This was taken just before we were about to walk up the Brooklyn Bridge. H E L L O Brooklyn!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Sunday, 12 October 2008

October Update

October 12th
Sitting in Star Bucks: Kamiooka station

I’ve just had Japanese class in Bandobashi. I was half an hour late, but I got my money’s worth. I pay 500 yen for 3 month’s worth of classes, which includes a one hour and a half of teaching on Sunday’s. Starts at 1.30pm, which isn’t too shabby. Now, I’m finally attending to my blog. I’ve been neglecting it recently as I haven’t had the time nor the patience to sit down and get down to typing.

Since the new term has begun, and ever since the summer holidays have ended, I’ve been studying Japanese every day during work and after. I got myself hyped up for the JLPT (Japanese Level Proficiency Test) level 3 exam. My qualification in SOAS has already got me covered for level 3 and level 2, but, for my own security and peace of mind, I’ve decided to do the level 3 irrespectively.

This way I can re-learn the things I didn’t understand and make sure I perfect them. Other foreigners I’ve met in Japan are preparing for the level 2 exam, which is apparently so hard that even a native Japanese speaker has difficulty passing it. That’s very encouraging! In fact, I’ve met someone who is revising for the 3rd time as she has failed the level 2 exam twice. Good on her for keeping at it and getting on with painful Japanese.

Overall, I feel a little bit closer to the Japanese language compared to before as I’ve forced myself to study everyday even if it is merely for an hour starring at a page of grammar or revising ONE form of grammar only. Studying Japanese grammar and vocabulary can become a tedious chore, so recently, I’ve lost a little motivation, yet I know that within a month I’ll be going crazy making sure I’ve learn enough to do a mock-exam. So be prepared for when I go incognito just before December approaches.

Afterwards, I get to enjoy my Christmas in the love of friends and parents back in my city, my lovely London, which I miss very much. I’ve bought my ticket and decided to lift off from Narita airport on Thursday December18th., which means I get more out of my money by spending a couple of hours extra in my city. But, what’s even more better is that I arrive in England on the same day that I launched : )


So my summer holiday was good. My friend Chia was happy to let me stay with her and her family in Tsuruoka, Yamagata ken, for a week. I enjoyed it very much. Much of the time, I had to communicate in Japanese, but even small words made a difference. I could listen to their Japanese and learn casual words and phrases, which got me thinking about moving in with a family or committing myself to a Japanese home stay.

I had my first experience of an Onsen, which was very interesting. All these Japanese women butt naked in the same Onsen made me feel nervous. I suppose being here, as a foreigner or outsider, made me feel slightly embarrassed. Back home I’m quite the exhibitionist, but here, I was RATHER shy.

We went to the beach and I got stung by a jellyfish : ( Besides that it was nice to be out in the hot sun and despite the fact that the water was shallow and the rocks were sharp beneath my feet, I was pleased to be swimming (more like doggy paddle-ling) away in Japanese waters. It was a very exotic scene I must admit. I got to savour the favour. Hmmm… Salty!

An aquarium, summer festival-ing, a fireworks display, book reading, traditional Japanese food eating, lots of sleep, and Beijing Olympic watching were the many activities that I got myself involved in during my week in Tsuruoka. The family were absolutely lovely. They were so welcoming to me and I think I should get them many things from England for their courteousness and warm welcoming. Probably some of the friendliest Japanese people I’ve met so far.

More pictures available here:
After that I headed off to Hakodate. I had a hotel room to myself, which made night times a lonely place. Although I only stayed there for 3 days, by the 3rd night I was out drinking, which was cool. Majid and his girlfriend showed me around the town, which being in Hokkaido, was very Western. There were a lot of churches and European buildings to be seen. So much, that at some points, I would think to myself, ‘If I really wanted to see this, I could just go back to England!’ The tourism was sky high since it was summer season, yet unfortunately, it was rainy and cloudy, which made going out a bit of a problem. Nonetheless, we still got to see the hot spots like the Hakodate mountain, which apparently is the 6th best view in the world and indeed, it is definitely top. Despite the crowd, it was spectacular to see such a beautiful view of looking down at a small city lit up at night. The periphery of Hakodate and what it had in it was such a great delight.

More pictures available here:

Next was Sapporo, the big city. I stayed in my first hostel. I had received good reviews from a friend as well as other websites about how family-like this place was, yet, this wasn’t the case. Being alone again, I was left feeling vacant. I had limited internet connection, clothes, a mobile phone and a Japan guidebook to keep me entertained. The people and those other travellers who stayed in the hostel weren’t so friendly besides one guy (with beautiful green eyes) who probably had more life then the rest. I had a contact, Ben from Kent, in Sapporo at the time so I was able to meet him and get to know his friends all of whom I got on really well with. If I could express Sapporo, it would be ‘Western Japan.’ It wasn’t hard to get around with so many English sign posts everywhere.

Given the history of Hokkaido, being another port for foreign import and export, it had so much Western influence. The buildings were European in style and many monuments were famous because of its Western connection. I hung around the large department store area in Sapporo station, which was very very big. So many clothes stores! It was absolutely fun looking around and checking out the style, but my feet stopped loving the sights after the 6th floor. I didn’t buy much since I was on a budget, but yes style in Hokkaido isn’t as hot as the stuff back in Tokyo, which isn’t any big surprise. Also in Hokkaido, I realised that there were less foreigners around despite the Western scenery. There was also the skanky part of Sapporo called Sukino, a bit like the back streets of Soho, except this place was larger. Love hotels, and general dirtiness was surfacing at night. Terrible… damn filthy! Disgusting filthy!

More pictures available here:

I've moved to NY

I've moved to NY
I have certainly moved to New York City