Saturday, April 18, 2009


I really have to quit walking in and out of the Book-Off here...

And in other news, the first week of classes has ended and it has been interesting. We have been divided in two classes, but it was not on basis of our placement test results (which went surprisingly well) or family name and it seems we're going to change classes again Monday, so it was probably just entirely random.

Anyway, while we still use the same books as our collegues in Leiden, we don't really translate anymore, as our teachers don't know Dutch. Although, one of them has lived for a year in the Netherlands, in Alkmaar if I remember correctly, and I suspect her of eavesdropping on our Dutch conversations. But whatever the case, we just practice reading comprehension and sentence structures in Japanese and it really helps that the whole class is in Japanese, even though it does make explaining/asking things difficult ("Information shimasu-en?" XD). Japanese style of teaching also includes a lot of repeating, with the teacher asking a impossibly long sentence (ending with a question particle 'ka') and all she wants is that you repeat her sentence. We also learn loads of new useful words, which I really like! My vocabulairy is OK, but I still haven't found the right occasion for 死亡推定時刻 (estimated time of demise), so words like the five senses or 大麻 (Cannabis) are a bit more useful. We are from Holland, you know.

All in all, while the first day was really a shock, with the passing days, we all slowly get used to it. Of course, we also have Material Culture and long-distance Classical Japanese classes to follow, which is kinda... hard.

This week of going back and forth between Ekota and the JNI also made us part of the impressive image of packed trains in the morning. You usually do have some space in the train, but at times you get someone who actually leans on your back with all his weight in order to sleep. I hate you, you Japanese man on the Seibu-Ikebukero line. In general though, gaijin do get some more personal space than other people. With me, as an Asian, they usually mistake me for a Japanese until I open my mouth. The Japanese don't really talk in the train in the mornings, but for me, it creates breathing space, so I do try to talk. Breathing space is precioussss...

Seeing the daily life of the Japanese at the train stations, I begin to understand why a writer like Nishimura Kyoutarou can write countless of train mysteries and still be so popular here. I also begin to understand why detectives are quite popular here, because everytime I switch on the television for news, it's about murder.

OK, it's murder, or food, or the weather.

I still am very impressed by the sheer amount of detective-related stuff here. Every Saturday a movie-length detective on TV, great detective-drama shows (33分探偵 (33 Minute Detective) and 名探偵の掟 (The Laws of Great Detectives) are great parody shows), the amount of detectives per bookstore here is more than 20 bookstores in the Netherlands in total have (which sadly is nowhere near an exaggeration). Which reminds that the new Detective Conan movie, The Raven Chaser, is being shown at theaters from today on, so I'll have to go see it :3

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