weill in japan: day 05
Today was the first day that I didn't leave home from waking until sleep,
but at the same time I didn't feel constrained at all. After finishing
my job application test, I was able to get on-line at home and finally push
some files. Working on dial-up speeds with dozens of hops to U.S. servers
makes matters hard, but it beats having no connectivity at all. Interestingly,
many public and for-rent Internet terminals say "No web-based e-mail" since
I suppose that people spend way too much time there. I don't fault the
operators, since messaging remains the most time-consuming activity that people
feel compelled to do on the web now.
In Japan, Winnie the Pooh is called "Kuma the Pooh," where "Kuma" is
Japanese for "Bear." That's not the only name change that takes place: I was
trying to explain that the movie "The Negotiator" doesn't star Eddie Murphy
despite the fact that the newspaper said so. On TV, the movie "Negotiator"
started with Eddie Murphy, and the English-language title "Metro." I watched
bits of it with the English-language soundtrack option.
Japan loves food, but also loves its beverages. Although vending machines
are everywhere, they mostly sell beverages. I still haven't seen a candy
vending machine here, although candy is still sold at convenience stores
and kiosks on train station platforms. Today I was first introduced to the
wonders of Japanese beer, since my host father loves the stuff. It's not bad.
Sapporo, Kirin, and Asahi beer are all available in the U.S. as well as Japan,
although the American versions are usually made in the states by Anheuser-Busch
or Miller. Today I was also introduced to the extremely simple but satisfying
snack of soybeans (edamame) with beer. Good stuff.
Even if I go all the way to Japan, I can't escape being called upon to help
people with their computers. Today I helped my host father defragment his
hard drive. Trying to explain the concept of defragmentation is hard enough
in English, but I was able to get through it in semi-Japanese just as well.
Most technical Japanese consists of loanwords from English -- "defrag" is
"defuragu" for instance -- so it takes a certain amount of basic
technical knowledge to get by.
Today was a quiet day, but on the plus side I was able to get through it
without a nap in between. I also took care of my laundry, a good thing:
tomorrow would have been the last day of my all-too-short six-day laundry
cycle here. The washer is a little confusing to use, since I have to manually
transfer everything over to a separate bin for the spin cycle, but the dryer is
American-made with English controls. I have to plug the dryer in and only run
it on the low-heat "delicate" setting because of the extremely unsafe position
where it is mounted. Most Japanese families do not have dryers, opting instead
to hang wet clothes outside, according to my host mother. I prefer the dryer
during this rainy season.
The seven broadcast TV stations that we receive here put out an impressive
amount of original programming. There's variety shows, sports, and a lot of
educational programming that runs non-stop. Contrast that with American
broadcast TV channels, which show reruns of old sitcoms and movies during the
average Sunday afternoon.
Week zero is in the books. Tomorrow, the real fun begins as classes
officially get underway.