Today was another lecture day but this one was actually really fun! Everyone in the class had to do a presentation on their favorite anime, manga, or video game, and it was great hearing about all these stories everyone is so passionate about! I talked about Kingdom Hearts, my favorite video game series, of course. Other people presented on: Your Name, The Legend of Zelda, Okami, Animal Crossing (yay!), Tokyo Mew Mew (double yay!), Fruits Basket, Noragami, Future Diary, and Fullmetal Alchemist. Everyone seemed so in love with the stories they shared, so it really makes me want to check out the ones that I’m not familiar with. I wish we could do days like this all the time!
After our class we went to our second Buddy Meeting (with the English-learning Japanese students) and watched some clips from Japanese romance movies, and basically talked about how it’s different from American movies, and poked fun at a lot of the cliches like the weirdness that is kabedon. I was actually fairly social here and tried to make a new friend, so overall I had fun!
This weekend we will be going out of town to an onsen! I will be back Monday to let you know how it was.
Today was a really fun day! We got to sleep in and do some homework in the morning, and then after lunch we went to Ginza to the Kabuki Theater and met up with another of my senseis from MTSU. There was a little museum next to the station where you could see some of the props and try them out; for example, some girls sat in a row boat while a lady moved a wooden box full of beans that made the sound of the waves. Then we went and sat on a little stage and took pictures and it was very beautiful!
After this we took our tickets and found our seats in the Kabuki Theater. We were on the third level, which actually was not that far from the main stage, but unfortunately we were right over the little side stage on the left so we couldn’t see anything down there. But still the show was very entertaining! We got to see three different shows, and we had small translation tablets which gave us the dialogue in English as well as some helpful background. Even though the acting was a little strange (old language and exaggerating voices), the sets and choreography were beautiful, and honestly I think I would see it again! (Though maybe not for so long…)
Tomorrow will be a full day, so I’d better finish my homework and get some rest! See you tomorrow! 🙂
Today was lecture day! The topic of the day is work culture in Japan, and even though I knew this before, it was a little scary hearing it again because of how much more difficult it is here! Work in Japan is taken very seriously, and (sometimes unpaid) overtime is a normal thing. In the U.S. usually when it hits 5 o’clock you can go ahead and pack up and go home, but in Japan you are expected to stay until the boss leaves. And even after you leave sometimes you might have to take work home. There’s a lot of pressure to perform at your best all the time, and it’s very stressful on the populace. There’s even a term, karoshi, for death from overwork. We also watched a video that showed how so many people cope with their stress by going out and getting drunk all night; they forget the stress of the moment so that they can hopefully go back the next day a little calmer. It’s a really sad situation and I hope that the younger generation continues to try to change it, because health and family should be more important than our jobs.
I also got to do a presentation and help the teacher demonstrate what to put on meishi, or business cards, and how to present them (it’s much more formal than how it is in the U.S.). I was complimented on my presentation and I’m glad that I have at least one big assignment done!
After class I went to Reitaku Cafe all by myself and honestly struggled with my Japanese when trying to order and ask for things. But everything worked out, I had a lovely meal, and the gentleman that worked their was extremely gracious and forgiving even when I apologized over and over for my Japanese struggles.
That is all for today, tomorrow will be another excursion to Kabuki!
This morning we went on another excursion to Noda-shi to see the Kikkoman Soy Sauce (or Shoyu) Museum. The museum did us a kind favor and allowed us to come in at first and have a hands-on experience. First we watched a slideshow presentation about the process, and then we got to do a mini version of it ourselves. The only ingredients are soy beans, wheat, water, and salt, which are mixed together, and then you add in a bacteria (for Kikkoman it’s aspergillus) which works in the mixture. Then the aspergillus is removed and the mixture is aged, fermented, and pasteurized. After just 6 months (I didn’t know it was so long!) you have soy sauce!
After we did our hands on stuff, we got to tour the museum and see the real machines they use. They are huge and some have enough space to make over 300,00 bottles of sauce. The best part, however, was after the tour when we went to the cafe and got a unique treat – soy sauce ice cream! A lot of people thought it sounded gross, but I think everyone actually liked it, and I’m always excited to try new flavors of ice cream.
This past weekend we had fun going to the city, and then resting up on Sunday. Saturday I went to the huge Tower Records store in Shibuya and bought some good stuff and even saw a singer (whose name I don’t know…) performing inside at an event. On Sunday I went to a secondhand book store which also had CDs and I lost my mind gathering up stuff I’ve always wanted… and then had to put half of it back. Almost everything I bought was under $5, and I was so happy! I also finished up my scavenger hunt adventure, which you can see my pictures from here:
Today, Monday, was a lecture day. In our first lesson we talked about family life in Japan. In the old days before World War II, they had ie system, where multiple generations would live under the same roof, and one person (usually the oldest male) would be in charge of managing the ie (home). Nowadays, they’ve moved more towards our style of family, kazoku, where it’s just the parents and children. However, the oldest child is still expected to take care of their elders when the time comes, and some families do still follow the traditional system with the grandparents living in the same home.
In the second lecture we discussed religion in Japan. Religion is very interesting to me, because many Japanese would not consider themselves particularly religious, but in reality they are heavily influenced by religion. Even though they do not necessarily devote their whole lives to it, most people still follow traditions from Shinto and Buddhism that have been passed down from their families. It seems to me that Shinto and Buddhism work best together here, and many people choose to believe the parts that compliment each other in order to learn how to live life on earth and how this will affect them in the afterlife, rather than devoting themselves to one faith like most Christians. Christianity seems to be pretty rare here, but I’ve seen at least one church around. I think it is growing in popularity.
That is all for today. Definitely a lot to think about.
Today was a very interesting day! First we went to the Edo-Tokyo Museum and had an actual guide lead us through and tell us about life in the Edo period. In this period, Japan was governed by the Samurai, who lived in huge houses, while the common people lived in small spaces all together. It seems pretty unjust, but the models we saw of their palaces looked very beautiful. There was also a Tokyo side to the museum (the capital of Edo was later renamed to Tokyo) and I especially enjoyed a section where I could listen to music from the last several decades. Music is still my favorite thing about Japan.
After this we went to see a Sumo tournament! These last a long time; we were there from 1 to about 6pm. Each wrestler fights only one time per day, and we were given a guide that showed each one’s wins and losses. We also were given yakitori (fried chicken on a stick) and a souvenir teacup.
The goal in sumo is to either push your opponent out of the ring or make them touch the ground with anything other than the soles of their feet. The tournament starts with the lower ranking wrestlers, and ends with the top wrestler or Yokozuna. If the Yokozuna loses, often fans will get very upset and throw their seat cushions… well.. that’s exactly what happened! It was crazy to see, but I sure am glad I was cheering for the underdog in that’s match!
I had a great time at the tournament. It reminded me of sporting events back home, but with a traditional Japanese twist.
Thank you for reading, I’ll be back with more next week!
Today was a lecture day, and our topic was sports culture in Japan. Japan is interesting because they have their more traditional sports, like kendo, sumo, judo, and archery, but also popular are sports from the West, particularly baseball, tennis, and soccer. One interesting thing that I learned about from my book (The Cambridge Companion to Modern Japanese Culture, if anyone is interested) is radio taiso. Every morning at a certain time, the radio station (NHK if I’m not mistaken) broadcasts ten minutes of music to which people (especially elementary children) will do light exercise. It actually looks kind of fun to me, almost like a simple dance. Check out the video below:
In our second class we had a guest lecturer whom we called “Dr. Sumo”, because she is very knowledgable about sumo wrestling, and she gave us an in-depth presentation and guide to how sumo works. Tomorrow we will be going to see an actual sumo tournament, so I think having this knowledge will be very helpful! The most interesting thing about sumo is that it incorporates elements of Shinto rituals, and these might actual be more important than the match itself. For example, before the match they will sprinkle salt on the dohyo (ring) in order to purify it. Also something that’s a little sad is that women are not allowed in the dohyo at all, because they are considered impure. Some people in Japan, however, are not happy about this standard and are trying to change it. I hope they succeed.
After all of our classes, we went to a restaurant on campus and were treated to a traditional Japanese meal with sooo many courses, and all of it was good. I don’t even remember everything we had, but there was tofu, sashimi, cooked fish, tempura, cold noodles, watermelon for dessert and coffee to finish it off. (I don’t even drink coffee but I tried it for this meal and I actually didn’t hate it as much as I thought!) Also ginger ale is very strong here so I don’t really recommend it if you’re used to American ginger ale!
That’s all for today, tomorrow I will get to see Sumo in action!