May 28, 2006


Hello all, sorry for the lack of recent updates, I have not really been doing much of note and have been very busy with study. The course is certainly intensive; we are ploughing through the textbook at a fair old clip and it is quite hard to take everything in, and even harder to force your brain to use the stuff you've learned in any kind of practical sense. We seem to have a test of some kind every other week. I definitely seem to be getting better (slowly), it's just frustrating how much effort saying even the simplest things takes.

Last Sunday I went to Inuyama (literally, "dog mountain") with a couple of friends to do some sightseeing and such. It's about an hour away on the regular train and features Japan's oldest standing castle, built in the 1500s. It is also well known for the Inuyama festival, which takes place in April and in which huge, 3-story floats, bedecked in lamps and mechanical puppets are wheeled around the streets (by hand) to flute and drum music. The highlight of the trip for me was the incredibly beautiful Uraku-en tea ceremony garden, originally built in the 1600s. Members of the public are allowed to walk round the garden and I think they occasionally hold actual tea ceremonies which you can take part in. There weren't any going on when we were there, which is probably for the better as they are very involved and time-consuming and require study and practice, even on the part of the guests.

So yeah, largely uneventful few weeks really. Today I went for a bit of a walk, ended up looking around a second-hand clothes shop on the other side of town that I quite like. The in-store music was interesting, and they played Mr. Roboto by Styx: good to see the Japanese have a sense of humor. Weather has been changeable, it's either brilliant sunshine or it's raining. Don't have any plans at the moment but will (try!) and continue to keep you all updated as to how things are going...


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