Thursday, 14 May 2009

Meet the Yamazaki's Part One: It's a beautiful day!

I already posted this elsewhere to which I got a variety of positive reviews. So I might as well chuck it here too.Update on my trip to the girlfriends house!

Heres some backstory:

Basically, my girlfriend finally told her parents that she has a boyfriend. This is infact the first time she told her parents that she has one. The fact that I'm a foreign menace just makes the news more interesting. Initially the lass was told by her mother that she should break up with me ASAP to avoid any heartbreak. According to my girlfriend, her mother is of the opinion that foreigners in Japan are mere emotionless playboys. Upon hearing that I decided it would be good to meet the family and justify myself you do.

Well I arrived with her outside Shizuoka station to a rather stern looking man standing infront of his car eying my each step rather causiously. He aproached me and quietly said "How do you do (literally)" and quickly looked away, too quick for me to even give a response, in English or Japanese. Essentially leaving me to respond with a confused Janglish style "Pleased to Hajimemashite you" making me look like a total dork. Do first impressions count?

Initially I was fearing meeting the mother as she was the one who told her that she should break up with me because I`m a foreigner. Whereas on the otherhand, she told me her father likes to speak English all the time. So far I got cold looks from the father. If this is anything to go by, then the mother is going to be a riot.

Anyway, we got in the car and they were talking about things that have passed since she was last there. I mean fair enough, its been half a year since he`s seen his daughter so I had no problem just sitting there looking out at the frankly quite beautiful setting that Shizuoka has to offer. Suddenly it fell silent. He adjusts his wind mirror to me and starts to ask me a couple of questions (in Japanese).

"Gakusei?" he asked."
Thats right, an exchange student to be exact" I responded.
"So when are you here until?"
"Oh I still have till the end of the academic year if I want, but I`m thinking of leaving quite early around August, got some preparations to do fo my final year, graduation and job hunting"
This was the first time I saw him smile. He asked "Oh, preparation is important indeed. Wont August be a bit late to go back though?" The sly dog. The questions paused and he concentrated on the road, leaving all three of us silent for a while. I had a feeling that this was going to be a long car ride.

The questions that followed were the same type of ones we all get from Japanese people who we meet for the first time. "Do you like Natto? Sake? Fish? Japanese Culture? etc etc" The more I answered his questions, the better the conversation got. He seemed rather impressed that I could speak Japanese, to which he started to can the formalities of asking typical gaijin questions and actually made various compliments about both my appearance and my prospects for my future endeavours. I think he was kinda testing me - he actually was a really nice guy who naturally was just a bit weary about his daughter having a foreign boyfriend. Though I have a feeling that the reception would have been the complete opposite if I wasn`t Japanese literate. I guess it does go to show that language is pretty damn important for impressing the parents. The long car ride became pleasant.

Not long after, we arrived at the house to where the final boss was prowling - The Mother. Kozue`s (girlfriends name) customary bleat of 「ただいま!」(I`m home!) got my heart racing as I knew that within the next couple of seconds, I would be face to face with her. 「お帰りなさい!」(Welcome home!) the beast rupturiously responded. Each sound she made from her footsteps to the front door began to fall in tandem to the beating of my heart - suffice to say, I was shitting myself. I had my gift ready like it was a crucifix. Clutching it ready like there was no tomorrow.She flicks the switch and her shadow appears. From that shadow appears her and....I`ll tell you the rest and what happened tomorrow evening. Sadly its now 3:44 and I have classes tomorrow.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

I'm a total baka!


Man, yesterday was a pretty special day in which I behaved like a spesh.

I spent the day with my mate Morrell, and we were walking around Shinjuku and Akihabara looking for cheap Nintendo DSs so we can get that cheap kanji/japanese language game for it! Sadly, they were all the same price (quite high) so we decided not to get one, and left.

Here's the special part...

It was about half 3 at the time and we were going to meet our Japanese mates in Yotsuya at around 5pm, so we decided to kill some time and head over to Harajuku to buy delicious crepes. We got the ticket (160 yen) and proceeded to the Akihabara platform....we got on the train and relaxed. We were in the middle of a massive conversation throughout this and didn't realise that we had got on THE WRONG TRAIN! The way we discovered this was though the ability to look out of the train window to find a sign NOT for Harajuku, but a sign for YOKOHAMA?!?! Another clue was the fact that we were riding past vasts spaces of farmland to which I thought "whoa...I didn't know there were farms in central Tokyo..."..

Right, so anyway...we quickly got off at Yokohama station and immediately got on a train going in the opposite direction. Another schoolboy error...this only made matters worse as we ended up in a place called Hachiko... We thought we could Gaijin smash our way through the barriers and get the Odakyu to Shinjuku...but that train would be so we decided to use our brains for once and get back to Shinjuku using local JR trains... Needless to say, we started our journey to Harajuku at half past 3...we arrived at around half past took us 3 HOURS to get to a place that would normally take a non-spesh less than 20 minutes...

But I guess on the bright side of things...we managed to get all around Kanto for the princely sum of 160 yen!

Anyways, the people we had made wait for about an hour and a half weren't too bothered by it - in fact, they found it pretty funny! Anyways, I needed a beer after this adventure so we all proceeded to an Izakaya, followed by a trip to a Karaoke place. Many beers did I quaff and many songs did I warble (probably not the correct verb...if you know a pretentious way to say sing...please drop me a comment!!). T'was a great ending to the night indeed.

If you're reading this Woody, unless you don't already know, they DO have Dschingis Khan at the Karaoke (in German!)! I pyar belted we need to duo that sumbitch this weekend or whatever!

Oh, and I got a haircut too!
Think I was a bit cunted there. You tell by the way my legs are! But the person to my left is Kanako - a friend who was an exchange at my home University. We randomly stumbled across eachother during our swagger home! Small world!

Right I best sign out. Im using my mate's uni pc (Sophia University) in the computer room, and I think Im attracting confused chaps who're passing by!

Yokohama tomorrow!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

I`ve hit land!

First, let me apologise for any dodgy punctuation I use in the following post. Basically, I find Japanese keyboards really hard to use...but I suppose I`ll get used to it with time...

Anyways....I'm here!! This is now my second time in Japan! Its pretty cool though, I mean, I'm not all that confused when I walk around etc - at least compared to last year when basic things such as the Japanese garbage system baffled my mind! But I`m already getting my hands dirty and using Japanese pretty much all the time! I`m still crap at it, but its still quite cool that I can manage a pretty decent conversation with a random person etc! I suppose these two years of learning Japanese has finally paid off a wee bit!

Getting here was kinda hell though! I left Liverpool for a National Express coach at 10am on the 27th, and I arrived in Japan at around 10pm on the 28th! That`s pretty much a day and half (or an entire day on my body clock!)! Surprising though that I`m not jet lagged at all. I suppose it was due to the fact that we arrived in the evening and pretty much fell asleep not long after getting to Kohei`s house - thus waking up at a healthy morning time of around 8am (which is normally pretty rare for a chap like me!!) This is also the main reason that I haven`t been able to contact people for the last couple of days. The fact that we defy the theory of relativity and all that pa lava when we fly to the other side of the world - I was separated from the norms of the space time continuum - thus I was not able to read\reply to any emails.. sorry!

For the last couple of days I have been hanging around Tokyo going to arcades with mates, having the odd few pint etc. Its been pretty cool. I also met up with some of Kohei`s mates who`re really cool too. We had a couple of goes at some shooting game where you shoot certain prizes off n stuff...and I managed to win some little Lilo and Stitch doll! But due to having no bag to store it in, I just gave it to Yuri (Kohei`s friend). I'm such a gent, aye!?

Anyways, as I don't start uni til the 3rd, I'm currently staying at my friend Kohei`s house. The hospitality has been so great!! I really feel quite embarrassed that I have pretty much nothing to offer in return! Though I did give the family some gifts (I brought a Liverpool/Gerrard football scarf and a Beatles "Hey Jude" shirt、and my friend Joe brought some Yorkshire tea with some ginger shortbreads. They did seem quite happy with em, so I was pretty made up!

Anyways, I might update again in a day or two, when I get my laptop wired up to the net. Typing with a Japanese keyboard is such a bloody chore! But don't worry, I have more random crap to tell..just when I find a good and civilised form of inputting equipment (IE said BRITISH keyboard!)

Righto! I`m off to meet a mate in Seijo!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

NEW BAND!!: Beatleship Yamato!

That's right folks! Move over Lennon and McCartney, Simon and Garfunkel, Flea and Kiedis and so on! The Beatleship Yamato is making landfall in a dodgy Shinjuku back street near you! The combined intellectual forces of Hereward "Genghis-Tron" Feldwick and Jimmy "groinal protuberance" Van Halen are on course to busk you musical tastes back into shape!

In other words, we've decided to go busking together whilst we're in Japan. I've already sorted two songs (albeit, lyric-less) which are pretty darn catchy! We just need to add some Engrish slogans and stuff! I can almost smell the fabric in our dressing room at our fully sold out Tokyo Dome gig!! So without further ado, let's writing songs! If Woody is serious about this busking idea, I may just invest in a video camera to record our epoch-making busks!

In other news. There's only seven days left until I depart from Heathrow airport. I'm pretty much sorted now. I'm not too bothered about packing yet as I'm not bringing THAT much. Although, I have been advised by some Japanese nationals that I should bring some British souvenirs with me. So I'm going up to Somerfield later to pick up some little snacks - y'know things like Scottish shortbreads, Yorkshire tea boxes, maybe even some Black Pudding!! I hope they appreciate it!

I've also just booked my coach to Heathrow which came to 28 bones DIRECT! Its 6 hours in a sweaty bus, but as its just a one way trip, I'm not all that bothered!

As for what I'm doing at the moment? Virtually nothing at all! I'm so bored beyond belief at the moment. Theres nothing for me to do but read kanji cards and drink flagonsized cups of tea! I just wish this 7 day wait was in fact 7 hours (hell, even nanoseconds)!

Right, that's me sorted. Going to make yet another cup of tea and watch Steve Wilkos! Ciao!

Here's Splen with "Just For Men"

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Tokyo in T-Minus 8 days 15 hours 12 minutes and 29 seconds.

Ahoy blog stalkers, and welcome to my page! For those who have the pleasure of NOT knowing me, allow me to take it away by introducing myself.

My name is James Connor, I'm 22 and I study at the University of Sheffield. Personally, I prefer not to be called James asit just reminds me of my childhood of being told off ("James! Go to school!", "James! Don't pick your nose!", "James! Take off that dress!", "James! Where has that finger been?!" etc). So I'd prefer it you can refer to me as one the following; Connor, Jimmy, Jay, or if I'm near any karaoke aparatus, please refer to me by my alias "Jimmy Van Halen".

Those who may know me in real life will know that I'll be heading off to Japan for an entire year in 9 days time! I'm still amazed and I often pinch myself as I still can't believe that I've managed to make it this far on my course. Heck, I was convinced that I would fail in the first semester of the first year and end up working as a rentboy by Christmas. Thankfully I am happy to say that my body is NOT for sale, and that I'm still in uni - hell, even with a pretty decent average score!

Unfortunately, I happen to be incredibly unorganised. I have not done any packing, shopping for clothes, nor have I even bothered to organise a farewell piss up with my mates! I'm such a shit mate, aye? But I'll probably sort that out today anyway!! More important is the fact that I haven't revised any Japanese, at all. When I finished the 2nd year I think our group knew an average of about 1000 kanji or something. However as of today, I'm convinced that I can barely write a third of that amount! So without further ado, I've decided to study Japanese from today.

I was thinking of going to the local library and making a crap-load of flashcards and reading through my 日本語能力試験1・2級レベル (Japanese language proficiency test: Level 1 and 2)books that were generously given to me by Jon Perry who has since graduated! I'm still grateful, Jon! However, despite this supposed astute level of enthusiasm to study, I'm currently quite content on reading through my kanji book whilst listening to the Scottish musings of GMTV's Lorraine Kelly as she tries to give advice to women who are 10 time better looking than she could ever be.

I must apologise for how boring this blog entry is! This is obviously due to the fact that I'm yet to arrive in Japan, and if I'm honest...I'm just sitting in the living room in my housecoat (dressing gown) watching said GMTV 'woman'. I'm also aware that I've not yet painted a clear enough picture of myself to those who don't know me. But fear not stalkers! I'm sure you'll learn more about me throughout the year as I progressively update my blog with pretentious anecdotes about things in Japan that my classmates will probably talk about too in their blogs!

Once I arrive in Japan, I'll be setting a few objectives, but as of right now, please leave me to Lorraine Kelly. Thank you.

I am the Gakusei (goo goo g'joob) and I bid you farewell!
Here, have the Beatles in Yiddish.