Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Japan: School's cool

Since school started and I became extraordinarily busy, my life went back to the norm of taking classes. Some of the highlights of the week between 05/21/2006 and 05/26/2006 follow in this entry:

05/21/2006: We explore Fukuoka some on our own and find some of the various grocery stores around the area. Oh, for those interested, a picture of the room I stayed in at the Seminar House in Fukuoka is shown below.

05/22/2006: Classes start. Lunch at the Fukuoka University (Fuku-dai) cafeteria is insane. There are people everywhere. The food is very good though and cheap (like $2-$3 for some good rice and curry with a croquette). I also took a nifty picture of a huge line of bicycles at the school. I stood in the middle of the row of bikes and took a picture. The bikes stretch out that far behind me in that picture too. Many of them are not even locked. Typical classroom is shown in the picture below. I went to Tenjin after class today to check it out; it's a big shopping district with overpriced everything.

05/23/2006: We picked our research topic in class today and I met a nice girl named Hikaru-san when we were asking Fuku-dai students about our topics (I worked with Gretchen and our topic was technology). Went to Tenjin again after class. The picture below is in Tenjin.

05/24/2006: I participated in Masuda-sensei's research where a conversation between me and a Japanese person was recorded on this day, then 3 weeks later before we left Fukuoka, a second conversation would be recorded. Masuda-sensei can then listen to the two recordings and see how our conversation skills improved (if at all), including particle use, plain/polite form use, and general fluency. My conversation partner ended up being Hikaru-chan (shown below with myself and Sara-chan).

05/25/2006: Pictured below is Sara-chan and Emiko-chan (a little Japanese bundle of energy). We would end up spending many lunchtimes and other fun activities with Emiko-chan. After classes this day, we had a Sadou (traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony). The tea was very delicious, though during the ceremony, our legs killed us from trying to sit in the traditional Japanese style. The pictures below show various parts of the tea ceremony. After the tea ceremony, Gretchen, Sara, Marissa, and I met up with Sara's host sister (Minori-san) and she took us out to an Okonomiyaki restaurant named Sakura. Okonomiyaki translates roughly to "grilled whatever-you-want." It has been described as Japanese pizza or Japanese pancakes. I suppose it's kind of like an omelette. This particular restaurant lets you cook the okonomiyaki at the table on the grill in the middle of the table. Anyway, it's delicious; pictures at the Okonomiyaki place with a panda puppet thing are below.

05/26/2006: Nacky-sensei takes us to Canal City this day after classes. This is a huge mall area with a hallway leading up to it with a lot of more traditional-style shops. The company has zenzai for the first time here, which is a red bean desert with mochi. It was a little too sweet for me, but Sara and Gretchen got hooked on the stuff. The mall itself is somewhat bigger than a standard American mall, but then has 6 or so levels of that size. It's kind of ridiculous. I took a few of the "Engrish" T-shirt pictures at this mall. I saw lots of ads for Aida here, and was tempted to go see it, but decided against it. Pictures below show various aspects of the mall. Dinner that night was inside the Mall at a place called "Ramen Stadium." The ramen was good, but not as good as the ramen we had earlier in Tenjin at the sidewalk stand. We also found a Ghibli shop there in the basement. Gretchen bought a ridiculously cute Totoro watch there.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Japan: Engrish, Engrish, Everywhere!

So I'll make a brief interlude to post a few of the pictures I've gotten of Engrish. In case you don't know, the Japanese are rather obsessed with the English language. Consequently, English is everywhere, but some of the signs/shirts made simply do not make sense at all. I have taken pictures of some of them. Enjoy:

I do have more, but I'll keep them to myself until I get back.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Japan: No more pictures!

After the Fukuoka tour, we started classes and thus begun my descent into overworkload hell. Apparently it's a nice tourist spot in Japan. My classes are: Business Japanese (Japanese related to business), Technical Japanese (useful language stuff), and Japan Today (the fun class).

Business Japanese was insanely intense. Essentially an 18-week course compressed to a 4-week period. (Past tense because I just took the final exam so I'm done with it). For the first week we had a homework every day (each homework covered a chapter so we covered a chapter at least a day).

Technical Japanese is mainly in Tokyo. We've been doing some classes, but they mainly involved learning tons of useful kanji (like food-related kanji, sign-related kanji, etc.)

Japan Today is where we just do fun stuff like make our own hanko, try our hand at calligraphy, and give presentations based on interesting topics such as whether people preferred American movies to Japanese.

I'm tired...