Category Archives: English


Fuji-san hiking

Few days ago we went to hiking to Fuji-san. Until last moment it was not sure were we going there – or we are using plan B because of the weather conditions.
Two big busses were waiting for us – and class leaders started counting their classes and boarding the busses. I counted mine – and it was like – 2 out of 6 people were present. My group was last to board the bus…
Inside was… hmmm… interesting… Only thing that was missing was disco ball. It had lights in all possible colors and in the middle row there were some things like glass chandeliers… don’t ask…
Our tour guide introduced to us – she doesn’t speak English except “yes”, “no” and two more words – that’s what she told. I was surprised that a lot of things that she told during the trip I actually understood. I guess that I am getting better at this Japanese stuff.
After first pause in front of some store to buy things to eat and drink – and just to have a rest – we had some original Japanese fun time. If you thought karaoke – yup – you are right. Our tour guide took two microphones and wanted to plug them into the bus sound system. Plugs are in the compartment above peoples heads… and well… she kind of had a height problem… so I helped a bit ; ) System was installed in no time – and now we only needed volunteers to break ice. Well that was actually Elvis Presley with his song “Love me tender” – and next volunteer, erm… volunteers were Beatles – and after them – I don’t remember.
On the way to the Fuji san there is an amusement park, and if I remember correctly what somebody told me, there is a highest in the world roller coaster. Daily pass is something like 30-40 USD – I am definitely going there – and also I have to go to Disneyland – my inner child wants to go there badly.
After arriving to Fuji Visitor Center we had first of a lot of collective photographs and proceeded to the center to get as much as possible information about the mountain. Actually there were pamphlets in English also. One of the interesting things were some facts – like the oldest man who climbed the Fuji san mountain was around 104 years old when he did it, the first lady who did it was disguised as a male because it was forbidden for females to go on the mountain and I forgot the name of first foreigner who did it – he made Japanese very angry by doing it because Fuji san was considered (or is still?) sacred mountain and it wasn’t meant for foreigners (gaijin’s).
After leaving the center we went to the fifth level – at around 2000m to see the mountain – for a short hike around. But because of the weather conditions we actually didn’t see anything and binoculars that I bought specially because of this opportunity were useless. Ok we did see some lava stones, a bit of nature but that is everything we saw on our hiking. But I am not too sad – on 1st of August I am going to climb the mountain – to the top – with some friends from one university club (I am not telling you which one ; ) ) It is around 3500 meters, and it is Japan’s highest mountain – volcano. I just hope it will not activate while I am climbing it…

After the pause for lunch we headed for some other hiking somewhere else – I have no idea where we were – but it was near some ice cave and we also went inside. I was reading a warning about watching your head and 5 seconds later – BANG! I realized why they were warning me… ceilings can be really low – and on some places we almost had to crawl trough – but it was worth it. Cave was nice – but slippery and with lot of ice. I captured few views from it – and you can check it out in gallery – but there is much more to see than on those photographs.

There was a thing that I wanted to do so I asked a driver of a bus for permission – and of course I got it. I sat in front of the driving wheel and posed for some pictures. In fact much more pictures than I expected because I turned out to be tourist attraction and a lot of people started taking photos of me. One thing I was asked to do it – and I already knew that I have to do it because I saw it from the driver – is that I have to take of my shoes before entering the drivers place. And since I didn’t notice any other shoes in the cabin – I guess they are driving barefoot… Did I tell you that I managed to ask for permission to sit there in Japanese – not in English ; )

He took us back home – with someone singing on karaoke again ; ) Next time I am definitely taking part in karaoke.

Two days ago rain season officially started so I am sad a bit because of that – but what can I do… It just means that we will have a bit more rain in next 40 days (I wonder how is it possible to be more raining compared to last month…). We were also warned that it will be very humid from now on and to watch out on the food – it will become bad very fast. So we have to avoid keeping it too long out of fridge or we risk food-poisoning. And since our health insurance covers only 70% of the bills – we should really be careful. I don’t know how much are those 30% and I do not intend on finding out that.

Until next time – see you! I’m going to study now…


Lost in Tokyo

Unlike Bill Murray who was lost in translation – I got lost in Tokyo.
It all began one day when I went to buy a bicycle – it was about a month ago if you remember. They promised that it would get delivered before the end of the May – but probably around the 15th of May. I don’t have to tell you that they kept the promise – after all this is Japan. But the thing in which I was really disappointed was that I got it at the end of the month – not around the 15th.
A package arrived for me on Monday during the first class. By the shape of the package you couldn’t mistake in guessing what was inside. I asked teacher to be a bit late for the next class – just to take it to my room and it was OK.
It arrived in a bad moment – just 4 days before the midterm exam. But that didn’t stop me from trying it out the next day.
I put on my helmet, put on the sneakers and asked my friend, and my official photographer ; ) Dono-san, to take pictures of me going to the maiden voyage of this bicycle.
Because I don’t know the streets around here – I decided to go only straight from one place – and to see where I will end up. I almost got used to drive on the left side – but it can happen that when I turn into another street that I go to the right side. So as planned I went down the road for some 30km – or more – I really don’t know because I didn’t buy speedometer – but after that I saw a nice park and went in there. I stopped around – took some photos – and when I wanted to go to the part where it is the “hanging world” – various parts of the world represented somehow (I don’t know how – I didn’t see it) – I was notified that the working hours of the park are over and that I should leave. So I will have to return here some day – if I am able to find it again.
The return trip was a bit harder – because at the end I didn’t do my rule – just go straight – I ended up not knowing how to return. So my only solution was to ask people how to return – and it can be only done in japanese. So I do it. I ask people and I get responses like… “Fuchu-shi…aaaa… Sumimasen, Wakaranai, sumimasen” (Fuchu… ahhh… I am sorry but I don’t know, I am sorry), or “Fuchu-shi… tooi desu….” (Fuchu – ah that is very far…). So from some of them I got instructions, some people didn’t know where it is. At the way back I stumbled upon one more park where I have found the perfect place for barbeque on May 1st. In that park some kids were attempting some tricks with skate’s.
That was meant to be a short drive trough the Tokyo since I didn’t have much time – but when you get lost – you can not affect the time needed to get back. I think I have spoken to something like 20 people on my way back to ask for the directions. I have to say that it was very safe to drive the bicycle on the streets of the Tokyo – drivers always gave me enough space – even slowed down on places where they could not overtake me because of the vehicles from the opposite directions.


Why does every post have to have a title?

As you may have already noticed – I didn’t have too much time for myself here. After all, this is Japan and we have to study really much. I was, and still am, lagging a bit behind and was concerned about my capability to study because I was noticeably lagging behind the rest of the group except one guy. But I found the reason for that. This year, unlike before, majority of people have already had some classes of Japanese – and all of the people from my class, except me and one guy, learned already Japanese and knew already around 150 kanjis before coming here.

We had a visit to Fuchi-shi recycling center and watched a movie about recycling in there and saw the machines. The movie was in 日本語 (Japanese) and we were not provided with translations but I could understand the point. I can tell you one thing – they are crazy… As I have already told you they require you to separate all your trash to several categories – but it’s not only that. YOU have to WASH cans and bottles etc. before you throw it to trash. If you want to throw out something huge like old chair – you can not just throw it like that – but you have to take it to recycling center – and to pay them to take it. There they have also a store of recycled things – recycled furniture, recycled bicycles (they have a mechanics who assemble bicycles from parts available – and it seems that they do a good job).

Two days ago we had guest teachers from other universities to practice talking with them. I was very nervous about it prior to the class but in the end it wasn’t that bad and I was astonished how good I could talk. Also somehow came the theme of what languages we can speak – I think it was when I mentioned that I know Russian. So he asked me which language we speak in Serbia – I say Serbian, and he was like OK, you know Serbian, English, Russian and now you are learning Japanese – wow… And later I had just to add – I know also Croatian, Bosnian, I can understand if I struggle Macedonian… I am sorry that I didn’t add Montenegrin and that I can understand a bit of Bulgarian. And like a cherry on the top I added that I learned Latin in school… Now he was like no way… and asked me to tell him something in Latin… But the good thing is that I really learned a bunch of quotes from Latin and that is the only thing I remember. I could maybe read now Latin – but probably couldn’t translate anything. I even started learning German – my friend, Lijljana-san, gave me classes of it but I was really busy and… heh… irresponsible…. so I didn’t learn it… My Russian here is improving a lot…

Hmmm… next few lines will be only for Serbian speaking folks for undisclosed reason ; )
Juče htedoh da zapalim sa poslednjeg časa jer tu ne vode evidenciju ko je prisutan – u principu se gledaju neki filmovi i sl – ne mogu da se setim čega je čas – al nebitno… U principu stižem ja u lift i ljudi mi kažu – e javili su nam da danas vode evidenciju ko je prisutan… i svi smo otrčali nazad na čas… Stvarno su upisivali… Mada vredelo je ostati.
On last class we have watched one part of the very long movie called “Corporations”. I recommend to all to watch it – it is about how the corporations came to life in this world, how are they abusing the planet, manipulating media, using the people in poor countries etc. Please watch it.

Today we had a international welcome party in our cafeteria. There were people from embassies of the students, all students introduced themselves, there were also guests from Japanese government who are responsible for these Monbukagakusho scholarships. If I understood correctly – majority of the students are for arts – and less then 50% is for natural and social sciences. I cannot say that I was surprised, because I was not, that no one from my embassy came. And as Komatsu-sensei told me – they even did not care enough to respond to invitation to say if they are coming. Eto… to su Srbi… odgovornost na nivou…
On the party everyone wanted me to take photos of them – so if I fail in studies – I can go and pursue career in professional photography of this type of events ; ) We had a lot of delicious food available (for free) and at the end of the party they told us to take food with us. And there was a lot of food. So we took it to the dormitory and made after party… We were eating and eating, people came with boxes and carried to their rooms for next days… And we still did not manage to empty the plates. I ate a lot, so much that I couldn’t even breathe anymore, and those of you who know me know that it has to be veeeeery much ; )
I must apologize to a lot of people for not replying to their emails because I really am very tight with time. And when bicycle arrives – it is going to be a disaster.
Tonight expect some photos – at least I expect that I will upload them ; )
If I remember something more – I will write – but for now I can not think about anything interesting…
Now heading to the gym.

P.S. Za one koji su se pitali šta znači ono “Čuvajte mi Jugoslaviju” – to je bilo za one kojima sam obećao da će to da bude sadržaj oproštajne poruke kada budem napuštao Srbiju. Inače tu rečenicu je izgovorio drug Slobodan Milošević kada je išao u Dejton da potpiše sporazum…


Long time no see…

Finally after so many days I found time for writing blog. As you can imagine learning Japanese is not easy – and we have very busy schedule here. Each day we spend around 6 hours in the school – and after that I have to prepare for the following day, to do the homework, to eat something and stuff like that…
I hear that some of you forgot the meaning of the word gaijin… OK, it is shortened, pejorative, form of the word gaikokujin – gai – means outside, koku – means country and jin means man. So gaikokujin (外国人) is a man from foreign country and gaijin (外人) would be something like outsider…
Today is the constitutional day – a holiday! And so is tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after… Post office worked yesterday only until 4PM – and will not work until next week. That is just information for those who say that in Japan people only have one free day in a year. And that is not all. Here if the national holiday happens to be on the Sunday – it is moved to first working day. There are more than 10 national holidays each year. For example Emperors birthday, Constitutional day, Children’s day! etc… So people – please stop speaking of Japanese as a hard working people. Oh, and for those that told me – you will see, Sunday is a regular working day – well… it is the truth – but that companies have some other day defined as a free day. For example you will find a store that doesn’t work on Wednesday but it works on Sunday. That is a good thing from mine point of view – because you can do whatever you need that day – go shopping, go to bank etc. Banks are working only until 3PM and only there you can exchange foreign currency. After that in banks you can only use ATM machines, but in those machines you can also remit money. Most companies work until 5PM – but for shopping you can go until 8PM or to some of malls even until 11PM.
I have bought a bicycle! Or better said – I payed for the bicycle and I will have to wait for it until mid-May or even until the end of the month since the model I want and in the color I want is not available currently in my size. Not in any of the shops. Not even at the manufacturers ; ) I also wanted  home delivery of the bicycle – and it costs 5000¥ – it is 50USD – but as the people who know me expect – I managed to get free delivery. As I told before – they really do respect customers. And in lot of the shops you get those loyalty cards – according to the amount you buy you get some points on your card and based on that points you get discount next time. Even in a bakery I got a loyalty card…
I prepared mine first meal since I became expat – it was something very simple, but I missed some spices from Serbia. Nevertheless some Japanese friends tried it and told me: これはおいしですね and for those who do not understand this – they told me that it tasted good. But for me it wasn’t enough salty and stuff like that and when they saw the amount of the salt and pepper I am adding (only spices I have at the moment) they couldn’t believe their eyes. After first successful meal I started buying some kitchenware and started stocking the vegetables in my fridge. If I continue this way after this year when I go to another dormitory I will have to hire a moving company ; ) Even a friend did a caricature of us – and on my shirt it was written “I love shopping”. I already got reputation of a shopper…

Last week we went to a city museum (as you may have already seen in a gallery). We from the social studies went to see something that students from social studies should see – some movie about the culture, festivals and stuff like that and the lucky students from natural studies went to the planetarium. Well I managed to go with natural sciences. I always find a way… The planetarium was fascinating! As a friend told me it is bigger than one in Moscow. The story they spoke in the planetarium was in japanese but the images were so good. Everything seemed so realistic, everything had a 3D effect – you could think that that planet that is approaching is going to hit you. We also have seen animation of two planets colliding – so real that you can’t believe that it is animation. It is unexplainable – you have to go there to see it… Oh yes… the worst nightmare of a photographer happened to me there… I ran out of the batteries for my new camera ; ( But I was ready for that – and pulled out another camera ; ) You can imagine the looks I got while carrying two cameras…

Yesterday I went to my favorite chinese restaurant to have a meal – but this time alone. And what I heard about going to restaurants here alone happened. The guy working there wanted to chat with me ; ) He is very friendly. So here the situation is like that – either they are ultra unfriendly or very friendly. We chatted in Japanese – it was a very simple conversation. He asked me how long I am learning Japanese and instead saying one month I managed to say from the January (in Japanese the name for January is “first month”, which is very similar to “one month”) and when he heard that I didn’t learn Japanese in my country he was very surprised. He was also interested where I am from, what do we eat etc… Of course I told him that we eat a lot of meat – and the next question was which meat we eat? Oh… I wished I knew to say in Japanese that we eat everything that moves… But I had to say pork, chicken, sheep, fish etc… I think he got the picture…

That’s it from me for now…

Čuvajte mi Jugoslaviju ; )


Yup, I am alive

Wow… this was a very long week… or maybe short? I didn’t have much time for anything… and sometimes that was also true for sleeping. So in fact – it was short.
Lots of days were with rain… I wonder how it will be when the rain season starts. I hope that I will not have to build Nemanja’s arch.
Tokyo is a very big city and you can easily get lost in it. I still have not found out how to they number the buildings – but every building has some three numbers – what do they mean – I have no idea! But at least when you are lost – you just find nearest Koban (police box) and ask them. Policemen here are really friendly and will help – also they have all the maps there and will find the place you need. Or if there is no Koban near – you just ask somebody where is that what you need – if they do not know – they will ask around, or even take you to the Koban and ask for you (in Japanese off course).
If you ask somebody for directions and they think it is too hard to explain – they will even walk with you to that place even if it was in totally opposite direction of where they were heading. Yesterday I even asked for some address and a couple of people didn’t know and I decided just to go straight ahead – I put my earphones on my ears and started walking. Some 30 meters ahead – I sensed someone pulling me by backpack – one guy heard that I needed assistance and he helped me – he knew perfectly english – which was a bit surprising. He took me to the address I needed and we talked – where I am from, what I am doing here and stuff like that. I also asked him where did he learn the language. Suddenly everything became clear – he was studying in Australia for 6 years, and he didn’t know anything in English before going there… basically same situation as mine. He also gave me his name card if I need some help.
Generally I heard that people in Japan when they see gaijin – they want to talk to them so that they can practice some english. The another thing which I also heard that will happen is that even if gaijin talks to them in Japanese – they will reply to gaijin in English.
So now we have image of Japanese people like they are friendly to us, foreigners, right? WRONG! We got kicked out of a restaurant just because we are gaijins… I just heard blah blah blah… gaijin… blah blah blah and seen the hand motion that says – go away. That was unpleasant. Image of the name of the restaurant can be found in the gallery (soon). Ok, that was isolated incident and it was not fair to say that they are not friendly to gaijins.
I also bought a good bilingual atlas of Tokyo – for 1 USD. Very convenient thing for getting around Tokyo – and because several times I couldn’t identify where is the north – I had to buy a compass also… now I can go wherever I want… Oh yes – I forgot to tell that the atlas was printed in 1993 and it is first edition. I guess it is OK ; )

So you decided to come to Tokyo and you want to use your phone here. Well… if it is one of the modern ones, 3G, than you will be able to use it – otherwise forget it. Also if you think that you will buy here a telephone – forget about that also ; ) There are stores for foreigners that sell mobile phones with GSM support – but they are very expensive. And if you want to buy a telephone for usage here – you can also forget about it if you do not have any type of residence here – tourists can not even buy pre paid numbers here – they can only rent it. And 99% of the telephones sold here are tied to the networks and even branded according to the network. So you have Softbank, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo telephones – but nowhere you will find good old Motorola, Samsung etc. (If you check Samsung mobile web site for japanese market you will see that it produces telephones for Softbank). Oh – and did I mention that telephones here are expensive? One good thing about the Softbank – they have a student discount – and with it you don’t have to pay monthly charge but only what you make – and calls and SMS’s between Softbank users are free until 9PM.

We received our bills for electricity… I will have to cut my power usage a bit… I am one of those who has highest bill. And I only use laptop and hot water. I have seen a lot of people now using their laptops in the study room… and only at night use them in their rooms. We all became power savvy people 🙂

Shopping here is a real pleasure – especially if you have a VISA card from Meridian Bank – why? I’ll tell you later ; ) Difference here is that in every shop they respect the customer and are always available to help. No one will tell you – “What do you want?! I just swept the floor!”. Every shop also tries to keep it’s customers by issuing loyalty cards with which you get discounts. For example in Yodobashi Kamera when you buy something you get 10% of what you spent on your card so that you can spend it for something else. But that’s not all – some manufacturers even make some promotions – so for example I bought one camera and they will give me 200USD in cash after around a month. I love shopping in Japan! Did I mention that prices in Serbia are around 50% higher than those in Japan?

One thing you do not buy here is paper tissues. Why? Because you can get them for free – they give out them on the street with some adverts together. So if you need tissues – just walk around and you will get them. I now collected so many of them that I started thinking of starting a export business of paper tissues.

I finally bought shoes! I thought that it was mission: impossible – but I succeeded! Often it was like – they are ugly – or more often – they don’t have size 😉 I am big foot here ; ) But when I went to Adidas store – there were no such problems. And I didn’t pay too much for them.
So now I started going to the gym – it’s 3 minutes walk from my dorm – and it’s free! And thanks to my friend, Hiks, I know what to do, and more importantly how to properly do it 😉 That’s why some of my friends suggested that I should organize them a training ; )

Next week I am buying a bicycle here and I will see if the bicycles are stolen in Tokyo. I hope they are not – but who knows? I found the place where I will buy it – but I do not know how to transport it to my dormitory. I guess I will have to ride it back to the dorm. ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD! That is going to be fun. Good thing is that until the end of this month I have travelers insurance so I am covered for injuries up to 15 000EUR… Oh and by the way – shop is located in part of the Tokyo called Ikebukuro. In that part was also Adidas shop. Why am I telling you which part of the Tokyo it is? Well – that part of the Tokyo is part which is controlled by Yakuza’s. But during the day it was safe… but during the night… I don’t want to test.

Two days ago my friend and I went to a sushi restaurant. It was one of those where sushi’s are going around the place on the plates and you pick them off the track when you see some that you like. After that you pay based on amount of plates – and prices are color coded. I don’t know why it works – but it works. I know one place on this planet where people would just put the plate in their backpack… they would get free plate and free meal ; ) After experimenting a lot – we decided that it was enough – and the best part – it was cheap! Staff was really friendly – and even one of the girls who is working there is going to our university ; ) The chef told my friend that she speaks Japanese really good. So in fact that means the opposite. Here you know that yours Japanese is good only when they stop saying you how good it is.

This weekend I wanted to visit one big park in Shinjuku and one big temple – but because of poor weather conditions – I had to postpone it until next weekend…
I hope that we will have nice weather when we go hiking to mt. Fuji in May.

See ya people!


Visiting Tokyo Tower

Now there exist several photos of me in Tokyo – but I currently have access only to this one ; ) I hope that soon I will be able to see them all.

So you now have evidence that I am in Tokyo.

Marta, Jana and I in the morning – at 9AM (on Saturday…) went sight seeing in the center of our part of Tokyo. We only visited the Shinto shrine – Okunitama Shrine – which is one of the oldest shrines in Japan. It is older than 1900 years. I acted as a true Japanese tourist – pointing my camera in every direction and taking photos ; )
We couldn’t enter the shrine so don’t expect some details about it – only thing I can say is – it’s nice. From the outside. In front of it there is a large something where you throw a coin, probably make a wish, bow to it and then clap your hands. That’s what I presumed after carefully watching what are people doing…
After that we went to eat and to shop. I was worse than these girls… they succeeded in buying some stuff while I was only running around the jeans and trying out some. In the end – I didn’t buy anything – I decided to go to another shop and search there ; ) A lot of other things I wanted to buy I didn’t… I didn’t have enough cash with me… for example I found a nice watch, Tag Heuer one, for a merely 2000 EUR. I also had some problems with the clothing… it was not 2000 but only 200 EUR for the t-shirt – OK it has a brand name – but it is still just a t-shirt. And a lot of other stuff was overpriced. I also couldn’t find a Levi’s 501 in color I wanted. Ugh… I hate unsuccessful shopping’s.
After returning home a group formed which wanted to go to visit Tokyo tower. I was very eager to go – so I immediately accepted – under one condition – that my hair dries until that. The problem here is that I don’t have a hair dryer and the second problem is that I don’t even plan on buying one ; ) While we were on our way to the station we had a nice chat – and on the half way to the train station we realized that half of the group was missing. Oups. We than voted what to do and somehow in the end decided that we should go back and check what happened with the rest of the team. They returned because of… what was it? I don’t remember – never mind – but we went to the station all together. We bought the tickets – transfer tickets that is because we needed to change the train at the Shinjuku to the other one. At the Shinjuku we realized that we had the wrong tickets… never mind… bought another ones and went where we wanted. On the exit from the station we were looking where is the tower located on the map – and we couldn’t find it. After asking some young japanese people we realized that we are in the wrong place. So back to the station, buy another ticket and after couple of stops – we were finally on a 10 minute walk from the tower.
Tower itself is I think like Eiffel tower – but bigger and lighter. Japanese also made their own statue of liberty ; ) I have to see that. After waiting in a queue and climbing to the tower we had a nice view of the Tokyo by night. We could also go the the special observation level – way up higher – but they told us that we had to wait 60 minutes – because the queue is that large… no thanks. We were to hungry to wait 60 minutes and after all – what could be different? So we just went back home.
We stopped by a man on a street who is selling some food (you can see it in a gallery) and bought something to eat. I finally started using some japanese – something like – Sore wa nan desu ka? Kore wa ikura desu ka? And stuff like that ; ) It felt a bit odd. The food was not anything special – I should stick to the chinese restaurant near our campus ; )
In the train back home a women from Japan asked us are we foreign students, then where are we from etc. etc. etc… She told me that she had a friend in Serbia – who is now living in Canada… She met him same as she met us in a train – but they became friends – at least so she says. After exiting a train – she also wanted to have a picture with all of us… It was so unusual…


Second day of school

For the ones who were enough mean to send me an email notifying me that I have errors in my English here – yes – I know it! I know that my English is not what it used to be, and for a long time I didn’t like to use it in front of the people who know English. It got that bad because of the nature of my job I did during past years.
There was interesting thing on the class today. We learned how to ask for the price of something and to say the prices of same things. Teacher for that purpose brought some big paper from a market with some product pictures and the prices of those products. It’s something like in Belgrade we receive from Maxi supermarket, Idea and similar. We came up to apples and the price is 80 yen (0.8 USD). I just had to ask is that for a kilogram. Teacher just laughed and told that it is off course per piece! I told her that that is the price per kilogram in Serbia and she just could not believe it. After that she for almost all prices checked with me and for all of them I told that they are expensive there. Here are some grapefruit is also 80 yen a piece and pork – 100 grams of pork is 700 yen (7 USD).
Later in the class of the intercultural communication we did some things – like writing or drawing what we felt when we arrived and/or feel now, then also had to fill in a form also about some our feelings, what we miss from our country etc. After all that we played a bingo game – we had a table 5×5 with some characteristics of a person and we had to find person with that characteristic to sign in that field. As you get 5 persons in a row or in a column – you can go to the dorm (and later return for medical check). The thing that most of the people didn’t realize, that was concealed behind the game is that the teacher is making a really nice database of our characteristics without us even knowing, OK except some of us.
Medical check came up fine. They told me that I don’t need to wear glasses ; ) My right eye has perfect vision (1.5) and the left eye is weaker (0.9 and the OK vision is 1.0). Well nothing I didn’t already know.
Weather finally improved today and tomorrow if it stays this way we go to visit some shrine or temple, go shopping (yay!) and stuff like that. Maybe I will even ask a friend to take a photo of me in Japan – since some of you asked also why there is no me in the pictures. Well if I stand from behind the camera – it can not include me in the picture, right?


School year begins

Another rainy day begins – and with it also school year. Weather is like in November back home – so it is not that unusual to start classes now ; ) We were handed out these textbooks (in the picture), some tapes and tape recorders to listen to them and we went to our first classes. Yeah – you read it right – tape recorders… But the good thing is that all material is also available on line for learning – well designed, with sounds and texts.
Classes are a bit harder than what I assumed. Two out of three teachers spoke jinglish – and not English – so it was very hard to distinct when they speak in Japanese and when they speak in English. And they do speak a lot in Japanese. But as time passes I think that that will be only an advantage. Classes are 90 minutes long and we have 10 minute breaks in between and after second class we have 1 hour lunch break. According to schedule for now we will only have 3 classes per day. During the lunch break I haven’t tried to go to the chinese restaurant but gave second chance to student cafeteria. Again – prices are low – and so are the servings. After spending a total of $6 for lunch – I now feel hungry – and if you remember for $8 in chinese restaurant I can live 24 hours. And the food is of much better taste in chinese restaurant. And now – I go to do the homework. It’s raining – so there is not much better things to do. Oh yes – yesterday finally I succeeded in putting my music collection on my MacBook so now I can listen whatever I want! (And annoy the annoying neighbor) Yeeeeey!


Entrance ceremony

After raining for two days it is finally a nice day. Unfortunately entrance ceremony was yesterday – and I really hoped that we will have nice weather for it since it was preferred to wear some more formal clothes. It was hard to wake up on time to be able to dress in a suit ant to be at the Sakura hall for the entrance ceremony at 8:45 AM. It proved so – since a lot of students were late and entrance ceremony started late. And on students orientation class on Monday they said to us that punctuality is important thing in Japan – however… a lot of them didn’t mind that too much. It even happened that two of them didn’t show up.
We were seated as designated and than they started calling us and as someone heard something that resembled his name – he stood up and remained standing until all were called. There were 61, oh…, there should have been 61, of us present who are going for the undergraduate studies here. The head of the university gave us a few words and than all of the professors introduced themselves to us. Some even presented in fun ways their names.
After the ceremony we had to go for Japanese language aptitude test. It’s for them to evaluate how hard for us will be to learn Japanese. It consisted of several tests. One was that they show you a graphic symbol – then they present you with four choices and you have to circle the correct one – others were slight variations on the theme. Also there was part of identifying kanji – you were given one kanji and four another and you had to identify which one of the choices had something in common with the first one. Also they made an artificial language and you had to look at it from samples and to find out the grammar of it and then to give translations of other sentences. The last one was with real japanese – they played two sentences and you had to just tell if the intonation and accent is the same – or different of those two sentences.
After finishing – I finally went to the dormitory and changed from suit to something casual and with friends went to Musashisakai station to shop. On the top of shopping center there is a whole floor with books – and mostly of manga comics ; ) I tried finding some good book about C or Perl – because it would be one of the easy ways to learn Japanese because I know that programming language and I could guess without dictionary what they want to say. But I didn’t find it… Perhaps I will buy something like Cinderella, Sleeping beauty, Small prince… Back to the old days when I was a kid 😉
I then went to find some jeans as I needed some. The prices are much lower than in Serbia – Levi’s costs only around $80   – in Serbia I think that those models I checked costed around $160. There was also some Japanese brand UNIQLO and I bought jeans for around $40 and got a discount for the next purchase $5. After I came back I noticed that UNIQLO is a large brand and has shops in many countries – it has also a shop on Manhattan – very large one.
We got hungry so we bought some prepared food in a convenient store nearby and ate it on the street. It is rude to eat on the street in Japan – that’s the thing you should not do. But we have done it ; ) Yes – we got some odd looks – but… who cares – I felt very good while eating sushi… Oh yeah – one interesting thing. I met a girl who rents apartment in Tokyo – in fact near our campus. The place where we are is something like Mirijevo in Belgrade, or maybe even Borca, Ovca, Krnjaca… only in terms of distance from the city center – around 25 km. And she pays a rent $500. That would be an OK rent if it wasn’t for the flat of 18 square meters.
Today we were opening postal savings accounts. I like Japan! They are so well organized. One of the examples was this thing. We didn’t have to go to post office to open accounts. Instead post office came to us. Two guys from the post office came to a hall on our campus and from there open us accounts and told us that we will receive cards by email. No need to visit post office at all. After that I wanted to go to our embassy to register that I am staying in Japan for a long time. I told that to one of my tutors – and when he heard about that he immediately looked for address on the Internet from his mobile phone and gave me instructions how to get there. When I asked him where is the public phone (I wanted to first call them and ask if they are working) he told me that he will take me – and insisted on doing it. And he even waited for me while I was on a telephone so that if I need anything… There was a nice surprise when I phoned the embassy. They told me that it is not necessary for me to come if I don’t have time – it is OK to just scan the documents and send them by email – wow… first time something well organized in our bureaucracy… So then I needed the place to scan the documents… I asked the friendly tutor about that and he again offered himself to take me to library, to show me where and how, and since I didn’t have mine account details for the usage of schools computers – he let me on his account. The Japanese people really like to help people. And it is not the case with only this one tutor – also when we were in the city center looking for some shop many people tried to help us – but we couldn’t understand them. I think I have heard that around 80% of the Japanese do not know English. And those 20% are questionable – it is more jinglish than english…
One of the things that is very hard to do in Japan is to throw away a bottle after drinking it. In center it was very hard to find a trash can – and when we found it – it is hard to know in which to throw your trash. All trash here you have to separate – paper, combustible, non combustible, can, PET bottles. And all signs are in Japanese. If I understood correctly some documents – pickup of trash is organized for combustible, paper, can, PET and for non combustible – you have to organize it yourself. Maybe I am wrong – but who knows. And if they find out that you didn’t obey the rules of garbage separation – they will not take out your garbage (or they will return something like that) – so you have to separate garbage.
Streets are very clean wherever I have been – in the center and also in periphery. No garbage at all – only cherry flowers that fell off from trees. It is very nice to see it that way. The same thing is for the grass surfaces beside the streets, the grass is cut on a regular basis. There are also large bicycle only parking everywhere. A lot of people ride bicycles here. Even when it rains – in one hand they hold umbrella – and with the other one they use to steer the bike. OK, now I have had several phone conversations while writing this – and I don’t know what I wanted to write here… so until next time… See ya!


Rainy day…

Whole day it was raining. Sometimes it stopped for the short time but still the weather outside is not that nice. We went as usual to have a meal at Benny’s. I don’t remember if I have mentioned it – but it is a Chinese restaurant in Japanese way. Japanese like to adapt all cuisines to their taste. We were nicely welcomed there – as a regular guest which they have noticed. They offered us before breakfast to have a coffee – which I politely refused – but I accepted green tea. It was on the house. Meals are very strong and you can really survive on one their meal for 24 hours without any problems  and it costs only 8 USD +- 2.
After the breakfast we had to go and buy umbrella since it was raining cats and dogs (Yes! I wanted for a long time to use this phrase ; ) ) and then went for the orientation ceremony where we were given instructions about how we should behave, what we need to pay – for those that want to come here also here is what we need to pay: our own bills – that is for electricity, water then we have to pay for staying in the dormitory and the bed linen we were given when we came (it now belongs to me). It is not a large sum and you have enough money left from the scholarship to live nicely in Japan. The good thing is that you do not pay for Internet ; ) And it can be very fast – I downloaded some stuff at 3.3MB/sec…
After the ceremony we were lucky that the rain has weaken so that we didn’t get wet too much when we went for some certificates that we need for opening postal savings account and for buying a mobile phone.
Because of the weather – we didn’t go anywhere later…. I wander how it will be when the rainy season starts…