Have you ever had a moment where you locked eyes with another person and knew exactly what their thoughts were? These instances are not common, but I think we all can point to at least one time where it’s happened. My most recent experience of this occurring happened in Hiroshima, Japan. In the early afternoon one day I decided to try out a Japanese dish called okonomiyaki. In Hiroshima there’s a building full of small restaurants that serve okonomiyaki and after a few minutes of research I picked one that appeared to have a type of okonomiyaki that I might like. On the second floor of the building I found the restaurant I was looking for and I took a seat. The lady who ran the place didn’t speak a word of English so I had to make use of Google Translate to supplement my limited knowledge of Japanese. The meal was prepared and I started eating. When I first sat down I was the only customer at the restaurant but as I ate a number of people passed by. Most were just looking around. At one point, however, a western gaijin couple came by and I locked eyes with the man. In that very moment I swear to you that I could read his thoughts, and they were roughly this: “Wait, there’s a westerner sitting at this restaurant. If there’s a westerner here, then this restaurant must have sold out to the tourist crowd. This place isn’t authentic.” We stared at each other for less than a second before breaking it off. He motioned to his girl to move on and they promptly did. When they were gone I marveled at what had just happened. For a brief moment I had seen right through into his mind. Sadly, what I had seen was the sort of travel attitude that I so very much detest. My meal, however, wasn’t going to eat itself, so I went back to munching and shortly thereafter a couple of Japanese people took a seat near me to have their own okomiyaki meals. After finishing my meal and leaving the building I largely forgot about the incident and it wasn’t until recently that it’s come back to being on my mind.

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