Thursday, July 23, 2015

Day 5 - University Impressions

Today I met my dear Japanese friend again. After 40 minutes by bus I arrived at our meeting point  and I was so glad to see her waiting for me. Very impressive that the bus driver wears suit-like clothes, white gloves and a captain's hat. Some drivers even announce the stops themselves or comment the traffic situation to prevent dangerous situations, for example an immediate moving off.

Editing computer in the purikura photo booth
We walked to a big mall where one can buy anything from groceries to sweat towels (a very useful accessory for the humid Japanese summer) - and where you also find purikura photo booths, Of course we invested 400 JPY to try one. Unfortunately everything was in Japanese and the booth's software created a lot of time pressure. But the output was surprisingly awesome! First, one can choose the song one wants to listen to in the cabin and the picture backgrounds. After the photos were taken, one can edit them in so many ways! Changing the lip colour, choosing the grade of skin smoothness, putting in some stickers or adding some text! I really need a second time, because everything happened so fast and I couldn't try all the options.

- - Interesting, that the example pictures show beautiful blond blue-eyed young girls - -

Also my university experience was interesting. After making the pictures we met her friend who only speaks Japanese and French (fortunately I speak French too), so it was like kind of a language smoothie:

As we got to the university campus, we went straight to the cafeteria and met her other friends. I think the rest of the students were surprised to see a European girl in their Japanese university. As in most Japanese restaurants, you could choose your food by plastic models - I was full for only 360 JPY! I enjoyed talking to many other Japanese people of my age... okay, "talking"... Some only could speak Spanish and others were too shy to speak English with me. One guy talking to my friend hided his face behind a fan so that I couldn't see him anymore. Or, the other extreme, a quite too crazy guy making exageratingly funny faces to us... I had nice conversations about life and everything, in particular life in Japan. I often heard that people don't like all these rules in Japan and would like to live somewhere else - but exactly because of that I came over here. 

One idea I liked was mentioned by a French speaking friend: he produces stickers with different country flags and the words "Hello, can I help you? I speak English!" By using these stickers in many different country flag versions, tourists are encouraged to start a conversation, avoid misunderstandings and better enjoy their time in Japan.

My friend's German class also was an interesting experience. She did not inform her teacher about my visit to the lesson. The teacher immediately got nervous like idunnuwhat, but she allowed me to participate in her lesson. In the middle of these 90 minutes, the teacher began to introduce me to the class and that they should ask me questions about me or about my country, no matter in what language. However, only three questions were asked. It is a difference to study a language in theory or to practice it with a real person. I enjoyed it very much!

Hokan-ji Temple
Yasaka No To (Pagoda)

In the evening we drove to Gion by bike. This quarter of Kyoto is famous for its nice temple complexes and also the often overlooked five-storey Yasaka No To (Yasaka Pagoda)! Everything is really impressive at night.

What I learned? Recycling in Japan is different. They separate all sorts of plastic, they remove labels and they wash containers before they put it in the trash - but paper isn't separated from biological rubbish. I believe now that in some parts of Japan, bicycles are driven as often as in the Netherlands. And please first check whether your bike lighting works...

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