Wednesday, August 17, 2011

animal or vegetable?

Yesterday I went to a cafe to study Japanese and ended up sitting next to two Americans. I've been going to an air conditioned cafe for at least an hour a day to study since my class finished yet I still have to order by pointing at the menu. Anyway, it was really difficult to concentrate when English was being spoken. I usually walk around in this comfortable little responsibility-less cocoon because people could tell me I was doing something wrong or ask me for something and I would have no idea. Craig joked that I should get a job for the yakuza as an enforcer because they could be pleading for their lives or offering me great riches to not put a cap in their umm.. knee and I would have no idea. The whole gaijin solidarity thing kicked in and one of the Americans commented on my book; sitting next to another presumably English speaker was too tempting to pass up. The one guy has been in Japan for 12 years and told me that the dentists suck. There was a story about root canals and pus and not enough antibiotics. Then the conversation went to how tough it is to clear up athletes foot - these guys were really charmers. Eventually they finished their drinks and wished me luck on my Nihon adventure.

Today I went to my first one-on-one Japanese conversation lesson. The Kobe International Community Center provides free, two hour, once a week for 6 months tutors for foreigners who want some help with their Japanese. They are not teachers and it is stressed that this isn't a language course. Basically, people volunteer to spend two hours talking to you in Japanese and trying to get you to understand and respond. They also answer questions and write out crib sheets. I forgot to do it today, but next week I'm going to ask my tutor, Sakamoto-san, how to say things like "I'm growing out my bangs so don't cut them" and "please cut my hair like this picture" so I can get a hair cut.

Tonight we had cold soba noodles and bento boxes for dinner. This is our go to meal. Craig picks up the bentos at the grocery by the train station on his way home and I make the noodles. Bentos are a great deal. They've always been good and are quite cheap. Tonight we tried something we'd never had before and, after eating the entire helping, still don't know if we ate animal or vegetable. We tried deciphering the kanji on the box but didn't get too far. I think I'll write it down so I can ask Sakamoto-san next week.

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