dish detergent, kindergarten visit, rain.

11 May 2011 § 1 Comment

One of the items that I acquired from the girl across the hall is some dish detergent.

As I was washing dishes about ten minutes ago, though, I realized that I don’t actually know if it’s dish detergent. It is in a small bottle that sort of looks like other detergent bottles I’ve seen here in Japan and it’s orange scented, like a lot of dish detergents, but there is nothing in English on there and nothing in katakana that helps me know if it’s actually detergent. It occurred to me that it could just as easily be a small bottle of shampoo. I looked for any kanji that I might understand, and saw one that I recognized. Unfortunately, I always mix up the kanji for hand and the kanji for hair. I figured if it was the one for hand, then it was detergent.

Anyway, I just looked it up. It is dish detergent. (I think).

My first kindergarten visit went well yesterday. I could easily complain about the fact that it was only a half hour visit and it takes me over a half hour for one way of transportation to get there. But it is in this lovely little rural area where there is water and trees and grass and no tall, grey, concrete, awful buildings. Once I get to the train station, the kindergarten is about a fifteen minute walk away, and it is a lovely walk. The kids were adorable. There were maybe around twenty of them (a small class, from what I hear). They were all very attentive and smiley and eager. We sang a few songs, I taught a few words. In the next year, I’m supposed to visit that particular class nine more times. I’m looking forward to it!

It’s been a rainy and humid past couple days. A suggestion of what rainy season might be like. I’m not sure when rainy season is though, or how long it lasts. Regardless, I’m not looking forward to it. Umbrellas don’t help much.


illiterate and a visible minority.

8 February 2011 § 2 Comments

And if I post at night and then the next morning, it is as if I’ve posted two times in one day.

It rained last night. That somehow made Osaka seem more like a real place. Not that it’s exactly felt fake, but everything has still felt sort of unreal. Rain helps.

There are two feelings that I’ve found particularly interesting since I’ve been here. The first, which I’ve remarked on to some and in other places, is the feeling of being illiterate. I struggle to figure out what things mean, trying to figure out what they might mean based on context. There are two people in my training group who understand some amount of the writing systems and are able to answer some the others’ questions, but I hate having to ask them for help all the time. I need to do some studying myself. I rely on other cues, which I do also in English of course, but they are so much more important now it seems, though being in a foreign culture makes it that much more difficult. (I am watching the morning news, they are talking about English, Canada, and America. One of the guys just spoke some English and then everyone clapped. I don’t understand.)

The other feeling is well, not so much a feeling as a fact: I am a visible minority. On Monday, a friend and I walked to the Ward Office to apply for our Alien Registration Cards and on our way back to the apartment, a group of kids pointed at us saying, “Amerika-jin!” and “Hello! Hey! Hi!”. They were very excited. We waved back, said hello, smiled. As we kept walking they shouted their goodbyes. I remarked to my friend that that would never happen in Canada. It would never fly to point at a Japanese person on the street, “Look! a Japanese person! Konnichiwa!! Ohayo!!! Sayonara!!”. I mean, I wasn’t put off or insulted. I’ve heard that that happens. It was kinda neat, actually. I don’t think I’ve gotten stared at quite as much as some of the other trainees. One of the girls is blonde with blue eyes. One of the guys is 6″3 with light brown hair. Maybe I just haven’t noticed because I don’t look around a lot on the subway. One of the girls from the States said yesterday that she feels guilty for not knowing more Japanese, that she feels obligated to learn as fast as possible. I understand what she means. It’s nice and all having our little group, but we need to branch out a little and get into it more. If you know what I mean.

I got excited last night doing some of my reading for training today when in one of the examples of a teacher talking with a student, my name was used:

“My name is Catherine, (gesturing with an open hand to the first student) what’s your name? Nice to meet you, Emi…”

Haven’t found any personalized items with my name on them yet. Probably should figure out how to read my name in Japanese first.

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