David Chart's Japan Diary

November 16th 2003

It looks like I'm not going to get time to update this diary more than once a week, with all the work I have to do for school. So I'm afraid that my devoted audience will both (Hi, Mum and Dad) have to wait that long for new information. Most of last week consisted of doing school work, so these will be very edited highlights (like, the bits that are actually interesting).

Test Results

I got the results of last week's big test back on Wednesday. I'm not sure exactly what Yamasa does with these results (next quarter's placement is based on the jitsuryoku test at the end of the quarter) but they were useful for me. I got about 83% on each of the three tests, speaking, listening, and grammar. However, the significance varied wildly. On listening, it was significantly below average, which is no surprise as I have about a year's less experience of listening to Japanese than most members of the class. On speaking, it was, I think, about average, maybe a little below, but not by much. At any rate, it was a perfectly acceptable mark. On grammar, it was a bit above average, which again is not much of a surprise, as that's the sort of thing I have been studying by myself. I spoke to Haruki-sensei about what the results meant, and there's nothing to worry about. My listening will get better as long as I take as many opportunities as I can to listen to Japanese (so the television is on at the moment), and everything else is fine; I just need to keep working.

So, school might be hard, but it's going OK.

Irritating Supermarkets

On Thursday, Yamanaka, the supermarket where I eat lunch, decided to have a day off. This was deeply annoying, as it meant I couldn't have lunch; there wasn't time to work out somewhere else to go, go there, eat, and come back. So I went out for dinner in the evening, so that I could eat a bit more than normal, and Sonia, one of the other Yamasa students, agreed to go with me. As a result, that was a very enjoyable meal, so I suppose the day wasn't all bad.

Tokyo. Again.

Dad is in Japan at the moment. That was a fairly remarkable coincidence; he has a business trip, which starts tomorrow, so he came on Friday so that we could spend the weekend together. The trip to Tokyo by super-fast Shinkansen takes about four hours door to door, so I rushed around madly after school on Friday to get to Tokyo for the evening. I stayed at Sawanoya Ryokan again, but Dad stayed at Hotel Sofitel, which is a much more upscale hotel, with a very nice French-style restaurant where we ate on Friday night. Mind you, it's also four times the price of Sawanoya, so I doubt I'll be staying there any time soon.

The meal was all we did on Friday, because Dad was jet-lagged and I wanted a fairly early night. On Saturday, we went shopping for a birthday present for me, and bought an electronic dictionary. I think Dad was pleasantly surprised that I actually had a definite idea of what I wanted (and that it wasn't 'a G5 like yours'). We bought that in Akihabara, which is the main electronics district in Tokyo. It's also where Yellow Submarine, one of the very few RPG shops in Japan, can be found. I bought a copy of Tenra Banshow Zero there, and if I work really hard I might finish reading it before Eden Studios bring out an English translation next year.

The fountain in Venus Fort The fountain in Venus Fort, with fairy light things above it.

After Akihabara we took the monorail over to Odaiba. Odaiba is reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay, and, if I remember correctly, is largely composed of the city's rubbish. It now supports a number of hotels, shopping centres, and amusement centres. We looked around Venus Fort, a shopping mall aimed primarily at women. It was... interesting. According to Dad, it was almost exactly like Las Vegas, with the interior decorated to look like a medieval Italian city, except that the scent blown into the air was pleasant. (Yes, they really do scent the air.) We ate lunch there, and took some photographs of the more outrageously overdone bits. Dad also tried to photograph the bit of English that described the third floor as full of 'shops you fall into unconsciously', but we aren't sure that came out very well. While we were on Odaiba, we also popped into the Toyota motor show that was just across from Venus Fort, and looked at some of their concept cars, a couple of which even looked nice.

After that, we went back to Dad's hotel to let him rest for a bit, and then we had dinner in Roppongi, at a restaurant recommended in Frommer's Guide. It was nice, which means that the guide has yet to let me down.

Dad and Yuriko Dad and Yuriko in the garden of the museum.

Today, we met up with my friend Yuriko. We went to a contemporary art gallery (the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art) near Shinagawa station, in southern Tokyo, which was quite interesting. Yuriko wanted to go because one of her friends had organised it, so we tagged along. As usual with such galleries, there were a few good pieces, and a few which gave the distinct impression that the artist was trying it on. The weather was beautiful, so we had a drink in the cafe, which was in the garden. The gallery used to be a private house, and now has a number of contemporary art works scattered around the grounds.

After the gallery, we went to the other side of Shinagawa station, fighting our way through the crowds gathering to watch the Tokyo International Women's Marathon, and ate at a sushi restaurant in a new development. The new development had about half a dozen skyscrapers forming an avenue, with shops and restaurants on the lower floors. The sushi was good, and not too expensive, so I might go back to that place.

Me and Dad Me and Dad in front of Kabukiza. He was really there at the same time as me.

In the afternoon, we went to Ginza, the main upmarket shopping centre in Tokyo. We didn't buy much, beyond some ice cream in Mitsukoshi, but we did get to see Kabukiza, a very famous Kabuki theatre. We took a selection of photos in front of it, so that there would be photographic evidence that Dad and I were in Japan at the same time. Kabukiza is a very Japanese-looking building, and thus serves as evidence of the place.

After that, I headed back to Okazaki, and got back about quarter to seven. Now, I'm just going to finish this, eat, and go to bed. As a result of all this running around, I've done absolutely no homework this weekend, so I'll probably fail some test horribly on Monday morning. Still, while school is the most important thing I'm doing here, it isn't the only important thing.