Published: August 29th 2010August 29th 2010
Doing the gaijin thing in the Kawagoe Dai-ichi Hotel lobby.
...with how stupidly hot and sweaty it is here. That will be all I say on the matter.
Hello again! It's been a couple days and stuff is happening very quickly.
First things first, my host family is AWESOME. It's a small family, but that's the way I like it. My host-mom ( I call her okaa-san) and my host-dad (otou-san) and my host-grandmother (obaa-chan) are all very gentle and fun-loving people. They are very careful to help me learn Japanese, and are incredibly patient when it comes to listening to me or trying to explain something. With host-dad's good-but-limited English, and my straight up limited Japanese, we are getting by alright. Okaa-san speaks very little English, so I hope to progress my Japanese enough that I can soon actually hold a conversation with her.
There's also lots of laughing in this house, which really helps take the edge off my constant trans-language hangover. Being able to just laugh, even if I have literally NO IDEA what they're talking about, is more important that I could have thought.
My host dad, Toshiaki, is in love with Hawaii, to the point where not only is the entire house
decorated with Hawaiian-themed pictures and other knick-knacks, but he runs a small Hawaiian-style bar and grill that is physically part of our house!!! Sugoi!! (Amazing!) He mans the bar and manages the money and finances, and Okaa-san (named Yuukko) cooks the delicious food.
One of the most interesting but unsaid things that is happening in this house (but even more intensely anywhere else in the country) is the existence of extreme gender roles. Aside from the bar, none of my family works currently, but Okaa-san still primarily cleans and cooks and manages the home, while Otou-san mans the bar when they're open. From what I've heard, the gender roles in my house are much more blurred than households in which the man is a company-worker, but it's still present here.
The funny thing is, Japanese culture is so centered around this, that I think both of my host-parents are completely happy with the way things are. I think my host-mom really enjoys being the one who runs the house, which is a feeling of her's that I believe is fed by some very important Japanese customs. Aisatsu are Japanese house-related greetings. It is INCREDIBLY important to remember to
say your aisatsu at the right times, because essentially what they are are acknowledgements that you understand that your mother has been working her ass off all day to make the house look awesome and feel like a great place to be. Before you eat, you must say 'itadakimasu', and after you eat you must say 'gochi sou sama deshita', which are both ways (I think) of saying thanks for the grub, ma! (These are things you say whether or not you are in the house, and are directed to (I think) whoever made your food).
So family life has so far been surprising but amazing. These people are doing this for the right reasons, and are therefore very supportive: they really just want to help me understand Japanese and Japanese culture and customs. Fuck yeah.
Top three things that happened today:
(Ichi!)1. I found out that my favorite Japanese Rock band, D, is playing a show on Saturday in Tokyo. I brought it up with my host-parents at dinner and they jumped on it to help me buy tickets, find out how to get there, and even translate the dress code for me! Supposedly I have
to wear something red: it all fits into how the venue, Akasaka BLITZ, is in Akasaka, and the first character (or kanji) of Akasaka (Aka) also means 'red', AND all of the members of D are going to be wearing red contacts... Pretty crazy. Anyway, I was blown away and touched that my family was so cool about it. I'm thinking about dyeing my hair red again... This is D's song, Sleeper.
(Ni!) 2. I also found out that there's a Pillows concert in November in Tokyo!! My luck is AWESOME!!!! Second favorite Japanese rock band (although the music is completely different, so they really are BOTH my favorites). I'm figuring out how to get tickets because I don't want to bring it up with my host-parents. The Japanese are too polite for their own good: I'm pretty sure if I told them about it they would jump on it again, but I think that it would be too much at once and they would be uncomfortable about it. either way, though, I'll figure a way to get there.
(San!) 3. My host-parents drove me to school TWICE this morning, despite it being Sunday, just to
What's that face?!
I swear I didn't know she was taking a photo of me.
ingrain my bicycle route into my head. Very nice of them Still haven't found a helmet, so I guess I'll just be careful until I find one... (my mom will LOVE that one).
okay.... (Shi!) 4. My host-brother, Jun (age 33, married, successful tennis school owner) called the house about 2 hours ago, and wanted to talk to me of the phone (!!!), so I talked to a Japanese person on the phone for the first time!!! He spoke English a bit, and we both stumbled in and out of Japanese and English as we laughed and said our hellos. He should be showing up around 10pm, which is now, so I should stop writing.
Wow, my head is spinning with how much is happening. I'm kind of longing for an actual schedule with classes that I can settle into...
Stay classy, America.
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