Lin prefaces this story by saying that this is a semi-autobiographical story about her own experiences in Japan about ten years ago. Its a very short story, just above 20 pages and I think well-written. The tone of the story is warm and welcoming as 'Jeannie' in the book explains to us how she came to be in Japan by herself lost and searching for the tea ceremony.
Throughout the story she observes how awkward she feels despite the fact she is Asian and surrounded by other Asians. I've never quite left Caucasian dominated areas before, or been in a situation where I couldn't insist that there be some sort of English around so I understand everything. The closest I've come would be Inner City Philadelphia (where you'd be hard pressed to find anybody who can speak English no matter their race) and certain parts of NJ.
Jeannie sets the scene well; the nervousness, but excitement one feels when visiting a new culture and learning new things. The awe when you realize that there are far more busy and insane cities out there then just in the US. The near constant bombardment of sensory data while you try to acclimate. I would have happily read about Jeannie's experiences while she wandered around Japan.
The inclusion of Scott, a graduate student studying Eastern Asian Religion, made for an interesting comparison for Jeannie and the reader. Jeannie observes that his everyman American looks felt more comfortable to her then seeing the scores of people who shared her genetic history.
This was a diverting insightful piece that felt kind of like talking with a friend after a trip. Jeannie, the character, isn't afraid to discuss her flaws or touristy thoughts. Her enthusiasm to enjoy her trip to Japan was obvious making the story relaxing to read.