No snack for you!

On my way to Sendai, I met a Japanese girl who was also traveling there. The hostel there was practically deserted, with the only other occupant being my roommate who was not around when we arrived.
We decided to go into town together and get dinner. We wanted to try the local specality, so we started wandering around. We litterally wandered around the resturant district because after an hour and a half of walking, we didn’t pass a single place to eat, let alone a place serving the local speciality.
My poor companion, who was forced to speak English, explained that she was so hungry that she was starting to forget words, and if she didn’t eat soon, would be unable to speak at all. I suggested that we get a snack, motioning down the street in the direction of a 7-11.
“A what!?”, she asked with a look of shock eyes. “A snack.” I replied, wondering why I was suddenly getting the “What kind of girl do you think I am?” look. “A snack, something small to eat before a meal.”, I explained at her request. She seemed to be calmed by this and explained that the word has a different meaning in Japanese.
Japan uses a lot of “loan-words” from English, as well as other languages, but they are usually used in a way which isn’t entirely inline with the origional meaning of the words. “Snack” is one such word. In Japan, snack is a slang term for a Host Bar.
For those of you unaware of such things, a Host Bar is just like a normal bar except that guys will go there to be served drinks by pretty women. The way it has been explained to me is that you enter the bar and a “host” will take you to a seat, have a nice conversation with you and make sure that your drink is always full. My understanding is that the drinks come at a higher price, so it is in the host’s interest to keep you drinking.
I’ve been endlessly amused by this exchange. To think that such a harmless word could cause so much trouble.
Anyway, it all ended well, and we went on to enjoy dinner.

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2 Responses to “No snack for you!”

  1. Kyle Says:

    Apparently, “Come over tomorrow and knock me up” means to knock on her door in the morning in New Zealand. learned that one the hard way…Awkward!

  2. Nedra Says:

    hmm… so when you get back, you’ll be opening a snack shop?

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