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January 2004 - My First Flu and Subsequent Trip to the Hospital / Meet the NHK Guy

New Year's 2004
New Year's was great.  I got 10 days off, so my mom, dad, and sister came out to visit.  We toured Tokyo, Kyoto, then ended up in Tottori.  Sarah and I went a New Year's party at our hotel in Kyoto.  It was fun despite the fact we were by far the youngest people at the party.  I even got the hammer to smash open the New Year's sake barrel.

Nabe Party
I recently went to a "nabe party" hosted by a friend.  4 people including me gathered around a small table with a large hot pot of nabe (a dish made by steaming veggies and other goodies in a mixture of soy sauce, sake, and water).  It was a great challenge for me cuz none of

Read more: January 2004 - My First Flu and Subsequent Trip to the Hospital / Meet the NHK Guy

December 2003 - My First Haircut, Movie, and Live House

* I checked out this club in Tottori that bands play at (called After Hours).  It was really interesting because almost every band sang in English, but they couldn't actually speak English.  This one cover band had like 10 musicians.  The singer tried to sing "Rock this Town" by the Stray Cats, but it sounded horrendous cuz he didn't know how to sing (plus he kept having to look at a lyrics sheet).  I really wanted to go up on stage and help him out.  I think blues is really popular because 3 of the 4 bands were blues bands.  It's really interesting hearing English songs sung with Japanese accents.  It was quite a cultural experience.

* I went to a Japanese movie theater for the first time.  I saw "Matrix Revolutions."  I was the only one in the theater that didn't have to read the subtitles.  Whoooo!  Decent flick, but I kept 

Read more: December 2003 - My First Haircut, Movie, and Live House

November 2003 - My Name is Debu

* I was talking to my coworkers one day.  I don't know how this came up, but I was telling everyone how most of my friends back home call me "Dave" instead of "David."  I explained that Dave is short for David.  They understood cuz they do the same thing with Japanese names.  Anyways, when you convert David into the Japanese phonetic system, it sounds like "Deibiddo."  When you convert Dave to the Japanese phonetic system, it comes out like "Debu."  It turns out that "debu" is a Japanese slang word meaning "fat / chubby."  I enjoy that a lot.  I keep introducing myself as Debu now.  I get lots of good reactions.  I love this stuff as it motivates me to keep studying this language.
 
* I went to Tokyo a few weeks ago and had a total blast.  I went clubbing in Roppongi till 5:30 am, had a great dinner in Shinjuku, and did a little shopping in Ginza.  It was really cool being in that town on vacation for once.  I had previously always 

Read more: November 2003 - My Name is Debu

October 2003 - First Impressions of Tottori

THE TOWN -- TOTTORI
I dig this town.  Way different from LA.  People are really nice, but they still stare at me (I guess I kinda stand out).  I stare at other foreigners too thinkin', "What the hell are YOU doing here?!  This is MY town!"  The bar scene is kinda funny cuz everyone just kinda clears out around midnight.  You gotta rush over there by around 9 or else you're gonna miss everything.  I see people trashed outta their minds stumbling back home around 10:30 or so.  The scary part is that the foreigners in Tottori are high-profile, so everyone seems to know what I did over the weekend.  This town is small, so everyone seems to know someone that I know.  For example, the bartender at a bar I frequent told me that his mother-in-law is a student at my school.  150,000 people in the town and 300 or so go to my school.  I guess I'd better behave myself, eh?

THE JOB -- AEON
I also dig this English teachin' gig.  My coworkers and I 

Read more: October 2003 - First Impressions of Tottori

September 2003 - I've Arrived in Tottori, Japan

After a very hectic week of training at the AEON West headquarters in Okayama, I arrived in Tottori, Japan.  Training week was crazy busy, but kinda funny.  Our dorm was like Gilligan's Island--no TV, Internet, or any connection to the outside world.  We were lucky to have running water in that place.  The 2 trainers were really friendly and supportive, so they turned the training into a beneficial learning experience.  I left Okayama feeling better prepared than I had expected to be.  We each taught 3 full-length classes to real Japanese students.  I have yet to use the monkey puppet I love so much because he's still in LA.  Plus, I'm not sure if I can work him in cuz I'm supposed to encourage the students to talk to each other (and not a freakin' monkey puppet).

Read more: September 2003 - I've Arrived in Tottori, Japan

The Shrine Drummer

Before moving to Tokyo, I taught English in a countryside prefecture known as Tottori.  I loved it there.  My only complaint was my noisy neighbor that liked to play taiko drums early in the morning (usually between 5:30am – 6:00am).  He would open all the doors and windows so that it could be heard by all.  He would play to no discernible rhythm and consistently modulate the tempo making it all the more irritating.

Unfortunately, the place where all the noise was coming from was a Shinto shrine.

But why should places of worship and the fallible men and women that run them be exempt from criticism?  If church and state are indeed separate in this day and age, then I should be able to proceed as if I were complaining about noise from a dance club or pachinko parlor.  I had always been told that Japanese almost never complain directly.  For example, a noisy neighbor would hear any complaints via the apartment building landlord.  

But what about a foreigner?  Could a foreigner even complain in Japan—let alone about noise coming from a shrine?  This was going to be an interesting social experiment.

Read more: The Shrine Drummer