Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Think of it like facebook but with language learners. I think it is a cool concept if it wasn't for the fact that I think it is creepy for people to ask me to have conversations through a headset to practice English or other languages. I have yet to do that. What I like the best about the site are the written submissions. Native speakers correct it and send it back to you. (I'm cringing on the inside thinking about how bad my Japanese has gotten.)
Check it out. There are lessons on the site but I haven't had the energy or interest to really focus on them yet to give my verdit.
Also, I finished all my Japanese letter writings. That was a lot of work but I'm happy.
Another thing, my favorite Japanese variety show Kenmin Show is now unoffically on Veoh! Yatta!
Monday, August 3, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Namae wa nan desu ka? (名前は何ですか) or the less formal namae wa? (名前は) What is your name?
Genki? (元気) to make this a question you need to rise the intonation (gen) low (ki) high. It means "are you well/energetic?"
Otsukare (お疲れ) It literally means you are tired but it is a common way of saying goodbye when you are leaving. Even if you are not tired, it just a way of excusing yourself from the group to leave.
Mata ne (またね) or Ja ne (じゃね) NEVER SAY SAYONARA in a normal setting. Contrary to popular belief, the contation of the word is like the 'final goodbye.' You only say this to people to are not going to see for a very long time. Saying mata ne or ja ne means see you later.
Omattase お待たせ) "sorry for keeping you" or "sorry for the wait." The politer version is omattese shimashita.
Odaijini (お大事に) when some is sick you should say this. It means "hope you get better" something like that.
Sore wa ikenai ne (それはいけないね) "Sorry, that's bad isn't it."
Itadakimasu (いただきます) every time you eat you have to say this phrase. It is considered rude if you don't. It means "I accept the food"
Gochisosama (ごちそさま) "thanks for the meal"
Ittekimasu (いってきます) "I'm leaving" Homestay students should say this before leaving their homestay house.
Tadaima (ただいま) "I'm home" another must for homestay students when they return home.
Daijoubu (大丈夫) "are you alright?"
Tetsudatte mo ii desu ka? (手伝ってもいいですか) since there is no direct way of asking people if they need help in Japanese I just used this phrase. It is a little awkward because it is direct. It means "may I help?"
Konnichiwa (こんにちは) "Good afternoon"
Ohayo (おはよ) "Good morning"
Konbanwa (こんばんは) "Good evening"
Oyasumi (お休み) "Good night"
Ki o tsukete (気をつけて) "Be careful"
Abunai (危ない) "Dangerous"
Onaka ga ippai (おなかがいっぱい) "I'm full"
Onaka suita (おなかすいた) "I'm hungry"
Ojamashimasu (お邪魔します) You say this every time you enter someone else's home. Basically it means "sorry for the intrusion."
Otsumaranai koto desu ga (お詰まらない事ですが) when you give a gift, it is proper to say this phrase. It basically means "this boring thing."
O saki ni (お先に) when you go ahead of someone you say this. When you want someone to go ahead of you say "O saki ni douzo"
Omedetou (おめでとう) "Congratulations" if you want to say happy birthday its "o-tanjoubi omedetou."
So for this post, I want to tell everyone all the things I wished I was I did in Japan and my regrets. Maybe this will be some help to some people going abroad.
I wish that I...
-went clubbing in Osaka
-went to Mount Fuji
-went to Himeji
-wore a kimono
-bought a used kimono in Kyoto
-went to the mixers Prof. Garr Reynolds advertised
-made a Japanese business card (http://www.mojoprint.jp/)
-attended a summer matsuri
-played with my host brother more
-studied Japanese harder
-talked to my host father more
-went to a pachinko parlor
-bought American movies dubbed in Japanese
-had room in my suitcases for more Chu-hi
-stayed in a hostel
-bought a Japanese board game
-took more pictures of Kansai Gaidai and my Japanese friends
-the Swine flu NEVER HAPPEN SO I COULD HAD A FREAKING GRADUATION!!!
Things I never regretted...
-going to Japan
-staying with a host family
-writing a blog about my experiences
-doing video skits with my Japanese research paper on dialects
-my video Japanese skit project complete with subtitles in Japanese and English translation
-being an awkward human being with toddler-like Japanese language abilities
-collected ticket stubs for my Japan scrap book (posting pictures later)
-joining study group for Political Economies of East Asia
-study group karaoke and kaiten sushi
-hanami at arashiyama
-learning how to ski with my host family in Hyogo
-eating raw fish (I miss it!)
-paying $40 to ship apples to apples from America to Japan
-going to Kyoto and buying a Yukata:)
-not caring about money and having a great time in Japan
-spending time at home with my host family watching TV at the kotatsu
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Study Abroad Student
A sempai of mine told me that mailing stuff back home is very expensive unless you are from Austrailia. So pack the limit of two carry one suitcases and half pack both. Japan is a highly industrialize country so whatever you need you can buy (you just have to figure out the katakana.) If you are going to Kansai Gaidai, they are going to give you a tour of the area. Don't worry. But on the first night you need a towel and travel sized tolietries like toothpaste, shampoo, and soap.
For some reason, many official looking signs in Japan are both in English and Japanese. You can use common sense to figure out many things. When in doubt observe other people. There is a lot more English in the country than you think.
For people who have limited fluency in Japanese, Kansai Gaidai has many Japanese level classes that can help you. I met a lot of people who went to Japan without knowing the basics of the culture or language. They had a great time, survived, and learned a lot.
If you aim to become fluent. Bring some english based games like scrabble or apples to apples. Japanese students can translate the words for you in Japanese and you can explain it to them in English or Japanese. You can buy children's kanji workbooks or manga to gain literacy. Just some ideas....
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Thanks to studying abroad. I have the travel bug. I want to visit, travel, and live in a few countries now. Places I know for sure I'm going to in the future are France, Bangladesh, Canada, and Cambodia. So I definitely want to blog all my experiences for my family and friends to see.
I also want to pick up learning a few more languages too. Just to learn a little bit of everything.
Thanks to everyone who read my blog and followed me through my journey in Japan.
Now it is time for me to reflect on my experiences and some words of wisdom I want to share. It may take me awhile to write everything.
Friday, June 26, 2009
One of the last things I did in Tokyo and in Japan was visit Meiji Shrine and the emperor's garden.
Tokyo was getting boring to me by this point. I like the city life and all but I feel like there are two sides of Japan shopping and cultural attractions that also have shopping. It might be like this everywhere but anyways...
Going to Meiji Shrine was a really nice change of pace. Being there felt like I wasn't in the city at all but in a different place. I could not see many skyscrapers or hear cars. I went on a rainy day so everything was wet but felt refreshing. Being at the shrine felt like every other shrine I went to in Osaka and Kyoto but it was still nice because it belonged to the emperor.
(I found one skyscraper in the distance.)
In the garden there was this pond with huge koi fish. My boyfriend manage to summon them with an interesting hand trick.
Although the gardens were nice. It would have been nice if we went during the blooming season or during fall. I probably need to go back there again someday.
My second instance of reverse culture shock was at my local branch trying to exchange my remaining yen to dollars. Something about being called honey and the casualness of my conversation with the bank teller struck me. In Japan I would be expected Keigo or honorific language (which I can't understand anyway) but in America its a bit rude but also warming I guess.
The fact that I can understand everything in English is also disappointing. Maybe that is also a part of reverse culture shock.
I also have yearnings for Japanese TV. It is just as bad as American TV but I find it much more amusing. I'm trying to find a way to watch Japanese TV again through my laptop.
While in Kawagoe City, I found this store.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
(I didn't see these kinds of shops in the major cities. So this was a refreshing sight.)
(From this angle...this part of town seems like part of an old Japanese movie)
I think after this we wandered to a temple...probably Kitain temple. After going to Kyoto so many times all these places start to look alike. But I got my birthday fortune!
My boyfriend wasn't that enthusiatic to translate for me. I'll probably translate it myself this summer. All I remember was that it was very general.
In the same area there is a famous site called gohyaku rakan statues. I'm not sure what a "rakan" is but gohyaku literally means 500. You have to pay to get in but I wasn't in the mood to look at statues so I just took this picture through the gate.
One really random place we went to was this house musuem. It was just a typical Japanese house and you could walk inside it to see the what a house looked like in the old days. It was a really short diversion but I guess worth it. I really like the view into the street from the second floor of the house. One thing was really amusing is that while walking in the hallway my boyfriend walked straight into a hanging lamp. At 5'7'' or 170cm he is average height so he would have been considered tall in ancient Japan. I'm 5'0'' or 152cm and I manage to walk under the lamp fine. I was gloating when I took the picture.
Monday, June 8, 2009
During my second time in Tokyo my boyfriend parents, A family, decided to take me to Nikkou in Fukushima ken which is one of Japan's UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Like Koyasan, Nikkou is an actual town as well as a tourist site. It is apparently easy to get to from Tokyo but wouldn't know because A family drove me there. We woke up early to go to Nikkou. So I mainly slept during the ride there. When I finally woke up, I saw some pretty stunning scenery outside the car window. The fun part was the car ride up the mountain. I never thought roads could curve so much. It was dangerous but a lot of fun. I have a video of that somewhere.
When we got to Nikkou, on of the first things we passed was the picture below...
One of the most iconic symbols of Japan; a red bridge (which you could not go on,) the mountains in the back, and a flowing river. Very beautiful.
Nikkou is also considered another sacred spot of Japan. At one point in Japanese history, Nikkou was more important than Kyoto. A family told me that one main difference between Nikkou architecture than Kyoto's was color. Nikkou's building have more vibrant colors like this building above.
One thing I noticed about Japanese shrines is the money making aspect of it. I have been to a lot of shrines in Japan and I noticed a lot of monetary transactions that goes on. If you want to make a wish pay 500 yen to write you name on a wooden placard to hang. You can also buy charms and talisman to give your business good luck, pass your exams, and to protect yourself and your car from traffic harm. All under 1000 yen.
I met a guy who was Buddhist and was disgusted by this aspect of religion in Japan. I'm not particularly bothered by it because these places cannot survive by donations alone but every time I'm about to enter a 'sacred' part of a building I feel like I'm a market. The monks will be waiting inside waiting to sell you something.
At Nikkou, I found this interesting because I took a tour of a shrine. At the end of each segment, the monk tour guide told us what we could buy. The last part of the tour consisted of me listening with a group of people to a priestess telling us the wonders of prayer beads and the different kinds (all of course on sale.)
Sake is an important part of Japanese religion. They are offerings to the gods. Usually, there are a lot of barrels of alcohol at shrines. My boyfriend joked that Japanese gods are drunkards and alcoholics.
So Nikkou is more colorful than Kyoto.
For lunch, I had something called yuba and it is basically somehow related to tofu (pictured on the upper right.) A family warned me that it is a taste that most foreigners don't like. I thought it tasted fine. I would not mind eating it again. The soba was delicious though.
After exploring most of Nikkou, we went to a neighboring town which is famous for a its scenery. Driving to the town we passed through a giant torii and after than was a spectacular view. It looked like something out of a nature calender...green mountains and a huge blue lake.
After we parked the car, A family pulled a surprise. They paid for a rental boat and made my boyfriend row me around the lake. It was funny and slightly romantic. Although it was a bit cold, the view from the middle of the lake was beautiful. My boyfriend didn't really know how to control the boat and we when farther from the shore than expected so we ended up returning late. We originally went to see the waterfall but it was too late to go at the time.
I wanted to see the waterfall because I have never been to one up close but oh well. The boat ride was a sweet surprise:)
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
When I was at my boyfriend's house, I mention to his mom that I liked anko which is sweet bean paste. Anko is an essential ingredient of Japanese desserts. The taste is very, very sweet. I heard that I lot of people actually don't like it.
So my boyfriend's mom tried to teach me to how to make different kinds of Japanese desserts. The first is a dessert that is pretty much a ball of anko covered by red beans with a shiny coating of something. To make it we just made balls of anko and rolled half of the ball in red beans. Then coated with this liquid mix that made it shiny.
Basically it was....TOO SWEET. Amasugiru! It tasted good with tea though.
Sakura mochi. We had to use a special kind of rice (name I forgot but begins with a d) and color it pink. The rice is really sticky and we had to coat the anko ball evenly with it. My boyfriend's mom made it look easy but it wasn't. After that you had to put this slightly bitter tasting leaf over it. I like this dessert because the taste is not overwhelmingly sweet like the first dessert.
activity. The real challenge is to see how much can I do on my own.
Awhile back when I was really busy, I forgot to mention that I went to my ototo's karate match. The competition was in Kyoto.
My okaasan told me that my ototo is very good at karate. He goes to practices twice a week. Last year when he was six/seven he manage to advance to the semi-finals but lost because his opponent was much bigger than him.
This year he didn't get very far in the competition because his 2nd round opponent was the kid who want the tournament last year. He was really upset. Later in the day, we were able to see his karate teacher compete. He won! All his students were really excited.
I was a little bored on that day because I again didn't know everything or many people but I'm glad I went.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The museum itself has many buildings. When I was there they had a special exhibit on Cartier Jewelry. It wasn't very interested so I didn't go in.
There were a lot of pottery, kimono, samurai armor, swords, and other artifacts. I wasn't really impressed unfortunately. A museum in Japan felt like every one I have been to before. I just liked walking around with my boyfriend. I thought the gift shop was interesting. I found some good omiyage there.
The picture above is probably what I liked best out of all the things I saw that day. Apparently, they are the zodiac. It took me awhile to guess. I like the way they are arranged it reminded me of broadway.
After the museum my boyfriend took me to the emperor's palace. You can't get into the palace. There are buildings around it. My boyfriends has no idea why people come to this place but a lot of tourists come by to take pictures. He took me there to take tourist pictures too. -_-
Walking back to the station, we also saw Tokyo tower in the distance.
And that is everything I did on my Tokyo Weekend.
After Tsukiji, I wanted to check out Akihabara (秋葉原.） The literal translation of the kanji is the "Field of Autumn Leaves" which sounds really nice but hides the sketchy nature of this part of Japan. This is Otaku central full of figurine, anime, video games, manga, electronics, and porn/hentai shops. We saw a lot of maid cafe and shops too. Here we saw a lot of tourists taking pictures. While walking through the streets of Akihabara, I felt that the male to female ratio was reversed. There were so many similar looking guys walking in packs.
I originally wanted to buy a denki jisho in Akihabara but in the end I didn't. For now my DS will suffice and my Japanese friends are human dictionaries anyway:)
The next place we visited was Asakusa (浅草) or "Shallow Grass." We were really lucky because we got to see Sanja Matsuri! My boyfriend and I had no idea what was going on or what Sanja Matsuri is. There was a crowd outside of the gate. People were carring this carriage thing and making a lot of noise.
Inside the gate where all these booths selling food and snacks. It looked a lot of fun even though it looked rainy. All I needed was a yukata. While eating, we were fortunate enough to see another procession. This time a lot closer. There were three of them and I got a video of at least one.
Asakusa is really nice. It is one of the few places in Tokyo I want to come back to. I wish I knew more about matsuri and the cultural significance of it.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
After the party, I taught my okaasan how to play apples to apples. It was a gift that I had shipped from the US. The is a word card game full of English adjectives and nouns. It is a great way to learn English and other languages. Usually, when I play I have to explain the meanings of words in Japanese to other Japanese students. If I don't know the words we pull out the denki jisho and they teach me the Japanese equivalent of the word. As I mention before, my okaasan is an English teacher so this is a good way she can teach her students English. It can also help brush up her vocab too. It was really interesting because we were playing with four kids under 10. They were excited but didn't know English or the proper way to play the game.
The next day, I spent time more packing and reorganizing. The last moment with my okaasan was going through the apples and apples and taking out all the nouns she did not know. Later, we had curry pizza for lunch. When it came time to leave to the airport. My ototo decided that he didn't want to go. Instead he was going to stay at a friend's house. It was cute watching him trying to run out of the door screaming "Abayo, Abayo" which is slang for goodbye. My okaasan explained to me that he doesn't like emotional goodbyes. He has done the same thing for all the other host students. After that my okaasan said that my otousan wished me luck. I wasn't able to sat goodbye to him because he had to work that day and we came home late the day earlier. It was really touching to hear that.
I plan on finishing up my post on my Tokyo Weekend and my second trip to Tokyo. I'll also write some comments on the Kansai Gaidai program and some advice for future study abroad students.
Tommorrow I'm officially unpacking and starting on my scrap book. I saved all my receipts, tickets, and brochures for this. I'll also planning to print all my posts in put in a book for memories. I'm also working on making video slides on Animoto. As for future posts...we'll see.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
This is really tough for the international students because this week is their last two weeks of the semester. Because of the cancellation we can't take our exams, go on the school grounds, have the graduation ceremony and some people are leaving earlier so there is no chance of saying goodbye. What a sad ending for my semester in Japan.
>>>Anyways, I decided to impulsively go to Tokyo the weekend before finals mainly because I wanted to see my boyfriend. I booked a ticket through an English speaking bus company called 123bus. I left from Umeda Station in Osaka to Tokyo on a night bus. It was bit awkward for me because I never took a night bus before and everything was in normal paced (too fast for me to understand) Japanese. So I felt really dumb. The ride there was 6-7 hours. I had problems sleeping because I had an aisle seat and the guy in front of me put his seat really far back.
So I arrived in Tokyo, at first I had no idea where they dropped me off. My only problem with the 123 bus company is that they fail to tell you this in the email confirmation they send you. So my boyfriend was not only late but didn't know how to find me because he was at a different station. Lots of mixed ups but three hours later everything was fine. What I learned is that Tokyo metro stations are huge and confusing because of multiple train lines and exits. Luckily, my boyfriend is really good at getting around Tokyo.
This place is the most famous fish market in the world. To see the real fish market you need to be here at like 5AM but my boyfriend and I did not have the energy for that. We came here for lunch because there are also so many sushi restaurants here. The fish market is still alive in the afternoon but mainly people were just cleaning up their shops. It was quite dangerous to walk to the market because there were so many people on bikes and cars driving by. You had to be very careful.