Just say Yes

Boz and I are heading to Thailand tomorrow to work at an elephant sanctuary (insert me exploding with happiness). I have basically spent this entire year counting down the days to the elephant trip. I've read every single thing written about elephants on the internet...I've read the biographies of the entire herd at the sanctuary...and I am definitely not going to sleep tonight.

So, since I have 12 hours to kill, I thought I would quickly reinforce a stereotype: Japanese people do not say 'no'. Ever. In an effort to keep the peace, stave off disappointment, and/or avoid anything resembling tension, everything is framed in a positive light over here. This is the only acceptable method of communication and our Japanese friends have confirmed that it is indeed the norm in all circumstances (formal, informal, workplace, friends, you name it). In place of 'no', one might hear some form of:
 - possibly! or...
 - that's nice. or...
 - ok!  ('ok'..meaning "I heard what you said" not "ok, I'm down") or, occasionally...
- a straight-up yes (even though it may be a bold-faced lie)

This has provided Boz and me with many hours of entertainment this year. Boz has found this communication style particularly advantageous whenever I ask him if he remembered to do something/buy something/go somewhere. I'm convinced he will never remember anything I ask him to do (and if it happens to be something he planned to do anyway, he will forget to do it if I mention it). But now that he's embracing his inner Japanese, he feels comfortable saying 'yep!' to absolutely anything I ask. Fortunately, this game works both ways and I say yes to plenty of things that will never happen either. Fun times...fun times ;)

Anyway...this afternoon offered a quintessential 'Japanese no' example.

Boz knows that I will be devastated on November 9th when we have to leave Thailand. In an effort to provide a soft landing, he has suggested we book the best table at our favorite Italian restaurant in Roppongi the evening we return. This particular table is up against the window in a high rise overlooking the Tokyo Tower...and it's everyone's favorite table (all 25 million of us). I swung by our concierge today and asked them to make the reservation. (*That's not as yuppie as it sounds. I have to have them do it for me because if the hostess at the restaurant asks non-sea animal-related questions, I won't know how to answer. My Japanese is kinda niche.)

I then went about my day and returned a few hours later. The concierge proudly informed me, "Mrs. Bosway, I make your reservation!" I answered, "Oh, wonderful, Kyoko. So we have the table?". And then this transpired:

Beginning of scene (now that I'm an actress, lots of recaps will be delivered in screenwriter format):

Kyoko: Well, they understand you like that table.
Me: Uhm. Ok. But are we going to be able eat dinner at it?
Kyoko: Yes. They understand your request.
Me: Ok, good. So we'll have dinner at that table!
Kyoko: They do not accept reservation. No reservation for that table. But they understand you like that table! Yes!
Me: I mean, dude. Ok. That's awesome.
(Kyoko laughing...me laughing...not sure why....priceless)

End of scene.

So there ya have it, folks. We may have a reservation for the best table in one of the best Italian restaurants in Tokyo two Tuesdays from now. Or we may not. Fortunately, I couldn't possibly care less because in about 11.5 hours, I will be on a plane to Thailand...ready to wrap myself up in an elephant trunk. Happiness is this.


Boz's cousin came to stay with us last weekend. We ate a lot of seafood...drank a lot of beer...and had an awesome time :) Andrew rocks.