Week 1 – Cash Only

(カードでいいですか? – Translation: Can I pay with card here? Always ask this before buying anything if you’re not sure what payment type is accepted. In small towns, it’s safer to assume that it’s always cash only).

The current exchange rate from U.S. dollars to Japanese yen is 135.21, so grocery shopping here has been a delight compared to back home. The labels are tough to understand, yes, and many products I’d expect to see on the shelves are not commonly found here. But that aside, grocery stores are still grocery stores, and even a small sense of familiarity in a place where everything is all so different is far more reassuring than I thought it’d be (I may not know all the different types of produce yet, but I know peanut butter!).

I do plan on cooking for the group eventually, once I know everyone’s food preferences, allergies, and where I can find everything. My mom has been a great help in that regard, responding to my less-than-timely messages with the recipes she makes back home and then some. I don’t fancy myself an awesome cook, but I used to bake for my residents every Wednesday night back at the dorms. To be fair, cookies are quite different from gyoza. But even then I challenged myself to try new recipes every week with different ingredients, and anything is easier than cooking in a dorm kitchenette.

On our days off however, we try to explore the surrounding area and find other places to eat. It’s a small town, but there is no shortage of restaurants. Additionally, the house has a book containing all the menus (with translations) of the places in town. Our first outing- while still charged with nervous energy at making a good impression -took us to a small restaurant that had possibly the best torisosu katsudon (fried chicken cutlets over rice) I have or will ever try.

(This, my dear readers, is where the title of the post becomes relevant)

We were fortunate enough to find an ATM just next door to the restaurant and saved ourselves from any extra stress. Still, I do not recommend scrambling to get cash before you pay for your food. It’s not worth the anxiety, nor is it worth the fear of disappointment. But let this be a lesson, both to my readers and to my future self; Expect that something will go wrong, and when it does, you won’t be caught off guard. Take stock of your surroundings. What do you have with you/on your person? Who is with you? And what can you do with those things combined?

Nine times out of ten you’ll find what you need to get yourself through any predicament you may be in, whether that’s getting train tickets, directions, or, in our case, cash. You can thank my mom for that bit of advice, by the way. It’s come in handy more than once, and thus far, it has yet to let me down. Panicking is never your friend, and more often than not, the solution you need is easier to find than you think- you just need a clear head to find it

Winner winner chicken dinner.

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