Saturday, July 17, 2010

I couldn't think of an appropriate title for this if I tried.

Just to sum up my weekend:

Friday night there was a 2 hour lecture by former HIF grads, talking about their experiences and how we can strive to be just that. Except that the whole thing was in Japanese. As in, everyone in attendance was Japanese. Fluent. Japanese. Adult. Speakers. After deeming it impossible to comprehend and realizing that our means of escape were slim if we actually went, we ducked out last minute and opted instead for kaitenzushi and an evening of understanding what in the world was going on.

Saturday was another lecture. I actually went to this one with my host mother. There's a big difference between sitting in a boring lecture and tuning out and sitting for 2 hours listening to something you legitimately didn't understand a single word of and having your brain turn off. Guess which one happened?

So after this my host mother insisted on bringing me to her parents'/sister's house in the country for some more bilingual brain grilling. Naturally, since we'll be on the road for an hour, the appropriate answer to lunch is donuts. Yes, we stopped at MisDo (read: Mister Donuts for all you non-Japanese abbriviation savvy folks) for donuts to eat then, donuts to eat later, donuts to take with us and donuts to bring back. Hooray, donuts!

Drove to the countryside with Mama and Risa, watched the Madagascar penguins followed by a synopsis from a 7-year old boy obsessed with quoting Tom & Jerry...

And then it gets better.

I feel like I should preface this by talking a little about my host family, since I don't believe I have yet done so. I'm staying with a family of three: Papa, Masako, works at a Honda dealership. He likes to mumble and walk around the house in his underwear (but you all alreayd know that), play Othello and generally be the "fun parent" of the house. Mama, Emiko, is equally lovable but actually acts like a woman in her mid-forties. She's a social worker and also manages to lift the couch up every weekend when she speed-cleans the house. They're relatively young it seems in comparison to everyone else's host parents, who seem to be in their 50's/60's or upwards, sometimes even living with Grandma and Pa too. Risa's a second year Jr. High student, 13 and the acquisition of her first boyfriend happened to coincide with my stay here. Overall, they're a relatively young and normal family.

Back to Saturday night. Papa's friends were having a BBQ so we all piled in the taxi and headed over to their place. At this point I knew nothing except there was a BBQ somewhere and unspokenly, thanks to the taxi, I knew that Mama and Papa were planning on getting fairly drunk. Now, they are completely responsible and most definitely allowed to have a few beers at their friend's summer BBQ, but I knew as soon as we got in the cab that this was going to be pretty entertaining.

The BBQ was at a tire shop. Like a legit, sitting in the bay area of a tireshop eating yakitori and yakisoba and drinking all under the watchful eyes of Leonardo DiCaprio (who happens to be doing a CM campaign for something to do with tires over here at the moment). This led to going above the shop into the house to play Smash Brothers with the kids and be compeltely baffled by the banter going on between Risa and the housewives of Hakodate. That's one thing they don't prepare you for in your Japanese program - listening to dating and marriage advice from Japanese stay home moms in their 40's. Japan - 1.

They also don't prepare you for the slur of words that your host father spills out which are infused not only with his usual mumble but he's now reduced to thinking your fluent in Japanese and simplifies his expressions down to a single, mumbled word. Japan - 2.

We head home, Papa stops the cab for an ice cream drill at the local combini, rush back in, get's home and he proceeds to run around the house in his underwear with a plastic bag over his head pretending to be a super hero. Mama is all hugs at this point and keeps trying to sneak Risa's onigiri for herself. They then decide that we are going to play the most complicated board game ever. Which I understood nothing of but still managed to win 2 of 3 games before needing to go to my room and laugh hysterically at the night's events.

Oh, Japan.

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