Sharing

Busy day today, even more so than a usual Tuesday: Leave home at 10:00 for Japanese class, then from 14:00 a business meeting. Home at 18:00, just to go out for a special soroban class one hour later. Finally exhausted home for good at 21:00.

The day had an interesting and very unexpected highlight though: lunch time. These days, I have my Japanese class at the Kyoto Rohm Theatre, where there are public spaces to sit and meet for free. After the class I usually stay and have lunch, do some writing or other offline stuff, and then I move on to my meeting in town.

During lunch, there are always more people coming and having their bento boxes, but today it was exceptionally crowded, and with lots and lots of old people. I found out that there was a special concert today from 13:30, which explains why there were no empty seats to be had around lunchtime. As usual, I had finished lunch and started writing, and it was busy enough that within a short time span, two old ladies (who apparently didn’t know each other) sat down at my table. Japanese people avoid doing this, and both of them completely ignored me, the second one even demonstratively turning her back at me. Oh well, I just kept writing.

But then, the first one left – and the second one promptly turned around and started chatting with me. And then she put her own bento box on the table (hand-made vegetarian maki sushi) – and offered me some of it! She went so far and put the food right in front of me and because it would have been rude to refuse, I had another lunch with the old lady, who was very happy to have somebody to share her food with. She said something like Shared food is always delicious, but eating alone is so sad…

Japanese people never cease to amaze me. I know that the elderly – old ladies especially – have some sort of fool’s license, they can get away with many things younger people would be immediately punished for. But this was certainly a new facet of Japanese society that I have never seen before, and probably will not see again.

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