Settling In.

Our first class on Wednesday was from an older professor that I spoke to during our welcome party. Kiyoshima-sensei is our pop-culture teacher, and it was no surprise, as he and I discussed video games when we met. He’s originally from Tokyo, but moved to Osaka some time back and is a complete convert. He spoke of how much of the influential anime and manga of Japan comes from the Kansai region, which I didn’t know (for example, Haruhi takes place in Kobe). He had an assortment of figures, including some lobster-clawed thing from Ultraman (which I actually recognized after all this time) and Rei Ayanami from Eva. We mostly talked about surface stuff, but I get the idea he’ll go more in depth later (though with only three classes before we’re done, how deep can he go?).

Next was Kitayama-sensei teaching us more Japanese. Still pretty easy, but I’m learning new vocabulary in every class (including culture), and it’s always good to practice the fundamentals.

Sadly, I have no future as a professional calligrapher.

After that, we went to the clubroom, which was on the other side of campus in an older building. Three members of the Calligraphy Club were there to help us a little of what they do, but it was mostly us drawing kanji on specialized paper using large brushes. (I learned the kanji for dragon, explosion, and kill, much to the amusement of Kanako, the pretty woman who oversees our extracurriculars).

The guys went to get lunch when class was done. I wasn’t hungry, as I’d eaten a massive “sauce tonkatsu” for lunch (my first tonkatsu!), so I sat with them in an unusual restaurant. You place your order at a menu-machine inside the door, and it gives you a ticket. You then sit at a three-sided counter and hand over your ticket, and they go make your food. I saw no drinks other than water, which they had in pitchers on the counter, along with condiments. When the food’s ready, they bring it by and that’s it; very little customer-employee interaction and a brisk customer turnover keep the place running smoothly (and probably less expensively).

We split after that, and I took the time to rest my feet. Warren and Mike wanted to brush up on our numbers (specifically, the ability to write longer numbers by only hearing them once at regular speed). I’m not great at the fast-number thing, but nobody in our group seems to have an easy time of it. By nightfall, I was hungry again, so I went out by myself. At first, I was looking for something to curb my snoring so my roommate Mike didn’t have to suffer any more, but the pharmacies were closed, so I gave up and bought a couple otaku magazines — the kind with the omake bundled in. They’re surprisingly cheap. If we had something like that in America, they’d easily cost $15-20, but these cost under 700円.

Torikizoku, where everything is 280円.

Then I went back out for dinner. After trawling for a bit, I found a place called 鳥貴族 (torikizoku; “chicken nobility,” in very stylized kanji) and bought some gyuukushi (little skewers with beef on them, very tasty). When I first entered, the greeter/cashier said something to me, but so fast I wasn’t able to understand him. I asked him to say it again, putting a hand to my ear to hear over the chatter. He paused, studied me for a moment, and then spoke: “Harro.” Hilarious. After my kushi, I swung by a taiyaki seller who appears near Kawachi-Kosaka station at night and got a chocolate taiyaki (my first!), which tastes like a tough pancake with something inside (chocolate in this case). Tasty and surprisingly filling.

That was my Wednesday. I’m surprised at how easily we’re adjusting to things here.

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