Posts Tagged Japanese taxi

March 29, 2006 part 3 – Translating for my dad

After getting rained out in Nara, my parents and I decided to return to Osaka and find some indoor activities. The first thing that popped into my head was a visit to the Umeda Sky building, yet another thing I had done on my solo trip to Osaka last year. The building features a giant glass elevator, a glass walled escalator, and spectacular views of Osaka. It was still raining, so we didn’t get too much of the city view. We did enjoy some of the cool models they had depicting life in old Osaka.

Osaka model

The Sky Building concluded a full day of walking and sightseeing, so we decided to call it a night and return to the hotel. Getting back would involve a walk to Umeda station, two subway trains, and a search for our hotel. My dad decided that he wasn’t interested in any more walking, so he suggested that we take a taxi. I told him that taxis were expensive in Japan, but he said that he was on vacation and didn’t care, so we left the building and found a nearby taxi stand.

Taxis in Japan are very different from taxis in Canada. Japanese taxis have automatic doors and drivers in uniforms with white gloves. Canadian taxis absolutely do not have either of these things. We got in and I asked the driver to take us to Park Hotel Rinkai.

This was the first time my parents had been in a taxi in Japan, so they were understandably excited. As soon as we started moving my dad started talking to the driver. The driver nervously responded with “Sorry, no English”. I explained to the driver in Japanese that my dad keeps forgetting that not everyone in Japan can speak English. When my dad saw that I was able to communicate with the cab driver, he asked me to translate for him. I fumbled my way through such questions as:

  • What kind of car is this?
  • Do all taxi drivers wear white gloves?
  • In Canada the taxi drivers are mostly immigrants. How about in Japan?
  • Is the day shift in Osaka busy?
  • Do you like your job?

My dad is a friendly person by nature who loves talking to people, so this is just normal for him. Even though my Japanese had improved immensely since moving to the country two year ago, I had trouble keeping up with the back and forth communication. There were times when my vocabulary wasn’t good enough to either say or understanding something, so I filled in the gaps with some educated guesses. It was a good challenge of my Japanese abilities, but I was mentally exhausted by the time we reached the hotel!

I have nothing but respect for people who can professionally translate a conversation for a living. It’s not easy at all!

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September 3, 2005 – Farewell party 9085km away

My coworker Angie had her farewell party tonight. She was finished teaching in Japan, and ready to return to Scotland. Everyone loved Angie; she was a lot of fun to work with and to spend time with outside the office. When I left Japan suddenly to visit my sick sister in Canada, I wasn’t sure that I was going to make it back in time for Angie’s farewell party. I am proud to report that despite starting my day off in Canada, I managed to make it to the party!

I started my day in Winnipeg at 5:30am on September 2 (7:30pm Japan time). My flight left Winnipeg at 7:00am (9:00pm Japan time) and arrived in Vancouver at 8:10am (just after midnight September 3 in Japan). After a few hours of waiting in Vancouver airport, I was back in the air and bound for Tokyo Narita airport.

My flight was smooth and uneventful, unlike the flight to Vancouver a few weeks ago. I landed at 3:30pm Japan time and proceeded to the lines for immigration and customs. My magical gaijin card allowed me to pass through the resident line, which is always much shorter than the foreigner line.

From Narita airport, I took the Narita express to Tokyo station, the shinkansen to Mishima, and Tokaido line to Numazu. With memories of pulling my giant suitcase fresh in my mind, I decided to treat myself to a taxi from the station to my apartment.

For those who are unfamiliar with Japan, addresses are really only meaningful to mail carriers. If you are going to take a taxi, be prepared to give landmark directions. I told my taxi driver to drive towards Seiyu, turn left at the lights, and my apartment was across from 7-11 in a yellow building. The taxi driver complimented me on my Japanese and tried to engage me in a conversation, which was a bit beyond my skill level. At least I got home quickly.

Once I got home, I started to get a second wind. I had a quick shower to wash off the now 24+ hours of travel, pounded back an energy drink, and then rode my bicycle to Numazu station. For the second time today I boarded Tokaido line, this time towards Mishima. From the station it was a short walk to the izakaya where Angie’s party was already in full swing.

I arrived at the party, 9085km from where I started my day, and received a hero’s welcome. Angie was particularly happy to see me, and Koalako had saved a seat and made sure that my drink order was attended to quickly.

mhairiandi

Fun fact: I was wearing a new t-shirt that said “kiss me I’m loaded” across it. This both started a fun debate on whether loaded meant “drunk” or “rich”, and also got me several kisses, mostly from women.

Like most farewell parties, the second party was at a nearby karaoke room with more drinks. Karaoke lasted until the last train came around, and I got a big hug from Angie before we left. I was exhausted by the end of the evening, but happy that I was able to make it to the party. I am going to miss Angie!

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