David Chart's Japan Diary

January 9th 2005

School has started again, so my sixth and final term at Yamasa is under weigh. I'm in A class again, which is no surprise, and it's a big class: 14 people. Mind you, all the classes seem to be pretty big this quarter, with only the absolute beginners' class much under 10. Maybe lots of students will skive off lessons. (Probably not; A class tends to be motivated and diligent, because if you aren't, you don't get to A class.) The class room is on the ground floor again, like last term, which means that I will have had six months on each of the three floors with classrooms.

The teachers are all teachers I've had before, although our primary teacher, Kurita-sensei, has only taught me an option class (pronunciation, last term). Kurita-sensei is also male, which makes a change again. There really does seem to be a nationwide shortage of male Japanese teachers. Our other teachers are Nakane-sensei (primary teacher last quarter), Katou-sensei (primary teacher a couple of quarters ago), Kuroda Sayumi-sensei (taught us in both of the last quarters) and Kitabora-sensei (one of my teachers in my very first quarter at Yamasa). Half the students (roughly) are continuing from last quarter's A class, while the others ave moved up from last quarter's B and C classes. There are no newly arrived students in the class, which is normal; it's rare for people to come in this high.

It looks like being a good term, although obviously it's hard to say for sure on the basis of two days of lessons (first day of school was Thursday last week). The plan is to cover academic language, useful for people going on to university and people who might have an interest in Japanese academia, and to read a novel during the quarter. I definitely like the sound of the novel plan.

The structure of option classes has changed this quarter. Instead of having four spread over eight slots, all of them run from 1:30 to 2:30, Monday to Thursday. This means that our daily timetables will be more predictable, which could well be a good thing for people with part-time jobs that have timetables. This term's options look like fun. There's a conversation class, which is standard, but the other ones I've signed up for are more interesting-looking.

One, called 'Drama', will involve writing a drama, rehearsing it, and then performing it on video. While I've not got much interest in breaking into acting, it looks like a good chance to write something, and work on pronunciation. The second, 'Songs', looks like it will deal with the meaning of song lyrics, which also should be interesting, since songs, like other poetry, tend to play fast and loose with grammatical rules. Finally, I'm doing a calligraphy option.

Stop laughing.

Despite aspersions cast upon my handwriting by numerous people, I will have you know that one of my classmates wanted me to write her name in her new textbook on Friday. No, I have absolutely no idea why. I have been told that my (English) handwriting is pretty, admittedly by people who don't read English very well. Maybe it's rather better considered as abstract art than as a means of conveying information. Actually, that's very plausible.

Our first bit of homework was to write a short composition introducing a graph. I did that on Friday after school, as part of my resolution to do rather more of the homework this quarter. Of course, I make that resolution every quarter.

Still, work is less busy now, because I finished the book the day before school started. It's now been submitted to the publisher, which means that I can start on the next project. The difference is that the last book was 60,000 words in 40 days, while this project is 30,000 words in 50 days. Much more relaxed. Ars Magica editing will still mean that I have busy weeks, but on the whole I should be able to keep on top of homework, reading, and TV watching.

One side effect of finishing the book that hard up against term is that I've been quite tired this weekend. I was planning to go into Nagoya and visit one or two museums yesterday (to see those places before I move out of the area), but by the time I'd got going it was rather too late. Cashflow is a little tight while I wait for my check for Ars Magica 5th Edition to clear, too. (If the US dollar would like to consider surging to a brief peak against the yen on the day it goes through, that would be nice.) I may go next weekend instead, depending on how things go.

My Christmas present from Yuriko was a book called "真説の日本史365日事典", which is, roughly, "True Stories from Japanese History: 365 Days". There is one page for every day of the year, with a historical anecdote corresponding to the day, a few things that happened on that day, and some famous people who were born and died. It's very interesting, as it drops some anecdotes into the broad sweep of Japanese history. One page of the so-called "bunko"-size books is also not too much, so I think I'll be able to read the relevant page every day. At the moment it takes me about twenty minutes, including the time to look up kanji I don't know, and don't know the readings for. If I skipped them, I could do it much more quickly, but it would be less useful as study.

Tomorrow is a national holiday ("Coming of Age Day"), so I'm planning to take it easy, and hopefully recover a bit more from the mad writing before term. I think that would have been a nice, comfortable rate if I hadn't had 24 hours of school to go to every week...