Yesterday, the teacher recommended a Japanese bookstore that's about fifteen minutes up the freeway from here--said we could get the textbook a lot cheaper there than we could at the college bookstore. So I hopped in the car and drove up.
The teacher gave a name and said it was on Baker and Harbor, two major streets. In usual Brent fashion, I forgot the name but remembered the crossroads. So when I saw a Japanese bookstore, I naturally figured I'd found what I was looking for. A few minutes, a U-turn, and a parking space later, I was in the store.
The place was incredibly dense. Most of the books were smaller than American mass-market paperbacks, and the shelves were taller than I was. The aisles were fairly narrow and filled with people. I later realized that the place was an offshoot of what must have been a Japanese supermarket in the same center.
And everything--everything--was in hiragana. (Or maybe kanji--can't tell.)
After about fifteen minutes of wandering around looking for the textbook, I decided I'd ask someone at the front about it. But I also remembered AC's suggestion of learning hiragana from untranslated manga, so I paced the manga shelves until I spotted a familiar-looking panda. I picked up the first issue, checked the cover, and then opened it up to be absolutely sure. Yup--it was Ranma 1/2. So now I have both translated and untranslated copies of it. w00t.
So, I took it and my MT bag up to the counter to talk to someone. I showed him the textbook (it was in my bag) and explained that my teacher said I could find a cheaper copy here; he said that the store didn't sell textbooks. D'oh. I bought the $3 used manga and left.
Outside, I figured that there must be another Japanese bookstore around here. So I drove around a little. Sure enough, on the opposite side of Harbor and way in the back, there was another bookstore. I recognized the name, so I pulled in.
This one was much nicer, more along the lines of a B&N or something. Only five minutes of wandering around until I found the book. $30 later, I had a shiny new (cheaper) copy. w00tni.
Drove home and related the whole saga to Dad, who pointed out that I'd chosen to study a language where I couldn't fake reading it. *rolls eyes*
Anyway, I now have the book I wanted and another useful one too. And I know not to make that mistake again.
I also know that I'm not uncomfortable in an overwhelmingly Japanese environment like that. Confused as hell, but not uncomfortable. Probably all the time spent at 99 Ranch buying pocky.