Written by Hanashi on 10 Jul, 2000
During my side trip to Wajima, my three friends and I rented bicycles to get around the city for the weekend. After our trip to the beach (recounted elsewhere in this journal) we were cycling 'home' to the Inn and passed by a small…Read More
During my side trip to Wajima, my three friends and I rented bicycles to get around the city for the weekend. After our trip to the beach (recounted elsewhere in this journal) we were cycling 'home' to the Inn and passed by a small neighborhood Buddhist temple. There had been a celebration of some sort going on there that morning which had piqued our interest, but we had decided not to interfere, lest we accidentally commit a religious faux pas. But coming home, the temple was empty so we decided to get a closer look.
Approaching the temple, the four of us were startled to hear a very young girl's voice speaking perfect English!
'Hello. My. Name. Is...' We turned to find three young children, a boy and two girls, playing by the side of the temple. Being rather friendly sorts ourselves, we went over and made introductions all around. While my friends and I were all trying out our new language skills (both Japanese and English), I started snapping some photos. I never was able to actually find out their names (I think she learned that phrase in school, but forgot to actually include her name), but they were happy enough to pose for a few pictures. They were so full of life that they never stopped moving, even once, so not only do I not know their names, but I also was never able to quite get a clear picture of them!
I've often heard that having a digital camera can be a real icebreaker, but never was it more effective than in here with these kids. I shot a couple of photos and then turned the camera around to show them my new masterpieces. No sooner did they see their own smiling digital images than they grabbed the camera out of my hand and started snapping their own shots! Surprisingly, the eldest girl took some pretty good pictures, including one of the best ones of me from the whole trip.
Sadly, though, we eventually had to leave and so did the kids. As a parting gift, though, the eldest pulled out her album of stickers and gave us each one as a parting gift. I got a cute little Hello Kitty sticker, which quickly found a home on my camera bag. It's still there, and I hope it always will be. I felt a little sad, because I had literally nothing to give my new pals but my thanks. Still, whenever I look at my camera bag, I will have quite fond memories of Japan, and these three anonymous cultural ambassadors. Close
Written by Hanashi on 07 Jul, 2000
The whole purpose of my visit to Japan was to attend a month-long class in Japanese language and culture. I couldn't be more pleased with my decision, as this turned out to have been an excellent way of experiencing Japanese life without paying the megabucks…Read More
The whole purpose of my visit to Japan was to attend a month-long class in Japanese language and culture. I couldn't be more pleased with my decision, as this turned out to have been an excellent way of experiencing Japanese life without paying the megabucks that tourism in Japan has the reputation for requiring.
Each morning I would take a bus to school, which was located right in the center of the downtown area. Classes started at 9:00AM sharp. Classes are small groups (mine had three students, including myself) taught in rotating shifts by three teachers. I liked this method because it meant that just as working with one teacher was starting to get boring, another teacher would take over and we'd be fresh again. They did an excellent job of presenting the language in easily understood chunks. It's really not as hard to learn as everyone thinks. Trust me.
With short breaks every hour, we pursued our studies until about 12:30PM when we broke for lunch on our own, at which time we were free to leave for the day or to return at 2:00PM for the optional afternoon programs. The afternoon programs were very special. Trips to Kenrokuen, one of the three most famous Japanese gardens on the planet, to the Ninja Temple or to the ruins of the city's old castle, Ishikawa-mon, gave the language lessons depth and substance. Seeing traditional crafts such as tatami mat or gold leaf making gave us the chance to learn more about the Japanese way of life, and we culminated the afternoon programs with a visit to a master of Tenroku (seal carving) for some quick lessons and a chance to practice our new art with our own seals. Try getting THAT from a guidebook!
If you'd like to give this a whirl, check out the Eurocentres Web page for more information.