Friday, January 22, 2016

In Which Our Hero Discusses Japanese Monetary Customs With a Junior Teller at Wells Fargo

Japanese 2000 yen notes (worth about $20 US), featuring the Shureimon gate (front) and Lady Murasaki Shikibu with a scene from The Tale of Genji (back).


IAN is buying Japanese yen from a young TELLER behind the counter of a bank lobby whose ceiling is exorbitantly high. The TELLER counts out the notes, which IAN then considers.

IAN: Do you mind if I trade in some of these two-thousand notes for a few five-thousands? Japanese people don't really use them, so they'd peg me as a tourist.

TELLER (surprised): Uh, I didn't know that. (checks computer) Sorry, we don't have any other yen here.

IAN: That's fine. It'll just be like I started using two-dollar bills everywhere.

TELLER (oblivious): Oh. (Pause, after which he begins to speak from a clearly rehearsed script.) Now, will you be using your debit card in Japan?

IAN (tilting his head in the Japanese manner of not wanting to correct someone): Not this time—Japanese businesses don't really take cards. They're still a cash society.

TELLER (wide-eyed): Wow, I didn't know that. I take it you've been to Japan before?

IAN: Yeah, a little bit.


Time to take a trip—my first time back in Japan in almost five years. Feels good to be doing something exciting again, to be going to a place where daily life will be just a little bit more challenging.  That's the kind of thing that makes you sharper.

Lots of changes coming for 2016. I finished a novel last year, finished grad school, and started doing more things that matter. Blogging also still matters—putting things out there in a form more substantial than a Facebook post or tweet keeps me sharp, and keeps the ideas flowing.

Been working on a better place to do that than Blogspot, though, which has become the blogging equivalent of AOL Instant Messenger (out of fashion, but technically still around). Stay tuned.