Saturday, October 15, 2011

Weekend Tiiiime!

So being in Japan is great. My Japanese is getting a lot better, I understand a lot more when people are talking to me and don't get caught up over words I don't know, and can speak without having to practice first. There are times that I don't realize I'm speaking Japanese or English because it comes so effortlessly. That's cool.

But as my Japanese gets better and better, I think my English is getting worse and worse. I just spent the last ten minutes trying to figure out if the phrase, "to brush up on" was actually a thing or if I was mixing up words. It is a thing so we're good, but speaking English is getting difficult.

It's not like I don't speak it all the time, it's just that my brain is sometimes still in Japanese mode when I'm talking in English, so what used to be a structured, well-balanced vocabulary has now become lazy and sloppy.

In Japanese, you can drop polite add-ons at the end of sentences (like desu and masu) to make it more casual. You can shorten verbs and drop particles (particles are like the English equivalents of the words "the," or "a," or "to," kinda like helpers that you attach to certain words to use them with verbs) and soon the sentence, "Are you going to school tomorrow?" shortens from, "Ashita, gakkou ni ikimasuka?" to, "Ashita, gakkou iku?"When you're with your friends, you speak in the latter form. When you're with people that you need to show respect to, like your parents or your teacher or a stranger or anyone older than you, you use the former.

But I hang out with Ayame a lot, so we're always talking in short form. By the time I get back to speaking English, I'm like, "I have to speak ALL these words?"

Anyway, that aside, I've had a great weekend so far. I organized a trip to Karaoke not far from our school with about 16 other people, Japanese and American and French and Australian alike, and we ended up having a blast. I accidentally blew people out of the water when A Whole New World came on and I was like, YES, THIS IS IT, THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR! I've been singing and practicing that song since I could say, "Aladdin," so I guess what I'm trying to say is that it turned out really well.

But then I drank too much and my head still aches as I type, and it's nearly nine hours after I woke up. So that's cool.

And THEN today I got to try Japanese Kyuudou! It's archery, but it's Japanese style, so the bow is about seven, eight feet tall and it's a little different from archery in the way you have to hold the bow. Actually, there's a whole ritual you have to go through (kind of like everything else in Japan.)

And now, a series of pictures of a stranger I met today:

Step one: Separate feet a little past hip width. Set arrow against knee, set arrow.
Step 2: Raise bow so that your hands are near the top of your head.

Step 2 cont'd: Straighten forward arm, bow back right arm a little bit - keep wrist straight and elbow up.

Same picture as before, but from the side.

Step 3: As you lower the bow, pull your right arm back until the part where the arrow meets the string on the bow is near your mouth. Wrist straight, elbow high, shoulder relaxed.

Step 4: Release the arrow. Success!
By the way, the actual range was outside (like there wasn't a roof over it), but we stood inside a room and then shot to the targets there in the back. It was kind of interesting, this inside-outside room.

And here's some pictures of me looking comparatively less cool in my street clothes and breast plate: 
Look at that bow. It's freakin' huge!

Notching arrows is hard.

Notching arrows is really hard

Still notching that arrow. Most of these pictures are of me notching arrows, actually.

Sensei helping me practice stage two. (In Japanese, sensei is a title for a teacher or instructor or doctor or anyone else really important)

Jeff getting ready to shoot.

Nice form.

Unfortunately, there weren't any good pictures of me shooting because Sensei was helping me with my form and a lot of these pictures ended up really blurry (David) but it was a fun time. I may go again and then I'll try to get a decent picture of me looking boss.

Until next time!

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