David Chart's Japan Diary

March 1st 2004

This week's diary entry got slightly delayed because I had a busy weekend. In fact, I've been very busy all week, and I'm likely to stay busy for another week, at least, not entirely with school stuff. Unfortunately, I'm getting virtually no homework done at the moment, because non-school things (freelancing, getting visited, going to bits of Japan, etc) are taking up just about all my time outside lessons. Not a great deal I can do about that, and since I do learn Japanese in class, homework is the part of life that has the most 'give' in it at the moment.

Anyway, on to the week. On Monday, I went back ot the doctor. He prescribed more of the same medicine, and said it could take a month to clear. I'm not, therefore, entirely clear on why he only prescribed a week's worth of medicine, but my skin does seem to be getting better. I'm still scratching a lot, but it's much less annoying and distracting than it was. I'm getting through the ten gramme tubes of cream, though. Even applying it sparingly, it takes quite a bit to do both arms, both legs, and the sides of my torso. Overall, I think the skin is on the road to recovery.

The weather has been very changeable this week. The heatwave finished mid-week, so we had snow again on Friday, from a completely clear sky. Very little snow, though, so it didn't settle. It's not too cold today, and the forecast is for things to perk up from Wednesday.

On Monday we got the results of last week's test back. I did better than on the previous one, although still not as well as I might like. The big surprise, though, was that I did significantly better than the class average on the listening comprehension. The surprise was even bigger because most of the questions were ones that you had to answer with sentences, rather than simply choosing A, B, C, or D, so it couldn't really have been luck. Maybe my listening ability is really getting better. We've speeded up quite a bit so that we can finish the text book before the end of term, so this isn't an ideal time to be unable to do much in the way of homework. I don't think I'll improve again for the next test.

Taehee in Okazaki Taehee in Okazaki Minami Kouen.

This weekend's visit was from my friend Taehee from Korea. We met in England a couple of years ago when she was studying English, and one of the other people at out language exchange group mistook her for a Japanese person. The being-mistaken-for-a-Japanese person continued this weekend. She flew in to Nagoya airport (you can do that from Asia), and I met her at Nagoya railway station, on the grounds that getting there was easy, but the next stage to Okazaki would be a bit harder. We spent Friday and Saturday in and around Okazaki, mostly talking since this is hardly the tourist capital of Japan.

When we went for sushi on Saturday night, the Japanese girl taking names at the door to line people up for appropriate seats obviously thought Taehee was Japanese, as she addressed her rather than me, and really couldn't cope for a while when I answered. Taehee does speak some Japanese, but mine is still, I think, rather better.

Taehee in Nagoya Taehee in Nagoya castle. There used to be a wonderful palace in the space behind her, and the turret in the background is one of the few original bits that survive.

On Sunday, Taehee had to leave again from Nagoya, because she's starting a new job on Tuesday, and so we went into Nagoya first thing, and visited Nagoya castle. The grounds are beautiful, but most of the castle burned down at the end of World War Two. The main keep has been reconstructed so that it looks the same from the outside, but on the inside it's a modern museum, complete with lifts. The view of Nagoya from the top would have been better had it not been so rainy/foggy.

Anyway, the large stone walls of the castle survived the fire, being made of stone and all, and they are very impressive. One of the odd things about Japanese castles from a British perspective is just how new they all are. The oldest surviving castle in Japan is early sixteenth century, or roughly the same date as the last castles to be built in Britain.

We tried walking back from the castle to the railway station, via lunch, and I don't think we got lost either time. I did think we'd got lost on the way to the station, but we arrived where I expected to, so I think it was just further than I thought. Taehee joined the queue for her bus seconds before it arrived, so that was good timing, and I had a call from her last night (I think) to say she'd arrived safely. "I think" because I forgot to take the phone off silent mode, and it started ringing when I was at the other end of the flat, so she rang off just as I picked up.

Today, it was back to school. Last period was a vocabulary quiz, in which I did very badly. Listen, boys and girls, if you don't study, you will do badly in school.