Three Months

Last Saturday marked my three month anniversary in Japan. In other words I have been in Japan for 25% of my scheduled stay. It’s hard to imagine that so much has already passed. Looking back at when I first came I realize how much I have learned not only about the Japanese language but also the Japanese culture. I’ve gone from being the “new guy” to one of the experienced guys. What’s even more intimidating is that after Juan and Mathieu leave, I will be one of the most knowledgeable ones in the Japanese language.

I’ve already been trying to build up my base of Japanese friends. I plan on going to a few international exchange parties to also make some friends. More and more I find myself doing stuff on my own. I’ve become used to everyday life in Japan and I am starting to grow more and more distanced from American culture. I joke around that when I go to a convenience store back in the United States I am going to say “arigatou” and also bow a ton.

Sometimes I do get the ocassional homesickness. Usually it is nothing big though, although I would kill a man for a burito from Freebirds right now. In the end though I am having the time of my life. From the first weekend in Tokyo where I stayed up all night for about 48 hours, to the crazy time I had in Thailand, and even to the relaxing weekends that I spent eating bentos and watching anime in my apartment I have had fun so far. One thing that I have made a point to do is to exercise more. I go running with Levi (American) five days a week. Hopefully before too long I can shed a few of those extra lbs. Also I want to do a lot more outdoors type things. This weekend I am going with a bunch of people from work to Mount Ooyama. It should be pretty fun and I’ll be sure to take pictures. It is going to be nice not having a weekend with a hangover for once.

Haircuts in Japan

Well since I have been in Japan I have only got my haircut twice. I tend to like shorter hair so this is somewhat unusual for me. Anyways the reason I haven’t gone as much as I did in the States is because I simply didn’t know what to do. I have dirty blond hair which isn’t common in Japan. I wasn’t quite sure whether to go to a fancy salon where they may have more experience or just a regular barber. Here are the experiences I had.

My first attempt for a haircut was a bit more pricey and quite honestly not worth it. Talking to Marco (Italian) he said that he went to a place kind of close to the station called “Cover with Earth”. He said that the service was very good and that they spoke broken English pretty well for Japan. The downside was that it cost about 4000 yen. Anyways, I figured to bite the bullet and just go there. When I got there and went in they welcomed me and asked for my name. After the normal gaijin spelling of my name they took me back and started shampooing my hair. They did a damn good job with the shampoo. The girl doing it paid very close attention to detail and they seemed to be using high end shampoo. The seat was typical Japanese size so I had to slouch down in order for my head to line up correctly with the seat.

Anyways after the shampoo was the cut. He asked me what I wanted and I figured I would just say “tekitou ni niau no harustairu wo shite kudasai” (please cut in a fashion that suits me). I didn’t really say much else about length or anything which looking back at it was a mistake. So anyways he started cutting and styling my hair.

In the end, I got a fauxhawk hairstyle. It wasn’t my type of thing and honestly that was the last day that it was actually up and styled. Anyways going into wasn’t really too worried. After another shampoo and 4000 yen less I was done. Looking back I should have said something more, but this place seemed a little out of my league to begin with. I was used to getting $15 haircuts at pro/super clips back in the states so to go to an actual salon was different.

The second time I went for a haircut was last Thursday. Randy told me that the place he goes to is close to the station and is relatively inexpensive. It was called something like “Popeye”. This time I went with Steve. Immediately when walking in I knew that this place was a little bit closer to my standards. It was a little bit more down to earth and more for normal people.

When I got to the seat they must have wrapped my shoulders with at least three layers of towels. He asked me what I wanted. I told him to do a hairstyle that suited me, but I also gave him specifics about the length to cut. finger-length. He asked me also if he could use clippers (mashiinu wo shite mo ii desu ka) which threw me off at first, but after he pointed to the clippers I understood. I’ll have to admit that he did a damn good job. He paid attention to detail and it seemed like he was very experienced even with my different gaijin hair. At the end he told one of the students working there to finish up. This was a bit different. They got shaving cream and actually shaved the parts under the back of my neck and behind my ears. It was pretty neat.

Anyways as I was finishing up with my haircut Steve was about to start his. Steve (who I have linked on the blog friends) spoke very limited Japanese. I explained that to them and they smiled and chuckled a little. I tried to translate for him but something got lost in translation. In the end though Steve said that they cut his hair pretty well.

This haircut only ended up being about 1200 yen, but since he did such a good job I tipped him (which is unheard of in Japan apparently). I will definitely be going back to this place the remainder of my time in Japan.

Japanese Vocab Lesson 02

Now for some vocab out of my language exchange emails.

卓球 – たっきゅう – Ping pong – The second kanji is also used for 野球 (baseball). The first kanji almost looks like a ping pong table with only one leg.

返す – かえす – Verb, to return something – The kanji has the little sgwiggly from 道. The other part vaguely reminds me of someone mooning someone. Think that someone just flipped you off on the road and they are returning it by mooning them (I told you my way of remembering is weird).

飼う – かう – Verb, to raise/domesticate (a pet) – At first I tried to use 持っています but my language exchange corrected me. The kanji has the character for “eat” in it so I can remember this by saying when you raise a pet you give it stuff to eat.

気が立つ – きがたつ – Expression, to be excited – The kanji is pretty easy to remember for this one. 気 as in 元気 and then the kanji for stand up. So in essence, to be excited is to lively stand up.

通う – かよう – Verb, to go back and forth/commute – Has the same sgwiggly for road. You use a road to commute.

お互いに – おたがいに – Expression, together, mutually -The kanji looks like two people shaking hands from an overhead view.

言葉 – ことば・けとば – Noun, language/term/word – The first kanji is “to say” and the second kanji is the kanji for paper. Words are written on paper.

携帯 – けいたい – Noun, Cell Phone – This one is hard, but the second kanji vaguely looks like a cell phone?

洋楽好 – ようがく – Noun, western music – The second two kanji are the characters for music (I remember because the first one looks like a speaker).

I think that is enough for now. For some reason I have been on a Japanese vocab binge for the past couple of days. I have seven language exchanges going simultaneously so I think I overdosed. I am still going to try to keep it up though, although hopefully I can make some real blog posts before too long.

Japanese Vocab Lesson 01

Well I figure one way of studying is to watch anime. While I tend not to like to get an otaku/nerd aura, usually anime is simple enough that I can make out bits and pieces. An idea I have is to watch an episode or parts of an episode and record any vocab that I have to look up. The following is from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu episode two. I must warn everyone though, the way I remember kanji is very unique. I am just going to write down the first thing that comes to mind. It might be something really weird, but if it works for me I don’t care.

安心 – あんしんする - Verb, To be relieved. – First kanji looks like kanji for woman (but is a little different), second kanji is kanji for “worry”, when I am with a woman, I am relieved of my worries.

昔 – むかし – Noun, olden times. – Kanji vaguely looks like an old man’s face squinting.
With this word, you can say something like “昔からTimはへんな女が好きだね” and it will mean something to the effect of “Tim has always liked weird girls, right?”

さて – Well, now, then – There is about three different kanjis for this one. Kind of a good random filler word to know.

驚天動地 – きょうてんどうち – Noun, outstanding, astonishing – A very strong word to describe something that is unbelievable.

偶然 – ぐうぜん – Adjective, unexpected, chance – Apparently it can also be used as “coincidence”

天才 – てんさい – Noun, genius, prodigy – The first kanji is for heaven, and the second looks like a mentally retarded person holding out his hands. Sometimes the mentally diseased are ridiculously genius.

凡人 – ぼんじん - Noun, average/ordinary person – First kanji looks really easy and whoever made it is really lazy, or an ordinary person.

That concludes the first vocab lesson. Hopefully I will do more and more of these as time goes on. I need to study and build my vocab as much as possible. This is only from a small segment of the episode so I will try to post more and more.