Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Book-Off はどこですか。

日二番: Day 2

The girls in the group started off the morning by playing a prank on the boys. After breakfast, a few of us remained in the hostel dining room with our sensei and decided that during the morning lecture, she would ask us to turn in the essay assignment from the day before. Except none had been assigned.

So when it came time for the lecture, the girls all pulled out sheets of papers and passed it over to her while the boys sat in the back of the room, wide-eyed, asking, “What assignment?!”

However, the lecture turned out to be more a discussion, asking the students to share what culture differences they had noticed during their first day in Japan.

One of the boys the previous day had asked why Japanese books don’t open “the normal way” and why Japanese is written right to left opposed to left to right.

Nearly everyone mentioned the politeness of individuals and service people in Japan, but others brought up the presence of vending machines, the use to calculators to display prices, architecture, blind walkways, and the “strangeness” of some television programs.

For me, what has always stood out in Japan in the lack of trash cans on the streets due to the encouragement to recycle. Coming from Russia where a lack of trashcans means dirty streets, and living in America where trashcans are always present but litter is still rather common, the cleanliness of Japan has always impressed me.

We also discussed one of the essays in our textbook, which was based off the theory that language has nothing to do with culture.

I disagreed with the statement, using Japanese compared to English as an example. While there are respectful ways to address someone in English, with titles such as “sir” and proper structuring of sentences, both the language and the society is rather laid back. However, in Japanese, the use of honorifics and special phrases are used every day. I believe these contrast the different cultures and societies, with the emphasis in organization, respect and traditionalism.

Afterwards, as we had a free day, we headed off for the center of Kochi as many students on the group wanted to see the mall and do some shopping.

The mall sign.

The train station.

The Space Invaders like images on a shop window.

A display for New Years in the Kochi station.

Small shrine outside the mall.

When we arrived at the Kochi Aeon mall, there was a stage set up and some musicians were performing throughout the day to provide entertainment. The first one we saw was a young woman who had quite the powerful voice and later on in the day a group of young men were playing some mellow music that reminded slightly of Bump of Chicken’s style.

And then we moved on,

Riding a Pikachu.

Cute phone straps in the claw machines.

After the few purchases and three hours of doing mostly window shopping, my group went to get some crepes. But the rest of the students did not wish to wait for us, so they left us, telling us to meet back at the Book Off near the train station.

Strawberry white chocolate crepe. Yummmmm.

After we got our crepes, getting back to the station was no problem, however we could not find the Book-Off. One of the girls in our group of four was struggling with the navigation system on her phone, so I suggested we stop a local.

Let it be said, that even one semester of Japanese is immensely helpful. It’s amazing how much more communication I have with people compared to this summer.

“すみません、Book-Off はどこですか。”

After a paragraph long response from the woman and some pointing (most of which I did not understand) we caught on to “みぎ” and all four of us repeated it in excitement, knowing “Right”!

After reuniting with the group, I was volunteered to explain the phenomenon of yaoi and shonen ai to our instructor, who claimed she had never seen it before. One of the girls found it very entertaining to hear our sensei saying "girl-on-girl" and "boy-on-boy".
And then after losing and finding a member of our group, we returned to the hostel.

We were using the balcony outside the smoking room as a refridgerator and found this sign inside. Fan?

The meeting room is full of puzzles from Hayao Miyazaki's movies.

And a lot of manga.

Also, we have some many tangerines >.< Our sensei bought us some and then a representative from Kochi University came by to gift us with two more boxes. Although, it was a wonderful surprise to receive the gift and again, I think it reflects on the society. ~About the hostel, it is called the Kochi Youth Hostel and if anyone does plan on coming to Kochi, I would very much recommend it. The family that runs it speaks very good English, they are friendly, the food is good, the rates are affordable and its location is within walking distance of most of the areas that you might frequent. The evening was concluded with another evening of sake tasting.
The hostel owner explaining the different types of sake.

Since I’m one to enjoy participating in activities, I brought in my own drink:

100%?! So hardcore.

The girls dominated the sake-tasting contest, winning small sake cups as prizes.

Group dynamics have started to emerge and I can sense potential drama in the making even after just two days (the boys have already visited McDonald’s >.<) but for now, things are as quiet as they can be for twenty American college students visiting Japan… Not very. Meal of the day: (I was too hungry at lunch to remember to take a photo of my very delicious udon)

No comments:

Post a Comment