David Chart's Japan Diary

April 10th 2004

Well, it's been a really long time since my last update, but I do have a good excuse. Mum, Ray, and Silver were over here, all three for a week, and Mum and Ray for another week after that. In addition, the end of term happened, and then the beginning of a new one. As a result, I've had no time to write diary entries until today. Given what time it is here now, I don't know how much I'll have time to write in this entry, either. Still, might as well get started. I plan to fill in the last week first, and then work forwards from the previous entry, filling in the gap as I get chance.

Incidentally, I appear to be without the ability to send email, again, right at the moment.

New Term

The main event of this week has been the start of the new term. I got back from Tokyo on Monday, and spent the whole of Monday and Tuesday doing various jobs that I hadn't been able to do while running around Japan the previous week. These included thrilling things like laundry, shopping, and upgrading my computer to enable videophone communication with my Dad.

Wednesday was the first day of the new term. I'm now in A Class, which is the top class at Yamasa. While this sounds very impressive, it unfortunately does not mean that my Japanese has improved drastically in the last week. A lot of my friends from last term are in A class as well; everyone who didn't leave, in fact, which means Rachel, Julia, Hang-san, Fu-san, and Martine-san. Shu-san, from the first term, is back in the same class as me as well. We have two new students, Neri (Australian) and Ed (American), and then there's Yumi, who is from Korea, and has been in A Class for the last six months. I feel rather sorry for her, as she is vastly better at Japanese than the rest of us.

We also had a new teacher, Imase-sensei. The most notable feature about him so far is, well, the gender of the appropriate pronoun. Yamasa has apparently hired three new male teachers, although Imase-sensei is the only one I have met so far. It's hard to say what he'll be like, as we've only had one real lesson with him so far, but at the least we'll get to hear some male Japanese. Our other teachers are Kuroda-sensei, by whom I have not previously been taught, Tsuruta-sensei, who taught the pronunciation class I took last quarter, Haruki-sensei, who was the teacher responsible for C Class in my first quarter, and Kato-sensei. Last quarter, Kato-sensei was Ito-sensei, and taught the Grade 1 grammar class that I took. This rather threw me, as one of the things we were told about in the grammar class was Ito-sensei's very hot summer wedding, so I had assumed that 'Ito' was her married name. Apparently not...

It looks like our homework will involve a lot of compositions this quarter, which is just fine with me, as that's something I really want to practise. Haruki-sensei is apparently in charge of our conversation classes, and has asked for situations we want to practise, so that promises to be very useful. There's also the standard textbook, kanji, and so on. The textbook seems surprisingly easy, although, at least for me, there is a lot of new grammar. It's just that, apart from the grammar, there doesn't seem to be much new. I already know most of the vocabulary, from the last lesson as well as the first. Still, I imagine that it gets quite difficult to pick a textbook once you get to this level. Apart from anything else, I don't think many foreign students of the language do get to this level.

I've still got quite a bit of homework to do for Monday, because I've been out of town the last couple of days. Pretty much straight after school on Friday, I went to Toyohashi to join the shinkansen that Mum and Ray were on on their way back to Tokyo from Hiroshima. We met up successfully, and so I was able to chat with Mum on the way to Tokyo (Ray had the window seat). In Tokyo, we went to the sushi place we visited on our first evening, and had nice sushi again.

This morning, we had to get up quite early to leave the ryokan (Sawanoya again, of course) to get to the airport in time for the plane. There was time for a bit more of a chat on the train to Narita, and according to Mum I've really reminded her of my Dad at my age at various points on the trip, to the point that she's nearly called me 'Stan'. Must be genetic... We had breakfast together at the airport, and then I deposited them in the check-in queue, which was enormous, and headed back to Tokyo.

In Tokyo, I met up with Yuriko for lunch, which was very nice indeed. The food was OK, but we ate outdoors in Hibiya park, which is right in the centre of Tokyo. The weather was glorious, and after the meal we walked around the park and chatted, before heading to the station for me to catch my train. On the way, we stopped in the post office so that I could buy the Gatchman commemorative stamps. Why? Well, the UK version was called 'Battle of the Planets', and people who can remember when I was eight or so will remember that I really liked that series. So two sheets of special stamps really had to be bought. Anyway, I had a very nice time chatting with Yuriko, and she says that my Japanese has improved a great deal over the last six months, so it must be true.

I got back here about five, and I've been doing various things, mostly not work. Tomorrow, I have to do my homework, but I hope I'll have chance to write a diary entry filling in a bit of what I did before term started.