Monday, February 14, 2011

Idaho in Japan

When I first came to Japan I had to make a decision: to claim Idaho, my birthplace and high school home, or Seattle, my college city and futurehome, as my "hometown." I consulted with others who had been in Japan and learned that Seattle is an easily recognized name with concrete references in the minds of students: references such as Ichiro Suzuki and the Mariner's baseball team.

So, for the last two years I've told my students quite simply, "I'm from Seattle."

"Shi-a-te-roo?!" they exclaim; "Do you know Ichiro?!" they ask.

"Yes, of course." I reply, "He's my boyfriend."


However, this got a little confusing around Christmas time when I told my students I was going "home" for the holidays and they automatically assumed I meant Seattle.

So, when I returned from my vacation in both Seattle AND Idaho, I decided to inform them of both of my American homes. So in my first lesson back, I made sure to distinguish between the two places and showed video and pictures of both. However, when the word "Idaho" flashed across the screen, all I got were blank faces. Despite the map visual and all the photos of snow I could squeeze into 4 minutes, they still had no comprehensible point of reference to this "Idaho" place.

Enter: The Idaho Burger

Cue epic music. 
Leave it to McDonald's to take a giant hamburger patty, top it with a deep fried potato, slap some crazy sauces on it, and name it after an obscure state. But, it seems to be working. For the weeks following this new burger announcement, my mention of "Idaho" was met with slightly confused but somewhat comprehending looks. Hoorah!

As a proud native Idahoan, I vowed that I would enter under those golden arches and taste of this unnaturally delicious-looking burger. However, despite my best intentions, the final day of the Idaho Burger's reign quickly approached.

On that last day, I cleared my schedule, grabbed my friend Sarra, and walked eagerly into "Maku" only to be greeted with sparkling new posters of the "Miami Burger." Fearing the worst, I tentatively approached the counter and asked "IDaHo Ba-ga Arimasuka?" to which the cashier replied that there was, in fact, one burger left. I squealed with delight, whipped out 1000 yen, and waited for the cashier to bring me my hometown's japanese pride.

However, I was two minutes too late, the last Idaho Burger was gone, and I had to settle for a regular ole cheeseburger instead. 
My last small spark of happiness came when I decided to improvise. If I couldn't have the real thing, I would do my best to replicate it. 

French fries on a cheeseburger? Good enough.
In conclusion, while I may not have tasted it's potatoe-y goodness, this burger's short time on Japan was enough to give my students the glimmer of comprehension which my stories and pictures failed to elicit. I just hope that glimmer lasts longer than the burger itself.

*Photos by Sarra.



    Note: I went with sad-orable over edu-motional. Did I make the right choice?

  2. I think Sad-aborable has a better ring to it, yes. :) Ha ha! Clever coining, Kelly!

  3. Hi ReBekha,

    Really?! For me, Idaho relates to potatoes!!! I think we Japanese know Idaho better than Seattle, because I didn't know seattle until I went there for a homestay. And the way it is pronounced is different. You know Jap way of saying Seattle. hehe

    I am sorry to hear that you missed the Idaho ver but glad you came up with that idea eating with french fries. hahaha

    BTW, your future home is Seattle?! Why you have 2 places?! Is that like going up to the city like people going up to Tokyo or Osaka?!

  4. I totally feel you on the problematic "home"! I've tried to make clear my identity as a transplant from Hawaii to San Francisco, but people seem to like Hawaii a lot more and only ask me about things there. It's fine I guess. Oh, and sorry that you missed your burger... honestly it doesn't sound all that appetizing though so I think it was for the best :P

  5. the idaho burger was amazing so i'm sad you missed it. but i have a feeling it'll be back soon. after the big america 1 finished last year, the mcdonalds in harajuku was selling texas burgers 3 months after the fact. sooooo happy. yeah, the idaho burger seemed mad popular so i think it will make a return before you leave japan

  6. Ron, I certainly hope that's true! Come back, Idaho Burger! I need to eat yoooooou!
    I feel ya, Kate. It's like "Home?! What's that??"
    Ochi- I think my young students know Seattle just because of Ichiro Suzuki. :) I don't think they care about potatoes yet. Ha ha! My future home is Seattle because it's where I want to live if I move back to the states. :) It's a better fit for my personality and lifestyle.

    Sorry I forgot to respond before. :P