Tag Archives: ies

12 on the…er, 17th?

The idea behind twelve on the twelfth is to take 12 pictures on the twelfth of the month. Unfortunately, this month, the twelfth fell on Friday. So besides the fact that it can be hard for me to get a hold of a computer after 5PM, I definitely wasn’t going to be able to upload pictures over the weekend.

Also, the kid broke my camera and there was a mild amount of panic before the host family loaned me their old one. I loaded my card into it and was off.

First, a tribute to the dead camera. If you look closely, you can see that the outermost lens piece is dented in such a way that the camera won’t turn off. It’s appreantly irreparable in Japan, but a replacement is forthcoming.

Breakfast! About half the time, breakfast is Western style – some form of bread (toast or raisin roll), egg (fried or boiled), a little bit of lettuce and some ham.¬†Otherwise it’s rice, miso soup, and some veggies.¬†I always drink mugi-cha or barley tea in the morning, since the only milk they have is whole milk and I’d rather not puke on the way to school.

*sigh* I really wonder what the camera thouht I was focusing on. In most parts of Japan, people can park their bikes almost anywhere around the subway station, for free. Most of the time, they don’t even lock them up. However, near my station, you have to hook your bike up to this little doo-dad and pay a 100 yen to get it back at the end of the day. The cause of much griping on my host father’s part.

Side note – it feels really strange to refer to my host-parents as “parents.” There’s no physically possible way for them to have a daughter my age. At all.

After a twenty-minute bike ride (parking space finding time included), a fifteen minute subway ride and a ten minute walk, I arrive at Nanzan University.

Typically, everyone gathers around the building that holds the Center for Japanese Studies office until it opens at 9AM. There’s usually stuff about moved or cancelled classes, corrected quizzes, and ‘you lost something, please come pick it up’ notifications in our student boxes, so it’s a good place to start the day.

You’ll just have to imagine me sitting in Japanese class for the next three hours, as I didn’t think they’d take kindly to pictures being taken.

Instead, have a picture of one of the classroom buildings. Most of us had forgotten that Nanzan was a Christian unversity (though, a rather lax one) until we saw this.

Japanese class ends around lunchtime everyday and most of us tromp down the hill to eat at one of the school cafeterias. The food is okay and it’s cheaper than a hot meal might cost elsewhere.

Lunch for me is usually tonkotsu ramen at the cheapest cafteria…

…and something to drink from the vending machine. While you can find almost anything to drink in one of these things, including beer and hot tea, Japan is sadly lacking in the food vending department. I’ve yet to see anything besides ice cream offered.

Lunch is usually followed by more classes or, on this particular day, a trip to the computer lab with Joanna to check our e-mail and Facebook. Technically, we shouldn’t be doing this, but many of us don’t have access at home and bend the rules a little.

The way home can be…daunting. This is a hill I climb in the morning and skid down in the afternoon on the way to the subway station from school.

Finally, I leave you with an image that represents a lot of my time here – waiting for the darn train to show up.

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Fourth Impressions

Okay, so. First off, I didn’t expect getting a hold of the internet, let alone enough time to compose a blog entry, to take so long. Unfortunately, Japan has not turned itself into one giant wireless hotspot since I was last here, so I have been depending on stealing the inn’s cable internet and, as of today, snatches of computer time here at Nanzan University.

Anyways, first thoughts.

It’s hot. It’s really, honestly, murderously hot. Add to that 90% humidity that results in the occasional downpour, and you have 26 very unhappy American college students. The orientation trip in Inuyama turned out to be a lot better than I had feared. Inuyama is about an hour’s bus trip outside of Nagoya, thought we never really leave civilization. We stayed at a traditional Japanese inn (a ryokan), called Geihanryo.

It was a neat place – our IES guides made sure we did a lot of neat things; we ate traditional inn fare, visited the local castle, and saw a demonstration of cormorant fishing. I’m planning on doing a few more detailed posts at a later date, when I have more time, but for now I’ll leave you with some highlights from the past few days.

This is Inuyama-jo, which was seriously about 100m away from the inn. The second day, English-speaking Japanese volunteers led us around the whole castle. Very cool.

After the castle tour, we were treated to an abbreviated Japanese tea ceremony.

Finally, the ramen shop where almost everyone ate lunch both days that we were there. Tiny little place, run by an older couple with a little help from their elementary-school-aged nephew. Lots of fun sitting at the bar and slurping down noodles.

Starting from tomorrow, I hope to have more regular internet access, though it’s likely I won’t be doing any posting on the weekends. I’m planning my next entry about food, though, coming sometime next week!


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