Monday, April 8, 2013

Okayama: Sharing a moment in a Peach Town

When I was little, one of my favorite Japanese stories was about this peach boy called Momataro. This boy was born from a peach to an elderly couple that was unable to have children. When the boy grew up he traveled around Japan befriending a bird, pig, monkey, and dog while defeating evil ogres. My parents decided to meet at Okayama because the story of Momataro was believed to have originated from Okayama, and city is famous for its food chichi dango.
A statue of Momataro in front of the train station
I arrived at Okayama two days before my parents arrived. On the day that I arrived from Tokyo, I found out that I lost my cell phone on the night bus, so I had to ask one of my Japanese friends to help. Apparently the bus drivers found my phone, but because I was traveling at the time, I was unable to receive my phone until I returned to AIU.

The day after, I met with my friend from AIU that was from Okayama. My friend that I met at Okayama is my Japanese Conversation and Friends Partner.  She will be leaving to study abroad at Norway when I leave to return to Hawaii.

At Okayama she showed me around the Bikan Historical District, and had her mom drive me around Okayama in order to eat delicious food. I am not sure what the food was called, but it was very delicious, and I was happy that my friend treated me to a great meal.
Walking around the Bikan Historical District

Food my friend's mom treated me to
During the Fall 2012 semester, we met every week, and spoke mostly in Japanese. During the Winter 2013 semester we did not meet that much because we were both very busy with our school work. Compared to the Fall semester, I felt that we got closer during the Winter semester despite seeing each other less. Usually when I talk to her in Japanese it is about simple things such as our school work or our plans on the weekend.

However, when we talk in English, we talk about more complicated things such as our feelings, fears, or personal business. I wish my Japanese was better, but because of my limited Japanese speaking ability, I am unable to communicate to her about how I feel without speaking in English. Compared to me who has been studying Japanese for about four years, she has been studying English for about ten years. In addition, her mom is a  Japanese English Translator, so she has been teaching her English ever since she was young.

One of the things I remember saying to her on that day was that I though her English was "cute." It is not because I like her or anything, but it amazes me how good the student's English is at AIU. Then again AIU is known for some of the best English speakers in Japan, so I guess I should not be too impressed.

It is times like that, I wished I could spend more in Japan to improve my Japanese. Unfortunately I still need to graduate, miss my friends and family and Hawaii, and do not have enough money to stay an additional semester. In addition, despite being able to see my parents the following the day, I miss my dog who is " my best friend." My dog will be 11 years old when I return, and compared to certain people in my life, he is one of the most loyalists friends I have.

I know some of the students at AIU do not even speak Japanese because of the English entrance exam offered for the Fall semester, or some of the students studied abroad in an English speaking country before entering. However, my friend has never have been abroad, so it required a lot of effort for her to become that good with her English. I really admire for her effort, and despite the problems I have encountered since living in Japan, I would still like to return Japan or do a job that is related to Japan somehow.
Dinner with my friend and her mom at Okayama