11.26.2008

Lost in Translation

I traveled via shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Nikko to visit the World Heritage site. Because I'm cheap, I decided to forgo the fast ride coming home and take a regular train. This is how my conversation with the ticket seller went:

Me: I'd like a ticket to Asa-kusa.

Him: (Giant pause) Oh! You mean A-sak-sa?

Me: Er .. sure?

Him: You want rapid section or limited express?

Me: What's the difference?

Him: One is rapid, the other express.

Me: Um .....

I ended up choosing rapid because who doesn't want to the train to be rapid, right? Wrong! "Rapid" is marketing-speak for "stops at every podunk town along the way". It took me 2.5 hours to travel 60 kilometers back to Tokyo. I saw kids heading home from school, older ladies returning from their shopping, but it quickly became frustrating. Lesson learned: the answer in Japan is always express.

2 comments:

casch said...

Oh don't you just love foreign travel ~ especially when there is a definite "language barrier"!? Even if it is "only" in the definition.

Rebecca said...

They were very nice in trying to help me, and with gesturing we could figure most things out. I think this guy meant well and just thought I was dense. ;-)