- Virginia Beach, VA, United States
- This blog (or 日記 if you will) is intended to chronicle my experience in Japan at the Yamasa Institute in Okazaki, Japan from July to August, 2012. I have always wanted to have a journal, though, so I will try to get into a habit of writing frequently about the things important to me in my life. Besides, I plan on returning to Yamasa to participate in the AIJP after I get out of the Navy! These are the Espelancer Chronicles. Erica is also blogging about the trip, and you should totally check it out. It is The Marvelous Misadventures of Schneewittchen link over on the sidebar.
Monday, July 30, 2012
|The pond at Okazaki Minami Park|
Transitive and intransitive verbs function the same way in both English and in Japanese. A transitive verb requires a direct object -- it is a verb describing an action directed on or towards something else. "I opened the window to let the breeze in." is an example of "opened" being used as a transitive verb. An intransitive verb, on the other hand, cannot have a direct object -- it is basically a self-fulfilling verb. "The door opened automatically, allowing entry into the store." shows the same word, "opened", being used intransitively as the action is not placed upon any direct object, but rather the subject.
In Japanese, it is pretty much the exact same way, except it is not so simple as using the same word in different context as it is in English. Japanese has what is called "verb pairs", in which the exact same word, written using the exact same kanji, have two different readings, each of which are used differently. Using 開けます, which is the transitive verb for "open", here is an example:
雪子さん は ドア を 開けました。 (Yukiko-san は(subject marker) door を (direct object marker) 開けました (akemashita - opened).
If I wanted to talk about the train doors automatically opening, though, I cannot use 開けます. I have to use 開きます, which is the intransitve verb for to open. Also, the sentence is structured differently:
電車のドアが開きました。 Train Doors が (A different subject marker) 開きました (akimashita - opened).
To further add to the confusion, you also use intransitive verbs to describe the states of objects, for example "The door is open." In Japanese, that would be ドアが開いています。 Door が 開いて います (Open, conjugated to て form, using います to make it present tense.)
However, I think it is all cleared up, now. I had thought at one point that I would never grasp the concept of verb pairs in Japanese, and that there was no rhyme or reason to how the verbs were distributed -- it is not as simple as conjugating the verb from its dictionary form. After having it explained to me (entirely in Japanese and pictures), though, it actually makes sense now. Thank you very much, Suga-Sensei -- mastering this concept alone in such a short amount of time really has made this school worthwhile for me.
|Birds found in Okazaki Minami Park|
|東京へ来た (From Outside Tokyo Station)|
The first Tokyo post does not have very many pictures, unfortunately, because photographs were not permitted to be taken at the JDK Band Super Live concert in Nihonbashi Matsui Hall, so I will have to post various Nihon Falcom pictures from around the web. We arrived in Tokyo on Friday evening at around 5:15. I had the hotel address memorized so that I would be able to tell the taxi driver how to get there, but I made a mistake in the address and it was difficult to get there. Our hotel was in the Chuo ward of Tokyo in the Nihonbashi area, and I thought the name of the Chome (neighborhood) was Horidome, so the taxi driver could not find the address and he dropped us off in Nihonbashi Honcho (the main Nihonbashi area). The name of the chome is actually Nihonbashi Horidome, and that is how it has to be found. Because of this difficulty, it took 2 hours to locate the hotel, even though it was very close to the station. Luckily, though, this was our only travel difficulty during the entire Tokyo trip.
|An old stage shot of JDK Band|
|Mizuki Mizutani, JDK Band's Violinist|
The JDK Band experience was highly enjoyable and I would love to be able to attend another JDK Band concert. I picked up my 那由多の軌跡 (Nayuta no Kiseki -- the latest entry of the Legend of Heroes franchise which was just released last Thursday) shirt at the concert, and the game shortly after. That was all we did Friday night, as it was pretty late by the time we returned and we were tired from the Shinkansen ride, the hotel-search, and the concert.
The next entry chronologically would be our adventures in Tama Town, but I am preparing something special for that, so keep posted for Tokyo Tower tomorrow!
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Well, this is going to be a short entry, since I have actually been pretty busy with my studies. The first week has come and gone, and I apparently did well on my test. On the written test, I only got an 85. I should really read the questions more carefully, since there were pitfalls engineered into the test and I fell into every single one of them. On the speaking test, I thought I did absolutely horrible. I felt like I was forcing the grammar points we were being graded on (well, I was forcing it) and I stumbled more times than I cared to admit. Coupled with the fact that I was being recorded the entire time, the entire affair seemed like a train wreck. Somehow or another, though, I managed to pull a 94 on the speaking test. I wonder if maybe my sheet got mixed up with someone else, though, because speaking is my weakest ability, and after spending a week in Japan I have become aware with exactly how much I don't know about Japanese. Seriously, I can't even order food at a restaurant without stumbling, yet somehow I am "intermediate".
|This graveyard is actually right down the road from our villa|
Anyways, yesterday we went to the Aeon Mall to buy yukata for the summer festival this weekend. I would have loved to post pictures, but that will have to wait until the actual festival since you cannot take photographs inside of Japanese stores (or museums). Tomorrow we take the Shinkansen to Tokyo, kicking off the weekend, and it looks like beautiful weather in Tokyo all weekend. Unfortunately, we will not be able to go to the Ghibli Museum, since apparently I did not actually complete the purchase for tickets while in the US, and right now tickets are completely sold out every day until September. It probably has something to do with summer vacation -- next week we will no longer see junior high or high school students in sailor outfits everywhere we go as everyone will be on their one-month vacation.
It was my birthday today, however here in Japan that day is coming to a close (although in Virginia it is still the 26th for another 14 hours). Kenneth made some spaghetti with home-made meat sauce (it was extremely delicious), I received a jigsaw puzzle from 耳をすませば (Whisper of the Heart) from Erica, and our esteemed 先生 (teachers) gave me a 500円 gift card that I can use at several different places around Okazaki (truth be told, it'll probably get used at the Daiso, which is the 100円 store near our villa). I know it is late, but I'd like to wish a happy birthday to James as well (hus birthday was on the 22nd). お誕生日おめでとう！
That is all for tonight, be looking for my posts from Tokyo!
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
AIJP (Academic Intensive Japanese Program) or the AJSP (Advanced Japanese Studies Program), then your classes will be in this building. Also, the first floor lobby has computers that are free for students to use, as not everyone owns/brings their own computer to Yamasa.
The building on the right is Aoi Hall. Don't let the outside appearance fool you -- it is actually a completely renovated modern building on the inside. This is where the classrooms for all of Yamasa's extension programs are located, including SILAC (my program), the Discovery program, the Business Japanese programs, and all private and semi-private lessons are held. The first floor of Aoi Hall also has a cafeteria and kitchen that are free for students to use, vending machines, and a distance-learning classroom (which is mostly used for AIJP graduation ceremonies). Okazaki FM 76.3 is also owned by Yamasa, and they operate their office in Aoi Hall as well. Because of this, you can hear Japanese rock music as you enter Aoi Hall from the front, and all of the station's radio interviews are available on tape for the Advanced students to practice their listening comprehension from.
Also on the right hand side is my classroom in Aoi Hall. As you can see, the desks are set up in a U-pattern so that everyone in class can easily participate. We talk a great deal in class, and it is much easier and feels much more natural when you are facing your classmates as you speak rather than speaking to their backs as would be the case if the desks were in rows. Each classroom has its own individual エアコン (A/C) unit, so it is never too hot or too cold during class, and empty classrooms are available for student use after normal class hours.
The sports complex is owned by Yamasa and is free for student use in the afternoons. Yamasa does rent out the facility to the local Junior League soccer team, though, so it cannot be used while the kids are practicing. There are a variety of sports equipment available for use inside the building for anyone who wishes to use the sports facility.
Well, this is the place that I have chosen to study Japanese at. I hope everyone enjoyed the little tour. There is more info about campus on Yamasa's website, although some of the information on the English website is a little bit outdated. I guess that is what happens when you are a small language school maintaining a website in six different languages, though. I would show you some of Yamasa's accommodations, but there are so many and they are spread out throughout the neighborhood. Besides, I will probably end up writing about my Villa and possible about the Student Village at some point anyways.
Well, I need to study for that test, so until next time, じゃまたねぇ・・・
Monday, July 23, 2012
|Pizza Hut Pizza in Japan|
|View of the Okazaki sunset from my window|
おおかみ子どもの雨と雪 by director Mamoru Hosoda (surname first). For those of you who are not familiar with anime movies, he is the same director that produced The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars, and I have been waiting for the chance to see this gorgeous movie since it the trailer was first released last December. The movie is about a woman named Hana who falls in love with a man who can change into a wolf, and has two children with him. Unfortunately, the wolf man is killed when he is spotted in wolf form, and Hana must raise her two children alone. Since the children can also transform, they move from Tokyo to the country, and the movie follows the two children growing up. It truly is a fantastic film.
As for the theater experience itself, it is much different than American theaters. The ticket prices are slightly more expensive (1000円, or about $12.50) per person, but the concessions are slightly cheaper, so I guess it balances out. Unlike in the United States, where you buy a ticket and then seek out a place to sit when you get into the theater, in Japan you must choose which seats you want on a seating chart. Your tickets will actually have your chosen seat numbers printed directly on the ticket. Also, in the movie theater lobby itself there is a kiosk where official movie memorabilia from released and upcoming films is available for purchase. Also, the theater is extremely clean -- I seriously think you could eat off of the floor -- but then again, I have yet to see a single piece of litter in Japan. Trash, and especially recycling, is taken to another level here, but that is a topic for another day...
Anyways, the night at the movies was quite an enjoyable experience. I need to finish my 宿題 and get some sleep for tomorrow's class, so またね。 I will leave you with an awesome trailer of the upcoming live-action Rurouni Kenshin film, hitting Japanese theaters soon..... a week after I leave >.<
Sunday, July 22, 2012
|しゃけのおにぎり (Salmon Rice Ball)|
|On the Imperial Palace Grounds|
Well, it started raining at about that time, and it would not let up for the rest of the day, so it started to impede on the places we could go. Added to that, it was our first time in Kyoto, so we spent a fair bit of time being lost as well. We did make our way to the Kyoto Imperial Palace (walking from Gion-Shijo), though, only to find out that you need a reservation to enter the main palace. There are plenty of places on the grounds that you can freely enter, though, and we rested in a small secluded temple in the southwest corner of the Imperial Palace grounds.
After leaving the Imperial grounds, we began a quest to seek out the International Manga Museum, since Erica wanted to go there. It was difficult finding it, though, since the directions we got were incredibly vague and for some reason the Japanese like to have maps everywhere pointing everywhere except for north. Seriously, most maps here have "North" pointing to the right, and one even had north pointing down. To make it worse, unless you knew 北 was the kanji for North, you would not even realize it. I will say, though, that walking around Kyoto is really good exercise, and you really learn your way around after you do it all day. We did not find the museum on the first day, though, and the rain continued to fall, so we returned to the hotel and watched コクリコ坂から and did our weekend homework.
|Us at the 金閣寺(Golden Temple) in Kyoto|
Kyoto International Manga Museum used to be an elementary school, but then it was converted to a museum commemorating manga and comics from around the world. They probably have a copy of every manga since 1945 in there, and they also have comics from other countries and even America. It's a 3-story library of manga and comics, and for only 300円 you can read any manga within the museum during your stay. I found the perfect souvenir for Martha there, as well, so I went ahead and bought it.
Anyways, I am now back in Okazaki, preparing for tomorrow's lesson. I will leave you with a ton of photos from the weekend, though, in no particular order. Until next time... じゃね。
Friday, July 20, 2012
|Negiyaki on the grill|
Afterwards our trip to Kyoto commenced. We took a short train ride into Nagoya, and then a 45 minute ride on the Shinkansen to Kyoto, and arrived at about 4 PM. Shortly after confirming the directions to Higashiyama ward on our map, we headed towards our hotel. This was probably the most interesting part of the trip so far. On our way to the hotel, we were approached by an elderly man. To be honest, I thought he was about to try to bum some money, but he never did. He was actually a really cool guy -- he spoke English exceptionally well and wanted to talk to us because we were foreigners. When we said we were Americans, he told us all about his travels in the US. He had several pieces of paper with handwritten Japanese phrases translated into English, and he asked us to read each phrase and comment about whether or not they sounded natural. He was especially interested in learning English idioms that do not literally translate well into Japanese, as well as our thoughts and comments on some of the translations. Since I know a little bit of Japanese, I also tried to read some of the Japanese since the sentences were simple enough for me to understand them. We ended up talking to the guy for a good hour and a half or so, and he told us how to get to some of the best spots in Kyoto as well as led us to our hotel. After all of that time, too, he did not once ask for a single yen.
|Our hotel room in Kyoto|
Our hotel is called Ryokan Ohto, and it is a traditional Japanese inn in the Higashiyama ward of Kyoto. It is situated in the middle of a quiet neighborhood, and there are many local shops and houses in the neighborhood. Personally, I don't think I could have picked a better place -- it really is a nice find. As you can see, I have posted pictures of the hotel on the inside and outside.
We went out to downtown Kyoto for a little while, however the bulk of our Kyoto trip is likely to occur tomorrow, so until then..... また明日ね。