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Should I just forget about dating my journal entries now? This is crazy! Four months. I actually do Shiina-sensei’s Japanese assignments more often than write in here.

I’m currently living with the Kusanos in Irabayashi, but since my last entry I spent three months at the Irie place in Douzamachi, right next to Hamanomachi. An entire host family gone and no record of it! I’ll try to go through some roughly chronological account of the last while but I have a feeling it’s going to turn out very abbreviated compared to what I could maybe write if I had done this at the time anything actually happened. I’ve just been doing too much stuff. I was just sitting here alone in school with nothing to do thinking what a waste of time this was, when I realized I should just write.

Since my last entry, I’ve started another Japanese class at the volunteer center across from Nagasaki Eki. It’s Tuesday nights, so while I had a 40 min bus ride to and from town and Jaodori practices until six, I just ate supper on my own in Amyu Plaza or Hamanomachi. The first time I went, I ended up having a lot of free time even though there wasn’t enough time to catch a bus home and back. So I just went into Starbucks and sat around for a bit. That’s a habit I’ve tried to kick – using coffee shops to fill spare time – but it isn’t working too well. Even replacing Starbucks with Mr. Donut hasn’t saved me much money! Anyway, on the walk from Youmesaito to the Eki I ran into Kura and Ryouta at their bus stop. They said that if I had told them they would have come with me to eat! Argh! So the next week I went back to our classroom after Jaodori and went to Macdonalds with Ryouta and Fuchiyama (Kura had gone home).

The Japanese class itself was pretty good, though lately both that one and the one at Junshin have been too simple! I’m definitely not great in Japanese, but I’ve progressed beyond what these classes are offering. I think they can’t move along at my pace because living in Japanese means I move a lot faster than the guys who don’t. Even though it feels like I’m not moving at all. I tried to get Kura and Ryouta to explain what my English accent sounds like so I could fix it. I know people still get confused as to whether I’m trying to say kawaii (cute) or kowai (scary), and I always have to say ryokou (travel) three times before I get my point across. The rya, ryo, and ryu sounds are hideous. But they told me that if I just pronounce them with an L instead of an R it sounds perfectly natural. If I ever become a Japanese teacher, I’m going to say ?, ?, ?, ?, ? are la, li, lu, le, lo instead of ra, ri, ru, re, ro. It just makes more sense!

Way back in January, I was really into learning how to play Maj Johngg (or whatever… Maa Jan in Japanese). I found a set of English rules for the Japanese version so that I could learn a bunch of tile combinations, and Kura got a set like regular cars so we could play in school. It was really cool. I think I even won once or twice, even though I never had much of a good hand, and I’m not very good at spotting when I have a hand where I can richi or anything. And forget about chi, pon, and kan! Way out of my league. Before too long, though, Nishiyama-sensei came in and found us playing at lunch time and confiscated it. I wish I had said they were my cards so maybe he wouldn’t have taken them. He even made a point of saying it was part of Japanese culture, so I was like “I know! That’s why I wanted to learn!” I still haven’t played with a real tile set, though I think I might buy one before going home. And Kura and I still have to play a real game!

Japanese schools can really be strict beyond all reason, but it’s more some of the terrible ideas they have that has made me come to hate Japanese schools. It’s not the uniform or the rules on hair, it’s more like even during lunch break we aren’t allowed to do anything but eat or study. Sometimes the kids get a day off but because it would be a school day under normal circumstances, they aren’t allowed to go out. Teachers actually patrol the hot areas like Hamanomachi, Amyu, and Youmesaito. They do the same during exams. Students just aren’t allowed to go out. It makes me sick that schools have the jurisdiction to place rules like that on their students. I don’t understand how people think that studying 16 hours solid on Saturday or Sunday can be healthy! Beyond the school’s ideas on studying, it still makes no sense to me how a school can say you aren’t allowed to have a girlfriend! Of course if you do, I guess, it means you won’t get that 16 hours. At Minamikou in Sasebo, the school doesn’t say you can’t have a girlfriend but there is a rule that says you aren’t allowed to do more than kiss! Rules like that are disgusting. Luckily people ignore them as much as they can. One of these days I’d like to talk to someone about things like that. Why aren’t we allowed to have cell phones, even outside of school when classes are over? I’d like an answer better than because it’s against the rules.

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