Tag Archives: nagoya

No You May Not

Sadly, one of the more complicated phrases the munchkins learned in the after school English program this semester.

The biggest complaint stemmed from the fact that, after the first two weeks, we started assigning seating according to our own nefarious purpose – to keep kids sitting next to each other from engaging in all out warfare. We weren’t perfect (seating S and Tin Tin together is a mistake not easily forgotten) but we thought we had things fairly well settled.

The kids rarely agreed and I usually spent the first five minutes after they arrived stating “No, you may not” ad nauseum until they gave in.

A typical day consisted of them coming in around 4:20 and spending ten minutes or so running in and out of the classroom fetching whatever they had forgotten, going to the bathroom, or visiting friends participating in other activities. Around 4:30, we had them wrestled into their seats, did the roll call (one kid, Y, consistently replied with ‘I’m hungry’ rather than ‘here’), and appointed the Teacher’s Assistant (technically, the Teacher’s Assistant’s Assistant).

From there we moved onto the warm-up activity, which alternately consisted of practicing a phrase they already knew, like ‘what’s your name?’, or singing a song, my personal favorite and the apparent bane of their existence. We managed to get through Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes;  The Itsy Bitsy Spider; and  Jingle Bells. The Twelve Days of Christmas defeated them to a man,  however.

After warm-up, we’d review or introduce whatever vocabulary they were going to need for the day’s activity.

This is where the kids usually shone – they hated repeating the words and moaned bitterly, but they could clearly remember the pronunciations and meanings weeks later. On this particular day, we were going over Christmas themed words and one kid shocked all three of us TAs by answering my question of “Does anybody know what an ‘ornament’ is?” with a well-detailed explanation in Japanese. Shocked, mostly because the typical response to a question in English was a) dead silence or b) shouts that they didn’t understand.

After going over the vocab, we usually moved onto a craft activity or game that used the words they had just learned. On Tuesday, my last day, we did a Christmas-themed crossword puzzle and a Christmas memory game.

Finally, we wrap up with a book, though this is the first thing to get dropped if we run out of time. On Tuesday, I read the Night Before Christmas, which was way too advanced and read way too fast for them. I really wanted them to experience hearing it though and after reading through it, we went back and explained the story in Japanese. The same kid as before revealed that he knew the the names of all eight reindeer, which even I can’t remember.

Technically, I’m not supposed to post pictures of the kids here, but in this one they’re all looking away from the camera (for once), so hopefully it’s okay. Miyake, another TA, is sitting next to me, ready to explain in Japanese. Her English is very good, but even she had a hard time understanding the story before I explained some of the vocab.

That’s all for now, this is probably my last post while in Japan. I have to get my stuff together for my 30 hour trip home that starts Saturday morning. Wheeee!



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12 on 12 Almost on Time

I was this close to getting this out on the twelfth (it’s one in the morning on the thirteenth) but my computer refused to cooperate. Typical.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?*

Slightly blurry shot of the dorm residents’ shoes. I snapped it from the hip as I was running out the door to part 3 of 4 of my Japanese final, having forgotten about the twelfth. You don’t want to know the size of the guy who wears the blue boats in the center.

Another day, another hill. This one, between the dorm and the main entrance, is steep enough that I’m fairly sure my car wouldn’t make it up and local teenage boys dare each other to ride their bikes up it.

The auditorium where we spent all of the morning, taking our final, filling out evaluation forms, holding a talent show and our farewell party. The final was only on kanji, vocabulary, and writing today. Listening final was yesterday, oral final was last Tuesday, and the grammar final is coming up next Friday. I kind of wish I could take it on Monday and go straight home, but oh well. I’ll be heading to Tokyo instead to kill time.

 Two people decided to dress up in kimono/yukata for the event – both guys. They were MCing the whole thing and decided to dress the part. The teachers were…bemused.

 Here they are, being drawn on the board by Erika. We have five female teachers and one male teacher, who was always indicated in class by a head-shape with the kanji for ‘man’ written on his face.

 Somewhere, Ellen knows she’s being embarassed on the internet. She did this hysterical dance routine to a Japanese song from the 70s. Something about an alien love song?

This guy was…not prepared. He ended up strumming a few chords and ad-libbing a song about forgetting to prepare for things.

There was some more western style dancing from these two. I was pretty surprised, I knew that the girl enjoyed ballroom dancing, but I wouldn’t have said that the guy had a right and a left foot.

All of the 400 level teachers, from left to right – E-sensei, Nice-sensei, Mean-sensei, Cool-sensei, Sensei-baachan, and Hobbit-sensei. Don’t ask me why E-sensei is looking at the camera oddly, I’m hoping it was a coincidence.

Next up – parents, please don’t look.

 This was lunch – chicken nuggets and Calpis. I’ll miss Calpis back in the US. It’s hard to believe that it won’t be at every convenience store, sitting right next to the bottles of Coke.

No, I did not eat the newspaper.

 I still had one more class to attend – Sumie. The professor had waited all semester to teach us a neat trick. You pour a little ink into some water and drop a piece of paper in.

Ta-da! Though there is no green color in reality, they still turned out really cool.

*Like you have any choice.

IES Program Coordinator: We’re going to be a little late getting into Nagoya. Is that okay with you?

Students: *silence*

Lisa: If we say no, will the bus go faster?


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Miscellaneous 部分

部分 [bubun] means ‘portion’ or ‘piece’ in Japanese. It’s one of those words that never showed up on a vocabulary test, but the professors (all seven of them) simultaneously started using it about two weeks ago, much to the confusion of about two-thirds of my class.

What’s the shopping like?

I can divide my shopping experience into four categories – specialty shops, convenience stores, malls, and grocery stores.

The malls are…new? I don’t recall seeing any two years ago, or three years ago, or four years ago. They do seem to be a bit older than that, though not by much. They are very much so like your average American mall with way too many clothing stores, houseware stores, CD stores, and typically an excellent bookstore. There’s also usually a food court (complete with Subway and McDonalds) and some sort of gaming arcade.

Department stores play a smaller part in shopping here than they do in American malls, rather, all of the malls I’ve been to in Japan have had a grocery store attached instead. There usually is one department store available, though they only occupy one floor and sell mainly brand name clothing and accessories. Besides the food court, there are various sit-down restaurants concentrated in a separate area, only accessible from inside the mall.

While these seem to be gaining in popularity (I saw a rather frighteningly large number of them on the train from Nagoya to Okazaki, a nearby, smaller city), Japanese people still seem to prefer specialty shops. There’ no real equivalent to Walmart or Target in Nagoya that I’ve seen, no get-it-all-at-once stores. A shop that specializes, the wisdom seems to go, is focused and highly skilled at what they do, probably because their livelihood depends on it.

Thinking about Tucson (my hometown) and St Paul (my college town), I would definitely say that free-standing, specialty stores are more common for day-to-day shopping, followed closely by department stores. Obviously, proximity matters – a nearby department store offers most of the same things as scattered specialty shops will win out, even in the Japanese mind. I’ve been to small CD stores, stores that just sell black ink, too many small bookstores to count, fruit stands, stationery stores, tombstone shops, and tea shops, just to name a few. Specialty shops don’t have to be small here, though. Electronic stores and bookstores especially, can swell to enormous proportions, though I haven’t seen any of the chain takeover business that you get with Borders and Barnes & Noble in the US. Sure, we have major chains like Maruzen and Kinokuniya, but for every branch they have, there’s a small bookstore operating in a branch subway station.

Convenience stores are king here. I can name seven within ten minutes walk of my current location, and there’s probably more over the hill that I don’t know about because I’ve only lived here for two and a half weeks. I’ve been in Japan long enough, however, that I can’t quite remember the differences between Japanese and American convenience stores, but I’ll probably be vastly disappointed when I get home.

A few items of note – convenience stores here sell such items as spare underwear, extra socks, books, adult magazines, bananas (and rarely any other fruit), a fairly large selection of stationery and, starting in the cooler months, oden – stewed goodies that you can select to go, such as hard-boiled eggs, fish cake, and tofu. Yummy.

Finally, grocery stores. They’re fairly small, unless you happen upon one attached to a mall. There’s always an attached bakery, with excellent quality bread, usually for very cheap. Wandering up and down the aisles, you can get a pretty good idea of what’s universal and what’s not. Spaghetti is, as is spaghetti sauce (though it comes in a pouch, rather than a jar), canned soup is not. Sliced bread always comes in packets about 15-20 centimeters wide, the only difference between loaves is the number of slices you get for your money, 4, 5, 6, or 8. In other words, you pay 108 yen no matter what (for store brand bread), and get the same amount of bread, just different thicknesses.

There’s no deli counter that I’ve seen, just meat out for display. There’s usually a sushi counter though and nearby you can find prepared meals of rice, croquettes (various bits of breaded and deep-fried who-knows), and pickles.

Various Japan-specific treats I’ll miss – yoghurt flavored drinks everywhere, iced salty rice cakes, a type of citrus that’s somewhere between a clementine and an orange, enormous sweet grapes, oden, potato croquettes.

How does Nagoya compare to the other places you’ve been to in Japan?

Okay, for starters, where I’ve been in Japan besides Nagoya – Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara (the ancient capital), Hakone (but only for a day), the fifth station on Mt Fuji (for about 3 hours), and the Izu peninsula.

We’ll eliminate Mt Fuji and Hakone right away, since I don’t have a very strong impression of either of them. Mt Fuji’s a lot more impressive 100 miles away, rather than sticking off of the side of it.

The Izu peninsula is exceedingly rural and where I’ve spent the most time. Houses, schools, and businesses vied for space with rice fields, the ocean, and the mountains. Very different from Nagoya.

Between Nagoya and Tokyo, I would say that this is one of the few cases in which Tokyo comes out with a better image of history and culture. Nagoya was pretty much burnt to the ground in World War II and lost many of the cultural resources it previously had (even Nagoya Castle got a little toasted). Furthermore, when the time came to rebuild, they made the decision to have very wide, “convenient” boulevards for cars. This resulted, vexingly, in one of the highest rate’s for traffic deaths for a prefecture in Japan. Whoops.

Another difference – walk anywhere in Tokyo city limits and within 5-10 minutes I guarantee that you will practically fall into a subway station. I had managed to trick myself into thinking Nagoya’s subway system was fairly extensive, though less so than Tokyo’s.

Nagoya has 4 major subway lines. Tokyo has 13. The map looks like a spider web.

Nagoya does not compare in any way to Kyoto or Nara with their hundreds and hundreds of years of history. On the whole, I believe it suffers culturally, but is a well-enough place to live, though it definitely has it’s nicer areas in which to live.

What was the reaction to the US election?

From the Japanese people? No idea. Japanese news reporting can be a little…obtuse. The English-language newspaper that I can follow here at the dorm, The Japan Times, follows a rather happy-go-lucky style of news distribution. From what I can tell, they are less exuberant than Europe, but not angry or disappointed in any visual way. Mostly, I think that Japanese college students can visualize what impact it will have on their lives and so have no strong opinions either way.

From the other foreigners studying at CJS? Very pleased. You’d think that we were sheepherders whose best ewe had just dropped triplets; cigars and backslaps all around.

That’s the last of these question posts, unless something else suddenly occurs to you guys. Next week, I’ll do a post about the dorm, then there’s 12 on the 12th. Things are starting to wrap up here, with final exams and final papers and planning out how to get to the airport. That last one seems to be on order of marshalling an army.


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Education, Outside of Class

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Do any of the IES kids have new local friends or does that not happen?

First, a bit of clarification – I am an IES student studying at Nanzan University through that school’s Center for Japanese Studies. There are about 25 IES kids that I went through an extra orientation with and, on the whole, know much better than the other 100 students who are studying at CJS through various other programs. There are exceptions – I know some people in my 400 level class better than I know the IES student who I never saw again after orientation and nevers comes on the IES field trips.

In any event, I’ll speak to my own personal experience and make a few generalizations.

I have no Japanese friends. The Japanese college students that I am closest to are my co-workers at the elementary school. After that, probably the Japanese people in my dorm. The thing is, it was so much easier to make friends with the other foreigners from CJS and IES. We all had a fairly common background, usually a common language, extremely similar interests and goals, and had just been thrust into a stressful situation that drew attention to our outsider status.

Part of this is because, while Nanzan has an excellent Japanese language program, there is very little integration with the Japanese student population. Even when we do interact, it’s in a classroom setting (like my Education class) and poor language skills all around can make things awkward, especially if your interests run towards things that are seen as typically male, or typically nerd.

Obviously, there are students who have managed to make the leap to having Japanese friends, joining Japanese clubs and so forth (they tell you to make friends here, you need to join a club, but the success rate’s about 50/50 from what I’ve seen), but almost no one I know spends more time outside of school with their Japanese friends than with friends they’ve made at CJS.

People who do have a large number of Japanese friends seem to fall into two categories – they are male and/or they are in the 500 or 600 level classes. Obviously, my sample size is only about 125, so don’t take me too seriously.

How’s the cafeteria food?

Pretty bad. You’re told when you arrive that Nanzan has multiple cafeterias, all serving varying kinds of hot lunches for about 400-900 yen, which is a good deal for a meal here.

Except that the meals fall into two categories – some sort of noodles with way too high salt concentrations and not enough protein (though plenty of veggies) and lunch sets (which are more expensive) that are usually cold and unappetizing. Neither one provides enough nutrition to get you through your afternoon, but almost religious devotion by most of CJS, including myself, did result in a precipitous drop in waistlines through September and October.

The school does have an on-site bakery, though, as well as a convenience store, where a more nutritious lunch can be had for not too much cash.

How’s dorm life?

Not bad, but I’ve only been here two weeks and my noted charm hasn’t had time to make many enemies.

The rooms are pretty nice, with your own wall-mounted heater/air-conditioner, toilet, and sink. The storage is also pretty impressive – a desk with four drawers and a cabinet, a dresser, a closet, a cupboard full of shelves, and a nightstand. A mattress, blankets, and sheets are provided, though I would recommend getting your own pillow. The provided one is filled with plastic pellets.

The kitchen is communal and you get your own cupboard and refrigerator space. Kitchen cleaning is divided among everyone and done every day (and not very stenuous). There’s a TV and waaaaaaay too many video games (N64 is a favorite). There’s a washing machine and a dryer on each floor (2nd floor’s dudes, 3rd floor’s chicks) and bathing is communal, wia private shower, or a Japanese style personal bath tub, if you prefer.

There are occasional events, such as when we challenge the other dorms to video game tournaments and your average dorm meetings. Last week, a resident organized Thanksgiving dinner for 25 people.

Upsides – complete, American-style dorm freedom. No curfew, you make what you want to eat and stay up as late or get up as early as you want. There’s no commute for two of the dorms, Nagoya Koryu Kaikan and Yamazato Koryu Kaikan, both about five minutes from campus.

Downsides – there’s no ‘family’ to depend on. You’re dependent on CJS and its operating hours for any problems you might have. You have to buy and cook your own groceries (and I do not recommend trying to live on cup ramen).

Next up, miscellaneous topics, such as shopping, Nagoya, and the US election results.


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I was going to be more explicit in the title, but the thought of someone from Nanzan finding this on Google and chopping off my head was too frightening. I’m not going to roast the school here, but nobody likes ambiguous press floating around where people could see it.

I was a little amused by the number of questions I got about education in the past few days, especially since, with less than three weeks to go, my opinions on school tend to run towards ‘oh God, get me out of here in time for Christmas.’

I’ve paraphrased the questions a bit, to make them fit better in my head, but I think I’ll be able to cover everything.

What is Nanzan University like?


Kidding. I actually think ‘hectic’ would describe it best. I just spent two years taking college level Japanese for a total of four hours a week with three hours of class time, which was spent learning new grammar points and vocabulary, plus an hour of ‘lab’ that was used to learn kanji (Chinese characters) and go over particularly troublesome bits of grammar.

Nanzan University’s Center for Japanese Studies bills their language program as ‘intensive’ and they’re right. As a 400 level student, I spend a total of 13.5 hours a week just in Japanese class. When we were going through orientation, our heads began spinning at the realization that they’d subdivided the curriculum to the nth degree. We had a teacher for speaking, a teacher for reading, a teacher for grammar and one for kanji. Two more teachers were ‘lab’ teachers, covering listening and pronunciation. Later, the designations among teachers became less distinct, but the subject divisions stayed.

There are quizzes four out of five days of the week, in reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, and kanji. There is some kind of homework due almost every day, plus a huge group project that we started in the middle of October and are just finishing up this week. In addition to that, we have occasional classes in speed reading, and a journal that we have to trade back and forth with a Japanese students.

A bit of explanation about levels – CJS has 6 levels, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, and 700. 200 is only offered in the fall and is for people who have never taken Japanese – though you do have to be able to read hiragana and katakana, the two Japanese syllabaries. 700 is only offered in the spring and since 600 level students intimidate me, I have no idea what they’re capable of. So 400 is pretty middle of the pack, covering chapters 1-10 of the textbook, An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese [Revised Edition].

You take a placement test when you arrive. However much of the test you get through determines your level. I failed the test for 400 because I focused too much on kanji (you want to pay attention to grammar). Even when faced with such arguements as ‘my school won’t accept credit for this level and I’ll have to stay at college for an extra semester’ wouldn’t sway them. Luckily, the first day of class you get yet another placement exam – do well enough and they’ll move you up.

And then there’s all the other classes you have to take, because all of the above that I just listed is only worth 8 credits.

There are 2-credit art classes available, in Woodblock Printing, Calligraphy, Ikebana (Flower Arrangement), Tea Ceremony, and Chinese Ink Brush Painting. These occur once a week for an hour and a half. I only do Calligraphy and Painting, but I have no idea what you’re graded on. Basically, you paint or write until you have what you believe (the teacher may disagree) is a submitable piece of work. I have yet to receive a piece back with any sort of grading. These classes and Japanese class are conducted entirely in Japanese, with varying degrees of annoyance at our instances of English.

The Japanese is intensive, in every sense of the word. Complete immersion, slave-driving teachers and lots of work. That’s why I chose Nanzan.

You are only required by CJS to take 14 credits, but if you go through IES (an American company that liasions with programs like CJS to make things easier for American college students), you have to take 15. I’m taking 16, because that makes more sense for my college and my courses happened to fall that way.

So in addition to the classes mentioned above, I take two others – Principles of Language Education and Intermediate Translation. Both of which are a drain on my patience, energy, and hope.

Intermediate Translation is conducted thusly – every week, at the beginning of class, we turn in a workbook in which we have translated 2-3 pages worth of sentences and passages, either from Japanese to English or vice versa. The teacher checks to make sure that we have done this and then we spend the rest of class going over each and every problem. Sometimes we get hung up and spend 15-20 minutes arguing about one point, which can be fun (if you care), or torture (I don’t care anymore).

Principles of Language Education makes Translation look good, however. It is supposedly a class on the principles of language education (surprise!), specifically those of teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. It actually consists of a British professor giving us am English language handout and then reading it to us, making sure he elaborates on the points that may be difficult for the Japanese students to understand.

What is it like in classes with Japanese students?

Hmm. I only have the one class with Japanese students, the education class listed above. They’re all high-level English majors, so they do have some amount of competency in the language, though it varies greatly. One of my co-workers is in this class and she and at least two other people can chatter along as well as any American college students.

We do occasionally split into groups for discussion, but unless you happened to be paired off with one of the aforementioned chatterboxes, most of the time is spent coaxing your partner into speech.

What are the professors like?

Ah. A loaded question. We have many, many professors (okay, about seven) and only one of them has not managed to raise my ire at some point.

On the whole, they are cheerful, extremely energetic people who are incredibly dedicated to helping you improve your Japanese. That said, they are a bit more ‘traditional Japanese’ than your average American Japanese instructor. They are, in fact, a bit more like Japanese high school teachers (strict, high standards) than Japanese college professors (a bit more laid back).

There are strict teachers who turn out to have great senses of humor, cheery teachers who like to pick on one person relentlessly in each section, jokey teachers who occasionally make you feel bad about yourself, crabby teachers who are always coming up with cool stuff for you to do. And then there’s the kanji professor, who, in order to make up for the horrifying subject matter, is absolutely perfect in every possible way.

Any further questions? Tomorrow(-ish) is dorm life, CJS kids versus the local population, and cafeteria food.

Bonus – Venus, Jupiter, and the crescent moon making a smiley face.


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Blog Stats and Blog Fodder

Nagoya Station from Nanzan University

Thanks muchly for the suggestions for upcoming posts in the last entry. From what I’ve received so far, I’ll probably being doing a least three posts based on what I got there – one on Nanzan and the student experience here and one on various topics that have more to do with Japan as a whole, such as shopping, Nagoya in comparison to other places, and Japanese feelings about the US.

I also seemed to have neglected to mention an important fact in this space – I currently have a part time job at the elementary school attached to Nanzan University. Once a week, for two hours I am an English Teaching Assistant as part of the after school program. The teacher-in-charge’s goal is to mix fun with learning and get the kids interested in foreign languages. The kids’ goals are, in this order, to make fun of my Japanese, use their colored pencils wherever possible, and pull things out of our pockets to play with. The other TAs and I have the goal of trying to survive the experience.

I do have one additional goal, however. To survive the experience without getting neck strain. I’ve been wanting to do a post about the munchkins (since I have crazy nicknames for each and every one of them) but it’s taking longer than I expected to get permission to take photos. They seem to be afraid that I’m going to sell them or something.


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Dad in Japan, Part Two – Betwixt and Between

Between the Nagoya Castle post, 12 on the 12th, and the upcoming post featuring Kyoto, there are actually quite a few pictures remaining that unfortunately don’t have enough inherent ‘theme’ to get their own individual blog posts. So this one’s a bit long and ranges a bit in it’s material.

Alright, who remembers the glass roof bit from the last 12 on the 12th? The Oasis 21 building?

Anyways, we were eating lunch under it the same day we went to the castle when I looked up and was slightly alarmed to see what appeared all of the day’s rainfall collected on the roof and moving…somewhere. Further investigation proved that the water was being purposefully circulated and that there was in fact an elevator going up to the roof. We headed up there after we finished eating and Dad snapped this shot of the restaurant section of Nagoya Tower.

On Sunday, the day after we went to the castle, we headed out to Okazaki, a city to the southeast of Nagoya to meet up with the host family that I had stayed with for a few weeks in high school. I was rather excited to be travelling on a train that stayed aboveground, after having taken the subway for 40 minutes a day, 5 days a week for the past two months.

Alright, from right to left, Me (obviously), Keiko (my previous host mother), Rino (my older host sister, a 6th grader), and the boy who couldn’t seem to stop making what I think of as Sailor Moon’s trademark move whenever a camera came out. If I remember correctly, he was Rino’s “boyfriend” Ren’s younger brother. There’s also Maho, Rino’s younger sister and a 4th grader.

We met up with them at the station and they took us to where we could get lunch and talk. They were shocked by how much 2 years of college courses had improved my Japanese, which was encouraging. They seem to be going up in the world – when I was last there, Host dad was a company worker, but one of his cows won some big Shizuoka (a prefecture to the east of Aichi, where Nagoya is) cow contest and now he’s on the farm-animal-raising fast track. Go figure.

It was heartening to be reminded that I could get along with Japanese people that I had lived with.

The next weekend, on Saturday, we headed out to Inuyama, where I had spent my orientation with IES. It was cold and rainy, but the ramen from that same shop was as excellent as ever. The owners even recognized me, which was especially nice.

I have a peculiar fondness for face-on photos of myself that are a bit odd – photos where I didn’t smile or didn’t realize that my picture was being taken.

Anyways! That was taken in the courtyard of Inuyama Castle, which is definitely more ‘open’ in terms of what you can see and do, compared to the one in Nagoya. You can risk getting yourself killed on the same narrow, slippery wooden steps as the daimyo and his samurai did 400 years ago.*

Better – you can look out the same windows they did onto all the little people. We happened to be at the castle on Shichi-Go-San (7-5-3), a holiday for children at those ages. Kind of a ‘yay! you didn’t die!’ kind of celebration and one of the things that I can trace back to elementary school as peaking my interest in Japan. I didn’t see any overt festival thing going on, though there was an unusual preponderance of small-ish children wearing very good clothes wandering around.

Finally, two shots from Birthday/Dorm-Move-In-Day…

First, my birthday picture. Every year since I was born, my dad and I have taken a picture together and this marks the 22nd photo oppurtunity.

Hmm…the next picture I was planning on posting was of me in front of the sign for the dorm I’m staying in now, but I just realized that it has the address printed on it. Never mind then.

Next up – Kyoto!

*Though I didn’t manage to fall down those particular steps, it was a falling down sort of day – we were walking up to the castle when I noticed a particularly slick looking, sloped bit of sidewalk. I thought ‘that looks slippery, I should be careful,’ took a careful step…and fell flat on my bum, almost taking my dad with me.

Later that same day, I was rushing to catch a train in exactly the manner that about fifty different signs in the station were telling me not to use (in Japanese and English), tripped, and awkwardly slid down a few steps. Cripes.


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