I enter the brightly lit noodle shop and point. The house speciality, please. Knotty brown noodles in a seaweed soup. My first day in Japan - a gaijin, fresh off the plane.
I sit, wait, nervously twiddle the bamboo waribashi, practising my chopstick technique. A steaming bowl arrives. I dip (don’t spear), clasp firmly, raise and suck.
Help! I’m being watched. A Japanese family. All eyes glued on me. What’s wrong? Uncoordinated chopsticks? Slurping?
“Hidari-kiki?” asks the mother.
Left-hander? Then a lightbulb moment. Yes, I am! Rarely seen in this land of 90% right-handedness. But my table manners went unnoticed.