The year abroad adventures of a Scottish otaku in the North of Japan

Tag Archives: manga

So today it’s really sunk in that I’m actually in Japan (and for a long time as well). I guess that’s what happens when you stay at a Campus University. The past week has been a bit hectic (when is it ever not?), so I’ll break this up into little sections 🙂

Classes
So classes begun this week and they got off to a flying start – especially Japanese. My teacher, Kamei-sensei (not Kame-sensei – turtle-sensei) and the lesson is solely in Japanese….we also have a very mixed group of students: several from Taiwan, a few Norwegians, a German, a couple of Americans, a couple of Singaporeans and me…..although the class is still a nice size.
Japanese Literature class is taught by a very monotonous Russian guy (Professor Dolin). He spent the first 10 minutes of the class telling us all the books he’d written/translated. He seems a little full of himself, but he knows what he’s talking about 🙂
Pronunciation class is taught by this tiny elderly Japanese lady called Ayusawa-sensei. She also teaches us mostly in Japanese, but she’s also teaching us the correct intonations and pronunciations.
Unfortunately I haven’t actually had my International Trade class yet since the teacher decided to be away (and not tell us….). Ach well, it meant I had a free afternoon on Thursday!

COS
COS is our community outreach opportunity at AIU. They offer the chance to go out into the community (sometimes paid) and do activities. I had my first experience of this when I signed up to help a group of middle school students practice their English. They were so cute!!

P1050602

Clubs
This semester I’ve joined two clubs and one committee (although one of the clubs has yet to materialise). I have Aikido – a Japanese martial art – twice a week. It’s quite strenuous on the wrists (because of the self-defence we’re learning) and the legs….
My other club is supposed to be a Bible Study group (because the nearest church is too far away), but we haven’t got a venue yet 😦
I’ve also joined the ‘Campus Art’ group which is supposed to be doing all the decoration for the school festival we’ve got coming up in October. The group is mostly Japanese students, so I’m gonna have to get my casual Japanese up to scratch!

Home Comforts
Ok, so even though I’ve only been here a few weeks, things that remind me of home are still a godsend.
First is this shop: Kaldi
P1050505

This store is basically a foreign import’s store, where you can find the likes of Digestives and Nutella (for a price).
Next is this guy:
P1050511

This is the postman, if you can believe it! He has a little red van like at home 🙂
Other homely comforts include BBC world news being on in the cafeteria, listening to BBC Radio 2 on my laptop (Last Night of the Proms tonight!) and being able to watch iPlayer. “How does she do this?” I hear you ask! Well, there’s a controversial programme called Expat Shield that enables you to create an artificial IP address. Now as I said, it’s controversial and the BBC have refused to comment on it (here’s the article about it, if anyone’s interested: http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2010/11/03/software-cheat-lets-people-watch-bbc-iplayer-abroad-an-update/). For someone who’s away from the UK for a while, it’s a godsend – I can watch the Great British Bake Off and Sherlock Series 3 (when it starts).

Shopping
This was where being in Japan really sunk in….we were put on a meal plan (where we get meals from the cafeteria) for the first two weeks. After that it’s pay for meals, or cook for yourself – unsurprisingly I chose the latter of the two. However that meant I had to go food shopping, as well as getting starter items like oil and seasonings, which meant I actually had to navigate a Japanese supermarket. Being immersed in solely Japanese products while trying to decide what you need to survive for the next few weeks was definitely overwhelming. I did make it out of there alive, though (with my sanity vaguely intact – they had the same song on a loop the entire time I was there).

 

Well, I’m surviving here and got a bus trip tomorrow to Kakunodate (an old samurai village), so I’ll be reporting on that during the week. Until then, またね!


Days to go: 31!

I’ve only been to Japan for a grand total of 4 weeks over the last 2 years, but there is so much I find myself missing while I’m back in the UK. Seriously, I get withdrawal symptoms the minute I get on the plane home. Attempting to copy stuff here just doesn’t cut it, either, it’s just not ‘Japan’ enough.

So in no particular order, my Japan cravings (which will be fulfilled the minute I get back into the country:

1. Osakan food
Ok, so I won’t be able to fulfil this one quite as soon as I get to Japan, but I’ll be working on it! Basically, some of the best food you will ever taste comes from Osaka – it’s the atmosphere as well as the food, since Osakan’s are ridiculously friendly! Some of the best Osakan food I’ve tasted is either Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki (and yes I know they’re not only Osakan but they are famous for them!).

takoyaki_tray2-500x396

I’ve tried making Takoyaki (rather unsuccessfully with a Pop-cake make) and they didn’t taste as good as when I made them with my host-family last year…Octopus covered in batter and then seaweed/dried fish tastes better than it sounds. I can’t wait have Takoyaki in Osaka again.

2. Ranchipakku

These are basically little sandwiches that are sealed at the edges and contain a vast array of interesting flavours: maple syrup and butter, hamburger, curry, egg. You name it, there’s probably a Ranchipakku with it in! My favourite is the hamburger one, it’s so yummy (mostly because it was eaten at the top of Mt. Rokko)

2012-06-23 17.48.34

3. Manga at an affordable price/Book Off! stores

Book off. What can I say? I would live in this store if I could. It basically sells second-hand books and manga at ridiculous prices (100-500 yen), but the Japanese second-hand isn’t like the UK second-hand. We’re quite happy to give a book into a charity-shop/car-boot sale a bit crumpled, a couple of pages torn maybe. These books are in almost pristine condition!

4. Punctual public transport

If a train says it’s gonna arrive at 10.38, it will (unless someone has jumped on the tracks/there’s been an earthquake) arrive at 10.38. If the platform says the train doors will open at this spot on the platform, they’re gonna. Yes, there is the little issue of being jammed onto a rush-hour train, but hey! It’s fun, and you don’t have to hold on, just follow the flow of the crowd! Enjoy it (and it gives you and excuse to casually jab anyone in the ribs if they’re trying to grope you – yes, it happens!)!

5. The ‘gaijin look’

This can cover two phenomena in Japan. First is the obvious one – ‘gaijin’ is the slang for a foreign person and, outside of the capital, there aren’t that many about. Ergo, you’ll get stared at most places you go and it’s hilarious to watch people pretend they aren’t staring.

This is a great article about it: http://www.japanprobe.com/2011/10/03/fake-book-cover-why-do-japanese-people-stare-at-foreigners/

It’s also fun to listen to what people are saying about you (pretending you don’t understand).

The other ‘gaijin look’ is a less common, but no less funny, one. This is when two ‘gaijin’ catch each other’s eye (on a train/public place/etc.) and then fervently ignore each other in case you get asked for directions or something. It’s bonding in the worst way!

6. Colourful draincovers

These are a wonder in themselves (if you know where to look). Most places in Japan have their own unique design of sewer drain cover – they usually show a local landmark/speciality. I love it when I find a new one when I’m on some adventure.

P1010256

7. 100 yen stores

Comparing these to £1 stored here in Britain is like comparing roses to daisies, it’s just not the same…I love shopping in hundred yen stores, especially because they are such good quality – and a great place to get cheap presents!!

8. Gatchapon

What are gatachapon you ask? THESE are gatchapon. Those little vending machines that give you knock off plastic rings and swallow your one and only pound coin? Not in Japan. I saved up all my hundred yen coins and this is a fraction of the gatchapon I bought – there are pokemon ones, blue exorcist ones, hello kitty ones….they’re everywhere!

 2012-07-03 08.58.19

9. Real Udon Noodles

Udon stand full of random people, steaming hot bowl of freshly made udon noodles, the sounds of slurping echoing around you. Nothing better and don’t you go comparing them to cup-ramen or I will hunt you down!

10. CC Lemon

CC Lemon is the most amazing drink, mostly since the bottle says ‘with the power of 100 lemons in it’ (the cans have less than this, but they’re still pretty cool). If they weren’t 300 yen a pop, I would probably drink them all day, every day, but ho hum!

CC Lemon! I’M COMING FOR YOU!!!



%d bloggers like this: