There are times when learning creeps up on me. Tonight I was sitting in my favourite tonkatsu restaurant when I realised that things have changed. It’s the same chain of restaurant that we went to when we first moved to Tokyo, but the experience is somewhat different. I don’t smile as much. I still love the food but I can now understand what the staff are saying to me. I no longer have to go with my “if in doubt smile” approach to compensate for my lack of understanding. We can read the menu, though we do tend to order the same thing every time we go. And I can name the pickles.
When we moved there were so many things that we didn’t recognise and the pickles in Tonkatsu Heaven were on that list. We had no idea what vegetables they had pickled so we named them after their colours. My favourite were the white ones, which turned out to be daikon. They served us pink, purple, white, and various greens. But tonight I could name the pickles in English and Japanese. I wonder what else I’ve learned without noticing?