Errrmaahgad, just spent the last hour trying to figure out what this unfamiliar postcard with a sticker on it was. My coworkers told me it was for my travel expenses like rental van and gas from Kitakata to Miharu. Keep in mind that this conversation was in Japanese, which is why most of my sentences are short.
(What do I do with this? I’ve already moved… (>_<)# )
Me: Do I bring in receipts?
“No, they don’t need them.”
Me: Okay, but in my interview, you said you were only paying for me to come to Miharu, not my stuff.
“Yes, that’s right.”
Me: Okay, then do I write my expenses on the back?
“No, they don’t need that either.”
Me: Then what’s this sticker for?
“You pull it off.”
Me: And put it on what? a receipt?
Me: Uhhh, so is this sticker just a present?
**So I go back to my desk and try translating all the kanji on it that I can. Still doesn’t lead me to anything. I start to notice that this postcard looks a lot like a game piece. So I start to hold it up at various angles, shine my bike light through it and try to see if I can read anything through the sticker. Can’t see diddly.**
Finally, my coworker next to me keeps making a peeling motion over my postcard game piece.
(I’m not going to peel this now! What am I going to stick this on now?)
Me: How much money am I going to get?
“Up to 2000￥.”
Me: Okay, when?
“It’s under the sticker.”
Me: Eh, ok… Is this a game?
(???) What? No… [laughter at my expense]
Me: Erg, okay, then how do I get the money?
“By bank transfer”
Me: Then what do I use this sticker for?
Me: (AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGH! That’s it. I’m peeling this sticker off. I don’t even care anymore about it!!)
I am a dummy…
(Oh, wait a minute… This is a receipt telling me how much my paycheck deposit is going to be. Gawd-dangit, I am an idiot.) I’m sorry, everyone.
Just sharing this story to give you a peek of what it’s like to move to another side of the world. My entire week at my new job has been like this.
While using a new app, I found this very helpful tip.
Almost every character has two different readings called 音読み （おんよみ） and 訓読み（くんよみ）. 音読み is the original Chinese reading while 訓読み is the Japanese reading. Kanji that appear in a compound or 熟語 is usually read with 音読み while one Kanji by itself is usually read with 訓読み. For example, 「力」（ちから） is read with the 訓読み while the same character in a compound word such as 「能力」 is read with the 音読み （which is 「りょく」 in this case）.
No one ever mentioned this to me in my almost two years of studying Japanese… The app is called Tae Kim’s Learning Japanese and it can found in the iTunes Store.
If I can recommend one thing for aspiring teachers in Japan, when winter comes close, get some HeatTek from your local home center. It’s fairly cheap (mine cost about 780¥ per shirt/pants) and it works really well when you are active. It’s like Spandex, but a little less stretchy and you wear it under your business clothes. If you have a sedentary job, then it doesn’t work as well (but if you’re too hot, then just relax and it lets you cook off). Just casually moving around the teacher’s room gets me nice and warmed up! Love this stuff. If you don’t have access to a home center, then it is also available on Amazon.co.jp.
So this is a bit of a rant, so I’ll apologize in advance.
When I first came to Japan, I really wanted to trust everyone. My first trip to Japan instilled such an awe-inspiring trust in Japan with how helpful everyone was, I had no other expectation.
But after getting here and getting “ripped off” at some snack bars and some surprise charges here and there, I’ve sadly restricted how much trust I’ve been giving people. One person that kind of bothered me lately was my old senpai.
So my friend messaged me about two weeks ago saying, “How do you feel about abandoned amusement parks?”. I was hooked immediately and inquired about it more. My friend showed me a page on Atlas Obscura for Takakanonuma Greenland, an old Japanese amusement park. http://atlasobscura.com/place/takakonuma
Per Atlas Obscura’s reference, the park was shut down in 1999 and left behind to rust. Many intrepid urban explorers has dared to venture into this place and see this eerily creepy place in person to take some wonderful pictures. Immediately, plans went into action with my friend to plan a road trip here since we both easily lived close enough to make a small road trip out of it. We knew somewhat about where it was located, but not exactly. In fact, even AO mentions that the park has become so obscure that people don’t know where it is located. So I began the great Internet search to find out where this park is located.
Since I’ve came to Japan, I’ve had to get used to buying things in yen instead of dollars. Unfortunately, it’s been a little hard for me adjust. Mostly because I’ll look at a pair of sandals that are 3000¥ and think ‘Ahh, that’s so expensive!’ when they’re really only about $40. Haha
When I first came to Japan, I definitely had a shroud over my head thinking that society here was overall better. More understanding, more civil and more polite. Well, after some tough experiences, that shroud’s been ripped away. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Japan and I enjoy my job, but it just wasn’t the mecca I was imagining.
Below is one example of things (this no-dancing law) that just down-right doesn’t make sense and I think is being abused because of Japan’s extremely conservative views. My friends, unfortunately, had to experience this last week when they went out to a dance club in Roppongi and had to stand perfectly still while in a danceclub. Really? That’s just silly.
Part of me wonders how Japan is going to change in the next 20 years or so when the people that are my age become the new people guiding the economy and government. Will we meld-minds with the current politicians or will the youth of Japan open up their viewpoints a little more and get rid of abusive laws like this? Interesting to think about, I say…
So I got a small ocarina at the recycle shop today for a few bucks. Decided to lay down some jams to influence your ear-holes. Have fun!
(Seriously, I know the sound of this ocarina is terrible, but it’s still fun to play)