Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Usually when I write a blog entry, I try to find one topic to write about, and to talk about it in such a way that if my English teacher were dead, she would not be turning in her grave. Lately I'm finding it much harder to do so, either because the number of topics I want to write about is increasing, or because my lack of spoken English has finally started eating away at the part of my brain which makes things legible. Either way, I'm sorry in advance, but this entry is going to be a haphazard collection of rather disconnected happenings which are not intellectual in the slightest, and probably completely uninteresting to anybody who isn't actually interested in me. So yeah, sorry.

First of all, I've finally actually started to make some friends in Japan, because I've stayed at this guesthouse long enough to consider the other people that are staying here friends. I guess they're your average Japanese people - they go to work, come home from work, eat food, and then go to work again the next day after sleeping. Most of my time with them involves the "eat food" part of their lives, which means pretty much every day I get to eat good, home-cooked Japanese food if I want. Food is about the only thing that the friendship involves though - my lack of Japanese and their lack of free time really makes it hard to get to know them well. About the most interesting thing I could tell you about them is that they don't seem too worried about not really knowing anyone outside of home and work.

I was kind of lying when I implied those were the only friends I had though - I've also get friends at church. I see them once a week and pretend to understand whats going on, much like at an Australian church. And I also met some complete randoms who I decided to hang out with the next day. These randoms aren't exactly you're average Japanese though - one of them makes money (or tries to) by selling chai tea at cherry blossom viewing parties, and the other drives literally the biggest car I have ever seen in Japan while carrying around a poodle dressed in kids clothes. The first day I met them, I told them that I was looking for a job in Japan. The girl who drives the big car said "is working in a cafe alright? with a low wage?" - I said yes, and she promptly called her friend who owns a cafe. She didn't talk to him though, she handed me the phone, and I struggled to try and ask "do you have any work" in Japanese. I failed miserably and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be working at that cafe any time soon, but it was a good start for my probably-doomed-to-fail job search.

Following the theme of not really having a theme, I bought some awesome-looking muesli from an import shop the other day. It is strange that you can only buy Japanese-made muesli in imported food shops, but that is going on a tangent. I really splashed out on this muesli, so I was really, really looking forward to eating it. So as you can imagine, I was sorely disappointed when it tasted like something my dad cooked when I was a lot younger (he can cook now). So disappointed in fact, that I started writing this:

"As well as price and serving size, completely forget what you know about how food tastes, especially if you actually think you know what it might taste like... Knowing this didn't stop me from getting excited at the prospect of eating this expensive muesli I bought from an import shop, at least until I took one spoonful and found that it was like eating raw sugar for breakfast."

However, the following day, I found out that just because something is in a milk carton, made by a brand which makes milk products, has a similar pattern on the carton to the rest of the milk cartons, and even looks like milk when you open it, doesn't mean its milk. Japanese people love this thing called "drinkable yoghurt", and were incredibly surprised when I told them I'd never heard of it before. The muesli was actually the first western-looking food I've tasted which tastes better than the equivalent food in Australia. I guess it just means they didn't copy it from America.

Friends and cereal aside, its easy to get a bit depressed about how I still can't hold a conversation any better now than I could almost 2 months ago. Not being able to work at a school where I'd actually be able to learn the culture and make more Japanese friends sucks as well, and so does the fact that pretty much all the remaining jobs involve working in a suit as somebody who feeds off Japanese insecurities about English (and not even being able to make any Japanese friends in the process). But when you're riding a bike through a foreign city at at night, swerving to avoid myriad suits as you desperately try to keep up with the people you are following who you barely even know, you can forget all the crap and just be happy that the place is at least occasionally as magical as you dreamed it might be.

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