Saturday, September 29, 2007

Food Court from Hell

This evening, the evening of Saturday 29 September, three-year-old daughter Cornucopia told me reprovingly (in Japanese) that we do not eat cereal in the evenings. Only in the mornings. That's a rule, got it?

I was having some cereal by way of recuperating from quite a long hard day. First we attended the daycare sports day, which was held at the local elementary school (inside in the gym on account of the fact that it was raining).

Then we got on a bus and traveled for half an hour to a place called LaLaPoto, an absolutely huge shopping center.

Here we had photos taken on account of the fact that Cornucopia turns three this year. There is a festival in Japan called Shichi-go-san, which Wikipedia defines as a rite of passage for girls aged three and seven (and also for boys aged three and five.)

The actual date is November 15, which was some days ago now, but, in honor of the festival, we went to a photo studio at LaLaPoto to have portrait shots taken of the three of us (me in a suit for once) and of Cornucopia (adorned first in a dress and then in a kimono, both chosen from the plentifully stocked racks of dress-up clothes at the studio.)

It took forever, and, when the photo shoot was done, there was a one-hour wait before we could go back, have a look at the results and choose what we wanted to buy. So my wife suggested that we go to the food court.

A food court in Japan is conceptually similar to a food court anywhere else: a bunch of fast food restaurants with common seating (and, often, a common cutlery resource.) But this one had a couple of twists.

First, each individual restaurant did not have its own cash register. Instead, you went to a central cash register. As you stood in line, a guy would hand you a menu showing the offerings of all the restaurants.

You paid and took away not a receipt and not a meal, either, but a pager. Or, in our case, three pagers.

You then went and sat to wait for your pager to go off.

The environment was extremely noisy, with pagers going off all the time, and it was very, very hard to tell which might be ours. I found the whole place confusing and disorienting - one place where I definitely would not be able to cope on our own.

The happy news is that the photos look great. And, additionally, while Cornucopia told me it was wrong to eat cereal in the evening, she did not actually go so far as to stop me from doing so.


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