Archive for May, 2011

on japanese

For the first year and half I lived here, I went to Japanese Language School and studied Japanese all. the. time. My days were full of kanji exercises and reading news and short stories and talking to my Korean classmates, then going home studying on my own or talking to Noji (technically studying?).  Then I passed the JLPT Level 1 in 2008, graduated, and… stopped. (I still talk to Noji, though.)

But every nine months or so, I think it’d be a really good idea to take some Japanese test (N1, Business Japanese Test, kanji kentei, nihongo kentei– take your pick, I have studied for them all!), study like crazy for a few weeks, get bored, never take any of the tests, never study again. I actually learned how to read/write like 70 四字熟語 (4 character idioms) for the kanji kentei and every time I would try to incorporate them in to conversation, Noji would say “……….. I don’t know what that means.” What! How can you not be familiar with such classic idioms as “like a roof over a roof” “dispersing clouds, disappearing fog” “nine cows, one hair”! Then I realized that most Japanese people don’t really know any 四字熟語 beyond like 一期一会 and I promptly forgot all of them.

I was definitely more motivated to study when I had absolutely no idea how to say anything or what anyone was saying to me. That is real pressure. Now that I am, technically, Pretty Good, I can pretty much wing most conversations and so most of my studying has been more tedious stuff (i.e. real person keigo, working on my vocabulary to avoid “you know, like that thing where you have to go home.. no not that, i mean ‘deportation'”) or things that don’t get enough exercise in my daily life to stick in my brain.

Which leads to… “I know, I need structured learning!” -> studying for a test -> get bored -> never study again -> seeing a foreigner on TV with better Japanese than me -> get mad -> studying for a test etc. I don’t want to be forever “pretty okay” at Japanese! A lot of foreigners think that the JLPT Level 1 is the goal, but it (as cliche as it sounds) is really just the beginning.

(ps I asked Noji “How long would it take for a Japanese person to realize I’m not Japanese if they just overheard us speaking?” and he looked so terrified to answer, like “it’s a trap!” and mumbled something about intonation. Sigh.)


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Coming off of Golden Week was intense. I was so sleep deprived and fussy for the whole week. This week I’ve been trying to get to bed earlier, hence the lack of updates.

Last week, my parents sent me a care package to remind me and Noji how awesome American grocery stores are. If I could import an entire Safeway to my neighborhood, I would probably never leave Japan. Assuming I can guilt my family into visiting me?

I used the “If I don’t eat them quickly, they’ll go stale” excuse to polish off one of these babies in like 4 days.

These sounded like such a good idea to request and then I ate a bite and I had satisfied my craving for Cadbury Creme Eggs for at least 7 years.

The pickles are amazing and I had Hamburger Helper for two days in a row (whole grain means it’s heathy?). Also big ups to my mom for sending me some eye cream because along with clay masks and nailpolish that contains no glitter, Japan does not seem to carry cheap eye cream? My dry, flaky concealer…!

Okay, I’m trying to enforce an 11:30pm curfew meaning I should already be asleep. Goodnight!

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saludos amigos~

Goodbye, Golden Week! Hello, overflowing inbox.

We pretty much spent most of it at home, did some spring cleaning, took some walks, and slept a lot. And also, Disney!

It’s been a while since we’ve been to Disney Sea so we decided to make a day of it on Friday. Friday wasn’t technically a national holiday, so we were expecting thin crowds, but it was pretty much empty. Everything was a 5 minute wait, so we rode everything a gazillion times and by 3pm, we’d pretty much covered everything in the park. Disney Sea only just reopened from the quake last week so they didn’t have any of their 10th anniversary decorations or goods out, so it was not super festive but a tiny bit of relaxing escapism.

I think I mentioned in my downer Disneyland Anaheim post how American Disney hasn’t learned to harness the true power of capitalism with “character goods.” This is how it is done:

Beautiful! And this doesn’t even cover the colorful collection of headwear.

All in all, it was a relaxing GW, if not terribly productive. Now to get into countdown mode for Obon…

PS. 600+ people attended the event today protesting the government’s closure of the exclusion zone to animal rescue groups! I wish I’d heard about it earlier. Is it too optimistic to hope the government moves quickly/at all on this?

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ahhhhhhh I love this commercial.

I wish I could say we’ve been super busy and enjoying Golden Week but we haven’t done anything except sleep and watch the 40+ hours of TV on our DVR. Updating my Android software wiped my phone, so I have been diligently/obsessively redoing my home screen.

We have big plans for the rest of the week but it’s already 1pm and I’m still tucked in bed, so. Who knows!

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