David Chart's Japan Diary

May 8th 2004

Fish on a Stick Boys' Day banners by the pond near my flat.

Yes, it's been a while since there was an update. It's been Golden Week here in Japan, where four national holidays fall in a seven-day period. Thus, I've had quite a bit of time off school, and Sheila came from England to visit. We've been to Takayama and Kyoto, and Sheila's been to Nara, Hikone, and Himeji as well. It's been fun, but it hasn't left much time for writing diary entries. I've also now visited all the three star attractions in Kyoto, according to my guidebook, and I can see why they got that rating. The temple with one thousand life-size Buddha statues was particularly impressive. (No photographs allowed, though.)

One of the holidays, May 5th, was Boys' Day. Girls' Day is March 3rd, and isn't a national holiday (and are we surprised?). Anyway, on Boys' Day, and for a while running up to it, it's traditional to put out carp banners on a pole with a windmill on the top. The windmill vanes are made like the fletching on arrows, because the point of Boys' Day is to encourage boys to grow up into big, strong samurai. Or something.

I'm very busy right now, because there's a deadline for Ars Magica looming, and I still have quite a bit of work to do. This means that I'm cutting back on homework. I've told Imase-sensei this, so at least he has some warning, but it's still not good. I didn't do that well on the first big test, admittedly without studying for it, and an awful lot of what we're learning isn't going in properly. I need to practise and use it repeatedly, and I can't do that while freelancing. On the other hand, I enjoy the freelancing much more than I enjoy the Japanese, at least right now, and I actually get paid for the freelancing.

Japanese is still difficult. I'm still having trouble adjusting to being distinctly average in an academic context. That's Just Not Right. I am average, though -- I'm not, I think, a noticeably weak student. I certainly hope not, anyway. I still want to know what's happened to my brain in the last few years, though. Anyway, it's good for the soul to have to work for something. It was reassuring when one of my classmates told me that she didn't feel like she was making any progress either, last week. At least I'm not the only one who feels that way.

The sudden workload means that I have no idea at all when I'll catch up on the diary for the family visit. And then there's Sheila's visit. And Dad and Joy are coming in the not too distant future... It is possible that there will be gaps. I hope not, but we'll just have to see.