For this year’s field studies, I chose to go to Iya. Honestly, I was dreading this trip since I have not made any close friends so far and I was afraid of my classmates feeling bad for me when I was alone. But I decided that this trip would be an interesting experience where I could take pictures with my disposable cameras (which I haven’t developed yet! Ahh) and learn more about traditional cultures of Japan, and I realised I probably would never have the chance to go to such an eccentric place like this. I am not going to talk about the whole trip, but instead, I want to talk about one thing that I still remember very vibrantly
When I first got off the train in Iya, I talked to an old lady woman at a liquor shop. She wore dull clothes with patterns that clashed, and when she spoke, she had a very thick accent. “Where do y’all work?” she asked. Her question confused me, but I soon realised that she had mistaken us with workers instead of high school students. I told her that we were no workers, but students, and she just nodded. Her house was connected to the shop so I tried to take a picture of the room, but with embarrassment she asked me why I would want to take a picture of a dirty place like her house. I told her, “it’s okay! Osharedesuyo” and again, she just nodded. I bought a bottle of green tea from the store, and she also recommended me to buy a bag of biscuits. She started to explain something very slowly, I could barely understand, but she mentioned how people in other prefectures would order them just to get them delivered to their house. They must be good, I thought so I bought a whole pack. I mean, how can you say no to an old lady who lives in her liquor shop alone? Then she asked me again, “Where do y’all work?”. I wondered how much she understood me, or if she even knew if I was the same girl who walked into her store 5 minutes before.
I don’t know why but I think about this more than anything else that happened on this trip. I actually catch myself thinking about it sometimes, which is very strange. The way she sold her biscuits was a very effective way of persuading customers into buying them, which was out of pity. And sometimes I think she was actually not a crippling old lady, but a woman who gets up at 6am, wears her leggings and goes on a jog, and pretends to be lonely when she gets to her liquor store. But I know that’s not true.
Uhhh this didn’t really turn out to be about the trip so I think I’ll stop here. Here are some pictures so this doesn’t end weird.