Nar3: Japan

Two weeks!
Posted on Tuesday, September 16th, 2003 at 9:09am by Brett.
(Tuesday, September 16th, 2003 at 10:09pm Japanese Standard Time)

Well, two weeks and a lifetime ago I moved to Japan. Things have been going very well. I've made many friends...a broad range, I like to think, and I've gotten used to things here. I'm not sure if it feels like I've been living in Japan forever, or if I've just only moved here. A little bit of both, I suppose. There wasn't really a "transitional" phase. It was much more like "this is your room, this is where you shower, this is the toilets, this is where you eat," and it's either accept that straight up, or pout for a while until you decide to accept it any way.

British Kate had a moderately bad day today, so we went out for cake and McDonalds. I paid 630 yen (about $6) for a Big Mac value meal. It was expensive, but oh-so good.

I have an address!
Brett Profitt
Oikoshi 22 Room 327
Amakubo 2-1-1
Tsukuba shi, Ibaraki ken

This SHOULD get a letter to me.

I have a phone!
81 - 090 - 6678 - 7529

The 81 part is Japan's country code. Please dial accordingly.

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Posted on Wednesday, September 17th, 2003 at 8:51am by Brett.
(Wednesday, September 17th, 2003 at 9:51pm Japanese Standard Time)

The classes here are a bit hellish. They are 75 minutes long, and my language classes are mostly doubled up, so I get a fun 2 and 1/2 hours of class. It hurts a lot.

There are people that are like "My *so-and-so* went to *some romance-language-speaking country* for *short period of time* and came back fluent!" as through they just accidentally stumbled into fluency. I'm sure with Romance and Germanic languages, that's entirely possible. With Japanese it isn't. At all. You seriously have to study. The classes are very important.

I'll not say my classes are poorly operated (yet). But I'll just say they're different than what I'm used to. They're teaching Japanese from a Japanese point of view, which does little to help any one else but the Japanese. We're actually using what appears to be Japanese Grammar books for elementary children. We'll be reviewing something I've known for 3 years, and I'll only just realize that I understand completely what she's talking about after she stops explaining it and has us do the drills. Things are so different on this side...but like I said, I'll not say it's bad...just different. And I'll definitely NOT make the rash ...(More)

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Earthquake!!!! ...and laundry
Posted on Friday, September 19th, 2003 at 11:31pm by Brett.
(Saturday, September 20th, 2003 at 12:31pm Japanese Standard Time)

I was just in my very first earthquake. It wasn't fun. I don't like earthquakes. The ground is something that isn't supposed to move. I was talking to Jason at the time....urm....the ground moved. No, you don't understand. The GROUND MOVED. It was probably only like...a 0.05 or something. But still. The ground, people...it moved.


And life goes on...

If you don't know, my laundry (at least) is in the same building as my room. For some very odd reason, you don't have to pay to wash and dry your clothes, but you do have to pay to shower yourself. Those kooky Japanese.

Anyway, this morning I woke up and realized that I had nothing clean to wear. Now, I'm not a skank. It wasn't like I couldn't re-wear some pants and a shirt. But I generally don't like doing that. So I decided to wash all my clothes. I went to check to see if there were any unused washers and driers, and there was one unused set. You don't want to start laundry if there isn't a drier there because it's so humid your clothes will stink.

I went back to my room to get my clothes...I had an armful with my laundry detergent carefully balanced on top.

I made my way back to ...(More)

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Posted on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003 at 1:57am by Brett.
(Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003 at 2:57pm Japanese Standard Time)

Today is (another) national holiday in Japan. Again classes are canceled! Today is the autumnal equinox.

Speaking of autumn, the weather here has shapped up. It suddenly realized "Holy CRAP! It's the middle of September and I'm still running at 90 degrees F with a relative humidity of 400%!!! COMPENSATE!!!" It's been a nice, but slightly damp, 65-60 lately. Much better than the previous week. It was like...unbearably hot, unbearably hot, unbearably hot...earthquake, typhoon, cold. But it's a good thing! Feels like autumn.

Only problem is that I've somehow managed to bring only 2 pairs of pants. This statement seriously confused my friend Kate from the UK. Apparently, "pants" in the UK are what we call "underwear" in the States. So, I only brought 2 pairs of trousers. So Mom, if you're reading, I need my winter clothes!!!

Nothing overly exciting has been going on lately. I got carpet for my room. That was lots of fun for me. It makes it feel a bit nicer than the old, filthy tile floor.

I have this large florescent light in my room. From the first day I've been here, if you turn it off, the light turns blue. The light would never turn completely off, ...(More)

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The baths
Posted on Thursday, September 25th, 2003 at 8:54am by Brett.
(Thursday, September 25th, 2003 at 9:54pm Japanese Standard Time)

The showers here are traditional Japanese showers...for the most part. If you are not aware, the Japanese traditionally take their showers together. First you wash yourself off while sitting on a little tiny bench thing, then you hop into a swimming-pool sized bath with lots of other people and "relax". This idea didn't go over very well with me. I did it the very first night...then I discovered the wonderful western style bathrooms, and now I do a little naked dance each night when I lock myself in the private shower because of the mere fact that no one can see me. It's quite nice...

There is, however, a big communal changing room. Now, I change in the private room because...because I'm American. But everyone else using the Japanese-style showers just changes out in the open. There are exactly 3 places to look in this room: the ceiling, the floor, and anywhere someone isn't busy being naked.

Tonight, I had finished my showering (and dancing, as it were) and was leaving the private showers. The private showers connect through the changing room, which in turn connects to the other baths. I saw someone that is in my Japanese language class--an American (but from the ...(More)

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Posted on Friday, September 26th, 2003 at 4:24am by Brett.
(Friday, September 26th, 2003 at 5:24pm Japanese Standard Time)

Yikes. A magnitude 8 earthquake hit Hokkaido this morning. Hokkaido is the northern most island of Japan, and happens to be where Greg and Nick are going. They were due to arrive just this week, I think. Nice welcome...

It was nearly 5:00am when it hit, so I was asleep, but I woke up. We felt a bit of it down here, but nothing at all like what they did. There was no damage here except for a few things falling out of place. This is about the 3rd or 4th little earthquake here in two weeks. The one in Hokkaido was the strongest to hit anywhere in the world this year. Luckily, only one person has been killed.

On a brighter note, I just turned in the forms to get internet access in my dorm, so I should have a nice connection from my room by next week.

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One month!!!
Posted on Thursday, October 2nd, 2003 at 2:47am by Brett.
(Thursday, October 2nd, 2003 at 3:47pm Japanese Standard Time)

I've now officially been in Japan for a month! W00t! Also, I'm a card-carrying official alien in Japan now, AND I have internet in my room! Fun fun fun fun!

On the not-fun side, I completely bombed my first Japanese language test. I've yet to talk to someone who didn't fail it, so I'm not feeling too bad about it. But I did do better than I expected on my kanji test, so that's nice...

I've got to write an essay/speech to give in class next Wednesday. It'll be...urm...interesting...

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Highschool girls, karaoke, and Evil Hello Kitty
Posted on Friday, October 3rd, 2003 at 10:31am by Brett.
(Friday, October 3rd, 2003 at 11:31pm Japanese Standard Time)

A couple days ago, a group of my friends and I were sitting outside in front of the International Student Center just talking. There were about 7 of us, two of which were what the Japanese consider to be "standard" American guys. That is, they were blonde haired and light eyed, and one was pretty tall. By chance, there was a tour going on for a group of about 30 highschool girls. They were the stereotypical Japanese Highschool Girls...straight from the manga and anime. They were walking past the center to another building just beyond it. One of them spotted the group of foreigners and kinda pointed. Pretty soon, we were getting staired at...which isn't really anything new.

By this point, the tour had stopped and they were straight up gawking at us. Then one brave girl took out her cell phone, and timidly took a picture. It was all over then. Every single girl there pulled out cell phones and cameras and started taking pictures. Then, one stepped forward to get a closer shot. We started posing for them, and finally one of the "American" guys went down and hugged them for a pose. It was pretty amusing. This went on about 5 minutes before the tour guide pulled them ...(More)

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Room Boredom
Posted on Sunday, October 5th, 2003 at 11:21am by Brett.
(Monday, October 6th, 2003 at 12:21am Japanese Standard Time)

Four Walls,
A Ceiling,
A Floor.

A Door that I'll go through
When schedules demand
To attend meetings
That I haven't planned.

A Window I'll look through
To see far away
Or open for night air
Or light of the day.

A Desk in the corner
A Bed by its side
Under whose covers I hide
Wondering why...right now...
There's not more

Than Four Walls,
A Ceiling,
A Floor.

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Nihongo ga heta desu.
Posted on Tuesday, October 7th, 2003 at 4:31am by Brett.
(Tuesday, October 7th, 2003 at 5:31pm Japanese Standard Time)

Japanese is hard. It isn't hard like any romance language ever might be "hard". It's hard like trying to speak in unfactored quadratic equations is hard.

There are two theories about the origins of the Japanese language.

The first is that Japanese was originally created by the Koreans and Chinese as a form of punishment. Around 666BC, China and Korea got together and tried to figure out a way to punish the worst criminals. The solution? A cosy-looking set of islands slightly to the east to serve as a prison.

As everyone knows, evil criminals are Tricky. China and Korea knew this, and wanted to make sure they wouldn't riot and break free, so the criminals were forbidden to speak any language in which they could be understood by one another. And thus was birth of the Japanese language...

The second theory suggests that the Tower of Babble fell not because everyone started speaking different languages, but in fact that everyone started speaking Japanese and was therefore unable to understand each other without first studying their own language for years.

The whole of the Japanese language is based upon an in group / out group idea. Depending upon which group ...(More)

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