David Chart's Japan Diary

March 12th 2005

Oh dear. That break wasn't quite as brief as I'd intended. (I did an update for the Japanese diary last week, but that's little help to most of the people who read this one.) The main reason is that I've been ill, but (fortunately) I haven't been ill for a whole month, so there have been other, consequent, problems.

Going back to February 17th or so, the rest of that week was consumed with visa application preparations: making sure I had all the paperwork, copying things so that I could leave copies at immigration, filling in forms, and writing a short account of why I had to stay in Japan. On the Friday, I went into immigration, and spoke to the immigration advice people. The woman I spoke to had to go and check with someone else; my sort of case is quite unusual.

Unfortunately, it wasn't straightforward. Apparently, to get the visa, I need a reason why I have have to be in Japan. 'I like Japan and I have a job to do here' is not, it seems, sufficient, at least not if the job could sensibly be done elsewhere. Freelancing can, of course, be done anywhere. So, I came back from Nagoya without submitting my application, and started looking for the additional reason. To spare you the suspense, I think I've found it, but I'm waiting for paperwork, so I've not been back to immigration yet.

Tax and immigration meant that I got no freelancing done that week. That wasn't a problem; I knew that I was going to have to deal with them, so I'd allowed for it. I even got a reasonably amount of work done at the weekend.

What was a problem was that, from the Monday, I became increasingly ill. Monday we had a meeting about the speech contest. Tuesday, we had the rehearsal. I had to postpone one of my classes (fortunately, I could), go home, and sleep for a few hours in order to make it through the rehearsal.

On Thursday the actual speech contest took place. I nearly passed out on stage. I literally couldn't see, and my classmates, who were sitting very close to me and, unsurprisingly, occasionally  looking my way rather than at the person speaking, say I suddenly went green. I did manage to stumble off stage, towards the chairs I'd asked for earlier (I did know I wasn't fully fit, after all), and Tou-sensei, the head of the school, sprang up from the audience to help me to a chair.

From that point, I sat down during all the speeches. That, fortunately, was enough to allow me to get through the rest of the contest, including participating in singing in front of everyone (the Songs class had been volunteered to to that by our teachers), and interviewing the winners briefly afterwards. The other student helping me to MC, Rin-san, is in D class. D class's representative won, and A class's (Thao-san) got one of the two second prizes. The other second prize went to the representative of K-class, the lowest class. Just like last year, the winner of the main prize also won the students' choice prize.

This might have led to suggestions of bias, except that Rin-san and I had nothing to do with the judging.

According to Katou-sensei, who was one of the judges, I didn't seem ill while I was MCing. Obviously, she was paying attention to the actual speaker at the point I nearly passed out... At any rate, everyone agreed that it went well, and I suspect that they'll have students MCing again next year.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I was still ill. On at least one night I actually had a fever, so I may have had mild flu. On the other hand, I did make it to school every day, so it's more likely that it was just a very heavy cold. The one time I've really had flu, going to school was not, in any way, an option.

Being ill meant that I spent another week without writing. That, I hadn't allowed for. In fact, given that it was the beginning of this week before I was fully recovered, it meant that I actually had to write an apologetic email to my editor, explaining why I was likely to miss the deadline. In the end, I was about 36 hours late with my final submission, which isn't too bad considering that I lost a whole week. On the other hand, it didn't leave any time for, say, writing diary entries.

That was last weekend. This week I've been busy with Ars Magica Line Editor duties, which also got neglected while I was first ill, and then clearing the writing project. I caught up with those this morning. (They never really 'finish', but at least now everything I have to do is stuff I should be doing now, not two weeks ago.) So, finally, I have time to write things up.

In the middle of all that, we had another class test. I got 89.5% on the written part (just short of an A, alas), and 100% on the listening comprehension part. Given the JLPT result, it is possible that, finally, I've got accustomed to the sound of Japanese.

The speech contest was the most interesting event. As one of the MCs, I will, apparently, get a DVD of the event. Friends and family are welcome to watch it, but it is, of course, all in Japanese. I also got a 'thank you' gift from the school: a rather nice traditional Japanese-style cup. If that makes you think of delicate porcelain, you're thinking about China. Traditional Japanese pottery is heavy and looks like someone's first attempt at making a cup. It's asymmetrical, the pottery has odd dents in, and the glaze usually runs in lumpy patterns. Of course, this is all deliberate, and it doesn't really look like someone's first attempt, because it actually looks good. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the speech contest, because I forgot my camera. I plead ill-health, and for once that should be completely convincing.

I've only got nine school days left at Yamasa now. It's rather strange to think that it will soon all be over. Due to begging and pleading from family members, however, the diary will not finish when the course does.