Coincidentally, I did lose my wallet during my first trip to Japan. The details are rather fuzzy – it happened in 2000 – but it did shock me that it happened in a country known for actually having rather full lost-and-found bins.
Rather than sulk over that one incident from seventeen years ago, I bring to you today one of my stalwart coping mechanisms– Japanese signs.
Previously, I have opined that Japanese department stores are likely the greatest in the world. The basements are usually full of food, the highest floors generally have restaurants, and there’s bound to be a vending machine lurking somewhere in between. Then, you have the periodic food festivals happening on the top floors. Clearly, I hate food.
Occasionally, there will be another fair, event or point of interest on the topmost floor. If there’s no obvious signage on the ground floor, I’ll make my way upwards, if for nothing else than a view of the city. During a visit two months ago to Zeze, Shiga prefecture, right along scenic Lake Biwa, I spotted a new one at the Seibu Otsu:
Language lesson time. The word on the upper line reads レストラン (re-su-to-ran), or restaurant. OK, nothing out of the ordinary there.
But the bottom two words were what made the visit worth it.
On the left, we have 占い (うらない・oo-ra-nigh), or “fortune-telling.” Sometimes, that’s shortened to 占; you may have noticed these booths scattered about Ginza, Tokyo at night, or on random streets/at events throughout the country.
On the right, it says 保険 (ほけん・ho-ken), or “insurance.”
Admittedly, I got a good chuckle out of this one. Did the department store think about how amusing that combination was? For instance, the fortune-teller warns that you there will be a flood next month, so you run to the insurance counter to pick up flood insurance. Better yet, the fortune-teller predicts that your sushi (at one of the department store’s restaurants) will be mostly raw, so…what do you?