“qué pensarán de nosotros en japón-pon”

9/30/11   –   22:37

There’s no specific destination or revelation to base this post around, so it’s going to be sort of scatter-shot in nature [and by scatter-shot I really mean boring, sorry]. Think of them as little vignettes. Impressionistic looks into… jk I’m just bullshitting. Here’s some random observations on my life and the world around me.

~ ~

– There is a small vehicle that comes around every once in a while in the mornings blaring some weird enka-sounding vaguely militaristic music. The sound quality places the audio file somewhere in the 50s or 60s. I am unsure whether I should be concerned. I have decided not to be.

– I’ve realized that I’ve formed a dependency on American television. This isn’t uncommon, I guess, cause it definitely happened while I was in Spain too. I hinge on every new episode of the Office, and I’m keeping tabs on Glee as well.

Speaking of the Office, I posted the first foreign language confession on officeconfessions.tumblr.com. I’m so god-damn productive. [-_-;;]

~ ~

Conversation Corner with お母さん:

I’ve been talking to my host-mom more and more. We talk at dinner and after class and in the mornings and on the way to the city office and at the supermarket. Here are excerpts from some of our tête-à-têtes.

– I talked about how it was really difficult for most Americans to distinguish between Chinese, Korean, and Japanese people. Host-mom agreed, but said that she could easily pick them apart. And then I let her take the alllooksame.com test. She got less than half of them right lol. [ほんまに難しいなー!]

– After doing my reading for culture class about Zainichi Koreans, I decided to ask host-mom what she thought about people who were born and raised in Japan but are of Korean descent. Are they Japanese? Host-mom says: 「その人は日本人だけど、日本人じゃないね。」 “Those people are Japanese but they aren’t ‘Japanese.'” I thought this odd to say, but then she said 「ライアンと一緒。フィリピンで生まれたけど、アメリカに育った。フィリピン人だけど、フィリピン人じゃない。」 “But you’re the same too. You were born in the Philippines but raised in America. So you’re Filipino, but you’re not Filipino.” And she’s right. I hold no political ties to the mother country. The bonds are only cultural. This is easy to accept in America because if an “American” traces their history back beyond 200 years, almost everyone has their roots in another country. However, in Japan, it’s a little harder to do, especially when recent imperial history comes into play. But, like many things, any negative connotation or discrimination is being corrected as time goes on, I believe. Hooray for acceptance!

– The most recent conversation was me explaining my family situation and my life and how australian accents are hot and the economy and my future plans and a little about the japanese owner of the marijuana cafe I went to in Holland and the evolution of the Japanese language and basically everything. I was pleasantly surprised by my ability to hold out on my own. This makes me feel accomplished. Of course I had to look up things like “comfort threshold,” “financial stability,” and “rebellion” but for the most part, I had no problem expressing myself and that’s pretty awesome. It’s times like these that I feel like I’m not just treading water, but that I’m actually moving somewhere with my 日本語能力. [This is ironic considering I can not actually tread water.]

~ ~

Mini 日本製品コーナー

Suntory Green Espresso

Price: 117円

Description: I bought it because it had a cool sumi-e inspired commercial and the bottle looked very bad-ass. I actually don’t know what it is, but I assume that it’s maccha green tea mixed with coffee of some sort.

Pro: Awesome commercial. Awesome bottle.

Con: I am not drinking the commercial or the bottle. It’s a mix of two things that are naturally bitter: black coffee and maccha tea. I am not a fan.

Rating: 3/10

ファファ Washing [Detergent]

Price: [?]

Description: A powder detergent that host-mom buys for laundry. “FaFa Washing will make it all white!”

Pro: Smells nice. Gets rid of stains.

Con: “will make it all white!” is a very scary tagline for a general purpose detergent. Definitely thought it was bleach the first time I used it and freaked out because I just put it in with all my colors. Also, definitely a rip off of the Snuggle teddy bear.

Rating: 7/10 for working. 2/10 for working as advertised

~ ~

– I finished my first non-manga Japanese book recently. It was one of Haruki Murakami’s books that was never translated. I don’t care if it was for children. I don’t care if there were little pictures on every 5th page. There was no furigana and I read the whole thing. The story was good as expected, but the ending was very Murakami. And by that I mean, it ended abruptly with a lot that you had to take at face value. Now, Murakami is one of my favorite authors, but his endings make me want to throw the book at the wall. Even in Japanese.

– In Pilgrimage class we have a few Japanese students mixed in with us foreigners. Sometimes the teacher asks them if they’ve gone to such and such famous shrine or if they know about some religious practice. More often than not, the answer is no. I was thinking about that and came to the conclusion that traditional things may be famous abroad but for Japanese, they may be seen as just stuff that happens. Of course most Japanese are proud of their culture, but it may be just a background thing for people. And this is understandable. To draw American parallels: I’m not proud of the custom of Thanksgiving per se. Good for you if you’re into civil war re-enactments. They’re just events that happen in America the way I see it. And similarly, my host-mom has never been to Fushimi Inari shrine even though she lives 20 minutes away by train. I have never been to Key West even though my home is in South Florida. I guess that means we’re even.

~ ~

– Julia and I told our friend Aji that we were going to a vending machine.

“What machine?”
“A vending machine.”
“Fighting machine.”
“Vending machine.”
“Fighting machine.”

“Yes. Fighting machine. We’re going to the fighting machine.”

– Miina is from Norway and she’s in my Reading and Writing class. On our vocab lists, she says that sometimes she doesn’t get the English they use. For example: 緩和 – mitigation. “What the hell is mitigation?” I looked at her paper and saw that she wrote down the equivalent in Norwegian. It looked something like this:

avslapping

I told her to pronounce it. And my suspicions were correct. It definitely sounds like “ab-slapping.” Except it’s more like “obv-shlopping.” I proceded to shlop my pretend obvs.

– Winter break plans are almost complete. Although I haven’t asked other people yet, I think it’s going to end up being me and Andrea [because of the cost x_x]. I was thinking about it in my head and said “Hm. Five weeks of travel together? I guess it’s gonna be super-bondage time!” And then I realized how awkward that sounded.

~ ~

Oh and as for the featured song:

En vez de lo que piensan de nosotros, creo que la canción me dice más sobre lo que Calle Trece piensa de Japón.

And frankly, Calle Trece, al escuchar las letras, it kinda sorta makes you sound like a racist prick.

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