Here are some fun facts about Osaka, where Charlie is currently serving: there are over 18 million people living there, making it the 2nd largest metropolitan area in Japan. The people there speak the Kansai dialect, or Osaka-ben, which is going to be fun for Charlie to master. And did you know that Osaka is the “food capital of the world”? I’ll bet you didn’t. Neither did we, but we found that out while researching Osaka this past week for our Family Home Evening. Now, a lot of cities in the world lay claim to that nickname, including Paris, New York, Istanbul, and Florence (who decides, anyway?)–but none of those cities serve up dishes like hot ramen, udon, sushi, and teppanyaki, or regional specialties such as okonomiyaki (pancakes with cabbage and seafood), takoyaki (grilled octopus), or kushikatsu (tempura-fried vegetables on a stick). Therefore, we have formally declared Osaka the winner. It’s official now.
I have a feeling that Charlie is quite content with his first area.
The language, however, is an entirely different matter. He’s convinced the old men in Osaka don’t speak Japanese at all.
Harro! Genki desu yo! [I’m doing fine!] The work in Kawachinagano is going very well, but should be going faster! We need to step up our game! This week we didn’t get any new investigators, but we have a bunch of potentials and we committed our Kinjin [golden investigator] to baptism on Tuesday. Woohoo! The Lord knows how to make a greenbean [brand new missionary] happy. I hadn’t even been in Japan for a week! Fortunately her Japanese is pretty easy to understand. Now, the old men – that’s where it gets tough. I’m pretty sure they’re speaking Chinese, actually. They have the worst Japanese in the country.* I can’t understand a word. Friday we had a lesson with the Kosugi family, who are members but Kosugi Kyodai’s [Brother Kosugi’s] father is an 86-year-old man (nonmember) who speaks the most unintelligible Japanese I’ve ever heard. I could probably figure out 5% at the most of what he was saying. Osaka-ben makes things tough but I’ll figure it out by the time I get transferred. (We all know how the Lord works.) There is definitely an Osaka accent, but mostly they just have a different vocabulary, a whole set of slang words that they only use here. We’re told not to use their slang, but that’s going to be one hard rule to follow.
*Our apologies to any old men from Osaka who might be reading this right now.
Well this week has been good. I got to teach Eikaiwa [English class] and talk to tons of people on the street and try to get them to come. It’s so funny how many people say “Kirai” when you ask “Eigo ga suki desu ka?” *I had to speak in sacrament meeting yesterday. That was good fun. Speaking isn’t the hard part here, it’s the understanding bit. Afterward a bunch of people came up to me and said something like “Baa Choro ~~~~~ Nihongo~~~~~joozu~~~~~~~~ne!”** Generally I had no idea what they were saying other than those four words but I figured it was a compliment so I bowed and said arigatoo gozaimasu [thank you].
*“Do you like English?” “No, I hate it!”
**“Elder Bahr (blah blah blah) your Japanese (blah blah blah) quite good (blah) isn’t it?”
As for Charlie getting to see our Takeda family who live on the island of Shikoku, he’s confident that will happen in the future.
The first thing I told Kaicho [the Mission President] when I met him was about my family in Shikoku. He’s all for getting me down there sometime, and he even suggested to me that I should let him know when I feel good enough with my Japanese to go talk to my family. He’s a really great mission president. One of the sisters in the mission a while ago had a grandmother that lived in Osaka in a different area and he transferred her there, and she converted her Grandma! How cool is that!
Very cool indeed! Charlie’s great-grandmother just celebrated her 101st birthday last week. Maybe by the time he gets to see her again, she’ll be 102? I wonder how she’d feel about being baptized?! We won’t worry about that for now. If he gets to cross paths with our Takeda family at some point and simply let them see what his mission and the gospel is all about, we will feel content. For now, he can eat ramen and try to figure out what everyone is saying. Gambatte, Charlie Choro!