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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

You want newspaper? I give! I give!

Getting there, getting there.

This time tomorrow my first kanji exam will be over. When I pass, I will receive my first ever kanji certficate, hurrah! The harder the tests get, the bigger the certificates become! Fingers crossed.

Today was a looong day. I was woken at 7.45am by *Twinkle*'s head appearing at the top of the stepladder. She'd been away for about 10 days in Kansai, and despite having taken the overnight bus back from Osaka, (and thus having not really slept for 24 hours) was still fairly energetic upon arrival...

Our Japanese reading class was quite intersting, focusing on student's study habits However, for some reason that escapes me know we spent the last 20 minutes discussing what women in Japan have to put up with at the hands of men (barely a day goes by without a headline that reads something like today's Yokohama official arrested for groping woman on morning train). Shoes with built in mirrors / digital cameras to facilitate up-skirt peeking, and precautions to take when riding on an escalator were also discussed. I tried to not appear to be too knowledgable on the subject.

I then had a break for a couple of hours, perfect for kanji study - or sleeping in the library for that matter... then it was the dreaded Multicultural Theory class. The one taught in Japanese, that I don't understand, and in which I had to give a talk about what Rastafarianism meant to me as a Brit. A Brit who went to the Hereford 6th Form College, and hung out with friends in the local park every lunchtime getting stoned, influenced to a degree by Reggae and so forth. Well, it certainly woke them up. I swear Japanese students believe in subliminal learning, i.e. learning when asleep.

That seemed to go down ok, and then the sexual theme of the day continued with an examination of Japan's Maid Cafes (where all the waitresses are dressed up in little frilly outfits straight out of manga - once again influenced by school girl uniforms which I mentioned last week were the starting point for the current trend of wearing ridiculously short shorts and knee length boots, even if it bloody freezing and pissing it down with rain).

It's hard to escape from "fashion" over here. Looking through the Rikkyo student mag I was surprised to find several pages devoted to photos of current students on campus, detailing what they're wearing. I can't quite imagine (Sheffield Uni's) Steel Press doing that. In Sheffield I don't get the feeling that I get here, that is, that the girls have put considerable effort into deciding what to wear. having said that, look at the Goth culture that has emerged around Devonshire Green (Sheffield) on a Sunday! It's staggering how many teenagers gather there, all dressed in black, big shiney leather trenchcoats and dishevelled miniskirts. The only difference is, if they were in Japan, they would have been photographed many times, had the phenomena that they are described in the fashion mags, and catergorised so as to take their appropriate place in Society. Instead, they just gather on Devonshire Green every fortnight and frighten the foreign exchange students who live in Victoria Hall. Everyone else ignores them. "They'll grow out of it one day".

Back home and I knocked the carton of orange juice on the floor over. It's turned distictly autumnish, and I'd like to turn the heater on. But no, the environmentalist in me tells me to put another jumper on instead, which I do.

I get distracted by the news, damn the convenience of RSS. If that young guy who knocked on the door last Sunday seriously expects me to take out a subscription for the Yomiuri Shimbun he's going to be dissapointed when he comes back next weekend. I told him I got all my news off the net. I told him I never read newspapers (apart from the Guardian, a daily copy of which we have at uni), but he still insisted on giving me a week's free trial, no obligation. I told him time and time again, no thanks, but he seemed to think that as a gaijin I was just missing the point. "Furee, Furee, no manee!" he said in his best English; I assured him that I could understand the Japanese equivilant that he had used up to that point perfectly well, and that no matter what language he spoke I still didn't want the paper. He was not to be put off however, and handed me the usual 2 boxes of washing powder (it is customary to receive washing powder as a free intro gift in such situations. One then palms these off on one's neighbours as "Hello, I'm your new neighbour" presents), which we don't need, before jumping on his scooter and dissapearing down the road. I now have a pile of newspapers beside me that is growing larger by the day...

Hmm, perfect for mopping up spilt orange juice.


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