1st (and 2nd) August 2017: Running out of time! {Japan, summer 2017}

This was my last day and I had to make the most of it! First I went to Shibakoen [芝公園] and Tokyo Tower [東京タワー], because that always keeps the sadness at bay. I went up the tower and I finally gave in and bought the stamp rally booklet. I should have done it before. The Tower was being visited by a primary school class. Ho boy.

Then I went to Iidabashi [飯田橋] using the Shibakoen subway station. The day before I had hired a private lesson to have a teacher explain Japanese conditionals to me. That was very productive. Finally I was off to Shinjuku [新宿] for yakitori and karaoke with B**** and D****e to say goodbye for now.

Finally, I half-packed because I apparently forgot half of my stuff atover there, and went to bed. At 2:02 in the morning there was the only noticeable quake of the trip, quite a big one. In the morning, I headed off to Narita Airport, checked-in my luggage, and once again, it was time to go back to reality.

29th July 2016: Trying not to think {Japan, summer 2016}

So I got home late the previous day and I did not really feel like studying, so this morning I had to do my homework and study for the exam ( ̄◇ ̄;). However, at around midmorning, I decided that I really did not care for a perfect grade anymore, that I was not going to get anyway because the teacher was not happy with my なければなりません and wanted なけれべいけません because that was what the book had. The other day when I was in Harajuku I’d seen something I really wanted, so I decided that screw everything, I would go buy it.

First, I stopped by Shibuya [渋谷], just because. I did a quick tour over Tsutaya, Book Off and Mandarake. In Tsutaya, I bugged a lady as I was looking for a specific manga and she did not look too happy to help (~_~;). Then I went to Harajuku [原宿] to buy the item I had fallen in love with, a 40cm high photobook (limited edition).

After class (and last exam, and saying bye bye and getting our pic taken with the certificate…) I met M. in Ikebukuro [池袋] as we were going to do fanstuff together. Well, let me rephrase that. First I went home because the photobook(s) was (were) heavy as hell and it would have been more expensive to find a coin locker for them than getting home and dropping them off. After that, I waited for her in the Book Off (and was self-restrained and did not buy anything else). We checked out the Ikebukuro Closet Child and then we had dinner together.

The plan was try and hunt the Gakkuchi. That is, some of the adorable plushes that GACKT makes. He had decided to put some as prices for the UFO catchers. I do know that getting them is next to impossible, but for 500Y try, you got a clearfile, and that was awesome…

So awesome that the clearfiles were “sold out” in all Ikebukuro. We tried one station over, a smaller one. No luck. We tried my station. Still no luck. Damn, what a way to finish the day (♯`∧´).

28th July 2016: Ueno + VAMPS Replay {Japan, summer 2016}

As the time to leave drew near, I felt a bit sad this morning (T^T). However, I did not let myself be dragged by it, so I forced myself out of the apartment to do things, and these things involved Ueno Kōen [野公園].

First I headed off to Ueno Tōshō-gū [上野東照宮], which I had not found open last year when I was there, because there was a matsuri, or something, I don’t really remember. Then I found out about the two dragons, the ascending dragon and the descending dragon, who come to drink at the pond at night. It is a very nice imaginary. Also, the shrine is really cool. It has a bit of a Chinese style, and is decorated with a gold layer. The inner fence shows animals of the sea and the wind, making it a unique shrine. I really liked it a lot.

The main building of a Shinto shrine, sparkling golden with a dark ceiling

Wooden painted carving of dragons, one going up, one going down

Then I found the Ueno Daibutsu [上野大仏], the Great Buddha Pagoda, which I had missed before – one of the things I love about Ueno is that whenever I go I find something new, yay. Most of the Ueno Daibutsu was melted for metal during WWII.

A giant Buddha face made of metal in a ceremonial pagoda

Gojoten Jinja [五條天神社] is really cool too, but I decided to leave getting its seal for another time. Next time.

A row of torii gates

I walked by Shinobazu no Ike [不忍池], the Pond in Ueno.

A pond covered in water lilly leaves, with some high rises in the background

Finally, I went to the museum of Shitamachi of Customs, Shitamachi Fūzoku Shiryōkan [下町風俗資料館], where they keep some old houses from the years after the great Kanto Earthquake. A bunch (hundreds) of houses were built there to make sure that the population was housed. The museum shows how life was those few first years, and how people lived and organised themselves. There are a few items, houses, photographies and so. The second floor is hands-on, with games and pastimes and so. There was a very nice guide there and she explained a lot of things to me.

Reproduction of pre-industrial wooden houses in Tokyo

Later I went to class (I found another Gyoza Franchise on my way back to the station) and then I skidded out because I had to get to Yoyogi National Stadium, Kokuritsu Yoyogi Kyogijo [国立 代々木 競技場], in Yoyogi [代々木]. I was attending the Sukkiri Superlive in order to see VAMPS one more time before heading off back home. All in all, a very complete day that ended up with a bang – when I should have been studying Japanese to be honest ^^;;

The Yoyogi national stadium, and a screen reading Sukkuri 10th Anniversary Super Live

27th July 2016: I could not miss an aquarium {Japan, summer 2016}

I mean, visiting aquariums is like a second nature to me when I’m in Japan. It seems that each has something that I really love but had not realised it before.

In this case I headed off to Tokyo Sea Life Park – Kasairinkai Suizokukan [葛西臨海水族館] in the namesake park, Kasairinkai Koen [葛西臨海公園], in Edogawa [江戸川], especially famous for keeping a tank of yellowfin tuna (all of which died unexpectedly last year and had been replaced though) <・ )))><<.

The aquarium is mostly an underground complex, accessible through the main dome in the middle of the park. During my visit it was full of parents with young children. For some reason, Japanese people believe that children must love fish? I don’t really understand… ~(・・?))

Before class I went to Tokyo Daijingu [東京大神宮] in Iidabashi [飯田橋], which is surprisingly quite small, and I think it has something to do with finding love?

At night I met with my new friend M. to try to find a cat café we were interested in and somehow did not manage to find, but we turned that into dinner and karaoke – Joysound, to watch the VAMPS special message v(^_^v)♪.

26th July 2016: Day and night {Japan, summer 2016}

In the morning I went off to Shimokitazawa [下北沢], which is a “commercial and entertaining district in Setagaya [世田谷], Tokyo [東京]” (according to Wikipedia, at least).

My first stop was Kitazawa Hachiman Jinja [北澤八幡神社], about 10 minutes away from the station. It is one of those not so hidden shrines that give you the impression that time has frozen.

Afterwards, I undid my way for lunch in Gyoza no Oshou, which I heard that was GACKT’s favourite gyoza place (ironically, this seems to be a franchise, I also found one in Ueno, later on). After that I slithered over to Harajuku [原宿] to find the Closet Child there (and buy things and get a discount card!) Because the fact that there were no more planned shopping sprees does not really mean… anything(≧∇≦).

In the evening (after class and homework), even if it was raining, I waltzed off to take pictures of the city at night. While Shibuya is bustling with neon, Shinjuku was a bit heart-wrenching as the homeless tend to gather around the station for cover, some of them read your palm for cash.

Shibuya [渋谷]:

Shinjuku [新宿]:

Cityscape from the Observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁] (not alone in the lift this time…):

At night there was an earthquake. Not a big one, probably (3, maybe?), but it made my whole apartment creak with the strain. It was creepy enough to straighten me out of bed (◎_◎;)

25th July 2016: Back to Tokyo {Japan, summer 2016}

Nothing special really happened this day. I had a 10 am train to get back to Tokyo, and was too dead to do any tourisim beforehand. On the Shinkansen, an obaachan got her seat wrong and sat on my seat. Figuring she had the aisle seat and that she had a lot of luggage with her, I sat down next to her and did my homework for the weekend – not the cleanest, prettiest homework I’ve done.

It turned out that the little old lady had gotten her row wrong. She was sitting on my seat, and I was sitting on some other lady’s seat and the poor lady had not known what to do with herself. The conductor arranged it by sitting the second lady on the obaachan’s place. The obaachan was very apologetic and gave me some cookies in apology. At least it was not clear enough that I would have seen Fuji-san from my seat…

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the little detail that the conductors bow at the passengers when they exit the carrieage? Just a little thing, I guess…

I got to Tokyo station, from there I went to class, and from class I went home because I did not even feel human. (( _ _ ))..zzzZZ

22nd July 2016: I did not play hookie {Japan, summer 2016}

So I stayed studying all morning. And maybe – just maybe – lazying around for a little bit. Then I headed off to class and after class I went to Tokyo station because I was going to hit the road (traintracks?) again to go to Osaka. I had a good nap on the Shinkansen and made it to the subway without complications. It still amuses me how different the train attitude is in Tokyo and Osaka, it is like night and day sometimes. So there I was again, ready for a weekend of fun – hopefully.

I am not completely sure of why but I really love Osaka [大阪]. Sometimes I think that a bit too much. I did try to keep it sane this time around and even if I had physical time to do things, I tried to take it easy.

21st July 2016: Shopping spree (II) {Japan, summer 2016}

This was the last planned big shopping spree and honestly I felt quite pleased after that. I started off in Nakano Broadway [中野ブロードウェイ] and then made my way to Shinjuku. Nakano aka Mandarake Land has reorganised itself to have topic-oriented shops. I had not been able to find the one that interested me – male singers – just yet. Actually I had found it but they had been moving things around and nothing was to be found there. Fortunately this one time I found interesting stuff at very good prices \(^o^)/ (I saw the same item I got for twice the price later in TRIO). After the Mandarake I moved onto the JRock TRIO and fell in love with a Gackt’s Ghost pendant so I got myself that, along with a VAMPS postcard and a Galileo special from Fukuyama Masaharu’s fanclub Magazine (((o(*゚▽゚*)o)))

Happy with my items, I headed off to Shinjuku [新宿] to find the Closet Child CD shop. The previous day I had been in the punk goth one and gotten myself a ring, but this time I wanted the CD one. And when I found it, it was so worth it ♥

After class, I headed off to have dinner with a friend, totally ignoring that I had an exam the next day. Oh and when I got home I did laundry. Cause I’m cool like that ψ(`∇´)ψ

20th July 2016: Hababi in Kamakura! {Japan, summer 2016}

Hanabi [花火] are fireworks, in case I had never explained that, which I might just as well not have done. I was just beat in the morning and I had not studied, so I got a late start, which did not work out too well as I did not find what I was looking for. Twice. Then I headed off to class and barely had time to buy food in the Conbini, which was running a sale in onigiri. Unfortunately, that meant that the only thing left were the not-so-yummy spicy tuna. And then the trains were delayed.

Yes, I was already in class, but I had plans for the evening. I was meeting a new Japanese friend M-san in Kamakura [鎌倉] to watch the fireworks! Fortunately the delay was over by the time I got out of class. I managed to make it to one train earlier at some point so I had the spare time for a toilet break, which was well needed. My three transfers were smooth albeit packed, and I even sat down at some point!

When I arrived in Kamakura I was surprised by the sheer amount of people I saw there. After M-san arrived we headed off for the beach to watch the fireworks which were amaaaazing. They made faces with the fireworks!! Cats and frogs! I could not believe it!

19th July 2016: Oopsies {Japan, summer 2016}

After doing some studying in the morning, I was to meet B**** for dinner. I went to Iidabahi [飯田橋] early and bought some meat buns (nikuman) for lunch – the most delicious nikkuman I’ve ever eaten are sold in a small Chinese shop there.

Unfortunately B**** and my carefully-laid out plans were forced to change because she had a gas inspection in her new apartment also known as the apatosaurus. However, we were able to go for some okonomiyaki and monjayaki .

After lunch, we headed off to karaoke. All in all it was fun and plans were remade.

18th July 2016: Shopping spree (I) {Japan, summer 2016}

I started the week off with a mochi breakfast that I had received as omiyage (typical present / detail from a particular area). It was delicious!

Japanese sweet pastry on a toothpick

This day I took my first real shopping spree and I headed off for Shinjuku [新宿] and Closet Child & Pure Sound. I ended up in the Pure Sound buying quite a few things, including but not limited to VAMPS DVDs. I had made a friend at Gackt’s Birthday party and she needed to be shown to the shops, so it was the perfect school.

The entrance to Kabukicho district

We also went to Ikebukuro [池袋] for some more shopping and we had lunch at CocoCurry, where I tried the kanikoroke as I was feeling adventurous. As much as I love the chicken, this was an amazing choice!

A curry dish. The sauce is spread at the bottom, and two croquettes stand on the rice

To be honest, I was sore from my fall the previous day and I was staring to feel the tiredness of “doing all the things”, so I took it slow and I just went home after school.

15th July 2016: Nagoya express (I) {Japan, summer 2016}

I spent the best part of the morning studying. I later has a quick lunch with T. who was going back to Spain soon, and departing for Osaka. I strolled down the rain to the Benten temple in Ueno and then headed off to class.

In the evening, I rushed to Tokyo station to catch the Hikari Shinkansen to Nagoya, a city I had never visited before. As there was a huge festival the prices for sleeping over Saturday to Sunday were crazy but what I organised worked well. When I arrived I walked by some pretty fun buildings, namely the Oasis 21.

Then I visited Nagoya TV Tower or Nagoya Terebi To [名古屋テレビ塔], which claims to be the first tourist tower in Japan. The Tower was running some special on fish as far as I understood and you could watch the scenery and little koi carps. The tower has been designed ‘Lovers Paradise’ so there were lots of young couples. The Tower yielded to some cool sights of the city skyline, including Nagoya Castle, Nagoya-jo [名古屋城] and Hisaya Odori Koen [久屋大通公園], where the Tower and Oasis 21 stand.

After the tower I took the train to check in my hotel and then took a stroll down the area. I wanted to get to the castle, hoping that I’d be able to see it up close at night, but no such luck and I found myself staring at a blank wall. But on my way back I found my way to Aichi Shrine and Nagoya & Toshugu Shrine (back to back) before going back to the hotel, taking a shower and zonking out (( _ _ ))..zzzZZ. But not before tracing a careful plan ( ̄Д ̄)ノ Even if we know plans rarely come together…

14th July 2016: Liar, liar, pants on fire (and Komagome II) {Japan, summer 2016}

The weather report had been announcing clouds all day. It lied. A lot. Seriously, both the JMA and whatever data an iPhone uses, they were way out of the way. See, I used these reports to plan an outdoors day visiting some parks, temples and shrines close to my area. This meant walking for a couple of hours, but there I went.

The first problem was that the weather decided that clouds were overrated. I did not think much of it at first, but it would be relevant later. The second was that GoogleMaps decided to join forces with the weather report and troll me.

But let’s start form the beginning, and the beginning was the Kyu Furukawa Teien [旧古河庭園], a garden apparently famous for their rose festivals. No roses in July, but a very neat Japanese garden. I’ve never been much of an English Garden fan unless there are flowers, so I did not pay much attention to that part.

After the gardens I headed off towards the Oji [王子] area, checking out Hiratsuka Jinja, Takinogawa Park and Nanasha Shrine until I made it to the park called Asukayama Koen [飛鳥山公園], where for the first time this year I heard the cicadas singing like crazy. It’s officially summer in Japan, bugs dixit! It’s not a matter of the heat, the rain, or anything like that. In the end, the cicadas mark the time.

The park holds a few museums and In one of the corners Oji Jinja [王子神社] can be found. If Google agrees that it even exists. But alas, success in the end.

After an odyssey to find the Shrine and once again fight Google regarding yes, the Oji Inari Jinja [王子稲荷神社] exists, I managed to find the latter. Close to one of the crossroads I had been to before. Twice. Thanks, Google (-_-;)

Then I decided to head off to where my academy is, Iidabashi [飯田橋]. My destination there was Zenkoku-ji [善國寺], which was surrounded for some reason by no less than four Spanish restaurants. I am not brave enough to try those but there was a nikuman shop that did catch my attention. I also made a short stop at the local Book Off in order to check it out and get OFF THE SUN for a few minutes. At this point I had just realise that I had been indeed walking around in the sun for three and a half hours and I was… Burnt. Quite so. Damn it.

But it did not end there. Nooo, why would it end there? Then it RAINED 雨雨雨. When I had to do my laundry and get it dry, of course, because the next day I was over to Nagoya and wanted to make sure I had clothes to wear. And I studied because I had an exam the next day, and the previous one had been disastrous.

13th July 2016: Here we go again! {Japan, summer 2016}

I am a creature of habits and I won’t deny that. I will however wonder how come my phone thinks about autocorrecting ‘gabits’ to Gackt, which is interesting to say the least. Anyway. On July 12th I realised that my 朱印帳 (しゅいんちょう) or seal book was lacking one of my favourite Temples in the World! So off I went to Zojo-ji [増上寺] with my newly-activated JRPass. I gotta make the most out of it because it was expensive, mkay? ( ̄^ ̄)ゞ

Anyway, off I went to Hamamatsucho and I had a very beautiful flashback to the first time I saw Tokyo Tower [東京タワー], coming from that station. A lot of things have changed since then. I wandered around Zojo-ji temple, Shiba Koen [芝公園] and the base of Tokyo Tower for a while.

Later, I headed off to Ueno because the previous day I had not eaten Ichiran Ramen and I wanted Ichiran Ramen. I went with time to be able to wait out the queue. Once again I freaked some poor kid out. This was staring to get tiresome.

Ichiran is a restaurant designed for people who eat alone, and you have a little ‘booth’ to do your thing. Some people find it outrageous/controversial but as a lone traveler I love it. And if you are not alone you just take down one of the booth walls and you’re free to talk to whomever you came with. And the ramen is quite nice. And hot. But the restaurant is cold even with the hot ramen and always being packed so I guess it is fair enough.

After lunch I went back to Ueno station to make my reservations for the trip I was planning along the weekend and I decided to go to Ikebukuro again to get a CD I had not bought the day before as I was not sure it was the one I wanted – and the Internet was not cooperating. Once again I had to brave Ikebukuro station and this time I kind of gotten things sorted out! Let’s see how long I manage to remember what to do. Then I headed off to class.

After class I walked over with T. to Yasukuni Jinja [靖國神社] to check the about-to-open Mitama Matsuri (festival), but we did not stay longer than the necessary to get some yakitori and be on our merry way.

11th July 2016: Komagome (I) {Japan, summer 2016}

So since apparently Komagome [駒込] existed before I was aware of it and rented a room there (yeah, who knew (o_o)? People built things here!)

One of the things that were indeed built were the gardens Rikugien [六義園], which for some reason cannot be accessible using the main gate. Don’t ask me (≧∇≦)

The park has a central pond around an island, and… Well, a lot of plants everywhere. In spring it has to be either awesome or an allergic persons’s worst nightmare. In the pond there were koi and turtles.

I had intended to go somewhere else after the gardens, but I realise that I had forgotten my shirt home and I had to come back to get it, else I would freeze in class. So I undid the way and stopped by the local Myogi Jinja [妙義神社].

And as it was Monday, then I went to school. The dynamics had changed a big from the previous week, and it was better. Once again I would have to see the test to evaluate the results. The truth is that I came back home that evening to study more than I had the previous week. \(^o^)/

8th July 2016: 勉強しました, I seriously did… {Japan, summer 2016}

On this day I was at home all morning studying, not sure why because it really did not work all that well ( ̄◇ ̄;). The first week was a review of the previous level in the intensive course, so I found myself in a bit of a disadvantage. I passed it, but by the skin of my teeth. I was not too happy about it but oh well, at that point I’d make up my mind to take the best out of the course, learn as much as I could, and not be huffy or upset or think about how much money I had invested on it.

After the class and test, I headed off to Nakano Broadway [中野ブロードウェイ], which should just be renamed ‘Mandarakeland’ or something as seriously, they are taking over. Leave my TRIO alone, people! There I pondered if I needed a TOKIO bag, and decided that I did need a TOKIO bag for 108¥, and then got some Gackt stuff after the longest convo I’ve ever had with a fan-shop staff member regarding what the hell a free size was (≧∇≦). I also decided I did not need a Yoshikitty key ring for 1500¥.

Then we headed off to show T**y the sights of Tokyo at night from the observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁] in Shinjuku [新宿]. Impressive as always, even if it was cloudy, because you go to the TMGB during the day to look beyond Tokyo, but you want to look at Tokyo at night. One of the most amazing things was that we were alone in the lift! Bloody alone, he and myself, in a TMGB lift (O_o)!!! While he was gawking at the numbers of the floors, I was taking pictures of the empty lift (⌒▽⌒)

I know my priorities.

For the record, getting my bearings around Shinjuku was hard for a bit, mostly because there you can’t really stop and look where you are going or you’ve got to go. And since I was coming out from a line I’d never used before, it was confusing. Then we ended up following the right passageway, but it’s either new or severely renovated, because the ‘street’ we ended up taking was not the one I remembered at all! I might have to explore again from the Yamanote platform.

After that we headed off home because it had been a long hard day.

7th July 2016: Not fishy smelling at all {Japan, summer 2016}

Well this was a new experience, but it made a lot of things gain sense. The famous Tsukiji Market, Tsukiji Shijō [築地市場] is closing down this Autumn and relocating. One of the reasons cited is health issues, cut I can understand why they think that tourists are an extra issue. Even when trying to stay out of the way you are in someone’s way.

Something that keeps fascinating me about Japan is the amount of people working on tourist services that have problems with foreigners and wrinkle their noses when they see you approach. This does not go of course to the fishmongers who were doing their jobs but the lady in the info service when we asked for a map in English. After a while we found s coin locker for T**y’s backpack and I shamelessly threw my books in (≧∇≦)

The Tsukiji Outer Market, Tsukiji Jōgai Shijō [築地場外市場] is packed with little shops mostly oriented to people getting their daily fish, and a lot of kitchen appliances, especially knives. It was bustling with tourists in the way of everybody, and little Japanese ladies examining every post for what they wanted to cook that day. After a while we found our way to the wholesale market.

There was a shrine in the way. Of course it required a visit. The Namiyoke Inari Jinja [波除稲荷神社] is located in the corner between the two markets.

The Tsukiji Wholesale Market, Tsukiji Oroshiuri Shijō [築地卸売市場], was full of… everything ≧(゚ ゚)≦. Fishmongers seemed to have learnt to work their ways around the tourists because they did not even lose their half smirk when they avoided running you to your death with their lil machines. I guess that getting someone killed would screw the day’s sales, as it would be unsanitary. The most impressive thing were the tuna <・ )))><< cutting dealers, with their long knives. Tuna has to be cut in one go, else it ruins the piece. And in case you haven’t seen an actual tuna, we’re easily talking about a two-metre long fish, and fishmongers dealing with one-metre long loin piece. Very cool.

After snooping around for a while we headed off for kaizen sushi with super fresh fish. I felt a little guilty about drinking cola with it, but damn it was hot. Very hot.

From Tsukiji we dropped by Akihabara [秋葉原] and well, there is a Book Off there… Finally we headed off to Iidabashi [飯田橋], where aside from my school, stands Yasukuni Jinja [靖國神社], quite a controversial shrine which enshrines the souls of the fallen in the WWII, which unfortunately involves some of the people considered war criminals.

But as it was Tanabata, they were preparing for a matsuri, and I incorporated that into my plans. I got the shrine seal and a sunburn for my troubles, then I headed towards the school for air-con, I mean some hard work (≧∇≦) there was a test the next day after all and I needed to prepare for that.

One of the good things about my area was that I was on the Yamanote line on one hand, and I had a direct line to my school, so commute was good. After school I went back to the apartment to study because I had a test the next day – don’t ask how it went (≧∇≦;).

6th July 2016: The first incursion {Japan, summer 2016}

As I had to study in the evenings, I tried to get used to early starts. I invited T**y over to Komagome so he could see the local shrine as opposed to the main shrines I was sending him to. Komagome Jinja is a small shrine that we’ll pay more attention in the future – because I was not carrying my camera that day.

I took T**y to Shibuya [渋谷] today as he wanted to take pictures of the crossing. Then we had a look at Tsutaya and had something to drink on the new seventh floor.

After that, we headed off to Tower Records, Tokyu Hands, Mandarake and generally some Shibuya backstreets. Throughout the morning I got myself Kanjani8’s newly released single, and a couple more CDs from Book Off.

After that I headed off to school only to find that the teachers did not like my handwriting in Japanese. Tough luck, this is how it ended up being.

Upon coming back I decided that I needed to do some exploration around the neighbourhood, but for now I would content myself with some takoyaki, which was awfully yummy (future reference: Sunkus takoyaki > Family Mart takoyaki). Then there was studying and organising the room (finally!)

5th July 2016: The start of a new routine {Japan, summer 2016}

As I ended up going up to bed late on Monday, I had a late start on Tuesday. Thus I headed off to Sensō-ji [浅草寺] en Asakusa [浅草] to have a look at the Kamarimon and try to finally get a seal of the temple which last year didn’t work out for some strange reason, most probably having to do with the fact that you have to go to another temple to get it…

After that I headed off to school, because that is after all the reason why I’m here for a month – taking a Japanese language course. Technically it had started the previous day, but hey, I was doing something else and the school offers replacement classes once a week if you miss a day. Thus I was off for four hours of Japanese.

I started looking for a Japanese school a while ago and after an interview with a teacher I was placed on level 1-3, aka 4 because there is a crash course before the first level. In the end I decided for a school named Coto Japanese Language Academy, which was in Iidabashi [飯田橋].

I attended the catch-up lesson first. I was asked why I had been absent the previous day, so that was interesting to explain. By the time I was down in my own classroom apparently every teacher at school knew that I was the random white student into Japanese musicians.

During the first week there was a review of the previous level, which left me at a bit of a disadvantage, as I had no idea what some of the flash cards represented (^◇^;). An old man doing weights strikes 強い (tsuyoi = strong) for me, not 元気 (genki = energetic), so the learning curve was steep. I have to say that in general I was not too happy about the whole first week of classes, but I was willing to hold on for the following. Maybe it is worth noting that this course was the one I was recommended by the academy, not the one I really wanted to take. And about twice as expensive. The dynamics of the class are a speaking where you talk about your day, then some kanji and grammar. Towards the end you are given a short text that you have to reproduce and tweak, and then talk through. It’s a total of three hours per day.

The first week was not bad, but not good either. But I am getting ahead of myself.

After class I headed home to study and do homework, which is what I needed do.