Saturday, January 07, 2006

Saka-Nah and SARS Hunting

I think that Saka-nah (Japanese for "fish") is the most versatile word I've learned because it feels like the only one I use outside of "thank you". In Osaka when we couldn't find the aquarium, I stopped to ask someone (who spoke no English) where it was. After a few seconds of her speaking to me in Japanese and just moments before I began to mime fish (which would have really confused her), I blurted out "Saka nah!" Strangely enough, she understood we were looking for the aquarium and directed us there.

So at the Tokyo Fish Market, when I saw three guys manhandling the largest fish I had ever seen, I pointed at it and smiling proudly said "Saka-nah." I expected them to be encouraging of my efforts to speak Japanese, but the fish guys looked at me like I was the stupidest person they had ever seen.
For some reason, I thought maybe they didn't understand me, so I said "Saka-nah!" again, this time slower and louder. One guy stared at me blankly and finally nodded slowly before quickly turning his back on me. Initially discouraged, I thought about it on the subway home and came to the conclusion that it would like Japanese tourists showing up at my office, excitedly taking photos at my desk and then pointing to my phone and saying "phone!" I'd think they were idiots too. Ahhhh...Saka-nah...what a great word.

The fish market was amazing - a collection of Japanese men scurrying around on scooter-type machines, furiously emptying strange insect-like seafood from styrafoam containers and hacking out massive chunks of deep red tuna with hatchets. I saw fish heads the size of small end tables discarded in huge piles of blood. Most disturbing of all, I watched as a man reached into a deep container of water, pulled out fish by the tail and then clubbed them before hacking their heads off. Sadly, you could still see the fish gasping for air and twitching. Last night we had sushi with raw tuna and as I was eating it, all I could picture were the bodies of headless tuna and fish flipping around in bloody water. I had one piece and that was all I could eat.

Scott and I spent that afternoon playing a game that we found hilarous (but my parents did not) called SARS Hunter, which basically entailed one of us pretending to take random photos of a Rollins family member, but at the last second moving the camera to take a photo of a SARS mask-wearing person. It soon degenerated into us taking random photos of anyone wearing a SARS mask. It was so ridiculous, but each photo sent Scott and I into shrieks of laughter and provoked tut-tutting, head shaking and nasty looks from our parents. This provided hours of fun. We now have a great SARS Hunter gallery. I promise to post some SARS hunter art in my next entry.


Blogger Kim P said...


Lovin' your blog. Your stories add such excitement to our ordinary lives and your writing is hilarous. Easy on those little kids - they don't know you play hockey!

Kim P

10:42 AM  
Blogger DaveMegMom said...

Hi there, Della. This is Dave and Meg's mom. Dave sent me your website. Glad you visited the dynamic duo and I hear you had a great time! Old friendships are wonderful, aren't they? I'm glad for all of you that you are taking this time to explore the strange and awesome world we live in. Hope you don't mind me listening in, but all your adventures are fascinating! Take care, but have lots of fun. Esther Campbell

7:49 AM  

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