In 1983 I moved to Tokyo where I lived for two years. At first arrival at Narita Airport I thought I had made a mistake and almost decided to board the next plane back to Seattle. I stuck it out and I am glad I did. Living overseas had its challenges. It was a good thing that I was adventurous as those two years were filled with many amazing experiences that I will always remember.
Putting this collage together has brought back many of those memories. One of which is the "excuse me" story. Many of you might already know it but here it goes.....I was shopping for clothes at the Takashimaya store in the Ginza section of Tokyo. I was just about to try on a pair of shorts as sizes were a bit different in Japan. The "dressing rooms" were, at that time, platforms on the sales floor with a curtain that circled the platform. I was just about to step up on one of them when the sales clerk got very excited. I knew I had done something wrong but was not sure what that was.
She started pointing at my feet. I started the excuse me's. Not know which "excuse me" was appropriate at that instant I gave all three in rapid succession....sumimasen, gomenasai, and gomen kudasai. Sumimasen is "excuse me" if you wish someone's attention. Gomenasai is "excuse me" if you bump into someone or need to apologize. Gomen kudasai is "excuse me" if you want to say "excuse me, is anyone home." The sales clerk broke up laughing in the very Japanese way with a hand over the mouth.
It seems that I should have taken my shoes off before stepping up on the platform. I bought the shorts by the way! :-)