I think I found studying Japanese at SDSU enjoyable because it was so different from English -- there were so many linguistic concepts that didn't exist in my native language, which sometimes made constructing sentences easier in Japanese (no messing with past participle and present perfect tense, as they don't exist), and sometimes more challenging. One group of intriguing expressions that fall into the latter group are "repeating phrases" the are pregnant with meaning. The phrase soro soro adds the idea that the time for something has come to a sentence (e.g. soro soro ikimasho, "Let's go (because it's time we should be going)"). Another similar phrase is waza waza, meaning "to go to all the trouble" (waza waza motte kite kurete arigato, "Thanks for going out of your way to bring it to me"). If you have a sparkling new car, it's pika pika (pee-KA pee-KA, gleaming with newness), but if you don't take care of it, it'll be boro boro (old and rusty). These descriptive repeating words get blended with English, too, with words like rabu rabu (love-love, describing a couple that is very much in love), and ero ero (which describes most males I know, similar in meaning to ecchi).
As the Japanese economy limps on, some companies are having to reinvent themselves to survive, and one such company is the beleaguered Ito Yokado group. Their department stores has fallen on hard times, but the chain of 7-11 convenience stores that they own is still doing well, so the company decided to reorganize their whole group under the name "7&i Holdings," with a revamped 7-11 logo. Now while driving through our city we can see normal 7-11 convenience stores here and there, and one department store with the same logo, like a giant 5-story version of 7-11 that happens to sell clothes and furniture. The company also operates Denny's restaurants in Japan, and sure enough, these have all been "re-branded" with the new logo. While the food in Denny's in Japan is pretty good (they lack the 800-calorie strawberry shakes that they sell in the States, though), having a 7-11 sign stuck on the side of a restaurant can really make you think about food and we perceive it.
Here's the Ito Yokado department store in Maebashi, with its spiffy new 7-11 logo.
And their Denny's/7-11 logo.
Denny's in Japan is all about washoku (Japanese style food), and there's no Big Mac clone, no giant thick shake (with an extra stainless steel cup in case you didn't get enough the first time), no Grand Slam or breakfast menu.
The miso soup is good at Denny's ni Japan. Much better than the non-existent miso soup at Denny's in the U.S. And you know, if you can see from this pic, these are the coolest, most carefully carved balsa-wood chopsticks I've used in a long time.
The true bellweather for a restaurant is how good its ice coffee is, and Denny's was really good, right up there with Kizoku no Mori and Silk Road, two local restaurants whose ice coffee we revere.