Just a quick heads-up: I’m still taking notes about life in Japan every day, be it on the moleskine or directly on the computer. I’ve just stopped publishing them because transcribing & editing, however lightly, was taking too much time. I’m favoring the experiencing self a bit more now (after all, poor experiencing self went through like 30 hours of hell on Mount Fuji; I’m generously rewarding him with tons of wagashi).
Welp! One third of the time’s already gone.
Woke up early to yet another mystery call; a man who said “good evening” (in English) before hanging up, around five in the morning. What’s up with this phone? This is starting to feel uncomfortably like a typical plot of Japanese horror cinema.
I dozed back into bed, and later, instead of doing due homework, spent a half-hour answering a question in the Internet (“What is the max number of moras a kanji character can have?“).
After all the studying last week I was feeling confident; but when the weekly quiz came for real I didn’t do all that well. Continue Reading →
Someone called my room at three in the morning. I took the phone the third time, but there was no answer, not even an African-sounding language like the other time; just some background noises. Luckly, by now my body has taken to a healthy rhythm—sleep around 23h, wake up by 7h—and not even the Great August Deity who Illuminates the Heaven at four-fifty stops me from sleeping again.
Hellish hot sunny day. Spent it feverishly trying to finish the report before deadline. What do you mean, “outside”?
I’m kind of bothered that even now I couldn’t take any good shots of the mountains. Continue Reading →
Has the backlog really built so much? We’re in day 19, and here’s the draft to day 15 still unpublished…
Another day of studying, and since I didn’t even carry the moleskine, it makes for a particularly skimpy post.
Stayed up until late overloading my Anki a little bit with kanji for the quiz today, but it turns it it was tomorrow. Ops.
Has it really just been twelve days? It feels so long already.
With all the tourism and shopping and photos, I didn’t really do any homework during the weekend. I started yesterday, at a leisure pace because it was due tomorrow. Or so I thought, but turns out they were for today. Ops. Continue Reading →
Yesterday I found out about a nearby shrine catering precisely to my interests, thanks to Ru’s help, and I still want those linen clothes, & I think: Why not today? Sure, my feet hurt even going to the elevator, but… Too bad for you, feet! Migiashi-kun, hidari-ashi kun, you’ll have a lot of time to loaf around during class days—today carry me to see Japan, please.
Warning: Image-heavy post!
After all the walking and saké, of course I woke up late—a shame, because today the rain gave a brief respite, meaning it was the first sunrise after I got the camera. Continue Reading →
Because of the tornado rains, the Center told us that, exceptionally, we could go tomorrow rather than on the scheduled Friday, since the forecast was for rain during one and sun on the other. I worry about the light a bit, but I had arranged to meet a friend back from São Paulo, Kelly, who’s currently studying in the Midorikai tea ceremony program at Urasenke; and I want to buy kimono, and today’s the Antique Fair; and, besides, Ru things Kyōto looks good subdued in rainy colors, so I’m going today.
Another uneventful rainy day with intensive studying.
Just my luck that a typhoon would bring dark skies right when I get a camera. Not that this stopped me from playing.
I love how most trees and plants here in Rinkū Town—both inside and outside the Center—have signs identifying their name and genus (recall that thing about the Japanese almost always citing trees and bird names in literature?) However, when I asked someone what’s the name of the yellow parched grass blowing in the stormwind above, they said: “eeto… grass?” (kusa).
The X100 came without an SD card so I went to the kombini to get one. I couldn’t find it, and had to ask for help. Turns out the aisles only have kind of a cardboard token representing the SD card you want, and you have to check it at the counter. Luckly, it was quite cheap.
The fixed lens camera works best with an active photographing style—one has to be unafraid to get one’s clothes dirty, of being seen on weird poses, of climbing things and walking back and clinging to the ground and stand on the tiptoes, arms extended, and all kinds of physically intensive, socially awkward movement. But this makes me quite happy, in part because I’ve been influenced by Araki’s thought a lot these days, and in part because I like having less options to fiddle (in this case, zoom)—many amateurs don’t realize distortion doesn’t depend on zoom but on distance; a fixed lens drives this point home. (Of course, if you zoom in, you can stand away, increasing the distance; but the improvement in distortion comes from the distance, not from the zoom per se.) Also due to Araki’s influce, I’m leaving the shutter sound on, and trying to photograph people in the most non-candid way possible—talking to them, interacting with them, making them aware of the camera. This must come very naturally to someone like Araki, but it’s quite hard for someone like me, but that’s an interesting exercise. One has to look at one’s shyness objectively, as if it was, dunno, a sheet of paper that one deliberately chooses to detach, hold, crumple and throw away.
How did I failed to notice that the “bell” chimes’ melody changes every hour? Only the 12:00 one is the classic anime-school-Big-Ben style; the other play different tunes. Where does this “bell” comes from, anyway?
Most of the day was overcast, and the wind blowed with gusto (heh). Early at morning black crows were cawing, several hata-like kombini flags waving noisily in the strong wind. When I passed by some bushes, an unknown bird cried in a funny voice. By evening the rains came, and because people were afraid of the typhoon I stayed at home, but in the end there was no more than your average summer rains. An Indian student asked if my hair is real. I told her That Thing About My Hair, & she tried to dissuade me, but a promise is a promise. Today was the first kanji class, the only one I’m at level 3—it was considerably easier than the others; I knew all kanji of the day’s lesson, but perhaps it was because they were all from computer terminology (設定、印刷 etc.), and I’ve been setting OSes to Japanese for some time. At any rate I guess the level-4 class still would be too difficult—I scored low in the placement test, & they rate recall, too, which I haven’t been practicing in ages. (who needs reccal when we have computers, cellphones, densi jisyo and so on?)
In the Integrated Japanese class, we are to prepare to do something called a “bibliobattle“; a contest where participants try to convince the others that they should read this book they like. Great, just what I needed: an activity designed to increase book lust. We must read a full Japanese book for this task, which will probably mean working with children’s books—but who knows; I’ll wait for the ones I bought before settling on my chosen one…
We had a special class on how to use Japanese library search sites. Though the Center’s library is small, it lets us ask for books from lots of Japanese public or college collections, and the amount of titles available is astounding. But there’s not enough time even to investigate the ones already here… Oh, man, vita brevis. (I ended up buying a few more used books on Amazon… How could I resist when the ¥1,575 book I wanted was available for ￥207? (¥189 as of now…)) (One of the used store’s confirmation email said: これからもお客様の読書生活のお役に立てる様、努めてまいります。 I have come to enjoy this level of politeness, & I had to love the expression, dokusho seikatsu, & the idea that I have one.) I often think of death, but the countdown to leave Japan has really bumped up my sense of mujō; every night I can feel the time flowing away like the rain going to the sea. There’s a sign by the elevator “are you checking out? please return the loaned goods” & it won’t let me forget.
Right by the library counter, there’s a corner with a sazonal selection. Right now they have a thin, tasty book on rain-related vocabulary. I love Japanese people. There are also anthologies of rain-related haiku and tanka, thematic ehon, er, picture books, and so on. On the topic of the other day, about everyone greeting, there’s definitely a sense of community higher than I’m used to. I mean perhaps Tōkyō isn’t like this, or even the average lifestyle in Ōsaka-shi (perhaps). But I have barely even talked to the librarian, and I know (from other people) that she’s called Hamaguchi-san, that she likes Tora-san, that (like me) she’s a devout member of the neko-ha (“cat faction”, the opposite of inu-ha, the “dog faction”), and that I should ask her for directions should I want to visit a cat cafe. Back at home I don’t know even the librarian’s name… Everyone asks for my hobbies and favourite foods and so on. The reception desk memorized my name from the first day, and so on.
I wrote that email to Terry Joyce, but as an assignment only; I don’t think I’ll really try to meet him. I mean, what would I say?
Apparently there’s a large used-goods fair in Kyōto right in the day we’ll visit, next Friday.
I chose some kind of fried sweets with cream and alcohol for dessert. In general, Japan seems friendlier to alcohol & tobacco—I don’t think you can buy entire bottles of whiskey in most Brazilian school dining halls, even the adult ones…
It’s starting to feel weird, sitting down to write these posts in English. I’m getting used to Japanese! This is great! Of course I still speak like a caveman from a cheap sci-fi flick, and with the vocabulary of a kid, and stop-start all the time.