David Chart's Japan Diary

September 16th 2004

Another mid-week update. What is the world coming to? Well, several things have happened since the last entry, homework has dropped off a bit with the approaching end of term, and I'm waiting for responses from companies on the freelancing side. So, I thought I'd take a bit of time before I have to teach to write another entry.

Classmates and Food Everybody else sitting round the table at the party. I'm taking the photo. Starting at the front of the picture, left of the centre, and going clockwise round the table, Shuu, Hang, Rachel, Katou-sensei, Nakane-sensei, Haruki-sensei, Kuroda Sayumi-sensei, Belinda, Martine, and Fu.

The first event was our class end-of-term party, last Friday. As with last term's, this was held in the common room at the Student Village, the students all cooked something, and most of the teachers came. It was a lot of fun; mostly sitting around the table eating delicious food and chatting in Japanese. Hang made some really, really good Vietnamese Spring Rolls. We had the party quite a long time before the end of term because two of our classmates, Shuu and Fu, are flying home tomorrow, and thus missing the last few days of school. That is, of course, wicked of them.

The weekend was fairly ordinary. I had quite a lot of work to do, mostly freelancing stuff, so I didn't get the rest I had been hoping for. Probably as a result, I was very tired at the beginning of the week, but by getting several early nights I'm now largely recovered. One of the weekend's jobs was buying the emergency supplies we are supposed to have in case of earthquake. Obviously, buying them means I won't need them.

On Monday morning we had the Jitsuryoku Test. This is the test that the school administers every quarter, to allow them to compare the new students with the current students. It seemed to go OK; I couldn't answer everything, but that's fine on this test.

Class Photo A class photo, taken after a couple of people went home. From left to right, Fu, Kuroda Sayumi-sensei, Hang, me, Katou-sensei, Rachel, Shuu, Haruki-sensei, and Belinda.

On Monday afternoon, Hang and I went back to immigration. Everything went smoothly. We now both have visas valid until the end of March, and our permissions to engage in part-time work. So my freelancing and teaching are both legal until my student visa runs out. This is the last extension I can get on this visa; I will have to change my visa status in order to stay longer.

Yesterday Hang and I went to City Hall, to do some more bureaucracy. Every long-term resident foreigner in Japan has an identity card, called, variously, a gaikokujintourokushoumeisho (the official name), gaijin card (what lots of foreigners call it), gaitou (what the people in immigration call it), or pinku kaado [pink card] (I think that's just Hang). The card has a photograph, your address, and says how long your visa in valid for. The police can ask you to produce it at any time, and you are always supposed to carry it. I've never been asked for it, though.

Anyway, when you get your visa extended or changed, you have to take your passport to City Hall and get the gaitou updated, so that's what we were doing. While we were there, I also registered by hanko (personal seal), so it's now legal for sealing documents and the like. It's almost like being a medieval lord. There was a slight hold-up with that, because the seal is in katakana, and my gaitou didn't have my name in katakana on it. So we went back to the gaitou desk, they wrote it on, and then I got my hanko registered. Overall, neither of the jobs took very long at all, and I was home shortly after four.

Today we had our last big test of term. The listening comprehension was longer than normal, with three sections. It seemed to go OK this time. There were a couple of questions I wasn't sure about, but on the whole I understood what was said, and I'm confident of most of my answers. The written test didn't seem to go quite as easily as the last one, but still, I didn't feel there were major problems. We'll have to see what the results are like.