Japan Trip Three: The Grocery Store

This is the third part of a many part series about my time on a Japanese tv show, and my trip to Japan. If you haven't read the preceding posts (one and two), I suggest you do so, or you might miss some important information. Also, I am hilarious, and I wouldn't want you to miss any of my witty pros. If you've already caught up, read on my good sirs and noble ladies!

I had been informed in the initial planning that they wanted to film me buying fish. This would be a big step for me. It's one thing to commit to being filmed at home, with only my family there to witness it, but it's entirely another matter to go to a public space with a film crew following me around.

The only reason why I was okay with all this was because it would only be airing in Japan, and therefore I wouldn't even know the thousands of viewers, so my self-conciousness could take some small comfort. I know people at the grocery store. I know the employees (they know me as the girl who's always buying those weird giant radishes). I don't think I've ever been in there and not seen a few people that know me, either because I've worked in town at so many different places, or because they know my various family members. In case you hadn't realized it by now, I'm pretty inhibited and self conscious. 

But hey, I didn't really have time to ponder all this. There was a small chance that going through all this madness was going to get me to Japan, so I was going to do it. Grocery store--smrocery store. 

So after the tour of the house was over, we had a meeting in the kitchen. Note that this is the first moment that the camera wasn't pointed at me. It was decided that Mari-San would get into my car and we would film us leaving, then I would turn around, come back and pick up the camera-man. He would then film me and Mari-San driving from inside the vehicle. After a few miles I could then stop and they would get into the car with Akane-San and film me driving from behind. Making tv shows is complicated. 

The first part went off without a hitch. Mari-San and I drove down to my neighbors, then I turned around, came back, and grabbed the camera-man (never did get his name). While we drove Mari-San and I chatted for the camera. This was a bit difficult, since Akane-San was driving in the van behind us, and she was the one who had been interpreting for us. As it happened, Mari-San did speak a little bit of English, at least, more than I spoke Japanese.

"Late winter, or early spring?" she asked indicating the outside. I said it was spring.

"You have deer?"

"Oh yes, lots of deer."

In broken English she explained that they had been looking for wildlife ever since they got off the plane, but they hadn't seen any. I said that the animals were around, but you didn't see them too often.

  Incidentally, this is a bear I saw the other day on my way to work. Can you see him?

Incidentally, this is a bear I saw the other day on my way to work. Can you see him?

"Foxes?" she asked.

"Some, but you only see them occasionally."

"Bear?"

"I've Seen a few."

"Moose?"

"Very rarely."

"Raccoons?"

"Lots of Raccoons!" I said, knowing this only too well since a group of the rascally raccoons had just caused havoc with our chickens. That was the end of the conversation since she indicated I should pull over for them to switch cars. 

Once I was alone in the car, all three of the crew following behind, I breathed a long held in sigh. My brain was still unable to really comprehend what was happening, but luckily my body seemed to have taken over, simply rolling with the punches. I turned on my audiobook (Half Blood Prince) and tried to relax while we drove the remaining twenty minutes. 

  Sargentville is technically part of Sedgwick, and therefore isn't on google. You also can't quite tell, but to get from my house to Penobscot, Brooklin, Deer Isle, and Blue Hill you drive through Sedgwick, it's a really weirdly shaped town. 

Sargentville is technically part of Sedgwick, and therefore isn't on google. You also can't quite tell, but to get from my house to Penobscot, Brooklin, Deer Isle, and Blue Hill you drive through Sedgwick, it's a really weirdly shaped town. 

For those of you who do not live in the Blue Hill area, let me explain the terrane. We live on Cape Rosier, a cape (no duh) that juts out from Brooksville, a small town. Around Brooksville are several other towns, and by towns I mean rural areas with various neighborhoods. There is Sedgwick, which manages to be in your way no matter what direction you drive in; Sargentville, where the Mexican restaurant is; Penobscot, where the nursing home is; Castine, known for its historical battle; Brooklin, where Wooden Boat Magazine is located; and the island communities of Little Deer Isle, Deer Isle, and Stongington, famous for their lobstering culture.

Each of these areas has a small town center, most with old general stores, some with larger hubs. But the largest town in the area, and the center of all these communities is Blue Hill. It's where most people work, attend high school (besides the islands which have their own school), and where a majority of people do their shopping. This means that a lot of the amenities in Blue Hill are much bigger than the population warrants, because they also service all the surrounding towns. When we arrived at Tradewinds, the grocery store in Blue Hill, everyone was thoroughly impressed by its size. 

We filmed Mari-San and I walking up to the store, but then we had to pause so that Akane-San could get permission to film inside. Once more, I was left with Mari-San and the camera-man with a giant language barrier in the way. Mari-San noticed a large display of potatoes and got very excited by the price. "Is it really $2.99?" she asked, pointing to the bags. "Umm, yes," I said. The two of them started looking at the produce with interest. "$3.99!" said Mari-San, pointing at the grapes. She turned to me and explained, "In Japan, maybe $10." The strawberries and blueberries received the same treatment. The watermelon was praised as well. Mari-San picked up a container of golden berries, a type of fruit that had only recently come to my own attention. "Berry or tomato?" she asked me, a valid question, since they look exactly like cherry tomatoes. "Berry," I confirmed.

Akane-San came back and told us that the manager wasn't in that day, so we wouldn't be able to film. Still, the fish had to be bought, so I went up to the counter and ordered two pounds of Icelandic cod. This is the fish that I had determined works best for kamaboko. I had wanted to procure some Alaskan pollock, but unfortunately, due to a warehouse fire, it was unavailable. So, cod it was. The person at the fish counter, not to mention many of the shoppers, gave me curious looks while I ordered. I might not have been actively being filmed, but I was in the company of three people speaking Japanese. The area I live in is pretty rural, and especially in the the off season, we don't get a lot of foreigners, so they were bound to stand out. Plus, one of them was carrying a large camera at his side, clearly there was a story here. Amazingly, I didn't see a single person I know, not even the employees I know. 

Outside they once again filmed. I took out the cod, and told them what I had purchased. "And this is what we will make kamaboko out of?" Mari-San asked. 

"Yes," I replied. 

While we walked to the cars Akane-San told me that she had gotten the email address for the manager, and that they would try to get filming permission for the next day. Could I come back and do this again? Oh boy, I thought, while saying "No problem!"

Mari-San said something to Akane-San and she turned to me. "Is there a place nearby that has a good view? We need to film something that we do for every episode. Just something you need to say." I opened my mouth to reply but was distracted by Mari-San who had suddenly made a lunging motion, putting both fists in the air and shouting "Nihon ni ikitai!"

I blinked a few times as it slowly dawned on me that this was a demonstration of what would be required of me. My god, the horror. But, I said I would do just about anything they wanted, if it meant I might get to go to Japan, so I sucked it up, and gave a suggestion for an area to film this, no doubt, exceedingly embarrassing moment. 

But, that is a story for the next post! 

Please, don't forget to comment, like, and share! With your help, I hope to get my story out wide and far! 

Until next time, if you ever see someone at a grocery store with a Japanese film crew, keep in mind that they're probably feeling pretty self conscious, so try not to point.

P.S. Sorry about the lack of pictures for this post. Since my sister didn't accompany us for this leg of the journey I didn't have a lot to work with. The opening photograph is from the second day of filming, which you'll hear about later.