Host family

Hi there again!

I’m sure you know this, but I have a host family here (not a home-stay family), basically a family living in Osaka that I meet up with periodically. To talk, eat, have fun, go on trips together etc. The family consists of a father, mother and daughter (the son already moved out due to his job). 🙂

They live in a 80 year old wooden traditional Japanese house at the flank of the mountain here in Osaka. It’s really great, I love these kind of buildings. They’re also a lot more spacious than the apartments more in the center of the city.

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Trip to Nara

Hey there!

Ok, time to catch up with some more trips I’ve taken… this one roughly 2 months ago. ^^;

Nara isn’t that far away from here, you can easily go there by train in an hour or so. It is also a previous capital of Japan and has a lot of famous buildings, temples, history etc. It should also be noted, that there are deers everywhere near the parks. If you’re not careful they’ll chew on everything you have. 😉

Anyway, we first went to the central park, near that there is the biggest wooden building (the toudai-ji temple) in Japan with the biggest bronze buddha statue of the world. After that we went to Kasugataisha, a shinto shrine famous for its thousands of lamps.

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Osaka Part II

And the following day (23.09.2012) I went around Osaka once again, this time to the Shitennouji Temple with its beautiful gardens. The last couple of pictures are taken near Umeda in one of the countless huge shopping streets. 🙂

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There I am again.

I’m really sorry for not posting anything in such a long time!

Now that I have figured out how to convert many images files to lower resolution at once I will upload the images I have taken traveling around the vicinity of Osaka… without having to wait hours for the upload. As they say, an images says more than a thousand words, so before I start writing about random stuff, I’ll catch up with all the impressions. That’s a lot. I just realized that I haven’t even posted any pictures of Osaka yet…! 大変申し訳ございません! (There’s is no possible excuse…!)

So, here are the impressions of my first trip around Osaka on 22.09.2012. It goes like this:

Center of Osaka (Umeda Station) -> Osaka Castle -> Glance of the “Osaka Oktoberfest” from the outside -> Shinsekai (New World) part of Osaka, a famous shopping district in the style of the 80s.




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The first two weeks. Two weeks already? Wtf.

Hi there! It’s been a while. God, I shouldn’t have waited with this post so long… too much to talk about. I caught a cold, so I (wanted or not) have some time to finally update my blog. 🙂

I already blogged about how I arrived in Osaka on the 18. Sept. (Tuesday) and the days directly after that were uneventful, filling out forms, opening a bank account. All of that was surprisingly easy, but I might as well add some observations I made…. Japanese forms aren’t made for Westerners. When I opened my bank account I had to fill in two letters of my name into one box, because kanji names normally aren’t as long. But it works, apparently.  The registration at the city office was extremely comfortable, it only took like 15 minutes without any waiting time at all, I don’t think it would be that fast in Germany.

The fun part began two days later on Friday (21th) when we (Michael, who is also from Heidelberg University, but studying Intercultural Studies + some nice other people from the dorm) went to Kyoto for the first time. Michael told us about the large flee-markets that are held in Kyoto once every month and we went to check out the flee-market at Touji Temple. (Trivia: Japan doesn’t have a marketplace tradition. There aren’t really large free spaces in cities where big markets could be held, which is why such things usually take place at temples.)

Anyway, its awesome to browse through all the old stuff they sell there. At this flee market I didn’t buy anything other than something to eat and Japanese sweets, but it was fun! Using the opportunity being at a big temple I bought a 御朱印帳(ごしゅいんちょう = goshuinchou). It’s a small book originally intended for pilgrimage. Whenever you visit a temple, you can show them your goshuinchou and (for 300 yen) they’ll write in a beautiful calligraphy with the name of the buddha that is worshipped at the temple and the temple’s seal.  (see Picture) It makes for a great reminder of your journeys (temples, you gotta catch ’em all!).

After spending a couple of hours at the flee market we went to 寺町商店街 (teramachishoutengai), a very famous shopping street in the centre of Kyoto, where we browsed for Kimono (unsuccessfully) and generally inspected lots of shops. We went into a really nice and peculiar Ramen-ya (noodle restaurant) where you can customize your ramen by answering a questionnaire about how soft you want your noodles, how thick the soup should be, how spicy, how much garlic… etc. Awesome! Random observation: The Japanese toilet culture is just astounding. The toilet in that shop… I can’t imagine how expensive that was, nevermind the toilet itself (with all the usual Japanese functions, like warming the seat etc. pp), but room was just… woah. The design was glass, silver, gold and bamboo all around, with classical music playing in the background… I hate that I didn’t take a photo. After that we went back home~

Btw, it only takes ~30 minutes to Kyoto from here and it’s quite cheap. ._.

So in the evening we headed back and… as we are living in a really nice dormitory, there was some nice sitting together and talking/drinking afterward (when you have people from all over the world the selection of liquor is actually quite interesting). There were also some Japanese people who visited the dorm to get to know and talk with some foreigners. It was really fun. 🙂

I might have already mentioned it, but everyone here is really nice and fun to talk to! We play a game called “werewolf” in pretty large groups (10 people+) on a regular basis. Basically, everyone sits in a circle and gets a role (citizen or werewolf, among the citizens there are a few with special abilities, like seeing the identity of one other player). The werewolves have to decide on one person to kill every night of the game, when dawn comes (not real dawn, but in the game) the citizens wake up and have to discuss who the werewolves might be and decide on one person to burn at the stake, to prevent further killings of innocent citizens. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should! It’s fun. ^^
Ok, anyway, that’s the first “active” day I spend in Japan…. god, 2 weeks? Fuck. That’s going to take some more days to catch up. Let’s leave it at that for today… Actually today is a welcome party for all the new people in the dorm + 2 people celebrate their birthday. So I better get ready now. 🙂

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LVL1: Getting to Japan

For a level 1 quest, honestly, this beats killing ten boars and collecting their tusks.

On the 17. our young adventurer (i.e. me) set out to new lands (Japan)…. ok, let’s not take it too far.

And sorry for the late post, I didn’t really have a lot of spare time on my hand, so before there is TOO much to write about I shall give a brief overview!

Well, not much happened on the way to the airport, I went with my parents by train. The flight was at 2 PM and took 11 hours. I arrived ~8 AM. In the plane I had really nice Japanese neighbours and we talked a bit (impressed them with my Japanese *cough*). But they were really kind, I’m really bad with landings, so when we arrived at Osaka I was feeling aweful and from sitting the 11 hours without sleeping my blood circulation was crap. My kind neighbours escorted me out of the landing area and when I was feeling better helped me with devising a route to my dormitory (after telling me that I should NOT take the subway with my two large suitcases, which I originally planned). So they told me to take the bus from the airport to Umeda (center of Osaka) and the local train from there. I actually experience my first trafic jam in Japan right then, because around Umeda”事故が多発しています。”, i.e. multiple accidents happened (but I had only to wait ~40 minutes extra). A by the way, it was raining the whole day, mostly slight rain. But the whole day… and the climate, well, describing it as “hard to tell the difference between the sweat and the rain” is not taking it too far. Anyway!

Ticket! I had to ask how to buy a ticked for the train, which a nice old man told me. You actually have to put in the money before you select a ticket, which defies common sense. And you don’t select where you want to go, but how expensive it is to go there.

After arriving at my final station I walked the 15 minutes to my dorm, past the park which is REALLY NEAT. I’ll probably go jogging there this evening. Anyway, I found the dorm right away and was greeted by an army of Japanese staff asking me for my luggage and we handled all the move-in paperwork in maybe 15 minutes. I was REALLY surprised by this. There is staff present everyday from morning ~7 AM to 10 PM on weekdays and you can ask them pretty much anything. There was also a “tutor” a Japanese inhabitant of the dormitory who showed me arround. There is a washing room and a dedicated room where you can hang up your clothes to dry (again awesome, because I don’t want them hanging in my room). There is a tennis court and you can get rackets etc from the staff. The showers are perfect, no slow, weak trickling of water and you can actually CHANGE the temperature…. anyway. My room! The description of my room I initially received in my notification email…. “chest, bed, desk, chair, Air Con”, 8.1 m². The room looks actually bigger, I haven’t meassured it yet. I have a desk, an additional shelf, a friggin’ decently sized refrigerator (which wasn’t mentioned at all). There really is no wasted space. ^___^

I’m also pleased with the view from my window, there is some green! The next supermarket/shopping mall is only a 10 minute walk away and you can get most everything there. And god! You actually get to talk with Japanese people. Doesn’t sound particularly cool when I write about it, but I had a great conversation with the lady from the second-hand bicycle store (gonna buy one tomorrow probably)…

Other than buying some neccessities (adapter) and walking around (a lot), no major event beside that. 🙂

Today I went to the post office and opened a bank account and to the city office to register my insurance and the address where I live. And bought a lot of stuff not worth writing about (nothing suspicious, cuttlery, chop sticks, food, cooking stuff,  etc pp).
There are a lot of German people here… and a lot of physicists in my dormitory. びっくり.
Ok, now I shall try to upload photos…

More coming later and I hope I figure out how how to add descriptions to the pictures. Well then, またね!

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