Off to Tokyo!

If you don’t hear from me this weekend, it’s because I’m off to Tokyo! I’m leaving tonight together with Damien. I had actually planned to go tomorrow, but since he’s […]

Eating in Japan

I’ve told you some things about eating in Japan already. I’ll recap them and continue from there.

Weekends and meeting people

However, I have noticed that I’ve lost some weight over the past few days, because of all the cycling and the fact that I get hungry pretty quickly after a meal. I think that may also be due to the white bread they have here, I don’t get a lot of energy from that. And of course the fact that everything is more expensive here. I’ll probably spend on food alone, what I would normally spend on food for two persons. That’s too bad, but it’s not a huge surprise.

Ambulances, trams and old people…

I didn’t do too much the past week. I ordered stroopwafels for my colleagues (there’s a shop in Kobe that makes them, see website HERE), took a picture of the bento stand where I usually buy my lunch and took some pictures of strange shop names (what is ‘Pafe’ and why ‘Be your happiness with the flower’?). The sidewalk you see is actually in one of the main shopping streets of Kyoto. I have no idea why it looks so crappy.

Need a bit of moral support..

If you’ve read my blog a little, you’ll know that I’m only telling stories about Japanese culture (In a lot of cases, I just forward what I’ve been told, actually, so don’t shoot the messenger 😛 ) and nothing about my internship itself. That’s not because I don’t have anything to say about it, but rather because I realize that people involved in my internship may read this as well: I don’t want to pass any positive or negative judgment on this internship while I’m still here. Afterward, I’ll be able to reflect on it and say what went good and bad and how things should have/could have/would have been different, but I decided not to do that during the internship.

Halfway!

I’m halfway my internship! I’ll be back home in one month and four weeks exactly 🙂

I think I’ve been writing quite a lot so far, but it’s slowly becoming more difficult to write down what I’m doing. Edit: Okay, I’ve written a huge page again, never mind.

Life in Japan just continues and I’m getting to know some people that I hope to meet again sometime, maybe in The Netherlands, maybe somewhere else. What is most interesting is to see how people deal with Japan: Everyone responds differently to Japanese culture. Yesterday, I described it to someone in a way that I thought was quite nice, so I’m going to repeat that here.

Please don’t return?

Well that was weird. Every now and then, I feel like I’m in The Truman Show (good 1998 movie), only the part where it just started to get a little […]

Shrines

Today, I went to the south of Kyoto together with Hai Minh, a Vietnamese master’s student in physics. You can see some pictures below 🙂

First, we went to Fushimi Inari, then to Daihonzan Tofukuji (if I’m not mistaken, forgot to write down the name) and lastly to Sanjusangendo. Sanjusangendo is only the last picture, because it was not allowed to take pictures inside. Inside, they had a thousand statues of Kannon, a goddess. You can find some pictures online, if you search for the name of the temple.

The Netherlands

Okay, so with all the comparing that I’ve been doing, the time has come to say something about my own country as well.

Yesterday, I’ve been talking about the Japanese school system. In Japan, it’s impossible to fail or repeat a year. You just can’t fail. Period. I’ve spoken to people who’ve been teaching English, and all agree that the level of education is pretty low here. One teacher said that of all his students, one fourth (1/4) shouldn’t have passed, but that he couldn’t fail them. (It wouldn’t be fair to the students for his course to be ten times as difficult as other courses, you can only raise the bar a little.)

Another messy list of stories ;)

I’ve collected some stories again over the past week. Gotta catch ’em all 😉

I’ve talked to Alex over MSN about Japan. Although I think I’ve already gotten the point across that Japan is “different”, there’s plenty more to tell. Alex thought they wouldn’t have something like the weird floor mat (first picture in “Trip to Nara”) “cause it’s the land of hush hush”. Actually, they’re really open about some stuff, in a strange way. For example, I’ve been told that being ‘friends with benefits’ is pretty common here, so it’s not all hush hush. Same goes for reading porn on the train (even when your girlfriend is sitting next to you). It’s not publicly announced, but it’s no secret either.

There are a lot of weird contradictions here.

Trip to Nara

Today, I traveled to Nara, a city south of Kyoto, together with Sylvia. This was the first time I traveled by train since I got here and it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. When thinking about Japan and trains, this image of trains so crowded that personnel has to push to get the doors to close comes to mind. To give you an example, HERE is a movie someone made of trains during rush hour. It’s from 1991 and someone commented on the video that it’s less crowded in 2009, but this image still comes to mind when thinking about trains in Japan. But it wasn’t that bad (I took a picture to prove it!). I have to admit, on the way back I sat in a spot for the elderly, impaired people and pregnant women. In my defense, I have to sit down in these things (there’s little place to sit, they’re more like subways) or I’ll get really nauseous. But I probably added another euro to the foreigners-are-rude fund