The Slightly Longer Way – Day 3

The Slightly Longer Way Series - Table of Contents

EntryNotable Places/EventsRSJP
Day 0 – Friday, May 05 2023 to Sunday, May 07 2023Flight from Edmonton to Tokyo-
Day 1 – Monday, May 08 2023Train from Tokyo to Kyoto-
Day 2 – Tuesday, May 09 2023RSJP Orientation DayW1D1
Day 3 – Wednesday, May 10 2023Placement test, Kinkakuji/Golden PavilionW1D2
Day 4 – Thursday, May 11 2023Kyo-Yuzen Dyeing WorkshopW1D3
Day 5 – Friday, May 12 2023Mori Touki-ken Pottery WorkshopW1D4
Day 6 – Saturday, May 13 2023Ichihime Shrine, Nishiki Market-
Day 7 – Sunday, May 14 2023Nara, Todaiji Temple-
Day 8 – Monday, May 15 2023UrasenkeW2D1
Day 9 – Tuesday, May 16 2023Nijojo CastleW2D2
Day 10 – Wednesday, May 17 2023Tojiin TempleW2D3
Day 11 – Thursday, May 18 2023Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto Sanjo Shopping Street, TsubomiW2D4
Day 12 – Friday, May 19 2023Kyoto StationW2D5
Day 13 – Saturday, May 20 2023Kamogawa River, Shimogoryo Shrine Kankosai-
Day 14 – Sunday, May 21 2023Shimogoryo Shrine Kankosai-
Day 15 – Monday, May 22 2023Kimono-ProW3D1
Day 16 – Tuesday, May 23 2023Ritsumeikan Library, Hama SushiW3D2
Day 17 – Wednesday, May 24 2023Domoto Insho House, Kamogawa, IchijojiW3D3
Day 18 – Thursday, May 25 2023Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Hama Sushi (with Kel)W3D4
Day 19 – Friday, May 26 2023Super KaraokeW3D5
Day 20 – Saturday, May 27 2023Nothing special-
Day 21 – Sunday, May 28 2023Demachi Masugata Shopping Street, a long walk home-
Day 22 – Monday, May 29 2023Nothing specialW4D1
Day 23 – Tuesday, May 30 2023Kyoto International Manga MuseumW4D2
Day 24 – Wednesday, May 31 2023Ritsumeikan LibraryW4D3
Day 25 – Thursday, Jun 01 2023Maiko/Geiko demonstrationW4D4
Day 26 – Friday, Jun 02 2023Final Presentation, Taiko LabW4D5
Day 27 – Saturday, Jun 03 2023Kusatsu-Juku Honjin, Lake Biwa Museum, Omi Hachiman (with Zian)-
Day 28 – Sunday, Jun 04 2023Omi Hachiman City Museum, Omi Jingu (with Zian)-
Day 29 – Monday, Jun 05 2023ArashiyamaW5D1
Day 30 – Tuesday, Jun 06 2023Nothing specialW5D2
Day 31 – Wednesday, Jun 07 2023Final exam, Osaka, Manga Cafe (with Zian)W5D3
Day 32 – Thursday, Jun 08 2023Osaka, Namba (with Zian)W5D4
Day 33 – Friday, Jun 09 2023RSJP Graduation DayW5D5
Day 34 – Saturday, Jun 10 2023Leaving Zian, Train from Kyoto to Tokyo, Ikebukuro-
Day 35 – Sunday, Jun 11 2023Shibuya, duo MUSIC EXCHANGE-
Day 36 – Monday, Jun 12 2023Shinjuku, Sakura House, Sophia University-
Day 37 – Tuesday, Jun 13 2023Akihabara-
Day 38 – Wednesday, Jun 14 2023Flight from Tokyo to Edmonton-
Final Thoughts--

Wednesday, May 10 2023 (Day 3)

Random notes

I think I will keep a random notes section at the start here, and the reason is that if I’m trying to keep things short going forward so I actually have time for other things, there are going to be things that I think of later and go “Oh.. I should have added that in yesterday’s blog” or something. Or notes that I just didn’t get to the day before due to tiredness or homework, or that I deemed too minor to include in a post that went abysmally long (aka pretty much every other post I write). They still need a home, so they can fit into some Random Notes block down the road.

One random thought that I had today was about how unique our experience was — although it was a terrible thing that they did not let us stay on campus (at least one of our Ritsumeikan Buddies -did- confirm that -he- was staying on campus at a dorm, so I’m not sure what good reason they had for not finding space for the 8 of us there), staying at my own place and being able to see and partake in the early morning rush of students in various school uniforms (and non-uniforms, in the case of University students) trying to get to school is a very unique experience. I’m sure that I would get tired of it if I had to do this on a daily basis for an extended period of time, but for one month? It’s really neat! I’m not sure previous students on a “normal” pre-pandemic RSJP year would ever have had to experience it the way we are right now. It’s a different sort of cultural immersion!

Regarding the cemetery that I saw on Day 1, I inquired about it and was told that Ritsumeikan is basically on (or adjacent to, not sure, but possibly actually technically on) land owned by the Tojiin Temple, which is a large temple just to the south of the actual school grounds. The cemetery is just part of the temple’s properties too. I believe.

Mr Tanaka said yesterday that Japan had dropped all mask restrictions/recommendations the day before, on May 8, and that Ritsumeikan was following the government’s mandate so now masks were no longer required as well. As far as I can see from a cursory Google search though, it seemed like the recommendation was actually dropped back on March 13 though, so I’m not sure what the May date was or if it was actually another milestone. At any rate, he brandished a box of masks and basically said that they were now not so useful and to let him know if anyone wanted them, heh.

The tray returning process at the cafeteria is really interesting, before you can return your tray of finished tableware to the kitchen conveyor belt, several things like cups and paper and wooden chopsticks and other burnables needed to be separated into separate bins, which is fairly normal. But non-wooden chopsticks had a separate bin provided for them to be put into too, even though they were made of the same ceramic material as the spoons, which were returned together with everything else on the tray. I always found it weird.

To start off the morning, I had arranged to meet Zian over at the bus stop we both used to get to Ritsumeikan from, at 7:45 am, and we both joined the line of people queueing for the 205 when we got there. The queue wasn’t terribly long yet, and we managed to fit onto the second bus that came along, although this one wasn’t an express bus and also didn’t stop all the way inside the school grounds, instead stopping just outside the gates, which meant our walk was extended by about 1 minute or so. No big deal. It’s much better than the 205 that I took during my first evening in Kyoto, since that one stopped out on the main thoroughfare before zipping off somewhere else, and it was about a 10 minute walk from -that- bus stop to Ritsumeikan plus another several minutes after that to get to the right building.

We took that bus to Ritsumeikan, and then Zian dragged me down into one of the cafeterias, a different one from where we had bought lunch from yesterday. This cafeteria was serving breakfast from 8 to 9 am, and breakfast here consisted of 1 bowl of rice, 1 bowl of soup, and 2 side dishes of the student’s choice from a bunch of options on serving trays. The best part of it is that this breakfast usually costs 100 yen, but was completely free this week due to some post-Golden Week promotion going on, apparently sponsored or supported by some Association whose name roughly translated into Parents Education Support Association or something, and the reason behind the campaign was something about encouraging students to get up on time and get used to the new time cycle of school. Hahaha. It certainly worked for us — free is free, and even 100 yen is really cheap, I can’t say no to these breakfast options! Here’s what I had, and then what she had, for free.

This really reminded me of canteen lunches in Singapore schools, back in Primary and Secondary school (Rosyth and Dunman in particular, see here), except there we chose from a menu and that was largely it, and here we have little side dish options, basically building our own little teishoku, or set meal. And there there were many separate food stalls specializing in a certain type of food, and here it’s one kitchen making everything.

Anyway, we had a great free breakfast and then headed up to class together. Our placement test was today, and although we were first separated into two rooms, we were all ushered into the same room before the start of the test since there were only 8 of us anyway. The test was… not so much difficult as that it included lots of stuff that I had since forgotten, like conjugations before grammar phrases. There was also an oral portion I didn’t do very well on, and my paragraph for the essay/paragraph long was just a couple lines because I just about ran out of time as usual… anyway, suffice to say they might have to create a new lower beginner level just for me. The oral portion was very interesting though, because

We fould out via comparing answers during the intermission after the placement test that the two groups of students had received different placement tests altogether from the staff — the other one had some focus on kanji, for example, whereas we did not. After that intermission, even though we had moved into this class for the placement test, the other group of 4 got kicked out instead and we got to stay in this classroom that we had invaded just prior to the test.

Our lesson plan only stated that we had the placement test today, but the test itself was only 75 minutes long, whereas we had a 3 hour block booked off for the morning. For the rest of the time, one of the teachers came in to our classroom (and one went to the other one as well} and gave us a bit of an informal lesson. We started with a basic introduction to get us started on talking, and ended with a vocabulary list whose phrases the teacher went through one by one and talked a little bit about. Apparently tomorrow we should try to study and remember what we can from the list, although I don’t think there’s a formal test per se…

It’s interesting too that the way the system is set up, we are having a different instructor/teacher each morning of the week as well. The teacher today was Mr Katsuki, and he was our teacher for Mondays and Wednesdays only. Yet the lessons themselves semed to be contiguous, like the instructor tomorrow would carry on talking about that vocabulary list we were given today, and Mr Katsuki even talked about how we would get our textbooks tomorrow and so on, so the setup is pretty unique overall.

Upon comparing notes with Zian at the end of the class though, we realized something — Mr Tanaka yesterday had said something about the class names were reversed, but what I don’t think he mentioned and what neither Zian nor I had certainly realized up until that point was that our class difficulties were also swapped, and the class I was in was actually the Intermediate 1 class, whereas the other class was Beginner 2. We were wondering about this the day before because Zian had said that she had only done less than a year of Japanese study, and about 3/4 of the way through one of the Japanese starter textbooks, and was somehow in the Intermediate 1 class on the listing, whereas I had done five classes and was on my 3rd textbook and yet somehow was in the Beginner 2 class. Time away from formally studying Japanese notwithstanding.

Anyway, after comparing notes, she said that their class had started doing something about the te-form, which is a verb-ending conjugation that would have come either late in the first textbook or early in the second one, and that in their own class introductions, everyone there had between a few months to a year of study. Comparatively, our class had 3 people between 2-3 years of study, and one person with about 6 years of study experience. We then finally concluded that yes, the class difficulties had been swapped on the listing as well, and this made me feel somewhat better.

We then had lunch, and I opted for kitsune udon and some side dishes including an egg that then cut open inside the udon and let the creamy yolk gush forth and gently caress the gentle surface of the soup…. as you can see, this was a great combo and also made me feel even better yet


Kinkakuji/Rokuonji/Golden Pavilion

The second half of the day was a walking excursion to Kinkakuji, or the Golden Pavilion, and Mr Tanaka made sure to drill the tidbit that it was just a nickname for the actual temple name, Rokuonji, into us, and tell us that we could get cool points for knowing its actual name when talking about it with locals or others.

The trip there was a mixture of walking alongside narrow pavements and a maze of streets and traffic lights, and talking with one or two nearby Ritsumeikan Buddies, a few of which joined us on the trip as well. Mr Tanaka has been very hilarious through the couple days that he’s been hosting us as the head of the programme, and he interjected into conversations now and then while leading us toward the promised land. Once we reached Kinkakuji itself, one of the other teachers paid for entry for all of us, and we then walked around the interior for about 90 minutes or so before checking out again.

Lots of pictures were taken by various people, although we were waved down by some of the local attendants for being in too big of a group (only 10 people or so were allowed to pose for a picture at one time) and also for having a small Ritsumeikan cloth banner which the guards said was off limits, much to the relief of the Buddy who had had that banner foisted upon him by Mr Tanaka.

On my part, I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the scenery, as that’s not really my thing, although I did take a few pictures of the more famous landmarks, as well as a few pictures of my specialty, pictures of other people taking pictures. The place was crowded and thus people-watching was a fairly fun activity there. I also got dragged into several pictures that various other people were taking, but I don’t have most of those photographs (yet?) since they are all on other people’s phones. The important ones that I have so far follow though.

Firstly, some location pictures, that I probably took by myself but that would be indistinguishable if I had just filched random_kinkakuji_image_104.jpg from a Google search anyway:

There were two locations along the trail where you could toss coins into a hole or cup in the ground and receive good luck if your coin landed in the hole, because they needed to have something on the rest of the trail away from the pond that visitors could have something else to look at.

Secondly, here are some pictures of people. Here’s a goup shot with 6 of us and 2 of our Buddies:

The third and fifth person were Buddies. Zian isn’t in that picture, but she is in this one:

Here’s Mr Tanaka and Ms Nishioka:

And of course here’s one of Tigey, meeting a Buddy whom I ended up chatting a fair amount with, Yukiko.

On the way out, I picked up a hand-drawn goshuin for my book:

This is the 25th entry in the book (and I have three other goshuin that are too big/weird to paste in so I store those separately).

After we had reconvened at the exit, we went our separate ways — Zian and I took another really packed 205 bus back from the nearby main road all the way to our bus stop again, and went back to our homes from there. It was nice to be able to rest and put my feet up for once.

I lounged about writing this blob of text and eyeing my vocabulary list, and eventually went out to grab dinner and groceries from a nearby Life supermarket — the same chain from back in my Akihabara hotel earlier on this trip that I really liked. It was huge by itself, and had a large dollar store above it on the second floor of the building as well. I noticed that the optimal shopping plan for -this- Life supermarket was a little different from the last one — although they were open until 11 pm and still had 30% off stickers at 8 pm, a lot of the better dishes and meals were gone between 8 pm and 9 pm, which differed from the Life supermarket in Akihabara for whatever reason. So if and when (as I’ll likely be back) I come here for a pre-made dinner, I will aim to be here by just after 8 pm instead and make my choices there and then,

For tonight though, I picked up a couple things for soup, croquettes because 50% off Japanese croquettes are pretty much the best thing there is, and then some snacks, tea, instant noodles, and drinks so that I can try some stuff that, while I can’t quite fully translate, I definitely know that I have never tried these specific variations of before. Now I can try them over the next couple days.

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The Slightly Longer Way - Japan Day 4

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