Posted by: smlacava | January 29, 2009

My First Week

Konnichiwa (Hello/ Good Afternoon)!


Hope everyone is doing well. The past few days have been pretty interesting, though I do feel as if I am becoming more used to the oddities I see in Japan.


Tuesday I took my placement test (and I think I did quite well) I tested in to the highest level of 2 here (there are 7 sub-levels). But, because the placements are only tentative, I am going to test into Level 3 (which won’t be hard since I’m so close). The administration here also said they are more likely to move up those doing home-stay because there Nihon-go (Japanese) is likely to improve. Also, they said the Japanese teachers can always tell who are participating in the home-stay programs because of the vast improvement. So, I’m excited to finally meet my family and get started with classes. Tuesday night we went out to a Sushi bar near the campus. Our way there we passed this supermarket store called “’K’s”, possibly on of the brightest places I have ever been. Their lights were blinding as you walked in. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore, though, since we were heading to the restaurant. But, I do have a few pictures.


The restaurant was great and totemo oishii (very delicious). Though here in Osaka people say mecha instead of totemo for very. I’ll explain the dialect in Osaka, which is called Osaka-ben later on. Back to the restaurant, it was fabulous! The sushi was on a conveyor belt and passed by your table. You didn’t order your food (though you could using a computer), but grabbed a plate off of the conveyor belt. I’ll explain how it all worked and the interesting dishes we tried in my pictures.


On our way home from the restaurant we also had an adventure – thanks to me! We were walking home (after being given directions back to our Seminar houses from a friend) when I thought it would be a good idea to veer off the road. The way we were given directions, we were actually passing the seminar houses and heading back to campus, then taking a turn, and heading back down the same direction toward the seminar houses. So, I thought we could turn earlier; that the road we were traveling on and the road our seminar houses were on might be directly parallel with a street or two intersecting them. Well, was I wrong. We walked about 20 minutes down the road I thought we should turn on, encouraged by others who thought they saw the bridge one of our seminar houses were off of. While we eventually figured out that the two roads weren’t connected we found this AMAZING kouen (park). The pictures I have are blurry, so I stole some from a friend’s facebook. We’ve already decided we need to go back during the day. Don’t worry though; our group of about 7 gaijin (foreigners) eventually made it back to the seminar houses after a 30-minute detour.


Wednesday wasn’t too exciting. We actually didn’t do much besides going to campus and attending orientation activities. That night, though, we headed back to the infamous Obaasan’s with a few other people. It is such a great restaurant and so cheap! I tried tempura shrimp, which was very good.


Thursday, we also attended more orientation activities, but they were finally more specific than the general ones we have been going to all week. We had a briefing on bicycle registration and bicycle laws. We also had just a general briefing on conduct here. Did you know, in Japan it is considered rude or childish to eat or drink while walking (or even in public)! Also, bicycle registration (yes, you heard right… the registration of bicycles, like you would a car) is an intense process. As well, there are many, many bicycle regulations and rules. From what I have heard from friends, bikes cost about \6,800 (around $70) and they are quite useful. Here almost everyone has a bike; actually I would venture to guess that more people own a bike than a car. It makes traveling quick and easy! I think I may buy one as well. You can also sell your bike back for a little money in return. But, there are rules for riding bikes. Like, you can’t ride a bike with someone riding on back (it’s illegal). Also, you can’t ride a bike while drunk (which, I know… I feel is a given). Riding a bicycle while drunk is actually illegal and you can (and most likely will) be prosecuted. At most you get 3 months in jail and are deported! Isn’t that crazy!


Yesterday I also found out about my host family. And guess what?! They live right around the seminar houses. I have been preparing myself for at least an hour commute to and from my home-stay family. But, now I find out that my commute may not be much longer than it is now! Having a family so close is very, very unlikely. So I am very happy. That being said, I still haven’t met them, so just because they live so close doesn’t automatically make them wonderful people. I found out that my okaasan (mother) is 37-years old and works part-time at an internet café; my otousan (father) is 42 and works at a food-packing place. As well, they have one daughter who is 5! I’m excited to have a younger sibling, and look forward to meeting them this weekend. They don’t have any pets, though, which I was a bit sad about. I will find out more about them this weekend when I meet them Sunday! I’ll make sure to let you all know how it goes.


Yesterday, my friends and I also went and tried a new restaurant close to seminar house. It was a bit more expensive with a bit less food than Obaasan’s, so I’m not sure if we’ll be back, but it was good. We all also tried some sake. I was a little dubious about trying it, I kept thinking that it would be very bad-tasting; I kept forgetting that it is a rice wine and not liquor. It was quite good, a little sweet tasting. We all had one small cup of it with our dinner (it’s like having half a glass of wine with dinner, so don’t worry!) and it was quite good. I tried tonpei for dinner, which is pork and cabbage in an omelette type thing. I wasn’t a big fan, so I’m not sure if I will have it again.


Today we had a general briefing for those participating in the home-stay program. It was very interesting. I found out more about the bathing situation (which Dad was teasing me about). Apparently, you rinse and clean off in the shower before using the bath or ofuro which it is called in Japan. I’ve been told that it is very nice and relaxing, though you do actually all use the same water in the ofuro. BUT, you are not using the same water to bathe in. You do that in the shower. My friend Chelsea (from high school) likened it to a hot tub. It sounds quite nice. Everything else we went over wasn’t too new, though I am very excited now to meet my host family. I’m even more excited now knowing that I will be so close to the area I am in right now. Literally, I will be maybe two or three streets over from where I am staying at the seminar houses.


So, that has been my week! It’s been an interesting week and it’s not even over yet. I’m getting ready for my tour of Kyoto now. We leave in about an hour. I cannot wait to go. Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan! It is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan. Also, it is a place that even the Japanese go as tourists. I am not sure what to liken it too in the U.S., maybe like going to St. Augustine, Philadelphia, or Jamestown. I’ll be sure to take lots and lots of pictures!!




  1. Glad to hear you are having a good time. After seeing your pictures you posted I had to open my Okinawa pictures. The first week I was in Okinawa, we ate at a Shakakans, a Mongolian restaurant that sounds very similar to your experience in the ‘Ks’ restaurant. But ours were mainly meet, fish, vegetables and noodles. After you selected your food you gave it to chef who cooked it on a dome like grill. It was very good.

    Can’t wait to see the pictures. Good luck with your family this weekend.

    Uncle Scotty

  2. Steph, I can’t wait to see all the pictures. That is definitely exciting that the your host family will bein the same neighborhood. Maybe they are “young and hip”??? Can’t wait to find out. I read on the net that they have a Italian restaurants in your area as well. Some day you will have to go see how well the Japanese cook Italian food. Having your sushi served on a conveyor belt–too funny. That reminds me of a pub we used to go to in Wis. The food was delivered to us on a train that went around the bar and it would stop in front of you and you took your food out if it and it went back to the waitress. Kids loved it. Have a fun weekend! Can’t wait to hear aobut your host family.
    Aunt Jean

  3. Wow! If have had a very exciting and busy week. It seems like you are enjoying your stay in Japan. Keep up with using your Japanese whenever you can and soon you will be speaking more than you ever imagined

  4. What a FANTASTIC week and it is not even over yet!!! I’m so delighted for you and can’t wait to see the pictures. With all your updates I won’t have to take a trip to JAPAN! I’ll know it all from you. Be safe. Have a great weekend.
    Love ya,, Aunt Joy


  6. […] will live in a typical nuclear family of parents and young children, like Sarah did in Chile or Stephanie did in Japan. You might live with parents, grandparents and college-aged children, like Meghan is doing in […]

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