So, this is the second installment of blogging my trip in Japan! This is a bit shorter than the first post, as I’ve been settling in more and picking out the most memorable and challenging events, but I hope you enjoy reading nonetheless!
In terms of communication, it has definitely improved between my host family and me since my last post. There’s been a weird unspoken agreement of using mostly Japanese but utilizing our equal knowledge of Japanese-English whenever the need arises. I think one of the largest mistakes I’ve made thus far was thinking “りんご” meant squirrel (りつ) instead of apple, leading to the faulty conclusion that my host family’s dog enjoyed eating squirrels. Thankfully, I didn’t say this aloud and the misunderstanding was cleared up fairly quickly. Most of the difficulty in trying to speak the language now comes from varying sources, usually when I try to interact with other natives.
At most times within the boundaries of the HIF program, I can understand what is being said through context or practice. During a trip to a nearby temple, however, I found this was not the case. The teacher who was leading us there gave most of us a list of specific words that the monk would be using in explaining the decorations set up and the like. Other than that, they told us to stick by some of the upper level students and have them help translate. Luckily, I’ve become friends with a student from the highest level class and I stuck by her for most of the time. It was really interesting to see the inside of the temple though, and I was able to take a picture while I was there.
As I might have said previously, the older sister I’m staying with works at a kindergarten, and I’ve had some chances to interact with a few of the kids while I was over there. When I was first introduced to two of them, we played with spinning tops for a while until their parents picked them up. This was when I discovered I had even less of a grasp on Japanese than I had thought. At my university, with my current knowledge of Japanese, my professors told us we would be at least able to converse with four-year-olds. Well, they were slightly mistaken. The kindergarteners I was talking with were clearly the better speakers, as I could only mutter sparse words amidst poorly put-together sentences in an attempt to answer their wondering queries. I was grateful to note that they barely noticed I couldn’t understand most of what they were saying, too enthralled in the game we were playing.
Another interesting experience I’ve also partaken in has been going to an Italian restaurant. I would say the food tasted authentically Italian, but being that I’ve visited Rome before, I could not say that was the case. Despite this, it was incredibly delicious, and it was a rare meal where I was allowed to use a fork and knife instead of the usual chopsticks. Additionally, the restaurant had Phantom of the Opera playing in the background, so it was a definite 5-stars. Below is the food I ordered, accompanied by a picture of caramel gelato and tea.
If nothing else, interacting with the kindergarten children and eating more of the culturally diverse food has increased my curiosity for what else Hakodate has to offer. Thanks for reading!