David Chart's Japan Diary

November 27th 2003

I've been a bit ill this week, along with, apparently, about half of the school, which is why updates to the diary have been slightly delayed. OK, more than slightly.

Last week was mainly taken up by school, as you might imagine. I didn't fail any tests particularly horribly, but I have noticed that my results on most tests are independent of whether I do any revision of the day's lessons the night before. Instead, they depend on whether the sentences set in the test include any vocabulary or kanji that I don't know, or whether completing them requires such. This discovery has rather reduced the importance I put on such revision, as you might imagine. This doesn't apply to kanji tests -- we don't study those in class, so studying makes the difference between zero and 100%.

Yoshie and Aya Yoshie (left) and Aya, in the misokatsu restaurant. You can see the set meals in front of them.

Last Saturday, I went to Nagoya again, to meet up with Aya and Yoshie. I met Yoshie in Cambridge, but we lost touch when she came back to Japan. However, she stayed in touch with Aya, so now we're back in touch. It was nice to see her again, and we spent most of the day inside Nagoya Station (again), drinking coffee and chatting. We spent about five and a half hours talking, entirely in Japanese. I felt quite pleased with myself. For lunch, we had misokatsu, which is a Nagoya speciality. It was very nice, and not too expensive, maybe about five pounds for the set lunch. It's basically fried pork cutlet, with thick miso sauce, and it is, of course, served with rice.

Nagoya station has spectacular illuminations, but I came home before they were turned on, so while I saw the bulbs, I didn't see the full effect. I will probably have to go back to Nagoya before New Year's, so I'll make sure to stay late enough to see them then.

On Monday, the first signs of the illness appeared. I also went along to a language exchange thing that I organised, and there were about ten people in total, roughly half English-speakers and half Japanese, which was good. I was asked what such events were called in English, but as my earlier reference to a 'language exchange thing' reveals, I couldn't think of a good word. Masumi commented that my Japanese seemed to have got better in the last week.

(The Japanese news has just reported on the sale of dancing Saddam Husseins and dancing Osama bin Ladens, made in China from the patterns for dancing Santas. Given how daft they looked, I'm not sure which side they are propaganda for...)

The language exchange went well, and afterwards I went to Mieko's house to teach English to Yoshiki. The lesson went OK, I think, but I'm not used to teaching six-year-olds. He did, at least, seem quite enthusiastic about answering the question accepted correction for his mistakes without complaining. I'll be doing it again, so we'll see how things go. Afterwards, Mieko cooked us a Japanese-style dinner (nabe, I think), which involves boiling the food at the table in a big pot in the middle. Apart from my tendency to try to take the raw bits, dinner was very good. Mieko's friend Akemi was there as well, and her husband, whose name I have forgotten (oops) arrived part way through. We spent most of the time chatting in Japanese, and things seemed to flow quite well.

On Tuesday, back to school and feeling stupid. Since Tuesday I've been a bit ill, so I've done virtually nothing but go to school. I've done some homework, but not very much, and I think I'm going to get another early night tonight. Still, I ate lunch today for the first time this week, so I think I'm getting better. I think I've lost more weight, though.