Monday - 3 Mar 2003
Aichi (I finally know where I live)
Day 48 (Monday)
Biiiiiig 3 chapter test today. The second big one this semester. I definately studied for it. Yeah, I know. If I were really concerned about studying I wouldn.t have spent all that time at JR Takashimaya yesterday and at the zoo the day before. However, I am NOT in the US, and no matter how much I study, I.m still not going to get all the points, so I may as well relax.
Remember how I told you I cried after I got back my first chapter test? Well, I.m pretty sure I.m going to get the same grade on this one. Not to worry. I.ll find out Wednesday-ish. Either way, I.m going out to get a congratulatory piece of cake and cup of coffee. It will either be in honor of acing the test or in honor of not crying. I.m a big girl now.
Day 49 (Tuesday)
Today I had the other half of the big test. It was horrible. None of the two pages of practice questions were on it. The teachers asked questions concerning things we didn.t even talk about in class. Dang it. All of the ryuugakusei (exchange students) were ticked off. That.s okay.
The class is going to an elementary school on Thursday to give presentations. I must say, I.m not all that excited. I really, really dislike group work. I really, really dislike other people.s children. Yeah, I know, I.m always going on about my host siblings, but it really is a love-hate relationship. Most of the time it love, but I think that.s only because I don.t understand everything they say. I.ll let you know how the presentations go.
THE BANANA SAGA...maybe I.ve already mentioned it, but here.s the whole story.
I don.t know if I.ve told you, but I.m having some trouble saying no to my host family. My trouble began the third week of school. My host parents asked me if I wanted anything from the supermarket and I expressed interest in a banana. They asked me in English, so I responded with two words: "a banana." I used English on purpose. I wanted to make sure they realized that I was only interested in A banana. Don.t worry, Japanese sensei.s who might be reading this. I rounded my request off with "katte kite kurenai?"
Apparently there was some mix-up. They took "A" banana to mean "all the bananas in the free world". I tried to eat them all, but it was so hard. So, 5 days (and 6 bananas) later, I told my host father at breakfast--he always watched me eat one at breakfast--that I didn.t have time. I was running late. He told me "that.s ok! take one to school!" Foiled again.
When the banana supply finally ran out, I rejoiced. That is to say, I rejoiced until I came home a few days later to find the fruit basket filled yet again with--yup, you guessed it--BANANAS. I started to leave the bananas in my bookbag. I told myself I.d have them as an afternoon snack, but I just couldn.t do it! I knew I was lying to myself, but it felt so right. That.s when the reeeeal trouble began.
One day, right before class began, I reached into my bookbag for a book, and I got a handful of banana, only it was the peel. That.s right...my 'naners exploded. I managed to convey to my Japanese teacher that there was something not quite right in my bag. Of course she had to see...that was a priceless look.
So, then I tried to pawn off my fruit on my friends. They were eager to get the fruit at first, but that only lasted about 2 days. Last Friday, it think it was, I had almost succeeded in slipping out of the house sans-banana when Ojiisan comes running up to me with not 1 banana, not 2 bananas, but 2 bananas and an apple. He shoves the fruit at me and leaves. What am I supposed to do with that much fruit? I.m thinking I should start a fruit stand. Nothing but profit.
Now, I.m back to collecting the bananas. I plan to donate them to the homeless guy who hangs out at Nagoya Eki. He looks like he could use some potassium.
This week, I.m putting my foot down and asking for mikans (like oranges). I need a change. I know my host family will be happy to oblige. They wouldn.t be insulted if I asked them to stop with the bananas, it.s just they they looked so happy when I finally asked them for something. How could I deny them the joy?
If you.ve been reading along, then you.ll understand my corrections:
*The evil boy who interrupted my speech is not really that evil. He.s can actually be a lot of fun and very nice. But, he still got what he deserved for interrupting me.
*I said that I don.t like other people.s children, but that.s not entirely true. I like other people.s well-behaved children. The problem with kids at school is that they are rarely well-behaved.
*The banana thing...from the fourth week, I think. Not the third. It. s so hard to remember exactly when the trouble began.
Day 50 (Wednesday)
So, I.m not so happy with my host family right now. We were eating dinner and talking about different ways people eat. For example, forks in America and chopsticks in Japan. Then the little host-brother mentions that in India people use their hands. He says they only eat with their right hands. OK, fine. It.s true. THEN he goes on to say that they only eat with their right hands so that they can picks their asses with their left hands. I was SHOCKED. I figured I couldn.t be hearing him correctly. My Japanese is, after all, horrible. Then, the little girl starts laughing, too, and they proceed to say it again and try to illustrate their point. I was so IRRITATED. The mother said nothing. She just smiled politely. I just looked at them and told them they were wrong. Then the little boy tries to tell me that he knows that it.s true. Again, I tell him forcefully and impolitely that he.s wrong and glare at him. Moron. I glare at the little girl, too. Conversation stops and the meal goes on.
How many non-Japanese people has he met? Aside from me and his JET (school English tutor) teacher...I.m willing to bet none. Little jerk. I was just so surprised. I was also irritated that there was so little that I could say. Like the chikan thing, I just wasn.t expecting it. And how could the mother just sit there while he lies on an entire country-full of people. I.m beyond disappointed. I.m disgusted. I realize that parents here let their kids do what they want, but that was just horrible.
I repeat, I.m disgusted.
Day 51 (Thursday)
I wasn.t looking forward to going to the elementary school today, but it turned out to be so much fun. My class has 3 sensei.s. There were five groups of 4 students each. Each group took a class and the sensei.s wandered in and out of the groups, watching and just generally making us nervous.
I decided not to practice what I wanted to say. It.s more fun to try and wing a presentation in a foreign language. I like a challenge.
The four of us got up in front of the class and did our little spiels. Mine went well...I was surprised. Then we played some games and, 45 minutes later, the class was over. As soon as the bell sounded I got mobbed by a group of little girls. I say little, but almost all of them were taller than me (they were 11). They thought that was really funny. Then they told me how to play it-tag (which they call something like oni-tage (devil-tag)). They escorted me downstairs to get me shoes and we exchanged nicknames. Fun fun. It-tag was great and they were really fast.
Afterwards, we came back inside and my group was ready to go home, but it looked like everyone was expecting something from us. I went to ask my sensei what we were going to do now. That was when I found out that we had an extra hour to fill...ooops. That.ll teach my group to goof-around during planning sessions. So, we played "Heads-up, Seven-up." It was a lot of fun. The kids were cute, nice, and hyper. Yea. Well, I.m off to my ikebana test (flower arrangement test) and to buy an electronic translator.
Day 52 (Friday)
I got my test back yesterday. I didn.t bomb it. I was indescribably pleased.
I went to Osu Kannon...the outside mall to end all malls. I bought an electronic translator for a little under $100 US. Great deal. With this, I can draw kanji with a stylus, and it will tell me the possible readings, meanings, and give me examples of its use. It.s so helpful! I was playing with it all night. I.ve already learned how to say "just for the hell of it." Oh, how I love technology...
Day 53 (Saturday)
Today I went on a class field trip to Ise Shrine, home of the not-so-virginal "Ise Virgin." Back in the day, a girl would be kept at the shrine for some holy purpose. She was supposed to be a virgin, but, um--accordingling to some books--she seemed to be having more fun than a virgin is supposed to. This shrine is supposedly one of the most important shrines in Japan because it has something sacred inside of it. I.m not sure what, but I.ll let you know when I find out.
Although the shrine was nice, it is reqally small and anti-climactic. The woods you walk through are very pretty and there.s a river in the middle. All in all, unless you.re a Japanese culture buff, you might want to skip the shrine. However, because it.s right next to Okage Yokicho village (that.s pretty close to the spelling), it.s a worthwhile trip. The village is just a cool old place with lots of indigo dyed fabrics. They have a bunch of drum performances daily and yummy sweets. Cool.
After Ise and the village, we all headed to Mikimoto Pearl Island. We saw pearl diving women at work. Usually only women do this work...the average age is 52-80 years old. Awesome. Those women must have been freezing in that water. We toured the museuam and learned how nacklaces are made and pearls are synthesized.
Day 54 (Sunday)
Family living is taking its toll. Even when I want to study, and save a whole day for studying, my family butts in with their plans. Not that I mind having fun with them...I just need to work. First the husband asks if I want to play Pachinko today because it.s his day off. Of course I say "yeah." We haven.t had a bonding day yet. Then, the mother shows me an advertisement for Uniqlo (a really cheap clothing store) and tells me the sale only today. Since Uniqlo is a subject of bonding for us (yeah, Jilly...not your cup of tea, but they.ll cut my pants to fit! how can i pass it up?!) and since I.d just agreed to go somewhere with the h-dad, I agreed to shop.
I didn.t buy much at Uniqlo. Just a handkerchief (which I needed) and a bandana. Nothing fit right today. My host mother went crazy. She has trouble saying no to a sale. We decided to wait inside the store for h-dad to pick us up. Big mistake. We later emerged with new coats. Dang it.
Pachinko is a slot machine-like game where balls are flung at different holes and you get balls back. Later, you exchange your balls for candy and then take the candy into a back alley to exchange it for money (gambling for cash is illegal in Japan). At pachinko, I put about $40 into the machine and lost it all. My h-dad spent the same amount, saw I wasn.t doing well, and told me to sit in his seat because he wasn.t having much luck either. All of a sudden, the little silver balls started flying out of the machines. It was great. I kept winning. We had 5 big containers of balls. I won $220 and split with my host dad 50/50. He took the whole family out for a big expensive eel dinner. Nice. I saved mine.
At the end of the day, I had SO much homework. I was not happy, but I survived. Good day.