Understanding Osaka and life with foreigners.

Recently I’ve become rather interested in buying Japanese books, not sure why, since my previous obsession was buying Japanese CDs. Maybe because I’m starting to be able to read and understand at the more “required” level.

Anyway… while waiting in Haneda airport I bought these two books. “Osaka Rules” and “Daarin wa Gaikokujin, vol. 2” (Darling is a foreigner). Since I already had read the first book of the popular “Darling is a foreigner” series, I thought I could might as well get volume 2. These manga books, shows the funny differences there is between Japanese people and foreigners. The author and writer of this manga, Oguri Saori, portrays these differences by sharing situations from her own life, where she is married to a foreigner. I was recommended this book/manga when I did homestay in Nagoya last year. Since the wife of the family thought it could be “useful and fun” for me to read, being a foreigner in a relationship with a Japanese myself. For me these books are seen from the opposite direction, I guess, but they are interesting.

The “Osaka rules” book was “a spur of the moment” purchase. I just saw it on the shelf, and being the “Osaka-fan” that I am, I thought to myself that this must be a “must-read” book for me. I love Osaka and it’s without a doubt my favourite place, not only in Japan, but in the whole world. I can’t explain why, but Osaka has something I can’t help but love. This book has gathered the so-called “rules of Osaka” and divided them into categories, such as: Food, language, shopping and etc. The book has a really nice humor as it explains the interesting “quirks” of Osaka and a lot of the “rules” are followed by a one-page manga to show what exactly the rule is about.

Besides Osaka, there’s also: Tokyo rules, Nagoya rules and Hakata rules. As of now. I thought about buying some of the others. Since these books are fun and interesting reading material for people who has a interest in Japan – and who is able to read Japanese, of course.

The thing I didn’t know I missed.

So I’ve been in Japan almost two days now.

And on the flight I realized that I’ve missed drinking cold green tea and I didn’t even know it.

I actually used to really dislike green tea and avoided drinking it at any cost. Then when I went to Japan last spring, everywhere I went, they offered me green tea. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and all other times. So I started drinking it because there was nothing else and that became normal for me.

So when I was on the flight to Japan I figured, okay why not have some cold green tea and after taking a sip I realized that I had grown really fond of the taste. Guess it just took some time to get used to. So the first thing I bought in the airport in Tokyo, besides two books was a bottle of green tea. Guess I have to enjoy it while time still are.

– I still prefer cold green tea over hot green tea though, but it’s probably also because I overall prefer cold drinks over warm.

Japanese flyers.

Mt. Fuji

Now writing this, I’m on a Japan Airlines flight to Tokyo, from Paris and have so far endured around half of the trip. Well more if you count my full day, which started at 03:30 am, then a flight at 06:50 am from Copenhagen to Paris. From where I had a flight to Haneda airport at 11 am. Finally I have a flight from Tokyo airport to Miyazaki airport, before my journey is complete.

It’s my first time flying internationally with JAL (Japan Airlines). It’s easy to see that it’s a Japanese company by the very small amount of foreigner passengers. In my current section of the plane, we’re two. So during this flight I noticed a little difference on Japanese flyers and non-Japanese flyers. Japanese people apparently don’t mind keeping their seat in a upright position, even through a full 14 hours flight.

For some reason I normally always end up behind the person who insists on putting their seat as far back as possible. Even often trying to lean all their weight on it from time to time during the flight, in hopes that it would be able to go back even further. Even at dinner times and other non-sleeping times. Often resulting in me having a hard time eating, since the front seat almost covers all my food, or having a hard time watching the TV, since lighting becomes all wrong. Or if I was stupid enough to have things at my table then… well may it rest in peace. Unfortunately I’m not a person who is good at speaking up in situations like that.

And, for the first time there has been no need. I was looking around my flight section and noticed that not a single person had reclined their seats back. All people were sitting in upright positions. Even though more than half of this people were using the time to sleep. So Japanese people don’t mind keeping their seats in an upright position?

Maybe they don’t want to bother the person behind them, which could be a very Japanese-like trait. Or maybe they just don’t see the need. I mean, Japanese people are rather famous for being able to sleep wherever and whenever. So maybe a seat’s position really doesn’t really make a difference.

Besides that, … well I’m very content with the service of JAL. I’ve been on many flights, but the meal I had on this flight was actually the best I’ve tried. Also even the “cutest” looking.

Well, there’s as of now, 5 hours and 38 minutes left of my flight and the scheduled landing time is 7:09 am.

—-

And…

You know you’re on a Japanese airline when they do this to the toilet paper. (Throughout the whole flight.)

I’m gonna miss my stamps.

Some of my Japanese stamps.

So I’m going to Japan next week, like mentioned in an earlier post. Which required me to renew my passport, since it expired in September. I hadn’t felt like getting it renewed, since my plan wasn’t to return to Japan before around July. So there was no rush. Guess I was wrong.

At least the renewal process only took on week and I now have my new passport. I already miss my old one, since like with my things we often carry with us, it had history. I had my Russian visa, my Chinese visa and all my Japanese stamps. Now I have to “re-fill” my pass all over again, good thing I now have teen years. Unfortunately I do no plan to return to China or Russia. … well maybe China in the future, but I have other countries on my list, like South Korea.

Chinese Visa.

I remember being younger and my classmates was disappointed when we didn’t get any stamps on our travels in Europe. Guess that is a bit sad. At least I know I’ll probably get new Japanese stamps pretty fast. (my first one next week). Just not the same thing…  The good thing is, that I can now avoid a lot of questions in the Japanese immigration. Before they always spoke English to me (like they do with all foreigners), but then when they checked my passport they suddenly decided to speak Japanese and ask me questions such as. “Do you live in Japan?”, “Do you have friends here?” and of course “What are you doing here?”. Guess I can avoid those, at least until my stamps starts to pile up again.

Russian Visa.

 

Too many particles!

So I finally started to study (a bit), for my Japanese exam next week. My biggest fear is the “analyzing grammar” part. My teacher wants us to analyze every single word in a sentence, especially particles. Think most people who studies Japanese… has a strained relationship with the particles… no? At least in my class, everybody seems to hate particles and kanji. Though I for some reason have no problem with kanji… I actually love kanji and remember them fairly easy.

But… yes. So far I’ve been looking at the different categories of particles and written them down, next step is to memorize their “group” and their “function”.

I had hoped to make this blog more interesting, insightful, etc. but well unfortunately I’m in the middle of my exam period. I guess I have more time later on.

Yes… I know my writing is not the best… kinda in a hurry when writing these notes. Since there’s way too much I need to write down.

“Japanese style” portrait.

Okay, so I haven’t updated this blog… at all. I’m hoping to make it active soon. I’m also going to Japan later this month. It’s very last minute, I haven’t even ordered the tickets, yet and because of the holidays I haven’t been able to apply for a new passport before tomorrow. (two and a half week before departure). It’ll be my 6th trip to Japan in two and a half year. I also have a exam in Japanese in this month as well, which I haven’t studied for, yet. Maybe my subconscious confidence in my Japanese skills will be my downfall at some point.

Besides that… we’ve entered year 2011. Time passes fast. One of my friends had made me a “moving away” present back in September, but she hadn’t had the chance to give it to me before new years eve. My friend is very artistic and especially loves the Japanese, manga drawing style… so she had decided to draw me and my boyfriend as manga figures. With her and another friend in the middle. Thought it was pretty cool so see myself in a manga version.

The manga version of me.

Apparently the manga version of my boyfriend.

Full drawing (click for full size)