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This past Sunday I had both our school culture fair and our second orientation, this one in Saga. The festival in the morning was alright, but it wasn’t as good as the one I went to at Nagasaki Higashi. I only stayed for two hours because of the thing in Saga.

We took the express for ¥2500. There were four of us, including me. My host mom came, as did an outbound student and his mom. The main thing in Saga was a session where we filled out a monthly report (I did mine in really bad Japanese with some help from Anita and Shuntarou) and talked about problems we’ve been having. The biggest problem has been the “single dating” rule because the Japanese interpretation is different from the North American/European/Australian one. Luckily only a few clubs are taking issue with it, and mine isn’t one of them. We also had to say a one-minute speech in Japanese for everybody. I just read the same one I had back at my first Rotary meeting because nobody told me to write one.

After the orientation I went to take purikura with about a dozen Japanese outbounds and rebounds. We almost missed the train back to Nagasaki, but we ran all the way from the arcade and the train was late anyway. The next day, at a cost of ¥3200, I took the train to Sasebo and spent the day with the other inbounds and a few Japanese girls. While at the Sasebo equivalent of Hamanomachi we all looked at cellphones to buy. I picked one out from AU that I can get for ¥10800 at a shop here in Tomachi. Both AU and Bell Mobility in Canada us CDMA networks, but I still don’t know for sure if I’ll be able to use it in Canada. AU also gives 50% discounts for students, but you have to sign a contract for one year. I think that if I just pay the extra two months of phone bills, it’ll be cheaper in the long run. I couldn’t manage to explain that to my host mom though, other than asking if we could just lie.

Also in Sasebo we went to a good burger place, Freshness Burger. Afterwards we did a little purikura and two hours of Karaoke. Those Japanese girls we were with (I forgot their names, but one was Jose’s sister) are really awesome at singing! Anita, Timo, and Suus just stole the show with their dancing on the table.

On the way home I tried calling my mom to tell her what time I’d get in at Nagasaki. I got my point across but only by using absolutely hideous Japanese. I know I could have done much better with actual sentences, but it’s hard to do fast enough for a conversation. I find I can say what I want 50% for the time if I speak slowly enough, though hand gestures and a few key English words are always a necessity.

School like has perked up quite a bit since Shiina sensei has started sitting down with me to go over Japanese and I’ve now started Jaodori (dragon dancing). For the first hour or so all I did was learn some basic moves with the sun and a former Jaodori man as a tutor. It’s quite easy, but just like Japanese, it’s hard to do quickly. I played sixth position in the actual dragon for only 15 minutes. Just running then was hard, because I was afraid I would slip in my bare feet. Swinging was virtually impossible! Timing is difficult and I never seem to get my hand far enough along the pole. A lot of the time I didn’t manage to switch hand positions for a swing on the opposite side, meaning I was in a awkward position with a dragon coming down fast. The thing’s also so heavy that it’s hard not to lose control. They promise me, though, that the second day with be slighly easier and the third no problem at all. It was fun, though, being in a team like that and learning something new and Japanese. I’m looking forward to the next practice today. I’m hoping to stay in for at least a month so I can go on the trip to the east side fo the island – Otani (Ed: Ooita) or something like that. It’s too bad I won’t be able to do it back home the way Emi does traditional Indian dancing at our orientations. Still, I’m glad I’m doing it.

Last night with my host mom, I went to her sister’s house. She has two little kids who are always way too excited about everything. The youngest is probably two or three, and his Japanese is still more advanced than mine! His is all in baby talk, though, meaning his pronouncitation is really bad. He did try to teach me the word for “monster”, but I’ve already forgotten it. I forget just about every word thirty seconds after I hear it the first time, especially if I’m trying to learn more than one. Because Japanese has a limited number of syllables, words tend to sound alike an deasily get jumbled up in my head. Names are especially bad, and I can never tell if some string of syllables is a name or a new word. The words I use fifty times in a single conversation tend to stick, though.

After going to my host aunt’s house, I spent some time with my host mom adding things to my Rotary blazer. She sewed on those two flags Dad gave me from his trip to Montreal and gave me things from Juuhachi Bank, Huis Ten Bosch, Tokyo sumo trestling, and Tateyama. Because of my otooson’s company, I can get embroidery done for free too, so I’m getting “Kaisei Koukou Undokai” (Kaisei High School Sports Meet) on the headband to put around the neck, and I’m also getting Gureggu in Kanji which is really awesome. My okaasan was surprised to find out that Japanese characters were so popular in North America despite the fact that no one can read them, but I put it into perspective for her when I reminded her that most Japanese clothes have English on them despite the fact that no one really understands it. Apparently there’s a website with all sorts of funny English from Japanese products, so I definitely want to find that for a good laugh. I know Peter and Pippa back home would really get a kick out of it too! But for now it’s back to studying my Japanese vocabulary.

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