Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 8 June 2nd

Got up this morning and took the laundry to the itsy bitsy laundromat. While I was waiting I started reviewing our katakana flashcards. I have to be able to read and write katakana and hirogana before starting the summer language class. Japanese has two phonetic alphabets, one fore native Japanese words, hirogana, and one for loaner words, katakana. You'd think the loaner words would be easy but they aren't all from English – you could be pronouncing the katakana correctly and still have no idea what you're saying because it's supposed to be German. They also use kanji, symbols that can mean various things in context so, often, the hirogana will be written above the kanji so you know how to pronounce it and therefore what it is. I've always had an “ick” feeling when it comes to transhumanism. Mostly, I think, because so much technology is being developed to make humans for efficient soldiers and because, no matter how hard lawmakers might try, there will be a divide between the tweaked and the non-tweaked. That being said, if someone offered me a pill that would make it possible for me to learn Japanese way more quickly I would probably take it. I guess we all have a price.

After that I figured out where a gym is that I want to check out and wrote up a grocery list. As you can see, first I wrote what we needed in English, then I looked up the words in our dictionary, and wrote out the kanji and the hirogana so I would, hopefully, be able to find the stuff. I manged to find the gym and leave with a schedule of classes and prices – my homework tonight is deciphering just enough to know what I absolutely need to. At the grocery store I was trying to find “dashi” soup stock for miso soup and was having a tough time. Finally, I thought I found something that looked like cubes of soup stock and asked a woman if it was dashi, actually I just pointed at it and said “sumimasen, dashi” excuse, dashi. It was actually cubes of brown sugar. She showed me were the dashi was. It is in packets like tea bags. You don't dissolve anything, you just let it seep. It said “dashi” write on it in hirogana but I never would have looked at it because it didn't look like soup stock to me.

Craig's grandpa had told us that when he had visited Tokyo he had noticed the flower pots on the sidewalks. We didn't think anything of it till we started walking around. There are a lot of flower pots on the sidewalks. I've even seen assigned apartment parking spaces that I think people have turned into mini potted gardens. I didn't get a picture of that because it was pouring rain when I walked past but this house is a good example. There are also a ton of flower shops. Those and dessert places seem really common. Another ubiquitous feature is "Boss" coffee vending machines. They are on just about every corner and sometimes just randomly sitting in the middle of a block. They either vend cold coffee drinks or hot coffee. I also saw that you can buy cartons of coffee in the grocery store, it is right next to the milk. Apparently Japanese people love themselves some caffeine.

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