildered themselves.

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