There’s a degree of irony in writing this while I’m home for the holidays in America, but it’s been about five months since I’ve started living in Japan. It hasn’t been all fun and games, but it’s not been unpleasant either.
What hurts my experience most is definitely the language barrier. Yeah, I studied this language, but I probably didn’t study it enough. While I need to go back and study some grammar forms I’m not super clear on, my basic grammatical structure is quite sound and does me well when engaging in everyday conversation. Vocabulary! That, my friends, is the issue. Well, that and kanji, but the two almost go hand-in-hand. The more kanji you know, the more words you know. It’s as simple as that. While I do drill kanji flash cards in my free time, that only goes so far, and I’m a slave to what the cards give me. While a lot of the words are quite useful, some of them are useless out of context, and those cards don’t have room for example sentences.
I suppose the solution is to just read, huh? That’s what this eroge translator guy told me. Issue is, I can’t enjoy something if I’m constantly looking shit up every five seconds. I think that works for some people who can deal with such setbacks, but it really just pisses me off. That said, I follow a ton of Japanese Twitters. While my schedule is such that it’s hard to keep up-to-date on Twitter, when I can, I read the musings of both my Japanese friends and various anime and manga personalities. I’ve managed to pick up a few words through doing this, but I should probably write them down so as to commit them to memory. Something else I want to do is try my hand at translating songs. I listen to those all the time, so looking at a lyrics sheet and stopping a song to look something up doesn’t hurt my experience in the same way that stopping in the middle of a book I’ll probably only read once does.
Oh, I mentioned friends up there, right? I also talked about friends when I wrote about the struggles of establishing a social life in Japan around three months ago. Over the past three months friends of mine have been moving over here, so I’ve been managing to make it over to Tokyo somewhat regularly. mt-i–who I’ve been speaking to and debating with on Twitter for a while now–is now based out of Japan, and my long-time internet friend Kransom is also in Japan for the long-haul.
I’ve also made a couple of Japanese friends and rekindled old friendships from when I studied abroad, but, honestly, I don’t see these people as much as I’d like to. On one hand, a few of them are in pretty busy and important parts of their lives, so it’s hard to see them very often. On another, it’s just difficult to hang out with someone when your language skills aren’t up to scratch, especially when you can’t cheat with the other person by sneaking in some English. They don’t understand, you see. I’ve gotten better recently, so hopefully I’ll be seeing these people more often, and my Japanese social life will grow stronger.
Of course, as an otaku, one of the best things about being in Japan is just having direct access to the kind of junk you love. I’ve bought a ton of CDs–both used and new–as well as some anime Blu-rays, DVDs, and illustration books. Oh, and some figures, too. I should probably also buy a new shelf! I’ve also done a few events, but not as much as I would like. I should probably inquire about when the next O.L.H. concert is…
It’s also great having access to Japan’s high level of customer service wherever you go. Japan is a very convenient country to live in, and things typically move very smoothly. I absolutely love getting free shipping from Amazon and having my package arrive the next day. I also enjoy service with a smile–and without attitude–nearly anywhere I go.
And of course, as someone with a dire case of Yellow Fever, there is unlimited access too… GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS! That said, I haven’t been doing much with this new found luxury, but that’s something I plan to change soon.
But yeah, from here on is where the real battle starts. Five months is about the amount of time that I studied abroad for, so moving on beyond that should prove to be interesting. I’ve done my best to put myself out there over the past five months, but I think now’s the time to push things into overdrive and really try to hit it out of the park.
I’m feeling positive.
That said, my flight was cancelled yesterday and I’m stuck in the US for another day! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
On the subject of the New Year, Analog Housou’s first post was published just about a year ago on January 1st, 2011. Writing this blog has been fun, and I think I’ve managed to develop something of a decent writing voice over the past year. That said, I hope to write more over this next year, and I hope to see the reader-base grow. If you like what you read, please comment! Heck, even if you don’t like it, comment! That’s how I know people are reading this stuff!
I’d also like to thank Seiya and Bonertown for their great contributions over the past year as well. Thanks!