The Slightly Longer Way – Day 4

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--

Thursday, May 11 2023 (Day 4)

Random notes

I finally had a 7 hour or so sleep last night and it felt great! Yay sleep. I’ve also been having dreams but haven’t had a good enough grasp on them (nor time to write it all down) when I wake up. Very annoying.

I still occasionally wonder to myself, especially in the bleary mornings: What am I doing here? How am I here now? Am I a pretender? And then I think about the free breakfast and everything is ok again.

I also finally had a tiny bit of free time this morning to play a tiny bit of Persona 5 on that Steam Deck. Should I really be playing games here while in Japan on this trip? Ma ii ka!

One of the snacks I bought last night turned out to be something called Onigiri Senbei (local), they’re really good!

Lots of pictures have been taken and I don’t always get pictures immediately if at all since they’re on other people’s phones, but here are a couple from past days. This one was from Day 2, featuring Zian on the left, me on the right in a weird beret that belonged to someone else, and two energetic Buddies:

This one is from Day 2 too, our lunch from the first Orientation day of RSJP:

And one from Day 3, a group picture in Kinkakuji with 5 RSJP students in the back row and 4 buddies in front:

My day started off as it did yesterday, meeting Zian at 7:45 at our bus stop and arriving at school by about 8:20 or so, at which point we picked up our free breakfasts. Free breakfasts are love, free breakfasts are life.

We then went off to our classes, where we received reprints of the orientation brochure with our classes finally correctly swapped around so it now represents our Beginner 2 and Intermediate 1 levels. A couple names were changed/fixed as well. Weird that they reprinted the entire booklet largely for this, but then again as an archivist I can see the appeal of this too. And I guess I passed the placement test to stay in this class, though I have no idea what score I got if any.

We then settled down in our respective classes and received our textbooks. Our class got a book called Chuukyuu wo Manabou. It has 8 chapters, and we’re doing 5 of them — Chapter 1, 5, 6, 7, and 8. The Beginner 2 class uses a textbook called Japanese for Busy People II. We also learnt today that there’s a presentation that we have to do at the end of the course that counts for 10% of our mark — it’s a 5-7 minute presentation on recent social issues in your country, or Japan, or the world. And will be done in front of a bunch of our Ritsumeikan Buddies, who will also ask questions for 3-5 minutes to get the entire presentation length to 10 minutes. Ick. Terrible. The teacher today said that she (and assumedly the other teachers) would be glad to help go over our script etc as needed though. I’m probably going to do something about Singapore just to ensure I have a unique topic. Even though Zian just came here from a study abroad experience in Singapore and thus would know instantly if I made something up! Aaah.

Anyway, we listened to recordings and did some textbook vocabulary exercises today, and I thought that this was very similar to the Japan 301 class back in UAlberta, which uses the Marugoto textbook. The class was small and the teacher was VERY patient, so the class passed largely without too much incident or difficulty.

We then had lunch, which I apparently skipped taking a picture of, but it was a donburi (rice bowl) with chicken and a half-boiled egg in it. It was called a toridzukushi tabera don, and I at least have a wall picture of it here:

I added a couple of side dishes to that, a small vegetable bowl and a couple of tamagoyaki/egg omelets. I also learnt from one of the Buddies that rotated in today (they come and go in terms of coming to eat lunch and chat with us in a designated classroom) that the kitchen menu rotates each week and we will have a completely new menu next week — yippee! I mean, I like the current selection too, but a new and unknown change of menu is something exciting to look forward to as well.

After lunch, we had a quick introduction to the afternoon’s activity, tote bag dyeing, and we walked to the bus stop to take a bus to the dye workshop. Two notable things happened along the way, the first was that Mr Tanaka brought us to stop by the International Center here at Ritsumeikan, which is equivalent of UAI at UAlberta, and it was neat to see another different implementation of the office that I also briefly worked at with Wela, Brad, and others many years ago.

Apparently around 1.5 million people live in Kyoto, and about 10% of them, or about 150,000, are University students, on top of a lot of regular high school and lower students. About 12,000 of the 150,000 University students are international students as well, spread amongst 32 schools, with RItsumeikan allegedly having the most number of them.

We also stopped by an international social center called the Beyond Borders Plaza, and got a quick introduction from the staff in there. It’s a cross-cultural meeting place that one can drop in to at any time. Which would be interesting for a longer-term stay, but for 5 weeks? There’s already so much else to do.

That wasn’t really the second notable thing that happened though. I mentally lumped that together with the first one. The second one was that we were all given unactivated 1 day bus passes to use, but Zian and I (and possibly others, not sure) already had our own bus passes anyway, so.. the other teacher, Ms Nishioka, told us to keep them anyway. So that will either become something I’ll keep for the future, as I think she said it expires in March 2024, or something that I’ll give Kel if she stops by Kyoto for a couple days or something. It only works for the rest of the day once activated, so it’s something that should be activated early in the morning anyway. I found it weird that they’d buy us single day bus passes for the excursions but only give it to us on the day itself so the people without bus passes couldn’t use it for the morning trip.

Talking about the morning trip, Zian and I got added to the group Instagram today, so all eight of us are now in that chat. Peeking back a little in the chat history, it looks like the 6 of them start their day at the hotel lobby at 7:40 am too, a little earlier than Zian and I meeting at 7:45, but they don’t arrive at class until around or past 8:45 or so. The transit was supposed to be only about 30 minutes or so byn bus from there too. Then again, Mr Tanaka said our trip to the dye workshop was going to take 15 minutes by bus, and I think it took a little over 30 instead. Buses in Kyoto are so small and narrow and so packed, and very inefficient on top of that with how they board from the back door and have to leave through the front one. There are other bus system implementations that work better than that.

The dye workshop itself, Kyo-Yuzen Workshop, was interesting, we were given blank tote bags and a bunch of stencils in folders and taught how to apply dye through the stencils and mix colours to make patterns on our bag. Finally all my time playing Modded Minecraft has paid off. The workshop looked like this:

And my own tote bag looked like this. Front:


Butterflies on one side, and some flowers that they cannot find on the other side. There’s a few colour accidents and smudges that should be stoically ignored. For symbolism, I became creative and stencilled one of the plants with its flowers lying dead on the ground instead of being a vibrant plant like its neighbour beside it, as the large plant is towering over it and blocking out its sunlight. This probably somehow represents the futility of life, wealth inequality in society, the need to achieve a healthy balance in life, the middle seat in aeroplanes, and a few other things besides. It’s obviously an eminent work of art.

Apparently we cannot use the bag in water/rain until it is ironed though, which we will have to wait until we get home to do.

After we finished dyeing our bags, I collected everyone’s names on the back of one of my Edmonton postcards and presented it to the person who had been instructing us on the dyeing process (in both Japanese and English at that, he was surprisingly decent at the latter) on behalf of the RSJP group, and he seemed to like it and thanked us profusely.

One of my twelve postcards has found a new home!

And finally, dinner tonight was a discounted bento box run from the local Life supermarket, though even at 8 pm they didn’t have a ton left, and so far around this area I think the Aeon Mall supermarket is the best one to go to for cheap food.

I’m not even really sure what I had, the left one is an oyako rice bowl featuring Kyushu chicken I believe, where oyako literally means parent and child — there’s chicken, and there’s egg, so that’s where the term originates from. The right one is a bibimbap bowl.

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The Slightly Longer Way - Japan Day 5

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