Language Barriers

12 06 2010

When you visit a new country and you don’t know a word of their language, you’d better take some lessons or have someone/thing to help you. We had all three of these:

  1. A phrase book
  2. Someone speaking Japanese
  3. And we took some lessons before going.

But at the end, from our part we did whatever we could. It’s Japanese that somehow are not that comfortable with English.

When we had a conversation, may times we would face just a smile, meaning that they did not understand what we had said. So we used indicate it with simpler words, in order to have a better chance of getting a response.

Generally speaking, their ability of language learning is not that good.

Many times we even saw wrong written statements. For instance, this one was on the bathroom door in our hotel:

This one was on a restaurant menu:

Though we had all these problems in communicating with Japanese, but they always used to come up with something to help us. If you ask a question from someone just on the street, they try their best to help.  Even if they can’t answer, either they do not know the answer or they don’t know English, they will find someone and together they’ll help you.

Monja-Yaki: The Tokyo’s Okonomiyaki ! Best Day in Japan !

10 06 2010

Nothing could be more friendly than this invite! After a long game, cheering and singing, we were exhausted ! So, a good meal would make a perfect day.

Reon, and his girlfriend that was earlier with us in stadium,  invited us to have a traditional Tokyo food that we had not tried yet. So, after watching both teams singing their respecting song to their competitor team, we proceeded to exit. Bryce went back to hotel to wash his shorts, which was adorned by a bird in the middle of the game…

I can’t say we were lost, but i know Reon wasn’t quite sure how to get to the place he wanted. By the time we reached the restaurant, I was so hungry ! The main difference of this Tokyo food with the Hiroshima Yaki was that you cook your own Yaki, on your table. As you see Reon was doing it for us. I have to confess he was a great chef ! The food was just so delicious !

After few times ordering and cooking, Reon taught us how to cook a Monja-Yaki ! Here is Nicholas trying to do what Reon said. He did a good job.

This kindness in Japanese people is adorable, since we were almost two totally strangers to them who had a short conversation in a classroom few days earlier. But they invited us to this memorable restaurant, and and made our day. They guided us to subway, and showed us how to get to Aoyama-Ichome, our home station. On the way back, Nicholas and I were just still wondering how perfect that day was for us…

Yes, The Best Day in Japan… Thanks Reon.


Waseda University Vs. Keio: Baseball Game

10 06 2010

After our visit to Waseda University’s campus, i was in touch with a couple of students. One was Reon.

He invited me, and my ‘extra days’ roommates’ to join them and watch another baseball game. He bought the tickets for us, and came to the nearest station, Ginza line-Aoyama Ichome Staion, and we walked to Meiji Jingu Stadium. 12:00, we met him, and walked to the stadium. The game started at 1:00. We also bought the “Fan Package”, including a towel with this sentence: Waseda wins Keio, a thick paper with folding lines, and a two papers with cheering songs and a name of the players. This time we know who to cheer for !

The game went smoothly, almost with few excitement moments; but  watching it with friends was the nicest part.

The cheering team was a surprise ! I couldn’t have imagined a guy being in the cheering team:

This is a funny moment I found in the cheering style. These guys were dancing, and doing some martial arts while being up the stage! Strange to me, and also for american that are used to just pretty nice girls dancing.

It continued to 4:00. We had enjoyed the game so much. Of course no launch in middle of the game, so I felt so hungry…

To Be Continued…

Okonomiyaki !!!

10 06 2010

Okonomiyaki or, Hiroshima Pan cakes !

‘So delicious,’ is the first word I say about it! This picture shows one of the best meals I had in Japan !

Japanese love ‘Pork’ ! So, no surprise that I had to face the normal argument with them…

– Dear Mr. Chef, sea food only, I don’t want pork on my okonomiyaki! OK ?

– OK !

I watched the food getting cooked in front of. I was so hungry, and this looked very good !

Just a few minutes later, suddenly, I saw a huge peace of pork landing on my food! Me, Pvan, and Meri all screamed! He freaked out! Then I asked him to remove the vegetables on  top, and cook new ones.

But, all the wait was worth the try ! This food, which we call it a pan cake, has a little nice story:

The name is derived from the Japanese word ‘okonomi’ , which means “what you like” or, “what you want”, and ‘yaki’ meaning “grilled” or “cooked”. It’s basically all you want, but if you speak Japanese !

The one I ordered contained Noodles, veges, shrimp, egg, and some more spices. The nice thing about it, is you see it getting cooked in front of you …

Waseda University Visit

10 06 2010

I start this post with a LOGO !

This bear is WASEDA University’s official Mascot ! Pretty clever ! Compare it with ours… a Spartan…

Tokyo Senmon Gakko’ was founded in 1882 in Tokyo, and renamed to Waseda in 1902. Ranked as 159 th university in the world, Waseda is also a well-known university in Japan. We visited their new building, which was lunched a couple of months ago. Design was pretty nice and modern.

As always, friendly people ! English barriers were more noticable in this universtiy than Keio. They all had a translator packet computer, and used it frequently while talking to us.

In Japanese ‘University Entrance System’, they all graduate from high school in the same age, and go on to freshman year in university together, and sophomore, and … Asking a freshman student “How old are you?” is similar to asking a Chinese person “How many siblings do you have?”; unless they wait/study one year to get accepted to the university they want, since the acceptance requires going through a tough examination.

According to their American professor, unlike U.S. universities that graduating is harder than getting into a college, in Japan somehow university is must graduate the students that has accepted. Therefore, being sleepy in class, coming late, or unorganized class attendance is normal.

Anyway, I’m willing to take a semester in this university as an international transit student.

Keio University Visit: Culture

10 06 2010

Keio University: Ranked 11th in the world in 2009 – According to a study by École des Mines de Paris.

It’s high ranking of education, and chance of getting most desired jobs in future, makes this university considered one of the most prestigious universities in Japan. According to École des Mines de Paris, Keio University has some alumni that is proud of: Keio University is ranked the 3rd in Japan for the number of alumni seated in CEO positions in fortune 500 companies.

Almost every feature in university shows the cultural theme and background of students, which are mostly from high-income families. They spoke better English, compared to other Japanese that we had seen. Although we found most Japanese pretty shy, but in this academic atmosphere, they were friendly, helpful, and easy to communicate with. I’m glad to say I made friends there, and I’m still in touch with them.

She was a U.S. born Japanese, and spoke very fluent English. Her Phone can read smart barcodes! (See Technology Post)