Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wednesday's Pictures

Not sure why it's blurry. (Left to right: David, Alecs, Ryan, Ryo, Rachel, Toh)

A little less blurry

An example of the tables at the reception

Two of the Japanese girls I was fortunate to meet

Pretty and cute car

Another view from my balcony

Fukuoka Tower as seen from my balcony

The slimy potato-like root thing of Audrey's

Sumika's delicious udon

My 5kg bag of rice!

Broken Languages and Fixed Meals

Wednesday, June 27

Today was extremely fun. There was a reception scheduled for the Summer Program students at 12:30 at Cross Plaza (the better of the cafeterias, if you remember). We had to meet in the lobby at 12:00, though, so we could all go there together.

But a few of us had other ideas!  Alecs, Rachel, Toh, Ryo, Ryan, David, and I all went to a local (and I think family-owned) restaurant called ふじや (Fujiya). It was really cool. The entrance had the door that slides back like any normal screen door in America, and above the entrance were those cool banner things you have to duck under. (I don’t really know what they’re for, but they are still really cool.) Anyway, so we ducked in right after it opened (we had arrived about 5 minutes before it did). The table we chose was the traditional low style on a raised platform. When at a place like that, one always removes his/her shoes before sitting at a table like that. So, that’s what we did. Rachel tried sitting in the way that the Japanese usually sit: with their legs folded beneath them. The rest of us simply sat Indian style or some version of it. Rachel ended up sitting like us. (I still can’t figure out how the Japanese have done it for so long… Standing up would be killer! Especially after too much sake,  ?)

Anyway. I wasn’t very hungry, so I just sat and watched the others eat. (Yes, I know that is very creepy, but Toh, for example, who’s from Singapore, has the chopstick eating technique down! It’s awesome because I can’t control my chopsticks very well, still!) I don’t remember what people got, unfortunately, but it all smelled wonderful! I have no qualms saying that I probably wouldn’t try any of it, especially the stuff with the pork chops or whatever, but the Japanese can work magic with flavors. (Texture will always be a problem for me, sadly…) However, I have to mention that Alecs offered me a little dish that had come with his meal. He told me he hates cucumbers, which there were a few of. There was also some slimy seaweed, the name of which I don’t remember… Ryo said that what it was usually is eaten with rice or something but that one can eat it alone, too. Feeling adventurous, I tried some. It was really good, actually. Even the slimy seaweed was not a deterrent! I’m curious as to how it would taste with rice, now. :)

During the breakfast/lunch meal, Alecs had verified with one of our advisers that it was okay we simply meet them at Cross Plaza for the reception. He got the “OKです” and, once everyone had finished eating, we walked to Cross Plaza. On the short walk there, we ran into Yamaguchi-san as she, too, made her way for the reception. We all simply followed Yamaguchi-san to the second floor of the Cross Plaza. When we entered the room, there we saw a number of tables laid out with finger foods. (I wouldn’t exactly name them hors d'oeuvres because they had what looked like chicken drumsticks or barbeque wings or something. And they had some pizza which actually tasted really good.) There were no chairs. That’s the automatic sign that you will be standing and being forced to wander around, finding people to talk to. Haha! But, in Japan, being forced to converse with people is not bad. The students of Seinan are very understanding and patient with がいじん (foreigners) like myself who use broken Japanese and English to converse. I mean, they may not understand what I’m saying (or not fully), but they are kind enough to go along with it. (It’s all very humorous, actually. There’s lots of giggling and laughter at mistakes and silly attempts to communicate.)

So, those of us who had arrived early (aka those of us who had gone to the little restaurant) stood, looking at what the food and wondering how it would all go. We talked about how we would have to introduce ourselves. I was highly concerned about the fact that I was going to make a fool of myself by attempting to speak Japanese…. x.x Soon, the rest of the I-House family arrived and began to mingle amongst the food, looking at it as we had, waiting for the reception to begin as we were.
It started with an introduction by a Japanese individual. I did not catch his name nor did I catch what his title is in relation to Seinan… (It was in Japanese and I’m in the beginner class, so yeah…) Then a couple professors introduced themselves before inviting us to eat and chat. The food was really good and I had fun eating with chopsticks (again). Chopsticks are officially my favorite eating utensil. :D I met many people, including my professor for the summer class and a daigakuinsei (graduate student) named FUJII Youichi. He said I could call him Youichi-san. :)

I spent most of my time talking with Youichi-san. He was very cool. He is writing his thesis on the Soviet Union’s society/culture dynamics. It sounded interesting. In fact, he invited me to read an article of his in English. I agreed and told him I look forward to it. ^^ (I just still have to email him once I figure out how to say what I want to say.) Anyway, we talked about philosophy and Russian authors, what we want to do with ourselves after school, and other stuff. I felt extremely bad for poor Youichi-san having to deal with my pathetic Japanese vocabulary… He spoke some English and I spoke even less Japanese. But it wasn’t for trying, at least. He also speaks some French and some Russian!! How cool is that! I want to learn Russian so, so, so badly! (First, I should focus on learning Japanese, though, huh? Hahaha)

During the reception, we had the honor of seeing a really cool fan dance type thing. I actually videoed it, but Windows Movie Maker doesn’t accept the kind of file that my camera stores videos in… D: I’ll figure out how to fix that, though, and eventually get the videos up. Not long after the fan dance performance, the reception ended.

Once again, we were free with our afternoons (except when we had to go register our computers for internet access at the I-House). So, Audrey, Toh, David, and myself went to sign up for activities. For example, we signed up for the baseball game that is tomorrow, for calligraphy, for flower arrangement (which is for both men and women, just so you all know), for participation in a tea ceremony, for kimono wearing, and for martial arts. Today, I just signed up for the first four because I don’t know how our classes will work those days. (The kimono activity, for example, is in the morning, which is when we typically will have class. So, I don’t know if they’re moving class or what…)

From there, we all went and registered our computers for internet use. It was pretty easy. So, now, I can actually access the internet and post blogs on time!! :D But it was really weird (and slightly disconcerting)… In the class building where the IT office is located, there are nets stretched across openings in the floors where the floors act as balconies to the ground floor. The building has 7 levels. I don’t know if the nets are simply to keep from students throwing books and stuff on to the ground floor, potentially hurting students walking down there…. Or if they’re there for a more uh…..a…. what’s the word… a more morbid purpose… >.> So, yeah…. I really didn’t want to ask, afraid of the answer…

After registration, we all went back to the I-House for a bit, waiting for internet, and just hanging out. Before heading to our individual rooms, Audrey invited me to join her for dinner around 7:15. I brought my 5kg bag of rice to make dinner with. ^^ She had some weird root thing that looked like a more cylindrical potato when it wasn’t cut. After she cut it, though, it pretty lost most of its similarity to a potato. (The color was white on the inside, like a potato…) The inside flesh of the root looked a lot like someone had taken tapioca beads and squished them together. Also, the flesh was slimy. I’m not kidding… じょうだんじゃない。。。When you picked it up to eat it, first off, it tried very hard to slip from your fingers. Second, once you’d eaten it, and the root piece had left your fingers, it left a slime that was extraordinarily mucus-y on your fingers… x.x It was gross… but go figure, the root itself tasted okay. (It was bland like a potato, too… but that’s probably the absolutely last similarity because potatoes are not slimy…. >.<) Neither Audrey nor myself are entirely sure what purpose the root serves in cooking. Alecs and Sumika had also joined us, at that point, to eat their own dinner. Sumika ended up telling us that they mash the root up and serve it with なっとう (fermented soybean). That did not sound at all appetizing… So, I wonder if there are any other uses for it. Anyway. I tried udon (うどん), a noodle that is like egg noodle consistency but more cylindrical and not flat. It was extremely good! I enjoyed it very much!

While we were eating, Sumika turned the TV on and we all watched some game show in Japanese. (It was odd because it was in a different dialect (not that I could tell, of course…). Sumika and Alecs said that even for them it was occasionally difficult to understand what they said. I mentally equated it to a Mississippi Southerner attempting to speak with a Massachusetts Northerner… The accents, ya know.) The game show was pretty entertaining, but it was weird. However, it was tame compared to many other Japanese game shows that I know exist… Everyone finished their dinner and we finished the show together before cleaning up dinner and saying our おやすみ and good nights.

There you go! Day four, done! Another great day in beautiful, wondrous Japan! ^^ じゃね!

Tuesday's Pictures


I-House and Charles


Old Chapel in the campus Museum (I think?)

Old Chapel in the campus Museum

Old Chapel in the campus Museum (Yamaguchi-san up front)

Old Chapel in the campus Museum

Old Chapel in the campus Museum (Left to Right: Tiffany, Mia, Erin (sp?), Toh, Ryo)

Old Chapel in the campus Museum and David

Old Chapel in the campus Museum

Old Chapel in the campus Museum (Audrey and Charles)

There's a miniature of the miniature. :3

Did anyone else not know Helen Keller came to Japan? O.n

Cool contraption for quick-drying wet kasa (umbrellas)

Beautiful lilies

There were cool little stamps to try. #1

There were cool little stamps to try. (#2)