David Chart's Japan Diary

December 5th 2004

Today was the big exam: The Japanese Language Proficiency Test, Level 1. As I have mentioned before, I'm not too worried about whether I pass or not, so my planned preparation mainly involved making sure that I cleared enough freelancing to have a light day today, and getting an early night so that I would be awake.

The freelancing part went fine. I got enough done on Friday and yesterday that I could have done nothing today and still been on schedule. Actually, I've just written a bit, although still much less than a normal full day's allowance.

The 'get an early night' part was less successful. I was in bed just after nine. Which was about when the typhoon hit. The very, very noisy typhoon. Which went on until half past two or so. I think I slept a bit in the first part of the night, but I was aware of far more of it than I would have liked to have been, especially since I had to get up at half past five. In the middle of the night, I was getting slightly concerned about what I should do if there was still a typhoon raging when I was supposed to be going to Nagoya. Typhoons in December are apparently very rare; once every twenty years or so. Aren't I lucky.

Fortunately, the weather cleared up, and at quarter past seven, when I left the house, it was a lovely morning, if still a little windy. The journey to the test site took a bit over an hour, picking up steadily more gaijin on the way. By the time the underground arrived at the relevant station, almost everyone was getting off and heading to the site in a stream of humanity. Getting lost at this point would have taken serious, determined effort.

The test itself took place over about five and a half hours, of which three hours were actual test. The formalities at either end were quite elaborate, presumably because people take the same test all over the world, and they have to minimise the chances of people transmitting the questions to people taking it in California.

All seats are assigned, by 'examinee number', and I noticed that my number was very lucky. It was 2211519. Why is this a lucky number? Well, in Japanese you can read it as "fufu ii gou ikkyuu". Why is that good? Well, it means "Hehe, good. Pass level 1". Thus I will inevitably pass due to the mystic influence of my number. (And if I fail, it's all the typhoon's fault.)

There are three parts: Kanji and Vocab, Listening, and Grammar and Reading. Kanji and Vocab was hard. It's always my weakest part, since I don't think I currently know all 2,000 basic kanji, nor is my working Japanese vocabulary quite as large as it should be. But there was a general consensus among my classmates that this test was harder than the mock, by quite a bit.

On the other hand, the other two sections seemed, if anything, slightly easier than the mock. Thus, inevitably, I will be saved from an embarrassing fail only by my stunning performance on Kanji and Vocab.

Apparently some of my classmates were planning to go drinking in Sakae (a part of Nagoya) afterwards, but I declined, partly so that I could write this diary entry for you, but largely because I'm utterly shattered and definitely need an early night tonight. I suspect we may have slightly less than 100% attendance at school tomorrow.

There were a couple of other events worthy of note this week. First, one of my English students told me that she really likes my lessons, which is always good to hear.

Second, I went to City Hall on Thursday to make sure that I didn't need to do anything about tax yet. I don't; all the paperwork gets done in February/March. So I suppose it's just as well I'll still be here then.

I'm very busy with freelancing at the moment, so next week is likely to be quite boring. I could really do with it being quite boring, although if someone wants to make it interesting by giving me large amounts of money, that's fine too.