OK. I have finished all my crap that has been killing me for nearly a month now. I can sit down and write about what has happened for the past long while.
First thing off the top of my head is that SCHOOL IS HARD THIS SEMESTER. My Japanese class is very, very difficult, but extremely enjoyable. I've learned so much, and I get along great with the Chinese and Korean kids in the class (which makes me happy). There's this one girl from Bangladesh who always forgets her textbook and asks to borrow mine (which means that I am not always able to look at it), but I don't sit by her anymore (for this very reason), so it's all OK now. Anyways, I'll get back to how hard classes are towards the end of this catch-up entry.
During Golden Week (a few days in early May), I went to Ooshima (大島, "Big Island") Camp with my hostmother, her son and his family, Craig (the former hoststudent from three years ago who is currently gradschooling at Kyoto University), a Hawaiian girl named Emily (who is studying at Obirin), and her friend named Kazu (also from Obirin). It was pretty fun: we played some frisbee, walked around, ate barbecue, hot dogs, plenty of bananas and KIWI FRUIT (the best fruit EVER!), and I even climbed this looooong stairway to take pictures from way up high. These will be coming shortly.
Anyways, I also grew a beard in the past month. I shaved it off last week, but, before I did, I took some pictures. I'll make sure to put one up that fully illustrates the wonder that was my facial hair. Respect it and be in awe.
I have been playing tennis often with two tennis clubs (for a total of three days a week, at least two hours a day) -- Amuse Company and Grasshopper Company. With Amuse I played last semester as well. However, since my Japanese has leveled up since last semester, I'm not the "foreigner" anymore, but one of them. At least, I'm one of them in the sense that I feel free to make jokes, randomly chat them up, and we're always like "what's up!" every time we see each other. I also know many of their names this semester! Let's list them off because I feel like boring ya'll with Japanese
- The first guy who was nice to me last semester and saw me as a friend; we're going to play some 1-on-1 tennis outside of club sometime, since I've built a reputation as being awesome at tennis here ;)
- guy who was very weird when I met him, but turned out to be a very nice guy
- good at tennis, and pretty friendly
- quiet, but nice
- I talk to him a lot; he's a pretty cool guy, and quite funny
- one of the leaders, and quite nice
- quite nice, and the one time that she stepped up to hit the ball with me, she made sure to thank me afterwards, since she got a real practice hitting with me OUCH -- MY EGO IS SO BIG, IT'S EXPLODING MY HEAD!
- I don't know her, she just has a wicked name with a 'w' right in the middle!
- my partner for a drill, and we did quite well; she's pretty friendly
- the "old man" of the group because he looks old; he always calls me "yarou", to which I respond back "Fumi-yarou". Awesome.
- by far the best Japanese guy out on the courts; we have nice discussions about tennis technique during practice; we talk about serving technique, controlling our emotions while playing, etc.
- aka Filipina due to his dark skin. He's pretty funny.
That's all I can think of right now for the club members. I'll think of more, I'm sure. Now on to why the classes are hard (also known as "why Kyle did not post for a month"). I had a speech a few weeks ago in Japanese class. I had to interview some Japanese kids for Japanese class a week ago. I had a midterm in Japanese (which I got a 75 on, to show how hard it was) last week. I had a one-and-a-half hour presentation for History of US-Japanese Relations (日米交流史, にちべいこうりゅうし) last Friday. I have a class to lead coming up in less than a month in Japanese Society and Culture concerning the declining standards of education in Japan, with which I will completely demolish the Japanese education system. And on and on.
Speaking of the education system, let me tell you something horrible about Japan. It is well-known that Japanese students are highly educated concerning math and science. However, I think they are severely lacking in the humanities, as well as completely burnt out by the time they enter college. Currently, as many of the Americans may know from the news, Chinese people have been protesting Japan. The reason is two-fold:
1)Japanese textbooks are approved by the government, and the history textbook completely glosses over the fact that the Japanese army slaughtered 200,000 women and children at Nanking (南京, なんきん, "Southern Capital") in China prior to World War II (第二次世界大戦, だいにじせかいたいせん). The Japanese government still hasn't apologized for it. To put this in perspective, German companies recently set up a fund to give money to survivors of the Holocaust as repentance. These include Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, among others. However, no Japanese company has ever even talked about doing the same, and it's been even longer since the Nanking incident (known also as "The Rape of Nanking").
2)After World War II, at the War Crimes Tribunal, 14 Japanese people were convicted of war crimes as Class A War Criminals (A級戦犯,Aきゅうせんぱん). They were executed. Now, there is a shrine called Yasukuni, where all dead soldiers from Japanese history are enshrined there. Even the emperor (who bows to no one) bows to these soldiers every year. It's a big deal to be enshrined there. Normally, there would be no problem with this. However, in about the 1970s, the Diet (legislative body of the Japanese government, pronounced "diet" like "get skinny"-diet) voted to enshrine the 14 class A war criminals in Yasukuni. Basically, it's sending a message to the Chinese that, "Hey, you know those people who are responsible for millions upon millions of your families' deaths? Well, we're going to give them just about the highest honor a soldier can have." Talk about pissing on graves!
So, yeah, I know all about this. Most of the exchange students do. However, based on my research, 100% of Japanese students do not know why the Chinese hate Japan so much because they are either
1)not being taught it, or
2)don't read the news EVER.
I suspect it's a combination of both, as we've seen from the textbooks that they aren't taught it. However, most students I know read the front page of the news, the sports section, and hardly ever use the internet. There are a few exceptions, but the general rule is that the students do not keep up with current events. This was my interview topic for Japanese class last week. I was quite surprised. I even gave a 2-minute lecture to one of the students about why, and they were like "holy crap, you're awesome, Kyle! How do you know that stuff?" -_-;;;
OK. The venting is out of my system. That reminds me, I've been taking notes of things my Japanese classmates say in my Japanese Society and Education concerning various topics. I will be blogging those in the next week or so, once I collect them all. Also, Wednesday, I will go sit in on a couple Japanese secondary education classes -- English at Obirin Junior High and Japanese History at Obirin High School. I have also been offered a job for a couple of days at a high school camp at the end of July as an English speaker. It pays *cough* quite well, and it will fulfill a tiny desire I've had for a couple of years -- to teach high schoolers English. I'll get it out of my system, and won't feel bad about not doing the JET program.
In any case, I'm getting tired of writing. I need to format this and then put it up on my blog, so...yeah. I'm done typing for tonight. Since I have the really hard stuff out of the way for a few weeks, expect to have a couple more blog entries now.
Oh, also, Crayon Shinchan is an awesome comic, and I found a place selling the first 20 volumes for 20 bucks. A steal, I say. Worth so much more than that just based on pure enjoyment alone. Crayon Shinchan is definitely coming back with me to the states come July.
OK, this is Kyle signing off for today. Bye ^_^