About Me

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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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Around Campus

   Class is really starting to ramp up in difficulty as the volume of information that we study continues to grow.  We are actually starting to get into topics I have not yet studied, too, since my SILAC course jumps around the textbook a bit.  Even in the topics that I have studied,  I clearly did not get enough practice on my own as I ended up struggling when we had to use いたたきます、くださいます、 and さしあげます correctly in sentences (particularly in Verbて~ sentences).  That is what I am here for, though, to sharpen my conversational skills.  Our first test is tomorrow, and it consists of a written portion and a speaking test, so I have a great deal of studying to do in preparation.  Also, I have 3 pages of 宿題 (homework) and an essay to write tonight, but I found a little bit of time to show my readers around campus.

    The building over on the right is the Yamasa II building, where Yamasa's main office and the AIJP classrooms are located.  This is where you go to get your student ID card on your first day at Yamasa, and also where you go if you have to pay extra money (or get refunded for paying to much) for a program, if you want to add private lessons, or make changes to your current study program.  If you are a long-term student in the 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.

 This is Fuji hall, located right next to Aoi Hall's radio station.  I haven't done a great deal of exploring inside of Fuji Hall, but there is a conference room and a few classrooms located inside of there.  Whenever you sign up for a weekend field trip, this is where students typically gather prior to departing.  I imagine it has a few other uses as well, but I honestly don't know too much about what goes on inside of Fuji Hall.  Just like Aoi Hall, though, its outside appearance conceals a completely renovated, modern interior.

   On the left is the school store, where you can buy various useful and not-so-useful things.  When you first arrive at Yamasa, this is where you buy all of your textbooks if you do not already have them.  Also, they own several bicycles that are available for students to rent for 800円 a week, and they sell various Yamasa merchandise such as coffee cups, bowls, and the like.  They also manage homevisits and homestays, and it is usually possible to arrange a homevisit through this office.  I am considering doing a homevisit, where you are invited to join a Japanese family for dinner or even for a weekend.

    This is the きつつき, or "Woodpecker", and they serve Japanese food just like your Japanese grandmother would make it.  It is pretty good and affordable, so it is popular among the students, although a lot of students still bring their own lunches or buy set lunches from the supermarket next door.  They give you a lot of food, too, surprisingly -- for about 500円 you get 2 Bacon and Egg sandwiches (with the crusts cut off), an assortment of fresh vegetables, and a glass of freshly squeezed apple juice.  It really isn't bad, at least compared with other restaurants in Japan (seriously, eating out in Japan is a costly affair).

     This building, as well as the one directly across from it, is where a lot of Yamasa's extracurricular activities occur at.  Yamasa owns a full cooking studio and offers classes in traditional Japanese cooking both to the locals and to Yamasa students who are able to complete the 8-week course.  The Yamasa classes are much smaller than classes given to the locals, though, as the class is also another Japanese language class in which the participants practice speaking.  There is also a dance studio on the second floor of this building, although the dance studio is not owned by Yamasa.  The building directly across from the cooking is where some of Yamasa's other culture-based extracurricular programs occur at, such as Japanese drumming and tea ceremony.

   If you follow this trail from the cooking studio, then you will reach the Fine Food Cafe and the sports complex.  The Fine Food Cafe is not owned by Yamasa, however students sometimes eat there and it is popular with the locals.  They serve something different everyday, and the food is absolutely delicious, but the price is pretty high so I probably won't be eating there too many times.

  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.

  This is part of Yamasa's vegetable patch, and the building out in the distance is Yamasa's day care.  Most of the vegetables grown in the garden are sold to the Fine Food Cafe, however it is possible to grow your own vegetables in Yamasa's garden as a Yamasa student.  There is an AIJP student that is doing that right now.  I haven't been to the Yamasa day care, but I think mostly local children are left there while their parents are working.  Yamasa students who have children are free to drop their children off at the day care before attending class, though, so it is possible to study at Yamasa even if you are raising a child.  In a way, the child would be learning Japanese as well since he/she would be making Japanese friends.

   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・・・


  1. Definitely meet up with a Japanese family. You have to do that.

  2. I went to the office today and requested it, so they are looking for a homevisit family. Since Erica is still in high school, I think they are looking for a family that has a high school student... at least I think that is what they said (I arranged it entirely in Japanese).

  3. LMAO

    You really should use English for stuff like that (assuming some one understands it) so that at least you end up with what you want to end up with.

    1. It was fine. In Japan whenever you buy something or make these kinds of arrangements, they always confirm everything before proceeding. Also, she had a chart out and pointed at what I wanted to make sure, so it worked out fine. It is weird being asked if I want to pay only one time when I want to buy a DVD or something, though!

  4. OoOoOoHhHhHh the dinner with the family sounds cool! Also, that bb truck outside Aoi Hall is so cute!