Days 31-33: Living in Yokkaichi

The past few days have been pretty slow as far as noteworthy events go.  I've been mostly spending my time at my friend Charlie's house, but I've also gone around and seen some of the local town.  Charlie works during the afternoons and evenings, so I'm mostly left to my own devices.  Monday was mostly spent recovering from my trip to Tokyo, but I also went out shopping for a couple things to use around the house, like soap, and some milk and cereal for some cheap breakfasts that should last all week.  Later that night, we went out to a bigger shopping mall and got some more food for various meals.

My arms and shoulders were extremely sore from Saturday through Monday night, because of lugging around about 100 pounds of baggage.  I didn't mention it before, but it did make Akihabara a little less enjoyable than it could have been.  I mostly tried to ignore it anyway.  They're still a little tight now, but it's not too bad.

On Tuesday, I sat in on one of Charlie's English lessons with a couple of small boys.  He seemed like a pretty good teacher, and the kids were alright.  It was pretty fun to watch.  I participated a little bit, but there wasn't much for me to do.  His boss wants him to teach by pure immersion, so I couldn't practice my Japanese with them, either, since I was supposed to be speaking English only.  His boss was a pretty nice woman, though, and we talked for a while in both English and Japanese.  She even took us out for a light lunch at the shopping mall's cafe.

After all that was over, I went to Book Off, a used book/movie/game chain, and got a couple more Japanese games: Lunar: Silver Star Story and Remember 11: The Age of Infinity, for PS and PS2, respectively.  I already own Lunar in English, but it was 500 yen, so I couldn't pass that up.  Remember 11 was also 500 yen, and it's a visual novel I've been playing in English with a fan translation patch, so when I saw that I could purchase it legally, I had to do that.  I try to get my games legally whenever possible, but that game hadn't been possible until now.

Today, I've mostly just sat at home.  Charlie went out to work around 1:30 and got back around 9:00, and in the meantime I've done a bunch of cleaning for him and played games.  I doubt anything exciting will happen in the rest of tonight.

There's a chance I'll go out to see Ise Jingu before I leave, but that sort of depends.  It's a 90-minute train ride to get there, which I really don't feel like doing, and it'll also cost another 4000 yen or so, which is basically the rest of my entire budget, aside from the train fares to get back to the airport and go home.  I haven't decided for sure one way or the other if I'll go.

Miscellaneous stuff:
  • The cereal selection in Japan is very limited.  Pretty much corn flakes (frosted or chocolate), or bran flakes.
  • When you buy anything, the store clerk will almost always tape the top of the bag closed for you.  This does not apply in grocery stores, because by and large you are expected to bag your own purchases there after you're done.
  • When people are trying to explain something, or give a somewhat-rehearsed speech or lesson (such as in church, at school, or my host family choosing their words carefully so I could understand), they tend to stress their particles (ha, ga, wo, ni, etc.).  Those come up every few words in a typical sentence, so the result is that they'll say a few words at a lower pitch, then a longer, more drawn out and higher pitched syllable for the particle, then back down and up and down and up.  Lots of people do this.
  • People here in Yokkaichi stare at me much more openly than they did in Izumi.  This isn't exactly a big city, and foreigners are pretty rare.  I haven't seen any other white people besides Charlie, so we attract a lot more attention.

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