17 Days – Back to the Basics

When preparing to travel to a place it is easy to overlook the basics such as what to do when at a restaurant. I had Chat GPT construct a dialogue that might help give an example of how one might study and prepare for basic interactions abroad (we could obviously coach this into a much better scene, but pretty good for a start!):

A young American named Patrick (パトリック) arrived in Tokyo for the first time. He was excited to try authentic Japanese ramen, but he had no idea how to order or eat it. He wandered around the streets of Shinjuku until he spotted a ramen restaurant with a sign that read “Ichiran Ramen.”

Patrick walked inside and was greeted by a waitress. “いらっしゃいませ,” (Irasshaimase) she said with a smile. Patrick froze, not understanding what she said. The waitress repeated herself, but Patrick still didn’t understand.

“すみません、ゆっくり話して下さい,” (Sumimasen, Yukkuri hanashite kudasai) he said apologetically. (Excuse me, Could you speak slowly.)

The waitress nodded and said, “ラーメンを食べる?” (Ramen wo taberu?) (Do you want to eat ramen?)

“はい、ラーメンが食べたいです,” (Hai, ramen ga tabetai desu) Patrick replied. (Yes, I want to eat ramen.)

The waitress pointed to the vending machine next to him and said, “これから試食入れします.” (Kore kara tameshiire shimasu.) (Please insert money here.)

Patrick looked at the vending machine, which had buttons with Japanese characters and pictures. He had no idea what to do. The waitress noticed his confusion and said, “お願いします、見せてください.” (Onegaishimasu, misete kudasai.) (Please show me.)

Patrick handed her the money he had, and the waitress helped him to order his ramen. “塩 or 醤油?” (Shio or shoyu?) she asked. (Salt or soy sauce?)

“塩,” (Shio) Patrick replied. (Salt.)

The waitress nodded and asked, “にんにく?” (Ninniku?) (Garlic?)

“はい,” (Hai) Patrick said. (Yes.)

She continued, “チャーシューも?” (Chashu mo?) (Pork belly?)

“はい、お願いします,” (Hai, onegaishimasu) Patrick replied. (Yes, please.)

The waitress gave him a ticket, and Patrick followed her to a booth where he sat alone. A few minutes later, his ramen arrived. It looked delicious, but Patrick didn’t know how to eat it. He saw a packet of red powder on the table and wondered what it was for.

The waitress noticed his confusion and said, “とがらしです、からいです.” (Togarashi desu, karai desu.) (It’s chili powder, spicy.)

Patrick thanked her and then tried the ramen. It was delicious. He slurped the noodles, just as he had seen locals do. When he finished, he was unsure what to do with the bowl.

The waitress noticed and said, “ごちそうさまでした,” (Gochisosama deshita) indicating that he could leave the bowl.

Patrick thanked her and left the restaurant, feeling grateful for the help he received. He knew that he had a lot to learn about Japanese culture, but he was excited to continue exploring and trying new things.

Even with that script, YouTube still might be the best resource for a similarly simplified example:

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