Days 3 and 4: 雨のち曇り (Cloudy after the rain)

Every day's classes start out easy, and stay fairly easy until the last hour before lunch.  After lunch we have kanji, which isn't too bad overall, especially after switching to my easier book, and listening practice, which is practially impossible.  It's not that I can't hear what they're saying in the recordings, but every conversation has at least five, often more, completely new words that I'll probably never see, hear, or use again.  That also applies to the last hour before lunch.  Additionally, as I've said before, the grammar they're teaching as a review is beyond what I ever learned.  If I actually manage to get it all down, I'll have learned a year's worth of grammar in a week.  Seriously.

Unfortunately, the majority of it is for super polite conversations.  Things like "I'm so sorry, but I'm going to miss the appointed time for today's meeting.  I got on the wrong train and will be about 30 minutes late." "Oh, I'll be busy then." "Can you please change the time (for poor little me [super humble form])?"  Anyway, it's hard to explain without going into detail on Japanese.  The important point is that this sort of speech is much harder than plain or polite, and I never learned it.  However, one of my classmates who did take the higher classes just spent fifteen minutes going over a lot of the important stuff and explained it in a very simple and efficient manner, so I think it'll be at least a little easier from here on.

Regarding the weather yesterday, it started out sunny, and started getting cloudy and gray by late morning.  Just after I bought my lunch it started drizzling and we all hurried back to the main building.  There was a break as we went to the computer lab to do homework, then it started pouring while we were in the lab.  Between the time of my first and second blog comment yesterday, it slowed to a drizzle, and by the time I got to my bike outside it had stopped.  Very fortunate timing.

I came home to an empty house and a note on a towel by the front door.  The note read (in Japanese hiragana) "Thayne - Did you get wet in the rain?  Use this to dry off."  I wasn't wet, but it was so considerate of my host family it made me feel both happy that they thought of it and sad that I didn't use it.  I left a note on the reverse of the paper and put the towel away, then thanked them again when they got back.

For dinner last night, I had the first real exotic-seeming food of the trip.  Every day has had new stuff, but it's mostly been at least within reasonable bounds from what I'm used to.  So, dinner yesterday included tako (octopus), and natto (soybeans) with raw egg.  The octopus was actually just fine.  Better than the times I remember trying it in the US.  I tried a bit of the natto, too, and while it wasn't all that bad, I didn't particularly care for the raw egg on top.  It was very gooey and not exactly the best flavor.  Ranmaru was all too pleased to finish my portion.

My family also pushed several Japanese snacks onto me last night, and I've decided to bring them to school to supplement my lunches.  It's kind of hard to talk about the different foods when I don't even know what to call them, but so far the snacks have been pretty hit and miss.  For my actual lunch today, I had croquette bread and some sort of spicy chicken on a stick.  The chicken was pretty good, but the bread was so-so.

Sorry I don't have anything fantastic to report about the food; I know a lot of people are interested in that sort of stuff, but food has never really been my thing.  It's generally either good enough to eat, or it isn't.  So I've been sticking to buying whatever is cheap and looks relatively filling.  I'm aiming to make it through the school portion of the trip spending less than 7,500 yen.  Most of the real lunches are in the 450-600 yen range, so that means averaging well below that for the 20 days I'm here.  So far, my lunches have been 110, 398, and 240 yen.

Anyway, I should get back to my host family.  I'm still in the computer lab after working on homework, and I still have studying to do for tomorrow.  Sorry about the lack of pictures.  I'll try to get some more off my camera soon.

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