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The following update is taken from a recent update email. If you want to receive these emails, leave me a comment and I'll add you to my list.

Things I now love about Japan:

Music: Japanese pop music is a lot of fun. Many songs are interspersed with random English words. It’s surreal and often hilarious to listen to them. The band names are also a lot of fun, especially when they are in English. I especially like the music of Mr. Children, YUKI, Judy and Mary, L’arc en Ciel, Porno Graffiti and Love Psychedelico.

Drinks: Melon soda is the bomb dot com. KFC and MOS Burger have it at the fountain here, along with Coca Cola products. I’ve also had pineapple soda and a drink called “Calpis,” which reminds me a little of horchata. Also, the Japanese have a fondness for cold coffee, especially café au lait. So almost every morning I have a pastry or a piece of toast with a nice cup of cold café au lait.

Seaweed: I love seaweed. I love seaweed in soup, I love seaweed wrapped around rice, I love dried seaweed in snacks, I love seaweed flakes on my okonomiyaki-- I just plain love seaweed. Nuf said.

Written Japanese has three forms: hiragana and katakana (the alphabets) and kanji (characters borrowed from Chinese). I am now quite competent with hiragana-- to the point where I can read the Japanese text in church hymns and sing along, and I can read children’s stories at a good pace (although I don’t understand what I’m reading). Kanji is the more difficult task. When Japanese children are taught Kanji, they are given fifty or so characters at a time, split into six grades. I now know a good bit of the Grade 1 kanji. In order to read a Japanese newspaper, I must know about 1,000 kanji. I now know that I will not progress to that level in two years.

I just gave my first chapel speech at school the 28th. Chapel is one of the only opportunities I have to share my faith and to speak Japanese to the students. I wanted the students to understand me, so I decided I would try to give my speech entirely in Japanese. It was a very difficult task, and many times I thought I was being too ambitious, as I have only been in Japan two months. But I knew that if my speech was in English, only the American teachers and a few of the Japanese teachers and students would be able to understand the majority of it. So I wrote the speech in English first and then gave sections of it to several people to translate. One of the Japanese teachers helped me with my pronunciation. There were also a lot of people praying for me as I prepared for the speech. So I did it. And I was really nervous. But after the speech many Japanese teachers came to me and told me that it was a good speech and that they understood my Japanese pronunciation. I was very encouraged my this. My next speech is in a month, so this week I must start writing the English draft to be translated. No rest for the weary.

More Fun Facts:

McDonald’s here has ginger ale, several kinds of coffee drinks, and an awesome mango shake. But the fries taste exactly the same.

The trash system here is really different. Trash is separated by category and put into different colored bags. For example, burnable trash goes in the red bag, plastic goes in the blue bag, aluminum and glass go in the yellow bag, etc. There are designated days of the week that these trash bags can go out to the street. If you forget to put it out one week, you have to hang on to the smelly garbage bag for another week. That happened to me once. I put the garbage bag on my porch so the smell wouldn’t asphyxiate me. The next morning I discovered the crows had a feast on my kitchen scraps. Ugh.

Before eating a meal, the Japanese say “itadakimas,” which literally means something like “I receive.” They will even say this when no one else is around. It acts as a kind of prayer before the meal, to mean, “I receive this with humility and thanks.”

Japanese manhole covers are fancy. Really fancy. The Shimonoseki manhole cover features the blowfish, as Shimonoseki is the leading supplier of the poisonous delicacy in Japan. I was told that over 85% of the blowfish eaten in Japan comes from Shimonoseki.


written by Ruthie @ 8:44 PM  
3 thoughts:
  • At 10/30/2006 5:48 AM, Blogger Shayna in Scotland said…

    Wow! The Wood side are crazy geniouses with languages! Well done you- very impressive.
    Always interesting to hear how things are different in other places in the world.

  • At 11/05/2006 8:30 AM, Blogger Rachel said…

    I'd like to get your updates:)

  • At 11/06/2006 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "I'm gonna go interrogate the toilet for about 8 minutes; see if he knows anything."
    Haha, have you seen the Halloween Homestarrunner yet??
    I love you Ruf!

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Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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