Wow has school ever picked up. I assumed when I got here that my schoolwork would be significantly easier than computer engineering was back home, and while this is obviously true, I’m almost finding myself more strapped for time here than there. Personally I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I’m horrible at memorizing – ALL of my formal education has been in subjects like logic, math, physics, etc – never rote memorization. So while a lot of the people here are able to look at a Japanese word once or twice and remember it forever, I have to see it fifty times.
As a result, I’ve been struggling to keep up with all of the grammar, vocab, and kanji they’ve been throwing at us. And on top of this, I have to start preparing my kenkyu – a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation and speech which will be recited entirely in Japanese.
Of course that isn’t to say that I don’t love Ritsumeikan. I do. I just today submitted the paperwork to apply for an extension, so keep your fingers crossed for me, hopefully that’ll go well. I also have a bunch of video footage that I DO plan on editing together for a “check-out-how-much-this-school-rules” clip sometime in the near future. Everything from ju-jitsu and karate to archery to cheerleaders to jumpropers. You ain’t never seen school spirit like this!
And although I have been a little bit down about my difficulties in learning the language, the nearly flawless weather for the last week sure has helped in keeping my spirits up. I just have to get the most out of it before it gets TOO hot to enjoy…which will be soon 🙂
Aside from my schoolwork, I’ve decided to finally get back into a REAL fitness routine. I’ve been slacking way too much since I got here. In the first two months I lost just over 10lbs of muscle due to the unavailability of protein and quality gyms. This upset me, but I was relatively okay with it. But the other day I stepped on the scale in the gym and realized that I was BACK to the weight from when I first arrived here – and it sure as hell wasn’t 10lbs of muscle that I regained. Unacceptable. Starting yesterday I’m getting back into scheduled meals, 4 days in the gym, and NO more sweets (except in my once-a-week confectionary class :)).
I’ve also decided to buckle down and start trying to cross some things off of my “What I want to be able to do before I leave here” list. First up is handstands. Dylan located a video online (which I mirrored here, originally v=nXhLT9mpDzc on YouTube) of the most astonishing breakdancer I’ve ever seen. Not because he’s particularly good at dancing, but because of his sheer strength. When you see what this guy can do your jaw will drop. Just make sure you watch the video all the way through; the most incredible part doesn’t come until the end.
Needless to say I’ll never be able to do most of what he’s able to do, but just watching did have a bit to do with my realizing that I can’t allow my body to slip as much as I have.
Let’s see, what else is new…my mom just arrived in China, where she’ll be for two weeks studying medicine from a very well-known practitioner. Unfortunately neither of our schedules will allow us to see each other, but that’s OK – I’m counting on her coming here during Koyo (autumn foliage) later this year 🙂
Also, my car (which was carefully parked and covered back home) suffered significant interior rain damage from the huge showers in Southern California. That’s right, somehow the water managed to get through the cover, through the sealed windows, and onto the seats creating a perfect breeding ground for mold and stench. Yay!
Finally, as you all know I’ve been taking classes in shamisen recently. It occurred to me that many of you may not even know what shamisen is (based on the fact that some of you told me so!) Well, it’s a three-stringed instrument somewhat similar to the sitar, except that it’s the only such instrument played with a pick (in this case, a large weighted wooden pick called a bachi).
If you don’t have a particular interest in the instrument and/or Japanese culture the music itself may sound a bit dry, however a pair of young Japanese boys named 吉田兄弟 (Yoshida Brothers) have recently brought it back to fame. Since discovering them, they’ve grown to become a favorite of nearly everyone here at YHM. Their music is a really interesting blend of traditional shamisen with all kinds of modern rock, jazz, blues, etc. Of course some of their songs are purely traditional, but I think it’s this new style that have really earned them their fame.
I particularly recommend checking out the song “Nikata” if you get a chance – it’s one of my favorites.