Thanks, Matt! Yeah, it is quite fun right now! I’m gradually starting to teach more students of my own, privately. And I’m really enjoying it! One student is from Peru, married to a Japanese man, and so her Japanese is near fluent, but her English is very very low. So the lessons are heavily in Japanese. Explanations, or translations to make the meanings clear are usually in Japanese. We work on pronunciation a lot. She can read and understand the meaning of many words since her first language is Spanish, but the Spanish pronunciation is usually quite different, so when she speaks she finds that no one can understand her. So, this teaching experience is really quite interesting!
So now it’s time for an installment of Things that Japan loves (besides OBAMA)!
HEAT! – hot springs, baths not showers, heated toilet seats, kotatsu (a table that’s heated underneath to warm your legs)
NOODLES – going along with the heat theme, it’s all about the noodle soups here (ramen, udon, soba, somen)
CONVENIENCE – convenience stores wherever you turn, the trains are ridiculously so (always exactly on time, frequent)
CUTENESS – happy cartoon characters at train tracks warning of the danger, Hello Kitty, Disney (even guys like Disney here), everything/everyone strives for being cute
POLITENESS – it’s kind of crazy polite, you enter a store – even to walk through it as a shortcut on your way home – and you’ve got people greeting you, thanking you for gracing them with your mere presence, bowing to you left and right; at the cash register, following the 2-3 seconds it takes to put your item in a bag, they apologize for making you wait. A housemate of mine is working at some kind of clothing store, and he is mostly there stocking, or folding things, but he has hopes to work the register at some point. Anyway, he must learn all the most polite language (not just polite, but super-polite, to which there’s no real equivalent in English), learn the right ways to bow, greet everyone who enters the store, walks by, or even thinks about one day visiting the store. Not so crazy, right? But all the workers also needs to do their smiling drills each day! My housemate was told he needs to improve his smile more, he needs more practice. He was told he should sit infront of the mirror daily, smiling to himself, to get it just perfect. No thank you!