{Shaun in Japan}

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Wednesday, September 20, 2011, 8:32 pm

Posted by Shaun


              Today and yesterday night were better than yesterday. I met my host brother and sister and they were friendly. Not super talkative, but my Japanese didn’t exactly facilitate that either. My host brother asked me why I wanted to go to Japan and I told him that in junior high I really liked anime and so I started taking Japanese classes in high school. Then I became interested in Japanese culture. I was holding the TV remote at the time because I had been channel-surfing so he asked if I wanted to watch anime. I asked him what channel and he put it on (so I still don’t know what channel), but one of the shows we were talking about (Rurouni Kenshin, if you’re curious) was on so he asked me what my favorite character was, but since I haven’t seen it since middle school I couldn’t remember anything about any of the characters. But it was pleasant. Then my host sister tried to help me with the internet but we still can’t figure it out. Eventually Sam is going to come over and see if he can do it. Not sure when though. Saturday I’m going to buy a cell phone with my program. We’re getting a deal on an Android smart phone, so I’ll be able to Skype and use the internet on it anywhere. It’ll be such a relief to be connected to people again. It’s kind of embarrassing how excited I am to have it. I never realize how dependent I am on technology until I’m without it.
              Take today for example. My twin sister is studying abroad in the Nagoya area right now. I saw on the news yesterday that Nagoya city was being bombarded by an enormous typhoon. There was all this flooding, but I couldn’t understand enough to know how serious things were. I just saw roads full of water and people in boats and stuff, but I had no way of contacting my sister. I didn’t have her cell phone number because I’d only saved it in my email inbox, not on my actual hard drive. I asked Missus if the city where my sister lives was probably okay, and she said it was, but I wasn’t satisfied until I finally had the time to get to a computer lab.
              At that point, it was raining pretty hard because the typhoon was starting to come our way. Don’t worry, though. It was a huge, windy storm tonight, but no floods out here. So, it’s pouring rain, and I have my raincoat and my 525 yen convenience store pocket-size umbrella, which totally gets destroyed by the wind, so it gets thrown in the trash. Then I’m walking around campus because I can’t find the building with the open computer lab. It’s summer still, so that combined with energy saving restrictions from the earthquake means that even though there are a lot of computer labs, finding an open one nearby can be hard. I ask a passing woman  for help, and she doesn’t know where the building is, so I start looking around again. Then I hear someone calling out, and it’s that woman again. She found the building I was looking for. She leads me there and asks me if I’m okay because 1) I’m in a hurry and getting anxious about checking my email before I’m supposed to meet Sam and his host mom (Okaasan) and 2) I don’t have an umbrella. So she gives me one! Out of the blue! She has an extra umbrella in her bag, and she just gives it to me. It seems like a nice one, too. I was so surprised, and really grateful. And I got to check my email after all. Thank goodness.
              After that, Sam, Okaasan, and I went to our respective city offices to do alien registration and get signed up for Japanese National Health Insurance. It took some time, and Okaasan helped us out so much. Because Sam and Okaasan and Missus and I live on opposite sides of the train station, we’re actually in different cities, so we had to visit two different city offices, and Okaasan helped us out with all the forms.
              Everything in Japan has a mascot, and my city is no exception. It’s a round yellow elephant with brown spots. Apparently it’s called “Zoukirin”(elephantgiraffe). It’s really cute, in a weird way. There’s a giant stuffed one as well as several smaller ones in the ward office, and I wanted to take a picture but there wasn’t time. All I have is the label from the bottle of water Okaasan bought me, so I’ll upload a picture of that eventually.
              After we’d completed alien registration, because no one in my house was coming home until late, I got to go over to Okaasan’s house and spend time with Sam and her family. I ate dinner there, tried to listen to Japanese and answer their questions (they asked me questions! I was so excited even though I couldn’t really understand them or answer well…) and watched some TV. And now I’m here, too tired to interact with everyone and trying to kill time until a reasonable bedtime. I think 9:00pm is a reasonable bedtime, don’t you? Especially when you’ve been listening to a foreign language for half the day and breakfast is at 7am?
              I don’t want my host family to worry about me, but it’s normal to want to sleep all the time during the first few days in a new place, right?

One Response so far.

  1. 日本人はやっぱり傘が好きね。

    The first days are hard. I think going to bed at 9 is perfectly reasonable. I was definitely exhausted, and I know most of the people I know were, too. Still there are days where I just want to pass out from exhaustion because things are overwhelming. Mail me when you've got your phone, okay? We should also Skype sometime if we can. This weekend I'll be in Kanazawa on a trip but I`m thinking I might bring my laptop...

    So Missus is your host mom? Then who is Okaasan? And who is Sam? A friend from your program?

    At least your host family watches anime, haha. I just end up watching the news and old people shows with my host mom...! Which can be quite interesting, to be honest.

    Don't worry, Nagoya is just fine, and my family lives on a huge hill so we`d be fine anyway! Hope it didn`t hit you too hard, but I haven`t seen anything hit you too hard, but I haven`t seen anything on the news so I'm assuming you're fine.

    The zoukirin sounds strangely adorable. I can`t wait to see pictures sounds strangely adorable. I can`t wait to see pictures. :)

    Hang in there, okay?

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