15 July 2011 § 1 Comment
It’s mid-July and it is very hot in Japan. I’m getting used to it, though. I was told by two people in the past week that I seemed to fit right in, and that I seem like I’ve been here longer than five and a half months. It’s been nearly half a year. It feels like it’s been a month.
My Japanese is coming along. I managed to hold up some kind of conversation with a woman the other day. The different writing systems make learning Japanese an interesting process. Hiragana and katakana are straightforward enough (both syllabaries which are easy enough to read once you know them all), but there is nothing about kanji (logographic) that is so simple. I’ve found that I can now look at a lot of kanji and know they’re meaning in English, but not how they’re read in Japanese. And I know a few kanji and their readings in Japanese, but not what they mean in English. And I know a lot of words in Japanese and their English meaning, but not their associated kanji. It’s a strange process.
I really want to study harder, but there’s hardly any time. I had a little girl run up to me last week at work and start talking to me in very fast Japanese. She seemed to really want to tell me about something. A Japanese teacher helped me out and explained to me that the girl wanted to tell me about her pet bunny. Moments like that one especially make me wish I could understand as well as speak more.
I had been avoiding buying any plants up until now because I’m not good at caring for them. So instead, when I was at a store the other day, I thought it’d be a good idea to buy some pet shrimp. Tiny little shrimp, in a little bowl, with some plants in it. I figured I couldn’t screw that one up. I brought them home and named them (Sydney, Colorado, and Partridge). The next day, when I got home from work, they were dead. I never leave my air conditioning on when I go out, and I guess that little shrimp don’t like the Osaka heat. A good friend is giving me a spider plant next week. Hopefully it’s not so sensitive. Maybe I’ll hold off on naming that one.
I am on to my third stick of deodorant.
As much as I’d like to spend more time on learning Japanese, or at home with the air conditioning on so that I sustain some kind of life so I have some company in my apartment, I’m really excited about all the things I’m busy with right now. Currently, I am spending four days in Kyoto, cat-sitting for my friend Mariko. She thanked me several times for helping her out before her and her family left, but really, I should be thanking her! Four days in Kyoto for free, in a house, with three cats. What more could I ask for? I think four days off in a row should be enough to get me through until two weeks from now when I will be climbing Mount Fuji. Yes, I am climbing Mount Fuji in two weeks, and on the Friday morning, I will watch the sun rise from the top. I’m not convinced that I am in any kind of appropriate physical condition, but I’m not going to let that stop me!
AND THEN, a week later, my friend Dan and I will go on a crazy adventure around almost all of Japan. It will be long. It will be tiring. It will be expensive. It will be awesome. We’ve only planned out the first half of our journey, but it includes Hiroshima (for the peace ceremony), Hakone (for the Little Prince / Antoine de St Exupery museum), Kamakura (I hear it’s quaint?), Tokyo, Nikko (for Toshogu Shrine), a long ferry ride to Hokkaido, Sapporo, and Hakodate. That’s about one week right there. We will post an itinerary on here when it’s complete and, once the journey starts, will be updating my blog – ideally – every day. I hadn’t anticipated much of Japan beyond the Kansai region (Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Kobe) and Tokyo, so I’m very excited.
I’m becoming quite comfortable here.