Eleventh Week #13 - Karaoke, Sushi and a Castle

December 1st, 2018

Sorry, it's been so long! I'm lazy in consistent and constantly busy.


Monday ( November 12th)

  • TODAY I ACTUALLY was late for school! I overslept because the charging cable plugged itself out during the night. And in addition to that the trains were late, too (first time), about 15 minutes because of an accident on the rails. At the ticket gates you could get a small paper that confirmed how many minutes the train had been late. I met one a girl from next door class and we walked to school together, which was awesome because she‘s one of those easy-to-talk-with people and I hadn‘t talked to her in a while because I wanted to eat in my class‘s classroom since I‘d spend most of my time with them. But I‘ve made the decision that I‘ll go to her classroom about twice a week. There are also other people that are potential friends. So I actually ate at that classrom that day and after a few minutes of silent eating (by me) because I was late and they‘d already taken seats and started eating and I was like the 5th wheel. But then the girl I walked to school with on that day had finished and changed seats so she would sit next to me and we talked and the other girl I went to the movies with also joined conversation. I just hope it could always be easy like that. I believe it can be. We‘ll see.
  • Fifth and sixth period we heard two presentations by professors (?) from different universities (?) for the purpose of future job/university/subject orientation. At the first presentation we were given an English text and its translation and talked about how well the meaning was conveyed and the content itself. It was about a soldier-like girl named Balsa and I really started getting interested though it should be mentioned that the English actually was more challenging than what I‘m used to. Well, it‘s not the daily youtube video English :D The second presentation was more about world history and stuff, so I also understood the main points, I guess.

Tuesday (13th):

  • Being about sine, cosine and tangent, the current maths lessons are a little challenging for me. But I‘ve decided to despise frustration and try as hard as I can. It‘s still numbers so it‘s a language I have (humble) knowledge of.
  • Did some reading comprehension with my Ayusa AC (I‘m the only one getting lessons by her because I happen to live close). Feeling like most of the time I get the content, it boosts my self-esteem and motivation a little despite the fact, that I lack much vocabulary required for the JLPT N3 (look it up, if you need to). In one 10th graders‘ English class the teacher asked whether Japanese high school students should study more English or Japanese. I got the impression that the majority feels like Japanese students should study more English because they will need it for the future (job). And most people understand it.
  • Lunch was nice today: me and the two girls I often eat lunch with talked about our plan to hang out someday, but it‘s still not settled because we don‘t know when we are free and I had to leave early because some students of the ESS (English) club will join the choir for the winter concert at YNHS (my school) partner school, Zama High, and therefore we have to practice (it‘s kind of like the choir teaching the ESS guys; I attend both clubs btw).
  • In the evening I took a train to Yokohama (a district (?) of it) to join the practice for an exchange students music festival. Despite the fact that people there are interested in (people of) foreign cultures, I seem to not smoothly find words/topics to talk about. It‘s mostly them asking me a question, but I can‘t turn that into a good on-going conversation (it‘s probably also partly due to the lack of time).
  • Note: Most foreigners I meet appear to have well intergrated into the Japanese society or at least speak the language fluently (I can not really judge on that, but they seem to have no communication problem). That is kind of motivating but on the other hand I feel like most of them have been here for a longer period of time (of course, they have, but I mean longer than I will stay in Japan (10 months and almost 3 months have already passed). If I had the chance I asked them for tips on how to study, but there seems to be a absolute answer (makes sense, right). I‘ll list what I can recall so far here:
    • talk, talk, talk… and don‘t be shy! For example just ask strangers at the station how much time it is or something like that. If you manage to overwhelm the embarrassment (and also the fear to make mistakes) you will feel more confident and be able to communicate better when you have real conversation.
    • Watch anime or movies
    • I think there were more answers but at the moment I can only recall these two.

Wednesday (14th):

  • There are some people that I met during my first weeks that showed interest in me, but that I kind of neglected because of a lack of encounters, laziness or hesitation by me. Feeling like I could have used the first encounters the best for building good relationships, I now regret that. Of course, since it‘s almost been 3 months, the interest in me has decreased so I think the other students are less likely to start a conversation with me, especially the ones that have not ever talked to me.
  • ESS (English) club: I got the feeling that our English lesson for the elementary school kid‘s is going to be alright. Having had some doubts before (I have experience having „classes“ for elementary school kids from 11th grade, back in Germany [SHOUT OUT to my elementary school: I have many good memories of that time. Loved the time when sports festival was all about classes as a whole got points and not single students competing which reduced the pressure. Still have to laugh about the ridiculous event of three other students while playing catch one after another ALL managed to step on my foot. I would like to see my old classmates in about ten years. How y‘all doin?] and it didn‘t go so well since unfortunately I appear not to be so good with kids :( ).
  • When I was walking back to the station I was accompanied by one of the ESS girls and we had some good conversation about movies or something. Now that I think about it we were kind of like talking about nothing, which is the best conversation topic between friends, right?
  • At the present, I don‘t recall the occasion on that day, but I wanna mention that my host brother, who is 5 years old often really helps me to learn some bits of Japanese by explaining them to me. And when he does so he shows an unexpected amount of patience for a child. I also feel like I‘m having some moments that I‘m good with kids (in that case, him :D).

Tuesday (15th):

  • I helped out at German class (although not exactly necessary since a German assistant teacher was present) by saying vocabulary in Japanese and judging who of the students (4 people of the 4 different groups) was the fastest to say the word in German and checking the pronunciation. I had fun although the group I as a German native-speaker had joined during the practice time did not perform best. I‘m still impressed by their skills considering that they (only?) have two hours of German a week.

Friday (16th):

  • I still feel a bit uncomfortable during music lessons not having a good friend there. But I tried to help out another girl who played for the first time. I don‘t know if she wanted/needed help but still. Towards the end, I think, she had become better than me although I‘ve had 4 hours playing-experience.
  • Studied at the library. I‘m really slacking kanji (Japanese characters) studies because I seem to forget more difficult ones immediately. 12th graders were also present and a few waved, smiled or even talked to me. That‘s so nice and comforting but I feel guilty if I have the impression they have told me their name or that I have met them before but cannot recall.
  • ESS (English) club: Made final adjustments for the English lesson for the elementary kids. Yay. Went to the practice for exchange students music festival in Yokohama (?)

Saturday (17th):

  • Though the original was to go out with more people I ended up with only one 12th grader in Machida(?). We met at a station and then got there. First we went to a karaoke place (a chain called Manekineko is very popular I think). I installed an app and we got a big discount because it was my first time or something. IT WAS WAY MORE FUN THAN EXPECTED. I mean seriously, I used to be singing quite frequently at school or something, but (Japanese) Karaoke is a different level. They have many songs to choose from (English, Chinese, Korean and of course Japanese) with lyrics and a video, often not the official music video, in the background. Of course you can also sing anime opening songs if you dare to or rap (I tried and failed XD). I tried „melon soda“ for the first time, which was nice. Then, because it was very crowded we had to go early.
  • Then the girl took me to a place to eat the most famous Japanese food: SUSHI. There are many sushi places but we ate at Sushiro. It was cheap, delicious, amusing and interesting. After having to wait a little we were took to our table and I became aware of the peculiar way the dishes are served: It‘s tiny plates that are moving around the tables on a line/belt (German: Fließband, you‘re welcome). Technically, somebody could take someone else‘s orders but it‘s Japan, so that doesn‘t happen often I guess. My friend gave recommendation and we ate a lot. I think my favourite sushi (tiny rice portion with something put on it, there is also rolled sushi, though) is grilled salmon (at least that‘s what I think the name is). But we also enjoyed desert: Tiramisu ice cream cake thingy (it was small sized but whatever) and Mont Blanc, which I had never tried but is very delicious. I cannot tell what it is made of, but it‘s very sweet, soft and tasty. After having finished we went to another town to go to karaoke there since the first place was, as mentioned, very crowded.
  • I think the most fun was to sing songs none of us knew. Like a song called „Turning Japanese“, that I do not want to ever listen to because it will ruin the fun of guessing how it goes. Also a trending song (I think some weeks or months ago) is „U.S.A.“ by „DA PUMP“, but like maybe this song‘s already become famous in other countries as well. Like whatever. But like one dance move is very popular.
  • Then I took my second round of pictures at the so called „Purikura“, which is a photo booth you enter with a friend/friends and the screen suggests cute poses and then photos are taken and through filters your eyes become real big, your eyelashes long and your face smooth and spotless. I mean we have filters on instagram etc., too, but I really enjoy taking pictures at a Purikura because the pictures are actually printed out and it makes the day a memory. Although what is really annoying and provokes reconsidering if it is worth the money is the size of the photos! IT‘S GODDAMN SMALL (on purpose) and if you want to have the pics on your phone you gotta pay extra! Some companies offer one picture for free by sending you a LINE (messaging app like WhatsApp, pretty much all Japanese use it), but COME ON! I mean I would probably consider paying extra if it wasn‘t for the registration process (never tried it though). I barely can read anything (again because of the Chinese characters).
  • So, to come to a conclusion, I had much fun and was happy that the girl said she would like to practice her English with me. Yay :D
  • I guess, though, there are many people who would like to practice their English, but are just to shy to talk to me (or they changed their mind after talking to me in Japanese or hearing stories or something. As I‘ve mentioned in an entry before, I sometimes am a very boring/not fun person here in Japan). But there are a few others that have told me they wanted to practice their English (but only one and now the sushi girl have kept up with constantly speaking English). I mean it‘s hard not to switch to Japanese, I guess. It‘s the same when I‘m talking to someone who speaks English very well. They often prefer speaking in English and when I answer, it‘s hard to do it in Japanese because you are lured to take the easy path (English). I hope you guys get me. It‘s late and I‘m busy and stuff, shut up, already! (No offense)

Sunday (18th):

  • The hostmother took me and her son to Odawara Castle (in Odawara)! It‘s about an hour and a half away from their place and they‘ve been there a few times before. It‘s amazing. It‘s not surprisingly different from German/European castles and was well visited on that day. Actually there was a town event going on on that day: People were encouraged to take walks and if you followed a particular route, which ended at Odawara Castle, you were offered meals and water, I guess (and you were welcomed by friendly staff).
  • Anyway we saw Koi fish, crossed a bridge, took a picture with people dressed up as Samurai, tried costumes on (my hostbrother was a Ninja and I said yes to wearing a princess outfit assuming it was only for the purpose of taking a picture but actually we were to wear the clothes up to an hour. Because my Kimono thingy (it was not the traditional one, but an easy one to quickly put on/take off) was brighter than the sun and I was the only one wearing such a traditional Japanese princess costume at that time, people started to stare at me and I think some wanted to take a picture, but then after we had returned the clothes (after 10 minutes of taking pictures) we saw many other people (mostly kids and some parents) walking in those clothes. They had probably not known that you can dress up or they were to shy, but in the end I was happy that I inspired some girls to be a princess (or a samurai or ninja).
  • At the same shop as the costume renting place, I bought some Omiyage (souvenirs) for friends and family [Be patient, guys!], that I would actually also like to possess (the souvenirs, not the friends and family XD). Then we went to the kids playzone thing with a slow train that drives around and small car like mini machines that kids can drive for a few Yen. Yay!
  • After that we finally entered the actual „castle“, but because we were in a hurry to catch an early train we skipped the whole museum part (I can‘t say I regret that) and went almos straight to the top to have an awesome view on Odawara and surroundings: skyscrapers, the sea and mountains! Just amazing. At the station we ate some Udon and then we took the train back home. I still cannot believe that probably most of the people I know will never see the view of Odawara Castle in real life.
  • It‘s so strange to believe that my friends (and fam) back in Germany are living their lives and experiencing things that I will never experience because we are at different places at the same time. So weird. I also imagine it being weird for them to believe that I‘m living a life that they are hardly a part of as for the moment. I mean I can tell the stories and show the pictures, but is that really real to them?


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