It has been officaily two and a half weeks since I arrived in Nisshin. So far the language barrier hasn’t been too horrible. I expected to struggle much more with the drastic culltural changes.
Monday marked the first day of placement testing. We had up to three days of testing ahead of us depending on our knowedge level. The first day started at 9:00 am and ran till around 1:00pm.
Tuesday was the second and thankfully the last day of testing for me. I found the Aikido club and was able to watch a bit of their pratice. They kindly invited me to lunch once they were done. I was able to try soba noodles for the first time. I must say that although they were good ramen is still my favorite.
Wednesday was a lazy quiet day after the intense testing of Monday and Tuesday. Kim and I spent the day riding after we stopped an bought cell phones.
Saturday morning I had my first Aikido practice. It’s been about three months since I did aikido and I’m still a beginner so it was very hard. We were invited by one of the sempai from last semseter to go to Sakae ( a nearby city). However, we ended up going by ourselves because they were leaving for Sakae at 6 and we couldn’t leave till about 7. So me and my friend went to Sakae. To get there we had to bike to the bus stop, ride the bus to Hongo station and then take the train into Sakae. It was like stepping off the train into New York. There were neon lights and cars everywhere. We found a little (and I mean little the entire place was a square room with a bar along the outside to sit at the the kitchen in the middle) resturant to eat at before going to arcade. By 10:45 we we’re headed back to the station to catch the train home. We made it to Hongo but we had missed the last bus back to Nisshin. So we decided to walk. I later found out that we miss read the sign and we just had to wait 15 more mintues and we could have ridden the bus.
It was a bit of an adventure. We got about half way there before I needed to find a bathroom. It was around 12:30 at night so almost everything was closed. The only things open were two bars (one had some questionable looking patrons inside) and an adult entertainment store. We chose the nicer looking bar ( called Kizuna) and meet some very nicce Japanese people. It was actually a very small resturant similar to the one we had eaten in earlier in Sakae. We walked in and the owner was behind the counter. He took one look at us and turns and yells “English!”. One of the waiters came out and asked us what we needed. After using the bathroom we sat down, ate, and chatted for a while before we resumed our long walk. We went for about an half hour more before we realized that we were lost again. So we stopped in at a family mart and asked for directions. The worker kindly drew us a map. We set off with our new guidance and 20 minutes later we were back at the mart. We had made a complete circle. So after purchasing some drinks we set off again, this time we followed the directions correctly (actually the guy had left out a street light so it wasn’t entirely our fault). Finally at around 3:30am with limping feet we made it back to our bikes. From there it was a brief 5 minute ride back to our rooms and the adventure ended successfully.
Although Japan is a very safe place. I would not advise walking home alone at night. There was two of us then and we had a fairly good sense of where we were going but we were still really careful about where we went.
Sunday there was a festival in Nisshin where we got to see various dance performances, try and catch goldfish and eat delicous food. We got thre goldfish but later set them free in a near by brook. Afterwards we made a return trip to Kazuma and just sat and relaxed. I spent part of the time doing sketches of the bar partons and servers. It was fun seeing all of the people and praticing my Japanese. Getting to know them made me want to learn Japanese even faster so that I can understand them better.