Thursday 13th January

My eagerness in class to practice Japanese means that I seem to have fallen into the habit of making at least one error that makes me look like a complete simpleton. Today, the teacher asked me about a particular event. I told her that it was taking place at one o’clock on Sunday, but she wanted more; I was pretty sure that I was along the right lines, and so ploughed on with the location of the event, the price of the event, and a description of my feelings regarding the event, yet sadly to no avail. I was just about to embark on a very limited discussion of the historical implications of the event from the point of view of a 12th century monk, when a fellow classmate pointed out to me that the teacher merely wanted to know on which particular Sunday this event was taking place. The fact that this was pointed out to me in English, by a Korean, merely underlined my idiocy. One of the major benefits of having non-English people in the class, asides from sharpening my Japanese and keeping my feet firmly on the floor, is that we get to find out about their cultures. Today, for example, we found out that in Korea there is a special day of ‘celebration’ called ‘Black day’, where friends who did not receive any gifts on either Valentine’s day (where traditionally women give gifts to men) or White day (where traditionally men give gifts to women) meet up and eat noodles in a special black bean sauce. We are yet to be informed of the daily breakdown of suicides in Korea, but I have a theory…

Get them whilst they’re ‘fresh’!

An interesting thing regarding shopping for food in Japan is the importance of seasonality. As well as certain fruit and vegetables being only available at certain times of the year, this rationing of food substances extends to sweets and drinks. Therefore if you find a snack that you like, it is advisable to bulk buy, as it is more than likely to be ‘out of season’ the next time that you want it; sadly I did not heed my own advice, and so I fear that ‘Mont Blanc Coca Cola’ is lost to me forever.  Inevitably foodstuffs that are in season are plentiful, and therefore cheap, meaning that my diet has so far been pretty varied. Today I came across a new type of mushroom that I have never seen before, and probably never will again, and so I snapped a pack of them up for the bargain price of ¥100. I then attempted to put the slightly blue tint and nauseating smell to the back of my mind, as I congratulated myself on a good bit of seasonal business.



About truehamlet

Sam is a senior lecturer in Science Communication, who researches the different ways in which media such as poetry and film can be used to communicate science to new audiences.
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