Veronica is fluent in the Japanese language, so is my brother and his wife (she is Japanese) so I'm the only one with the language skills of a 18 month old yet I find it's not all that hard (or scary) to get around.
Like a protective Sister though, my sister in law gets nervous if I decide to go out on my own. Veronica recently split off from us to attend a Taiko Drum lesson about 2 miles or so away. So while Al and Tomoko and I went to downtown Osu where I could visit my very favorite non art supply story in the world MANDARAKE (with it's slogan RULERS OF THE WORLD) Veronica headed off for her lesson.
We got back around 8pm and the note she left said she'd be out at 9 so I decided to walk up to find her and walk back with her, Tomoko protesting that I would get lost. Now to be fair, Veronica and I have Japanese friends who sometimes visit us, and they have language skills far superior to mine and I get anxious if they go out on their own when they come to America so it's fair. I also don't have a cell phone or the address of where my brother lives or his phone number so I think it's reasonable to be concerned.
But I like heading out on my own-- and this seemed like a pretty simple walk. The one thing I was concerned about was that Veronica might leave early and come back a different way and there would be no way to reach me so I accepted the offer of taking one of their cell phones with me. No matter that the text is all Japanese, I knew what button to press to call back home if need be.
The lesson was in a community center above a post office up a pretty steep hill and I stopped at a little market to pick up some gum (which can take a while unless you don't mind Melon or Ocra flavor) and asked them where the post office was.
They pointed me across the street where I found a little picture of a man with a mail sack, but I knew this wasn't the symbol they use for post office so I was skeptical I had the right place. It was also completely dark, so I opted to continue up the road another half mile or so.
The neighborhood was beautiful, changing from a bustling neon clad area to a very rural looking old village type with an absolutely stunning park and a view of the city that was breathtaking.
Coming to an intersection I saw a large building which was lit up and headed towards it. At the front door I saw three pairs of shoes sitting there-- and one of them I recognized right away as my wife's ankle boots.
I kicked off my shoes and spent a few minutes trying to find a pair of slippers from the rack that might fit my size 12 feet with no luck so I opted to climb the stairs in my socks.
Walking in the room I found Veronica with the Sensei and his assistant (wife?) and they were picking up the room. She'd been the only student so she got a private lesson. They were extremely nice and set everything up so I could see what she learned, and she was amazing. Taiko drumming involves a synchronized performance with a drummer on your opposite side (or at least this method does) and Veronica was like an old pro. I honestly think there is nothing she can't do.
We walked back through the quiet streets with the drum sticks the Sensei had given her and admired the view all over again.