Saturday, November 29, 2008

Finding your place in so busy and so inclusive a country as Japan is hard sometimes. People group; not just in train stations or at restaurants, but people feel the need to group in Japan. This is not to say you can't get on by yourself as a foreigner; it's just not what is done. As a foreigner, you have one of two options if you are learning or have, to some degree, learned japanese: First, you can stay with your fellow gaijin in gaijin places that are catered to your tastes to make you feel comfortable (I've certainly done this many times and there is a good chance that I will do something like that again tonight. They just aren't real western places, just like chinese or japanese restaurants back home are not the same, and neither are karaoke places back home (though I hear Shokitini is pretty awesome). Recently a friend and I discovered a sports bar here with hamburgers that tasted like and resembled a hamburger from an American bar and grill, just much smaller. It actually had condiments out on the table, which was awesome. I think I appreciate these places a whole lot; I love Japan, I want to experience it in as many ways as possible, but I think that living in a foreign country for this long, you want things from home more than you want things from the country you are living in. It seems like it should be a waste of time but I don't think it is.

In a few other bits of news, I can't seem to get in touch with my host family via email... I wanted to see them a few times more before Christmas, but it seems that they are behaving in what seems is a typical temp-host family fashion; you meet them once, they decide they don't like you very much, and never contact you again. I suppose this is okay, because the only time I have time to catch up with classes/ socialize is the weekend, realistically.

In bad and then good news, the hostel I wanted to book for Tokyo to stay in is full up, but my friend Joe's friend may be able to accommodate us. We shall see how it turns out.

I'll be posting more tomorrow; I'm going to try to catch up and clean up tomorrow, and hopefully make some bean and cheese burritos on top of that.

Peace and love.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wow, it's been a while since my last post. Things have been picking up very, very quickly... in fact, I don't have nearly as much free time as I initially wanted- either I need more downtime than most people or my classes really are just too much for me at the moment. I think I am getting used to the pace of these "intensive" classes. They amount to a chapter out of the book a day, which is around thirty to forty new words, their kanjis, and four to six pieces of grammar. It's fantastic for my Japanese, but destroys any and all free time since I am also trying to maintain an active social life while I am here.

I took another big trip to Osaka yesterday after a Friday night of Izakaya. I visited a few of the famous consumer districts of the city, bought the things that I wanted, and got out. This took around five hours, of course. Later on I ended up in a weird part of the city called "American Town" which was appropriate since I was with a bunch of Americans, but there wasn't really anything American about it. However, there was the first time I was openly accepted and received by Japanese youth on the street, which was pretty gratifying. At this point my Japanese is functional, and only that, so of course I couldn't exchange much with them. It's always a struggle, but I think I'm on my way here.

Anyway, I went home after the group I was roving around with decided it was club time, and barely made the last train back to Kobe after barely making the subway train from the south end of the city (Nanba) to get to that train. It was a pretty uncomfortable train, but it beats staying out all night. It's weird, how this party rhythm works here. In my college town, the bars close at 2:00... after this point, you wind down the night somewhere else and go home. Here, that doesn't exist. You either start drinking at 8:00 and continue until 5 in the morning, or you do the smart thing and take the last train INTO the city to go to these places. Like I said, I am trying to maintain a social life here as well as an academic one, and a happy medium hasn't really presented itself (living in Kobe, it may never do so, since I have to commute to Osaka) and right now that leads to not getting enough sleep, which hurts my schoolwork, and so on....

On the bright side, I found a Subway and what looks to be a fairly non-Japanized Mexican restaurant within easy walking distance of the main Nanba station in Osaka. Subways are all over Osaka, apparently, and of course the sandwiches arent quite the same and you can't get free refills BUT it actually tastes like a real sandwich and doesnt cost an arm and a leg. It was pretty awesome.

I would upload pictures from the past little while but when I tried to do that this morning my computer froze up. I've got a bit too much to do tonight to try to solve the problem, so I will see what I can do tomorrow night...

That's all for now. Hope everyone is doing fine.