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Tuesday 25th November 21:21 (Japanese Time)

I've got to make this a short blog tonight as I've got a fair bit of stuff to do; revise for a kanji quiz, homework, shower and of course start packing. Officially I move on Saturday, but my new room in Kita-Umeda has become ready so I can at least start shifting stuff.

So yesterday was pretty cool. After a nice lie-in I met up with a couple of friends at Uni and proceded to tackle the last day of the school fayre. As usual we dove head on into the aggressive sellers, only this time we were accompanied by our old English friend ... rain. Not only was this the day that I'd left my brolly at home, but it was also the day that I'd decided not to bring in my washing that was hanging out.


Growing weary of the fayre, and full of random food (including a fried potato coated in some kind of sauce (name forgotton >_<) and yakitori (skewered chicken)) we decided to head to karaoke for a couple of hours, and then afterwards head to Sushiro, a sushi restaurant where food is on conveyor belts.

Karaoke was great fun, as is the norm. We booked two hours, and since there were only three of us, we tried a lot of songs that we'd never done before. For example I took a shot at Nantoka Nare and Hito Toshite Jiku ga Bureteiru amongst others.

Needing to kill some time before heading to the restaurant, we took a trip to Nishinomiya Kitaguchi. Not really much happened here, as I said we were mainly killing time. So forgive me while we skip on ahead.

One thing I will draw back to is my introduction to an anime series that's ... odd. Oruchuban Ebichu was introduced to me by one of my fellow foreigners and despite it's general crude, animal abusing, blood-dripping, sex filled content, I found it to be quite funny. Possibly because of the fact that it's cute appearance is a tremendous contrast to what is actually happening.

I'm not going to ruin it by telling you what goes on (I have a feeling your curiosity will have got the better of you by now anyway), but I will explain that there is a long running joke throughout the series where a certain word is used. I'm not going to say what the word is nor will I write down it's English quivalent, so I'll use an English word it is similar to ... Mango.

The reason I explain this will come to light shortly.

The restaurant was really nice, and a very relaxing place. On our arrival it was almost empty, giving us a good 4 seater area (one seat had all our stuff). There are two methods of getting food at Sushiro, both very easy. The first method is to sit there and watch all the different foods go by on the conveyor belt next to your table, then grab whatever you want. Alternatively you can press the call button on the table and order something. This itself comes on the conveyor belt on a marked dish so that no one can grab your goodies before it gets to you. If you order it you do need to be able to do it in Japanese; I know I said both methods were easy, but I think that pushing a button does indeed fall into that easy category.

As most of the plates were 105 yen each (and by that I mean I hardly saw any that were any more than that ... maybe one or two), not only was it an inexpensive way to try lots of different styles of food you'd not normally get to try, it was also very easy to keep track of your spending. After chowing down on a plate's food you stack it at the end of the table. If you're with a group and want to pay seperately, you just have to stack your plates individually. Feeling full at 7 plates I called it a day. Don't get me wrong, the plates are not massive, like our dinner plates back home, but 7 plates more than qualified as a good meal.

But why bring up Mango? Well, when the food comes down on the conveyor belt there is (normally) a sign in front of it saying what it is. At numerous times throughout the night a mango pudding came around (an ACTUAL mango pudding). Seeing the sign for this had us in stitches, and many bad jokes about mangoes were told, including how we'd always munch on a mango during the summer!

Last night whilst on the internet I noticed something. Staring at an empty beer can I took a piece of crappy plastic and starting hitting the two together. Unsurprisingly it made a noise. I then took the plastic, put it between my fingers and started swirling it like a mini electric-fan. The beer can was then introduced to this whirlingness and a continuous clacking sound came about. Yeah, once again no big surprise. However, then cogs in my head started whirring, and I started to remember being young, making similar annoyingly noisy things.

From when I was a kid I'd remember annoying the hell out of people by constantly doing things that I'd just learned, practicing it and getting it down to a tea ... before getting told off for being an irritating buggar. Anyway, it came to me that i could perhaps use this inspiration in learning my grammar and use whatever grammar point learned as much as I possibly could.

That's what I did today.

Yes, I was annoying, yes I wasn't making much sense to the context of conversations, and yes I did confuse many Japanese people (and some of the upper-group exhange students). However, yes I was remembering the grammar, yes I learned how to use it better from friends correcting me, and yes it was funny for all of us.

Here's an example of the kind of thing I was doing:

Person A: "I went shopping at the weekend and it was fun."
Darlo: "So in other words, you mean to say that apples are delicious."
Person A: "Um ... well, we did buy apples yes. And after that we went to the cinema."
Darlo: "So in other words, you mean to say that Person B has become better at playing tennis."
Person A: " ...... "

Sunday 23rd November 5:31pm

It's interesting. I have a link tracker on here which tells me some of the ways that people arrive onto this website. It's no big secret actually, it's part of one my advertising boxes from Project Wonderful. Anyway, if you've arrived here looking for 'adult materials in a town in County Durham' I'll tell you know you've come to the wrong place.

So continuing our adventures from Kanazawa, we were walking along the town passing numerous restaurants, shops, bars and cafes (yes, they included Maid cafes before you ask), when we decided it was probably time to head back. Heading in the direction of the train station, an easy landmark to return to the hotel from, we had the pleasure of seeing a group of drunken men run into the middle of a crossroads whenever the lights were red to throw one of their mates up into the air. This itself was such a sight that many of the hundreds of people (it was a busy Saturday night after all) we were walking through didn't notice the two out of place foreigners carrying an 18 inch tall Disney toy, well some did obviously.

After a while of wandering around with no eki (station) in sight, we had a look at our map. We located several buildings that were right near the eki and after hitting a river we eventually came to the conclusion that the trainstation must have been underground and we'd simply missed it when we were walking wildly (5w's ^_^) in search of it. After another looong period of circling the area we eventually asked for help.

According to a karaoke room staff member, standing outside to try and draw in customers, the station was 30 minutes away and he offered to call us a taxi. Not quite believing it'd take us half an hour (5 mins tops) we asked him to point us in the general direction of it. After leaving him we came to the conclusion that he had a link to a taxi company and would probably have earned a commission from us tourists.

After another long duration of walking, my friend considered another possibilty. Looking at the map, we noticed that infact all the places we'd been seeing were there by the eki ... but they were also there ... on the other side of the town! Some how we'd got our bearings mixed up coming out of the park and instead of being in the town near the hotel, we were in fact in a different area of the town altogether.

Karaoke man was right!

After a vigorous walk back to the hotel, following the map from the correct point this time and stopping at a convenience store for some food incase we were hungry upon arrival (I bought some insta-noodles, a can of beer, and a jam-jar with clear alcoholic liquid called Fukucup ... no idea what it is), we went to our rooms and relaxed. What we expected to be no more than a few hours out turned into us arriving back at about 11.30 at night. I'd been joking during the day about having a 'walk' about but really didn't expect it to turn out this way.

After finishing off my beer, I went to another friends room, who was having a Matrix showing on their laptop. Following this I went back and thought I'd indulge myself in some television, after all I hadn't really watched much TV since I'd arrived in Kamishinjyou. Flicking through the channels there was a nice range of shows in different genres and languages, many of which you could adjust the language to English. I stopped flicking through though when I hit one channel of a man being walked on by a woman in high-heels. This wasn't a Japanese show though, it was an Italian one. "No more TV" I thought, and went to sleep.

After breakfast the next morning we checked out of our rooms and headed down to the lobby. Due to the fact that we'd only been there one night you'd have thought everyone would have been on time, not needing to repack everything and an elephant ... right? Alas no, some daft bints still ended up being 15 minutes late for no general reason. I'm normally a believer of 'the pointlessly late get left behind' and this day was no exception! GARGH!

The group split into two from here. Half of the group went to the Kaga Yuzen Center to participate in a Kimono dyeing class whilst the rest of us went to the Higashi Chaya district. Higashi Chaya is a popular tourist area as it is famous for its Geishas. Unfortunately for us we got there relatively early on a Sunday morning, and because of the slight drizzle, none were out and about. Oh well, a European student and myself still went off for a nose around the area and took some really awesome photographs (which will be uploaded to Blogspot eventually) of various shrines, temples and areas that were generally nice to look at.

Getting back on the coach we took a short (so short it would probably have been faster to walk) to the park area we'd gone the night before. Even though during the day it was much nicer to look at, unfortunately the heavens had opened up and we were with rain once again. Thankfully I'd brought my trusty brolly along for the ride, but holding a brolly while taking pictures and trying to keep the camera dry was a bit of a challenge. The gardens themselves were very relaxing on the eye, and even though I didn't understand a word our guide was saying (she was speaking in keigo - very polite Japanese), I did soak in the atmosphere ... or maybe that was rain water.

After being challenged to and losing a game of Poohsticks by one of my fellow countrymen, we accidently split from the main group; them going right and we went left trying to catch up. FAIL. Thankfully someone from the main group came back for us, though after a while we were still slightly lost, only one person more. I forgot to mention that the park had a significant lack of sticks, so we had to play Poohsticks with leaves instead, but its fundamentals were still the same. If you have no idea what the heck I'm talking about, buy yourself a book by AA Milne.

We eventually met up with the group once more and were told where and when to meet up as it was now a bit of free time. I went straight to a couple of stores I eyed up on the way to get a couple of omiyage (souvenirs). I'd bought myself a paper umberella (and struggled trying to to get it wet ... ironic really), and I bought Momma Darlo a Geisha doll. Let it be known I really didn't want to buy this doll, especially after my trip to the Iki Ningyou No Ma (Room of Living Dolls) with TV show Bebop High Heel, but it was a bargain and knew it was something that she wanted.

After this I went for a walk to try and find something to eat. I headed back in the direction that I came from the night before, back to wards the hotel.

Something was wrong.

I knew this place, I recognised it clearly. This was NOT where we came through last night to get to the garden ... but rather it was that mysterious town that we ended up in last night! How the fudge had I ended up here ... again? Suddenly I found myself face-to-face with the McDonalds we went into, right accross from the arcade where we got the Stitch doll, and down the road slightly from the maid cafe.

Could this be the true power of Kanazawa?

I decided not to think about it too much, worried that I might anger some spirits that had lured me back here, and ordered my usual food from the 100 yen menu.

Meeting up with everyone at the appointed time and place (outside the Ishikawa Modern Literature Museum in Central Park), I spoke to my friend about our trip the night before. He was also in a state of bewilderment about the situation. I guess Kanazawa was indeed a more mysterious place than we first thought. Getting on the coach I thought to myself about coming back one day, and who knows, maybe I will.

On the coach trip back nothing too exciting happened really. We watched a couple of films (and horrendous and one at par-level), played a little Mario Kart and passed a few tall buildings I knew in Osaka, wishing that we could simply jump off the coach here. Diddums.

Home ... bed.

To be honest with the exception of the usual commute-study-commute-sleep routine, nothing really happened until Thursday this week, which is where I'll pick up from. Oh wait ... on Tuesday we had a linguistics exam in which I did awfully, my only consolation knowing that had I taken it in Leeds I'd have passed it by the skin of my teeth.

So where was I? Oh yeah, Thursday marked the start of the Universitys school fayre, and is running up until tomorrow. It's a method for various clubs and circles to gain exposure, and a little income, by selling a range of foods to anyone willing to buy it. Unfortunately I've found that a lot of their selling approaches are what I'd consider to be aggressively direct. It's ok to go around with signs advertising your fare, but it doesn't really come accross as polite when they're shoved in yourface and you're quickly surrounded by people calling out at you. But to be fair, as I've said time and time again, "not my country, not my rules", so this is something I'll have to get used to.

For those of you who like spotting this sort of thing, notice that I used 'fayre, fare, and fair' all in the same paragraph ^_^.

There's also a stage area with a live band that's been performing a nice range of music, and apparently everything changes everyday.

Friday marked the start of a four-day weekend. OH YEAH BABY! How have I spent it?



On Friday I met up with a couple of Japanese friends and we enjoyed an hour at karaoke. It was a relief to see that I wasn't the only one who did anime theme tunes, though I also threw in some English pieces also. Following our departure, they had to head to Uni for something ... I can't remember what though, me and some friends decided to go back to the Iki Ningyou no Ma. Well, for me it was going back, for them it was the first time.

Now in order to get the best experience from the room, you really need to understand Japanese, at least to a basic level. This point was really driven home to us by the staff members, each of whom asked us in great detail if we could understand Japanese. After eventually convincing them that we'd be ok (not too much of a challenge for the one actual Japanese person with us), we watched the starter video. It was here I realised that it was slightly different from when we filmed. We then proceded into the room, and it was much darker. I'd been told that because of the cameras they needed to leave on some of the lights, but DAMN! It was dark.

I'm not going to explain what happened, like before, but I'll put it to you that it was much scarier for me this time around. After asking the others who came along, it was a frightening experience but was still a lot of fun, and definately worth the 600 yen entrance fee.

From here we went onto a Yodobashi Camera, that huge department store I'd previously mentioned. We had a good look around most of the place before calling it a day and heading home. But that was not before visiting the coin-capsule section and picking myself up a Komori Kiri (a hikikomori) keychain from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (Goodbye Mr Despair).

Yesterday I admit I spent faffing about playing Gyakuten Saiban 3 (Phoenix Wright 3) and working on a newer easier to manage version of Shrotaku, and that brings me up to today.

After waking up nice and late with no alarms going off and no food waiting for me, I started writing up this blog. With distractions such as eating cereal and taking a shower, and doing a little bit of cleaning in the room, I have officially caught up. That being said, there's stuff I've probably forgot to include ... oh well.

This time next week I'll be in a new home closer to Umeda, Osaka. Still a dorm, but much closer to what I'd consider to be a fun area. I'm hoping this will help me to get some communication practice at weekends (for the record today I've only said one word; konnichiwa), as well as give me better access to travel links; it's a 15 minute walk from Umeda Eki.

And so, now that I'm all caught up, I'm going to head off and cook some food. By cook, I of course mean boil some water and stick it in a plastic tub filled with noodles.


Sat 22nd November 23:08pm (Japan time)

Ok, you caught me.

Through a rough combination of fatigue, procrastination and a general desire of not wanting to doing much I have put off writing up the blog. This could well be my subconcious way of trying to deal with the fact that since the change over to a new system of textbook I've not been retaining the information we've learned. But being honest this is something I cannot blame the book for, godawful as it is. I've realised that I'm having the same problem as I did with Minna No Nihongo; it's new information.

For years I've had a problem with my memory and trying to recall things. So first time around studying Japanese I struggled to learn various things. When I started classes here at Konan because we were actually going over stuff that we'd already studied in Leeds I was able to remember it this time around ... well, some of it anyway. But now that we're onto new information I'm having that trouble once again. Despite the fact that I can try to put into context what we're covering (for a couple of hours until I go home), it's not sticking. So what does this mean? It's going to take me twice as long to do my degree because I need twice as long to retain any bloody thing? God I hope not.

Ok, so here's what happened since the "I don't want to pay through the arse for a fish" section of the last entry, up until ... well, as far as I get before I fall asleep (hence it'll be a very brief version of events).

So one of the American guys and I headed off in search of the parks which were a short walk away (roughly Hadley Centre to Wellington Town Hall for those North Telford readers). When we reached the park we had a good look around to find it's entrance. You see we arrived at the castle side, and of course castles come with high exterior walls, meaning we had a nice little extra walk around the perimeter. Once we'd arrived at (one of) the main entrance(s) to the park we were confronted with a sign telling us that the gates were closed for the evening (and that we'd have to pay to get in anyway ¬_¬).

Yeah in retrospect we should have had a closer look at the information we were given which did clearly say the parks opening times ... oh well, diddums.

We decided to head back to town a different way as we hadn't seen any cheap places to eat. Heading into town we passed a wedding (to contrast the funeral I'd seen earlier in the day) and also a group of very excited young girls cheering and dancing as they came out of a theatre. Maybe they finally cracked how to do some complex manoeuvre or something.

We found a nice restaurant in town that was reasonally priced and the food was good. As I chomped down my cheeseburger and McPork, I happily thought about how much money I was saving. Yeah, not the most adventurous meal ever but food is food after all. I wanted to buy some souvenirs the following day, so making a cut back was a reasonable way of doing so.

After dinner we went past an arcade, well, not quite an arcade as we'd think of it back home as this one is nothing but UFO catchers (or drop arm games, crane games, grabbers or what ever you call em). Anywho as we wandered around the arcade I explained to my colleague how these type of machines are, well, I won't say rigged, but they're designed to only allow a certain number of winners per players. Here's how to be in with a better chance of winning on these.

First of all, make sure you have plenty of time. When you find the machine from which you want to win a prize, just wait there until someone else comes and wins. If you had to wait a while for that then you're going to love this part. Keep waiting, but count how many goes people have until the next winner. Finally, continue to wait until roughly that same number of people have tried and lost. This gives you a greater chance of the claw actually grabbing the prize. Do be careful though, there's still some element of skill to it and someone could still win whilst you're waiting around. On that note some arcade places don't like people lingering in there not spending money; fair enough right?

Then there's the other method, the one that we used to win a pretty big Stitch (Lilo & Stitch) doll. Look around the machines for one where the prizes have been stacked quite high. You might be able to use the arm to push the prize down into the hole rather than actually grabbing it. There was a slight problem for us though. Stitch's head was too damn big to fit through the hole. We called for assistance, expecting the staff member to explain to us that it didn't count unless it came out the hole, but no, he opened the machine and handed over our new cuddly friend.

And then there were three of us.

Wednesday 19th Nov 10:45pm

So after my balls up with a pair of slippers and a very nice meal, we walked up to the Eihiji Temple. Fukui Prefecture's Eihiji Temple is, according to the brochure I picked up, the "temple of eternal peace". Well even though it had noise from tourists, of which we were not the only ones, it was a truly peaceful place. So peaceful in fact that while we were there a funeral service was also in progress. Hopefully our presence did not disturb it.

From here we travelled up to the Tojinbo cliffs. These cliffs are of a unique geographical feature, shared only with a cliff range in Norway and one in Korea, where it's natural columns are of a hexagonal and pentagonal shape. If Wikipedia is to be believed, it is also a popular spot for suicides. Apparantly as many as 25 people a year jump from the cliffs every year. Thankfully no one felt a need to end it all on that day. We had a boat ride at the bottom of the cliffs and saw an awesome sunset. Once again I was thankful that no one fell it the water; not that I mind everyone's safety and well being, but we were already quite late compared to the schedule (I don't like being late).

Arriving at the hotel and being given our meal allowance, conversations could be overheard about where people would want to eat out that night. Apparently Kanazawa's famous for it's fish and people were talking about various places that were about. As usual I seemed to have a different idea from most about the meaning of the word 'cheap'. I know I'm here to try as many things as possible, but come on, I don't want to pay 30 quid for a fish ... a fish that I probably wouldn't eat the entire thing of at that! The next day we were meant to go to a garden area and castle park, so I thought I'd take a walk there, even though is was now dark, and eat at a cheap food place I would hopefully find along the way.

Sorry to cut short again, but fatigue strikes once more. I'll try to catch up on this over the weekend probably.

Tuesday 18th November 2008 9:42pm
(Happy Birthday lil' sis!)

It's cold back home in Telford, or at least it is according to various weather sources. Since my arrival in Japan I've been enjoying warm weather and only the occaisional spot of rain. This of course excludes the trip to Koya-san where things were a bit nippy. Unfortunately the weather has cooled down now and it looks like it is getting ready for the Winter. Last week it was only first thing in the morning that was cold, leaving us with the agonising "do I take my coat" question. If I went out with a coat it meant that by the time I reached Uni I was sweating like a pig. If I left my coat I'd freeze my nuts off so bad that they'd actually stay in bed. But now that's changed, as I take a coat with me on a daily basis now. Those of you who are now checking the Osaka weather forecast and are about to bombard me with emails saying it's not that cold, you gotta remember that it's been really warm and has dropped suddenly ... unlike the UK where it's cold for most of the year.

So this weekend gone was the class trip to Kanazawa. Leaving University at 8.15 (well, we would have if it wasn't for certain pillocks being late) meant that the dormies missed out on breakfast again as we had to leave early. I managed to pop in and grab a little bread, but not what I needed to keep hunger from striking on the LOOOOOOOONG coach ride. I felt sorry for those at the girls dorm as they had to leave even earlier. Our main annoyance about this was that if you look at a map showing the route we took, we go right by Osaka! It wouldn't have taken much time to make a pick up, but I guess we have to play by the rules here; something I keep having to remind people ... sometimes myself also.

Just like my entry about Koya-san, most of the names and locations of places have been forgotton, so bear with me.

So along the way a few of us managed to secure a spot near the back of our coach (there were two coaches), and various DS games were played including a pretty long Mario Kart tournament; I was glad to have brought my charger.

We stopped for lunch at Eiheiji at a traditional styled restaurant. I admit it. I made a dumb mistake. No one actually noticed me do this, but I write it to remind others to try and avoid following my footsteps. Upon entering the restaurant floor I took off my shoes and grabbed one of the few remaining pairs of slippers. I went into the room and sat on the cushion and admired the food that was already laid out. But something wasn't quite right. It felt like I was sitting awkwardly. I looked around and noticed what was wrong.

The slippers! No one else was wearing slippers!

Gah! I'd put on the slippers that a member of staff had taken off when they came in the room. I managed to suavely leave the room and put the slippers back before anyone noticed, but you guys (and me) should be careful.

I'm going to have to cut this much shorter than usual, and I know I've not finished talking about the weekend, but the truth is I'm tired and want to go to bed.


Friday 14th November 10:09pm

Think back a few years. Do you remember those adverts for Bud Light that celebrate the regular guy, like Mr Underwear Inspector 12 and Mr Chinese Food Delivery Guy? Well last night I suddenly ended up on YouTube face to face with an advert I'd not seen in so long that brought tears (of laughter) to my eyes; Mr Foot Long Hot Dog Inventor! Don't get me wrong, these aren't the best adverts I've ever seen. However, they do make an interesting attempt to show how regular people can reach the 'American Dream'.

Today was ... interesting. As is always, I'm pretty tired. As is always, I've done something different to make me tired. It probably started last night as I went to bed late due to hunting all of the afformentioned Bud Light commercials. I went into Uni nice and early but couldn't remember the Kanji for the test. No big difference there, with the exception that all I could think of was "Real men of genius" being sung on a continual loop.

During the lesson we were talking a little bit about cultural differences between Japan and America (I reference back to a previous entry about my hatred of the current textbook for this). Our discussion was about how bragging about your familly or 'inner-circle' is considered bad and arrogant here (apparently it's not in the States). I brought up the topic of Cinderella Syndrome, much to the confusion of people in the room.

Cinderella Syndrome is literally when you brag about something because the opposite is true. In Cinderella the step-mother bragged about her "beautiful daughters" and cast out Cinders as the tramp, when (at least according to the Disney version) it's it the opposite which is in fact ... fact. Fast forward to the end of the lesson and my one teacher asked me about any problems I'd been having, explaining that my written work, especially sakubuns (essays) had been awesome but my speaking and listening weren't great, which was especially emphasised by a lesson of aweful contributions from me. After explaining Sunday Dorm Syndrome and the minimum conversation practice we get in the dorms.

Fast forward an hour or so and we find ourselves at ABC (aka Asahi TV). That's right, me and Japanese TV have made a link. There's a show called Bebop High-Heel and on it is a segment called Hajimete No Nippon (First Time Japan ... ish). It's basically a show that shows foreigners trying new Japanese things for the first time. Not only was this a good way to learn and experience some new Japanese cultural aspects (let's face it, I don't do that in a dorm) but also a chance to learn a bit more about Japanese media directly ... I thought as I was conversing with the other participants in the ABC annex.

I won't go into the details about what we did, I wouldn't want to spoil it. The show's being broadcast on the 27th of November at 11:17pm, though I doubt I'll be watching it. The only TV in the building is in the dining room, which gets locked off at 10pm.

Going on a class trip tomorrow to Kanazawa, but I leave you with an episode of Hajimete no Nippon from YouTube.

Oh! Before I go I just want to say that the Room Of The Living Dolls at the arcade in the Hep 5 building in Umeda (Osaka) is freaking awesome, and everyone should go!

Tueday 11 11 08 19:03 (10:03 UK time)

Today's Armistice Day where we remember those who lost their lives during the period of World War 1, as it was on this day 90 years ago that the bulk of the fighting came to an end. Like most people back home I observed some time of silence at 11 o'clock this morning after making a somewhat's successful attempt to explain it to my teacher in Japanese. A few moments ago I had another period of silence as it turned 11am in France, and will be having another 2 minute silence at 8pm (11am UK time) so I can still participate with everyone.

Yesterday while making poppies out of paper to wear, for both myself and some other students (Royal British Legion poppies are not-surprisingly hard to find here), I was asked by a numerous Japanese and North American students about what today was about. Now I'm the first to admite I'm not a history fan, so I explained it as well as I could whilst remembering the assemblies we'd have at school every year. Ironically non of the American's who asked me realised that it was also their own Veteran's Day today.

To be honest, since the bludgeoning of my new textbook on Sunday (which of course you'll all know was Rememberance Sunday; also known as Poppy Day), not a lot has happened. Well, one little thing happened today which not only caused me to look like a complete and utter plonker in front of a couple of friends, I also confused a Japanese security guard somewhats.

On a random trip to Nishinomiyakitaguchi on the way home, we went to what I was led to believe was a large department store. As we got closer, the signs indicated that it was a shopping area and cinema. They were doing roadworks around the building, in the near vicinity as the station, so we tried to comply with the temporary changes to the path. The main door for the centre was blocked off by the roadworks, and given the option to choose left or right, we chose right.

After going round a corner and up some stairs we passed some very confused looking passers by, but kept on our way. After a few moments of walking down the side of this building we approached a door with a security man handing out security passes. I was about to ask him if he could tell us where the entrance was, but I hit a problem. I couldn't remember the Japanese word for shopping centre. Hmm ... what could I substitute it with ... the cinema! So I asked him how where the cinema was and he stared back at me blankly.

"The cinema?" I reiterated incase I'd ballsed up my pronunciation the first time. He told us it was back from where we came (obviously we should have turned left instead of right), and then added some more words which at the time I couldn't make out. I thanked him and we carried on. He looked so confused.

Heading back to wear we made our wrong turn, we then proceded on what we thought was the right path. Once again we passed wave after wave of baffled face, but I merely passed it off as "ooh look, a foreigner" syndrome. When we reached the back of the building we realised what had happened. The nice new looking building and complex was indeed nice and new. So new in fact, that they were still building the thing! It was hear I rememebered what the security chap told us at the end of directing is ... "but it's not still being built" ... (ish). We headed back to the station a slightly different way, but still going past the guard at our left-right decision point for a third time in ten minutes.

On the way back to the station we headed into the Konami sports club; none of us were members there of course. One friend wanted to see if their (tiny) sports shop had martial arts equiment and one wanted to see the pool. The pool iteself is pretty amazing as it's on the second story. Wanting to know how much it was, she was just going to check online, but I thought it be an idea to put those Nihongo lessons to use and asked a member of staff how much the pool was.

Just a tad of worry went through me when we were asked to head down to one of the membership desks on the far side ... well, a fair bit of worry actually. Thankfully the member of staff realised our Japanese abilities were low so she spoke clearly and carefully (thank you ^_^). It turns out that to use any of the facilities you had to be a member, fair enough, and she produced a handout saying various prices. They do also do a student rate, but I missed where that info was.

Needless to say pricewise I'll be sticking to the Uni gym, and a bath at home.

On that note, I WILL be moving before Christmas, but more on that next time.

I'm going to go now, and get ready for the 2 minute silence (which is 2 minutes away). Laters.

Sunday 9th Nov 2008 - 3:45pm

Well my knee support did help a lot and now I'm not hobbling anymore ... well, not as much anyway.

On Friday night there was a party hosted by the University's IEC (International Exchange ... Committee?), a student run society, as another way of introducing the year abroad students to Japanese students. It was more like a variety show with games, the batsu games (punnishment games) were real fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Afterwards myself and six others (Japanese and exchange students) went into Umeda at a favourite dining place of ours; the (name forgotton) everything 280yen place. The night got even better as we ate and drank a variety of foods and drinks and conversed in both English and Japanese, with Japanese being the dominant language. This in itself was a very good achievement because as far as our University Japanese level groups go, the foreign students were from the A & B classes (5 classes in total with E class being almost if not fluent).

On the train back I started feeling a bit worse for wear. I wasn't drunk, far from it (well, maybe just a tad), in fact I've noticed Japanese beer being a lot weaker than what I'm used to back home. It was that I realised just how tired I actually was. I still hadn't had a proper rest since my 7 hour stroll through the back streets of Kansai, and was still having to use my brolly as a makeshift walking stick. I slept for most of the trip back, then walked from my station to home, which seemed to take a good few hours (despite it actually only taking about 25 minutes).

Yesterday I once again went to Nishinomiya Kitaguchi with a friend for some kanji practice. It had been raining during the night so the seat I wanted to work at was soaked. We went into one of the shopping centres and eventually found a space. Up until this time we had been using 'Minna No Nihongo' (MNN), a book which I'd heavilly recommend to beginners of the Japanese Language, but due to completing the book we have moved onto 'An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese' (AIAIJ). Something I hadn't counted on was how different the format for kanji was in AIAIJ, so much so that Konan had given us a second book just for the kanji ... unfortunately I'd forgot to bring this one.

Regardless, we tried to work on some of the kanji we knew, but in reality it was a failed situation before we had even started.

I came home and started doing some homework. To go with the new book the homework is in a different layout also, with less furigana (hiragana/katakana readings) above the kanji that we should know. This is good because it means that we'll (well me anyway) will have to actively try to read them properly instead of letting my eyes glance above the kanji letters. Well after doing the homework I thought I'd read up on the culture notes in the new textbook.

I hate AIAIJ.

The grammar points, vocab, kanji etc all seem to be pretty great in AIAIJ. It gives plenty of example sentances and reading excercises and is generally what I'd consider to be an awesome book for studying with ... if you fit into it's own expectations of what it's student should be, that is. I personally came to Japan (from Britain) to learn about Japan and Japanese culture, but due to the overwhelming number of Americans on my course (I didn't really want to go down this tangent again, but oh well) I found myself unwillingly learning about the states. Don't get me wrong I have very little against America, it's just not somewhere I plan on going to or getting accustomed to, and right from the start I made a point of agreeing to myself that I was going to hang on to whatever Britishness I had (including but not limited to how to spell the word colour).

AIAIJ must have heard my arrangement and thought "Ha! We'll see about that". The cultural notes section for the vast, VAST majority of the book basically compares Japanese customs and culture with American customs and culture. MNN avoided this by having characters from different countries, including non-English speaking countries (like Santos-san from Brazil and Karina-san from Indonesia) and this meant that readers throughout the world could emote with and more importantly learn with all the characters throughout the book.

"...when Americans talk about their family members, they often "brag" about them,..."

First of all, it generalises an entire nation by ignoring the fact that not all Americans are up their own arse. Second, I don't really give a toss about how Americans talk about their family members. Thirdly, this could easilly be avoided with a change of wording. For example:

"...when some people talk about their family members, they often "brag" about them,..."

In fact the first time that non-American foreigners are actually refferred to in the Culture Notes section comes in chapter 14 (the book itself being only 15 chapters long). But it isn't until the final chapter that another country (Korea, though it doesn't specify north or south) is specifically referred to.

The other assumption that is made of it's students is that everyone who comes to Japan after studying it will be doing a homestay, as it says at the top of page 70 (first page of chapter four - Homestay):

"When you are doing a homestay,..."

"When"? What is this "when"? I'm in a dorm, where did you get this notion I would be reading this from the comfort of an actual house? Why not use "if"? "If" gives you plenty of leeway incase some of us couldn't get that privalege. In fact I was going to let this slide as this is actually the first year that Konan have actually had to have a dorm option as not enough homestays were available (though recent rumours around the Ajisai room would have you believe otherwise), and those students who are part of the Illinois Consortium of something or other (most of which have used this book) were guaranteed a homestay. However it isn't just one chapter that deals with homestays, it's two! Two chapters of irrelevant information (bar the grammar etc) that I can't use. At least this year anyway. I still read them though and found myself becoming increasingly angrier with those students who complained about their homestays (see previous entry), as most of the things they were complaining about were discussed in the book and how to basically accept the cultural differences of the fact that you're not in your precious America any more.

In short, I recommend any universities who have dorms and non-American students to avoid AIAIJ. 3A (the company behind MNN) do a range of books aimed at Lower Intermediate, Upper Intermediate and Advanced students, as well as the Beginner books.

I went to bed at about 5 o'clock, after finally letting my feelings of segregation and isolation soothe; I didn't really fancy taking a walk.

Waking up late today, I partook in some instant ramen. Heading to the washroom after (to wash my chopsticks), I soon discovered the method to get hot water from the sink! Hoorah! Too bad it's taken two months to sodding get it. Still, I guess if I'd have asked the dorm manager I would have found out sooner.

We don't have a test tomorrow, but I'm going to start writing up my vocab flash cards for the week.

6th November 08 - 11pm (ish)

Hold on to your hats folks, this is going to be a fairly hefty blog. Why haven't I updated this is almost a week? Well being tired tends to take a few things out of you. But if you stick with it and read the whole thing, you'll come accross topics like a reggae bar in Sannomiya, getting jumped on by a random American woman, Green Porno, a 7 hour walk home at night to blow off steam, and getting a train home with a monkey, an army man and a Frenchman.

So let's start with Halloween. As I said in my last entry I did indeed walk again from Uni to Sannomiya. This time I was aided by the fact that I didn't have to take a detour to avoid being associated with an obvious over-the-top western tourist and managed to complete the walk in an hour and a half, meeting up with everyone at a reggae bar in Sannomiya called Second Chance. This time it was a bit of a night walk ... well, not quite night when I left, but it was when I got there. Before this there were many photo's taken in the Ajisai room and many different costumes. I went down my usual cheap-ass route and wore a purple hat (which was part of my usual clothing) and borrowed a pair of white framed lensless glasses. Tonight Matthew I'm going to be ... Spike Lee! Admitadly it was mainly the Americans who got it, but I didn't really care much.

Oh, I and I did leave that Gaikotsu on balcony!

Coming back to the reggae bar for the time being, when I got there it was a happy hour so drinks were cheaper than usual. That being said, I think I have a strong feeling that Second Chance water down their drinks. I say this not because they tasted weak (in fact they were rich and full of flavour, but because I had quite a few without feeling any effect. Maybe I missed the sign that said 'Alcohol Free' at the door.

On the food side it was quite hit and miss. I ordered two plates; Garlic Fries and Fried Chicken. The garlic fries came with 3 dipping sauces (ketchup, mustard and a garlic sauce) and were legendary. The were called fries, but they were much more like a British chip: big, bold and potatoey. The sauces were also fantastic! Normally I hate mustard, but this kind had a strange appeal to it and I was able to easilly use all the sauces rather than just the traditional ketchup. However, the chicken was less than fantastic. I seemed to be very ordinary and lacked a lot of flavour. Did I mention it was also sitting in a big ass puddle of MAYONNAISE!!!


After the reggae bar the large group split up a bit and I joined a group heading to a karaoke bar. As well as my usual repetoir I sang back up for a few of the others as we partook of an all you can drink offer. I don't know if it was a Sannomiya alcohol selling code for that night, but once again the drinks were very weak (yet still full of flavour). After singing our hearts out and individually downing somewhere between half and a dozen drinks, our time was up and we were on our merry way. From the looks of some of the people we passed, some were merrier than others!

Upon getting back to the train station, we coincidentally met up with most of the others who we split apart from at the reggae bar. Because me, 'the monkey', the 'army man' and the Frenchman (no outfit, he's genuine!) live in the same dorm, we took the same route going home together. The stares we got on the train were much more than we normally got (which by the way are now almost non-existant) and were also combined with some laughing. Still, it was always all in good fun. Kudos to the monkey for acting as dignified as much as a man in a monkey suit (literal pun) could act.

We had to get off the train a stop early, as it wasn't stopping at our station. We could have waited for the next train, but instead we just walked from Awaji station to home. Many more stares were had and a few bike crashes narrowly avoided as the odd-squad went walking along. At the dorm I felt hungry so me and monkey went on to raid McDonalds for a burger. I could go on about the funny looks and stares we got, but I think that message is kind of embeded in the rest of the halloween entry. However at McDonalds something pretty amazing did happen. I only ordered one burger (that wasn't the amazing thing), and was actually asked if I wanted a bag or if it was fine as it was (cue the "wow"). Seriously, everytime I've gone and just had one thing (and had it for take-out) I've ended up with more bags than produce. This was amazing.

On the way back I also felt like opening a new line to my Osakan food checklist by finally trying Takoyaki. Takoyaki is a fried octopus ball, and although I'm no stranger to octopus or food that comes in ball form, these were completely different to anything I'd ever tried. It was an interesting combination of creaminess and meatiness in one with a small air-pocket in the middle. It was nice, but don't get me wrong I probably won't be having Takoyaki too often.

Skip forward a day to the 1st of November. An old fortune says that if the first words you say on the first day of a month are 'White Rabbits' then you'll have good luck throughout the month. Unfortunately I confused myself with a late night munching on takoyaki, so my first words came out as 'Black Bunnies'. I hope that doesn't arouse any old supersticions.

On this day I lost some money on a bet I placed before coming to Japan. I made a bet with my brother that my two nephews would pass their driving tests before he does (seperate bets, one for each nephew). My brother's older than me and my nephews are 5 and 2. Congrats on passing your test dude.

Thanks to a friend from Konan, I was introduced to a show called Green Porno. It's an .... I'm struggling to think of how to describe it. It's a show that shows different mating rituals of various bugs and insects, but it's told in a very kid-show style. By kid-show, I mean the kind you watch when you can't even talk. There're 8 short videos on the website, and also some extras including a making of.

With a friend from Uni, I went to Nishinomiya Kitoguchi. Clearly not feeling stared at enough, we both sat in a very public area with white-boards and just practiced kanji over and over again and again. It was actually quite fun, and when we could overhear people talking about us or reading the kanji that we were writing it was more inspiration to keep on going. I was quite tempted to put my hat on the floor to see if I could make a few yen, but I was pretty sure Japan had laws against busking, at least without filling in mountainous paperwork beforehand. I'm thinking of making this a regular thing, because not only was it interesting, I actually did remember most of the kanji I practiced.

2nd November was a Sunday. This would normally be a day where SDS (Sunday Dorm Syndrome) kicks in. However, today was different! Today I (and a dude from Uni) would have a host familly ... for an evening. Konan had kindly arranged for dorm students the opportunity to have dinner with a familly, giving us the chance to be able to speak with Japanese people we didn't know in a new environment. This basically bridged the gap between dorm and homestay students. The family that we went to were quite far up into the mountains of Kobe, and yet the train ride seemed to be surprisingly short. As a gift I gave them some British tea bags (Tetleys) and a cottage figure I'd picked up in London.

Dinner was wonderful. I can't remember the name of the main dish, but it's very similar to Shabu Shabu. A large pot of boiling water in the middle of the table is accompanied by a range of vegetables (some of which were home grown) with thin slices of beef, all arrange around the table. These were then piece by piece put in the water and we all helped ourselves. This was followed by American Upside-Down cake and some After Eights! There were also some Scandinavian sweets that we tried (the familly too tried them for the first time) and they were ... different. We also tried (I'd never eaten so much in Japan before) some persimmons, a fruit which appeared to cross the boundary between orange, tomato and mango. In other words it was bloody good, all of it was bloody good.

Throughout the night we talked and listened and enjoyed each others company. I learned some new things about both Japan and America and in turn passed on some of my knowledge of England and Wales. It was a great 4 hours and I really appreciate everything that the host family had done in order to make it special. This is what it was like to have a host family.

9 o'clock came and it was time to say goodbye. We were driven back to the train station, but stopped on the way to see an awesome view of Osaka from the up a mountain at night, all lit up. I was going to take a picture, but unfortunately I knew my camera was too naff (not to mention I left it in the car). We arrived at the station and said our last thanks and goodbyes.

I went home with a smile.

I woke up on Monday 3rd November with a frown ... no more than that, I was grumpy ... no wait, I was just plain naffed off. To say that my smile from the previous night was upside down would be like saying Mount Fuji is just a pile of muck in the ground. It was a national holiday, Culture Day, and that meant I was starting my day hungry. Having not brushed my teeth the night before (out of shere laziness on my part) I could still taste the delicious repas from that night's meal. I left for Uni in a slump, with my only sense of pleasure coming from the fact that most people would have the day off. That may sound odd, me being glad other people got the day off, but it meant that I could be assured of a seat on the trains rather than have to stand 'sardine in a can' style.

I stayed up late the previous night, despite still being shattered from my walk to Sannomiya, but I don't even remember what for. I think it was just one of those nights of reflection (where I COULD have been writing a blog entry), but anyway I'm getting off topic. It meant that on the train I could get some sleep and try to forget about the rumbling in my stomache.

Arriving at University I headed straight for the shop. I could only feel I that I could partake a Ghana bar (a chocolate bar), so paid for it and headed to class. I offered pieces to my other dorm-hungered friends, who modestly turned them down. As usual one class member makes comments that he thinks are clever (if he's clever then a baby learning 1+1=2 must be a genius), but I couldn't feel the need for any of his crap today. After all, today was a reason that dorm students could take it out on others, even if they had it coming all along. So this being the case for every clever thing he said I quickly shot it down with a large dose of sarcasm and directness. He soon got the hint I think.

Monday's are the day I tutor English, so after a quick lunch I headed up to the room. Being a holiday I didn't really expect anyone to show up. But regardless I prepared the room, writing information on the whiteboard, including the British word of the day (to pop - I'm just popping to the shop). To my surprise ... wait, that's not the right word, to my expectation nobody came. Given that I was there for two hours, I used the time to practice kanji for this week's quizes. I did have a couple of visitors come by the room; another transfer student and a Japanese teacher, but they didn't stay long. Eventually, my two hours were up and I headed to the Ajisai room.

Feeling a need for a rest I covered my eyes with a giraffe scarf (also apparently known as a snood) and lay across some chairs at the side of the room. Even though I was awake with my eyes open looking through the tiny gaps in the fabric, my stillness must have given off the impression that I was sleeping as I overheard several people commenting on it. It's amazing what you can here when you really listen. I won't write them down here because I think that would be a little harsh to people who like talking about people behind their backs, then show a different facade when the person in question walks into the room.

One thing that did get on my nerves was when someone started moaning about their host family. They were giving it this and that about how they're only eating Japanese styled food and how they can't hang out with friends for every minute of the sodding day because the family wants to do things with them, like go to places and such. God, what a ponsey smarmy git! First of all consider yourself lucky to actually get food everyday (had it not been for my own home visit it would have been two days without a proper cooked meal), but you actually have a family willing to take your ungreatful ass to places you've never been to and are willing to help you learn Japanese. I won't even go into the fact that you're also paying less than the dorm guys ... whoops, too late. Me being in my meditative like state at the time didn't move or shout him down, but I was mentally picturing destroying him in an effort to calm myself down.

After a while I got up and just sat down, briefly including myself in the convestion that was going on around me. As it approached 5 o'clock I realised I'd already done the homework that was due the next day and had already memorised the kanji for the quiz. With nothing to really head home for and no desire to stick around, I proposed a question to the students sitting in my vicinity.

"How long do you think it'd take to walk to Juso from here? I wonder if I can get there before 9 o'clock."

After explaining my reasons why I'd be willing to do such a walk (those mentioned just above) I was on my way, leaving the parting words

"If I'm not in tomorrow, someone phone me to make sure I've not passed out in a ditch."

I started walking towards Okamoto station as I still considered just getting the train home. As I approached the station I had my pass ready to go through the turnstiles, but instead I turned left and just kept on walking. I put my pass back in my wallet, crossed the train tracks at a cross point and walked down an alleyway in the direction of Osaka.

At this time of day it was still quite bright out, so walking down the back alleys of Kobe wasn't too bad. Not to mention there were plenty of people around. My plan was to stick close to the Hankyu trainline as I knew this would be a surefire way to keep on route. I decided to see how I felt at the next station and decide then whether to continue or not. This was the beginning of what some would call a long night, and leave a physical effect on me that would last ... well, I still hurt.

When I hit Shukugawa station I soon realised that I wasn't going to make it all the way to Juso by 9. I was feeling much better than when I left uni. I was more relaxed, I had fresh air in me, and I was having fun. Not wanting to call it a day I kept my assessment of 'play it by ear' and would decide at each station if to carry on or not.

To save giving an account of every step, I'll just put it to you that I had three dead ends (right up to peoples houses), went into two awesome shops (one electronics that had things much cheaper than other stores, and a second hand book store with quite possibly the biggest 105yen manga section I've seen so far), had to take a 40 minute detour to walk up and down the bank of a river (Japan doesn't seem to let you cross rivers easily unless you're on a train or in a car), passed the Hi-Chew factory, and discovered that a black guy wearing all black walking in the dark with no road lights must be a very spooky thing to see for many Japanese people.

According to Google Maps, the journey should have been 22.3km (13.9 miles) and should have taken about 36 minutes ... by car. I of course am forbidden from operating a motor vehicle while here on my year abroad, and heaven forbid I actually follow google's set out route. I had no map, no real idea of where to head, and no Sun (to navigate by ... no compass either). At the same time I had no worries. At several times along the way I imagined headlines about worse case scenarios, but soon dismissed them as depressing. Oh, and as for the 36 minutes malarky, well ... I didn't make it to Juso by 9 o'clock.

Uni to Juso by car (googlemap)
Uni to Juso by train (almost my route) (googlemap)

Just as the clocks chimed for midnight I could be seen hobbling just down the road from Juso station. My feet hurt, my legs and back hurt, my eyes hurt, but man was my pride strong. I thought I'd really impress myself and jogged for the last few hundred metres, killing off my kneecaps in the process and nearly crashing into many drunken businessmen. I must have looked a right sight. I hobbled through the turnstiles and made my way to the platform ... to see my trains doors close.

I said a few words that no one should ever hear.

My next train was in twenty minutes so I figured it would be a good idea to get a drink. After hobbling up and down my platform, and a second platform, I eventually came to the vending machines. I bought a lemon flavoured drink and noticed the Ice-Cream machine right next door. I figured that I deserved a treat, so bought a chocolate chip ice cream. When i bent down to take it from the bottom of the machine I noticed something odd. Well, two things really. Firstly was that I had no pain and seemed to have got my energy back. The second thing was that there were two ice creams in the pick up spot. I thought my luck was on the up.

It didn't last long. After taking two steps away from the machine fatigue and pain set in heavier than before, leaving me trying to hobble back to my platform. You know it's bad when you're overtaken by a man with a zimmer-frame, but to be fair if he's agile enough to be up partying past midnight then all respect to him. I found a seat on my platform and started munching on my chocolate chip ice cream. The second ice cream appeared to be a green tea variety. About halfway through the first ice cream, enjoying every morcel and getting energy and strength back, something caught my attention in the air. To this day I still don't know what it was, but that lapse of concentration caused my delicious nectar of the gods to go tumbling to the floor.

( TT__TT )

I put it in the bin with a slight tear in my eye; partly because I had to stand up. I then moved onto the second ice cream, saving the drink for after. Now for those of you who this scenario may happen to (getting doubles on an ice cream vending machine), you're better off leaving the freebie right where it is. For you see, ice cream does a little thing when it reaches a certain temperature for so long and it's called melting. When you try to pull open an ice cream that's been melting for a while, you tend to have a little accident. For me, it looked as if someone had thrown some 1990's kid show gunge my way, as my ice cream (or should I just call it cream) splurted out of the packet. I picked up what I could and made another trip to the bin.

When my train came I'd been sitting down for a while and felt relaxed. Unfortunately for me, so did my knees. They did not want to be bothered when the train came and boy did they let me know. I compared the pain to when I first bent my left knee after getting a full leg cast reduced to a half leg one after snapping my shin bone in half. Yes ... it hurt like hell. No ... there were no seats on the train.

I got home just before 1 o'clock, roughly eight hours after first leaving the Ajisai room. I was in bed ... not in a ditch.

I spent the vast majority of the next day either in vast amounts of achey pain, or sleeping in various places. I did well on the kanji quiz, 100% baby (10/10).

Yesterday, Wednesday the 5th of November, when actually when I started writing this journal! It was also a very special day in the calendar ... Bonfire Night of course! Unfortunately because of the North American presidential election our British holiday seemed to be backshelved. Never mind Guy Fawkes, I still remember you ... and how you failed. ^_^

In Japanese class we were presented with our new textbooks, having finished (again) Minna No Nihongo. Now we're using 'An Integrated Approach To Intermediate Japanese'. To be honest at first glance it looks like it takes the style of MNN's various books, and combines it into one hefty hunk of a book. Even though I'm looking forward to the new grammar points, vocab and so on, I'll definately miss Biji-san and co from MNN. Still, I'll be looking back over those books when I start forgetting the simple stuff again.

After Japanese I took a trip with a friend to Nishinomiya Kitaguchi. I wanted to head back to that electronics shop (the one from the walk) as they had a Denshi Jisho (electronic dictionary) that was reduced from over 31,000yen to 19,900yen. I was going to get one of these anyway while I was here, so seeing this one was a bargain. To be honest, this month I was either going to end up getting one of these, or a bike. But to be honest, I don't think I'll be in the mood for much self-powered travelling for a while. My friend bought a significantly cheaper one (about 3,300 yen), which comes without all the gimicks and fancy things mine did, but it also didn't come with a touch pad which helps when it comes to finding kanji that you don't know the reading for.

My Denshi Jisho

Making my way back from Okamoto station to Uni, I soon came across an American woman looking very out of breath running with a buggy. As she ran past me our eyes met and she came to a screeching halt (minus the screeching).

"Are you American?" she shouts to me. I thought maybe she was in some kind of trouble and needed an English speaker.

"I'm British." I reply,

"Oh I guess you'll do. Obama just won and I had to run and tell someone about it and give them a hug!" She shouts as she dives my way and hugs me. Regular readers to my blog will already know my dislike of the stereotypical American (and for the record not all the Americans on my course here fit that bill), so I just stood there with a look to say "yeah ... and?". Don't get me wrong, I understand the significance of the election, but since I've been here at times it's felt like I've been in an extention of America rather than Japan. No offence intended to anyone, but America isn't on my list of places to go in my life. But still, I'd like to thank this lady for giving me something to laugh over with my non-stereotypical American friends.

Because of the fact that I knew I would have my PE class today, I decided to take a bath last night instead of a shower to see if the hot water would help my muscles relax a bit as they were still quite achey. I woke up this morning with a lot less ache, but it was still there. I still haven't had a full 7-8 hour sleep since before the walk to Sannomiya, so I'm really pushing it. I think I'll catch up at the weekend.

Walking to Kamishinjyou station I was tired. Waiting for the train I was tired. Standing on the train getting squashed like poo under a shoe I was tired. Walking from Okamoto station to Uni I was tired. During class this morning I was tired. Taking a short nap during the 10 minute break helped a lot, but by the end of the class I was tired.

As I approached the changing room for PE I knew I'd be in for an interesting session and I wasn't dissapointed. Though I was a lot weaker than normal on the treadmill and bike where I normally do quite an intensive cario-vascular warm up (ooh ... big words), I managed to increase some settings on the weights machines. I did tell some people about my 7 hour stroll and the story was met with both shock and disbelief. Perhaps they thought I just used the wrong wording (I'm the only foreigner in the class), but it also gave me a bit of excuse for my naff performance on the treadmill.

After getting my mark back from my Linguistics exam (and slipping in and out of consciousness during the actual lesson ... sorry sensei) which wasn't good but still a pass, I headed home. I noticed my left knee starting to throb and felt like it was swelling a bit. Stopping off at Juso on the way back (I took the train before you ask), I bought some postcards and a knee support. If anyone wants me to send them a postcard then please ask me ^_^. I'll wear the support tomorrow and see how I get on.

Well, I don't think I've missed anything out, but we all know what my memory is like. If you've made it this far, then congratulations and thank you. As a reward, here's an animation about 10 sticks!