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.

Friday, July 20, 2012

First Day of Class and the Journey to Kyoto

      Today marked the first real day of classes, although since it is Friday our last class ended at 11:50.  My class is pretty crowded -- there are 14 people (the maximum class size in 15).  I am the only American in my class, however there are several people from the UK, several people from Taiwan, two people from France, two people from the Netherlands, and one person from New Zealand.  Even though there are a lot of people in my class, I still got a solid amount of speaking time during the exercises.  The material is stuff that I have already gone over before (we were covering volitional form), however I feel that I was placed in the right class as I found my ability to actually use the volitional form in conversation was actually really awful.  Erica is lucky -- there are only 3 people in Basic 1, so she gets no shortage of individual attention, although I doubt she will see it that way after a week or so.

Negiyaki on the grill
For lunch we ate at a place called お好み焼(Okonomiyaki) between campus and our villa.  This place was absolutely amazing.  Each of the tables have their own grill, as well as two timers and all of the sauces you need to use to make a good 焼そば (yakisoba) or ねぎ焼 (negiyaki).  When you order your food, they bring everything out ready to be cooked and you cook it yourself.  Everything is already prepared -- you just slap it on the grill and set the timer for 6 minutes.  After 6 minutes, you flip it over, put whatever sauce you want or soy sauce on it, and then set the timer for 3 minutes.  After that timer is up, you can enjoy one of the finest meals you will probably ever eat -- and you cooked it yourself!  Also, rice, curry, soup, and drinks are free on the drink bar when your order an entree.

   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。


  1. This is my favorite part of the trip thus far as well. Yay! for random people - they are the best.

  2. what a nice little inn... that guy looks interesting

  3. Yeah, he was certainly an interesting guy. He made us guess his age, so we took a logical guess, and he said "I'm 23. You are only as old as you feel!" then proceeded to walk much faster than us to lead us to our hotel.

  4. The picture of you and the Japanese dude and his comment above are giving me life.