A conversation with my student over coffee at a Starbucks in Yokohama:
Me: So what did you do yesterday?
Student: I went shopping at Jiyugaoka.
Me: …in Jiyugaoka…
Student: Sou sou sou sou…in da ne.
Me: That’s good. So, what did you buy?
Student: I bought nothing, but I meet…met a very nice woman.
Me: Really? In the store?
Student: Yes, she was shop staff…she want to meet you!
Me: She wants to meet me? Why me?
Student: Before, she live at…janakute in Brooklyn.
Me: Really? But how does she know about me?
Student: I talk about you, of course.
Me: You told a stranger working in a shop in Jiyugaoka about me?
Student: Yes! She is very exciting. Me too!
Me: She was very excited, you mean.
Student: Yes yes yes yes yes.
Me: I’m sorry, but you told me to correct you every time. I can stop if you like…
Student: Yes, please, today. No fix my terrible English. I want to be like natural. Just today.
Me: Good idea.
Student: So, at the shop, ne. She see me in the shop and she say am I Hawaiian…
Student: Because of my hair…it’s not usual hair for Japanese, very long, and my, how you say, sun tan?
Me: Oh, I see…go ahead.
Student: So she asked me am I…junsuina…pure…bleed, pure brood…how you say?
Me: Huh? How do you say what?
Student: For example…if your mother is a Japanese and your father is not a Japanese…like so…
Me: You mean Purebreed? Pure blooded?
Student: Sou sou sou sou sou. I tell her of course I’m junsuina nihonjin, I 100% Japanese…And she…
Me: I’m sorry to interrupt you, but…maybe I don’t understand correctly…a staff person in a shop asked you if you were 100% Japanese?
Student: Yes…all the time, you know. Because of my hair and….
Me: ….and your suntan. Yeah I got that.
Student: And she want to meet with you…what’s wrong?
Me: I was just thinking about the axis of evil…
Me: No, the Nazis.
Me: It’s not important…and I’d be happy to meet her…why not?
Student: That’s wonderful! I will tell her…
Me: Can I ask you a question?
Student: Of course.
Me: Don’t you think that is a personal question?
Student: What question?
Me: About junsui…about your blood status, your pedigree.
Student: Ee! Personal?
Me: Yeah, VERY personal, I think. And very irrelevant, too. I mean, to a salesperson anyway.
Me: Kankei nai.
Student: Sou deshou…demo, to Japanese not kankei nai. Not personal.
Me: Okay…well, let’s start the lesson, shall we?