David Chart's Japan Diary

August 29th 2004

This week has been rather bitty. Nothing really major has happened, and the things that have happened don't bear much relationship to one another. Thus, this diary entry will suffer from similar flaws, and thus have even less literary quality than usual.

On Wednesday we had our second big test of term. I continued my new policy of not doing any revision (beyond looking over the printouts on the morning of the test to refresh things), and as far as I could tell, it went OK. I won't do as well on the listening comprehension as I did last time, but that's because last time Kato-sensei used the easy listening comprehension from the book for the test, while this time we had one easy one and one really, really difficult one. No results yet, though.

On Friday we had our normal conversation class. This consists of having everyone sit in a circle and discuss a topic while one member of the class serves as chairman. The proceedings are videoed, and then we get feedback. This week, it was my turn to serve as chair, and we talked about the sort of book I should write about Japan. The consensus seems to be that a fictionalised diary would be best. Unfortunately, whenever I try to cast this in my mind, I end up parodying the Very Secret Diaries of the Fellowship of the Ring ("Still not fluent in Japanese." "If I try anything Godzilla will kill me." etc.). I have my doubts about the commercial viability of that particular instantiation of the idea.

At any rate, according to Nakane-sensei the discussion went really well, flowing much like a discussion between native speakers. I also thought it went well; better than I expected, in fact. The problems are now mostly problems of pronunciation, which tend to be very individual, as the sounds you find difficult vary depending on your mother tongue; Hang, for example, finds 'tsu' almost impossible, and I tend to make the syllabic nasal far too short.

Yesterday, I took the bus for the first time in Okazaki. I really haven't needed to before, but I was going to pick up my hanko, and it's a twenty minute bus ride to the relevant part of Okazaki. Japanese buses are rather different from British ones. You pay when you get off, and all the stops have names, so that the next stop is announced, and displayed at the front of the bus. All the bus stops also have timetables, and most have maps of the route as well. The maps just show stops, though, so they aren't that useful if you don't know where all these places are.

I managed to get to the shop successfully, and picked up the hanko. It's good. The next step is to go to City Hall and register it, and the current plan is to do that on Friday, as long as I get the extension on my visa when I go to Immigration tomorrow.

The other main event of the week, which you clearly know about if you're reading this, was that I moved my website and email to this new site. There were several reasons for doing this. One is that I now have davidchart.com as a domain name, and I can move it to point at any service provider I like. That means that my email and web address will now not change until and unless the whole structure of the internet changes radically. I've been thinking about doing this for some time, but the hassle of changing everything put me off.

A second reason was that the flow of junk to my old account was really ridiculous. Even with Demon's spam filtering on, and subscriptions to half a dozen high-volume mailing lists, over 90% of my email was junk. No doubt this account will start getting junk soon, as I have to make my email address public, but I should get some respite.

The third reason was that Demon's main service is providing dial-up internet access from the UK, and that's no use to me from Japan. As a result, at LiquidWeb, the company I'm with now, I get far more services for significantly less money. I don't get net access, but I'm paying for broadband from my flat anyway, so that was a fixed cost. So far, I'm really happy with the new set-up.

Next week might be a bit more exciting; there will, at least, be the trip to Immigration to talk about. OK, maybe 'exciting' isn't quite the right word...