A foreigner in central Tokyo this morning has had to check the total cost of his goods by looking at the amount on the register screen.

“I basically knew the ball park figure, I just needed to take a quick peek to confirm the price,” said Baxter Whitworth.

“I swear, I just wasn’t listening properly.”

Whitworth made the mistake of asking the clerk to repeat the price last week, which raised the level of there-is-a-gaijin-shopping-in-the-supermarket awkwardness by at least a factor of two.

“You know, when it comes to the crunch, turns out his Japanese is absolute shite,” said 67-year-old Hinako Fujiwara who was waiting behind Whitworth in the queue.

Fujiwara stood right on top of Whitworth to make sure the transaction moved a bit faster.


  1. Always and every time. I might have heard correctly, I might no have. I might accidentally think nihyaku is 20. It’s just so much easier to read the screen. Not like I listened in America, but I didn’t use cash there, so it didn’t matter.

  2. I Bet he didn’t do his change calculations either and ended up with 640 yen change instead of a lovely 650 round figure. It takes extra time to count out those 10 yen pieces. Hope he got the Lawsons Butaman death stare!

  3. “Don’t let anyone see you look at the price. If you get caught looking, people might think you don’t understand Japanese.” Been here years and this thought still goes through my mind if I have to double check because I wasn’t listening.

  4. There is a little gadget you can get to attach to your handbag or manbag, its basically a mirror disguised as your favourite anime character and enables you to peek at the screen while outwardly appearing to be looking demurely down at your feet. An absolute lifesaver in hundreds of potentially mortifying social situations,, I think it’s marketed as “cunning gaijin” but only on sale in those larger bookshops that have a section for books written in English, where gaijins hang around for hours when meeting friends who might turn up at any given time.

  5. Sometimes, the young play jokes on foreigners and read a completely different size number. I bought some bananas for what the cashier said was “¥2,500,000”, so I told him the rate of inflation is shocking. He just looked embarrassed.


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