Saturday, 11 September 2010

The Classes Begin

The Classes Begin

Before I began classes on the Monday I ended up giving into the temptation and blowing money on a trip to Denden town in Osaka (Saturday). Denden town is the Akihabara of Osaka, an area of Osaka that has all the figurines, manga, anime, maid cafes etc collected together into one large geeky mass. And it was pretty cool. We had cheap food, found a giant arcade where all the teenagers inside were amazing at everything they were playing (apparently the games were set at a naturally high difficulty because of the number of Otaku who go there). We went browsing and I made a note on all the shiny stuff I saw and where to get it next time. It was good ^-^

The rest of the weekend was prepping. We were finally allowed to use the kitchen so a large mass of gaijin (foreigners) descended upon the local supermarkets. Oh! That’s one thing I’ve noticed about being in Japan that I hadn’t before. Japanese people, at least in this area, are scared of foreigners. If we sit down on the bus or train some will move away (really quickly), and if we’re on the street they’ll either try to ignore us completely of give us really dirty looks. I think this is due to a combination of the fact that we’re in between two tourist dense towns with people who can’t speak Japanese or know Japanese practices so appear rude. That the previous students left us a reputation that foreign kids drink a lot and are very noisy. And that the most prominent image of foreignness in Japan are the American Army bases on Okinawa where there’s the largest crime rate and where they’re still seen as occupying Japan. It’s a bit of a shame because most of us are perfectly nice and do try to be quiet. But as our lecturers pointes out foreign people aren’t naturally quiet. That plus alcohol plus a large group = much rudeness in the eyes of Japan.

Anyway. Lessons started last week and OMG the afternoon classes in English are amazing. I’m doing Japanese and Everyday life (we get to learn anthropological field work practices and go out and interview Japanese people); Japanese Popular Culture and media (learning about manga and animes and jdrama’s influence on society); Popular Culture as social practice (learning about subcultures and my homework this week is to go to Denden town and Ame-mura in Osaka and write a 1500 report on my own fandoms). And although we have at least one article to read for each lesson (2 lessons a week which means at least 6 readings in a week) so I’ve been trying to keep ontop of those because they are really interesting and fun articles. One thing I noticed was that the anthropologicaly dense articles I’m beginning to find fun to read because I can actually understand them now!

Then there’s Japanese. We get 5 hours of speaking a week and 3 hours of reading and writing. The reading and writing teacher is really friendly although she goes through the kanji so fast and there’s lots I don’t know because I didn’t work from the genki book (last time I did was 2 years ago in Japan). Then there’s speaking…the teacher is serious and scary and intimidating >_< She really does scare the crap out of me and I want to do well but it’s hard to please someone who doesn’t smile. I think I’ll have to wait and see what happens with her. We also get homework for every Japanese lesson and then a quiz at the beginning of each week where we have to learn the vocab from the chapter of the week. Aside from lessons and mountains of homework there was also a fair amount of random happenstance this last week.

There were a few events to meet Japanese students but I also ran into a fair few just sitting down in the fish bowl (student lounge). It’s really useful talking to them although I’m still only restricted to simple statements and observations >_< I want to be able to do full blown conversations. Although on the plus side I’ve been learning Kansai-ben (the regional dialect of Japanese that young people use). For example, if you want to say ‘very’ or ‘totemo’ you say ‘mecha’. Or if you want to say a negative of something like ‘waranai’ (I don’t understand) you say ‘wakarahen’. It’s really funny trying to learn them, especially when you end up making up random sentences. What’s most interesting is that the Japanese students find it really difficult to distinguish a difference between what’s Kansai-ben and what’s normal Japanese because it’s just part of their normal language.

Ohhh yeah, one of the events that was held for the students was the Asutomo Festial. It wasn’t really a festival but a large sports day kind of thing for people to meet more people. I met a lot of Japanese again (mostly girls…actually they were all girls) and a few international students. It’s made me realise I really need to get myself a phone out here to exchange mails with people. I’ve managed to compile a long list of Japanese student’s e-mails (all girls) but I had hoped to use these contacts in the future for my research…in the mean time I’ve promised to go shopping, have lunch and to randomly talk with them. Ahhhh I don’t think I’ll have any free time to myself at this rate >_<

That’s another thing. I have noticed over this weekend that I haven’t had any time to myself! I really would like to go and find somewhere quiet today to sit down and read for hours on end. But I once again got caught up in the moment and promised a friend I’d go with her to a nearby mall this morning. Gaaaah it’s too early >_< Oh well. It shall be another fun filled day! Then tomorrow (Monday) it’s week two of lessons and homework.


  1. Overall sounds like a good first week. Dont worry about the time to yourelf too much. It's probably best you're going out and seeing people now before works harder, especially as it'll jump start your language skills. Have a good weekend!

  2. Wow, a lot has happened! I'm so envious and wants to go to Japap sooo much. It's great to read about your adventure so far, so fascinating, I never knew about them being so warey. I know when I was in Borneo people avoided us and stared,they never came near us. I wonder whether it's the same over there, or whether they just wern't used to us being around.
    Anyway, have more amazing times and I look forward to reading your blog more, my blog is, that's where I post my writings and crazy things :)
    BTW, have some time on your own, otherwise things can get very loud in your head and you won't enjoy it, you know what it's like having the stresses of the work load, it sometimes gets way too much, good luck with everything girl :)