And so the fun began, as after just over a month off it was back to school again. I had almost forgotten what it was like to be constantly humiliated and frustrated by my own lack of ability and understanding, but suffice to say it was exactly how I had remembered it: humiliating and frustrating. What was ‘super’ about today’s lesson was that it introduced yet another entirely different set of grammatical constructs, these ones to be used when talking with friends and family. The insane difficulty in being able to coherently switch between common, polite, and ultra polite (keigo) reminded me of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘IF’. I Suffice to say that if one of the requirements of becoming a man is to ‘talk with crowds and keep your virtue,’ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch’, then I am afraid that I will forever be a child of the Far East.
Given that my learning of Japanese often leaves me feeling like Hercules had an easy ride, it is a good job that there is always something wonderfully bizarre waiting to be found in order to lighten the mood. Today, it was a toy model of a safari in the Men’s toilets at my Japanese language school. Quite possibly the only thing that would have seemed more strange was the sound of camera shutters coming from the toilet, followed by Richard and me fleeing the scene with tears in our eyes.