In my line of work, Christmas preparations begin early. This means I've spent the past week being rushed off my feet and doing overtime, which has left me little time to keep up my Japanese lessons. I'm still finding time to play the odd game on my trusty DS so I don't forget what I've already learned, But still, I feel as though I've ground oddly to a halt. Similarly, my progress on the language-based mobile phone adventure Survive Japanese has stalled, as I've reached a point where I need to know kanji for the colours to move to the next level. And kanji and me don't seem to be getting on... Is there a trick to learning kanji of which I'm not aware?

However, having nothing new to report gives me the chance to do one of the things I've wanted to do since beginning my blog - a trip down memory lane to my Japan holiday last year. I quite like the idea of occasionally revisiting that holiday, a day at a time, here.

Back in October 2008, me and Louise (my decidedly better half) finally got the chance to go on our dream trip to Tokyo. It would be the first time that I'd ever set foot on a plane, and so I was slightly nervous - after all, if I didn't like it, a 15 hour flight was not the time to discover the fact! I think Louise was a bit worried I'd turn out to be scared of flying or airsick, too. Although we needn't have worried - as soon as our little 'City Hopper' to Amsterdam took off, I was enraptured by the whole experience. Yeah, it was kinda cramped (ok - really cramped! I'm well over six foot...), but the vistas and the feeling thrilled me. Louise still laughs at how, even after changing at Amsterdam and spending the best part of a day in the air, I was still beaming out of the window at the views of clouds...

Arriving at Narita was something of a blur. Never having been on a plane before means never having been through customs before either. To be honest I still don't know what really happened and why, I just sleepily allowed myself to be herded about until eventually it felt like we were free to explore the country. We got the limousine bus to Shinjuku, and enjoyed the scenery on the way. As we got closer, we could see Tokyo growing and growing on the horizon, but nothing prepared us for the sheer scale of the place when we actually got there.

Finding the hotel proved tricky. I realised that reading how to say, for instance, "where is the hotel?" in a foreign language is one thing; actually trusting my pronunciation, and understanding the response, was quite another. I think it was these early difficulties that made me all the more determined to keep up my studies.

When we got there, we were immediately blown away by the view. Then, we were blown away by the room itself. And then by the futuristic toilet (it doesn't take much to impress a hick like me)... And then by the view again!

We slept fitfully for a while. Jetlag won over excitement, but only just. Every time I woke up, I just wanted to look out of the window some more. We were both really excited about getting out there after a rest and exploring. And explore we did - but that will wait 'til another blog...

Thanks for reading!

Comments (2)

On 22 November 2009 at 21:04 , Jen B said...

Hello from sunny Tokyo! Just my two pennies re learning kanji: I find its a waste of time to try and memorise each kanji and its several readings (on/kun). You can learn much faster and more efficiently by just concentrating on vocabulary and reading. Once you've seen the same kanji crop up in several words, you'll eventually be able to guess how to read new words. Also is the best kanji training website IMO (it's free).
Ciao ciao and good luck with your studying!

On 23 November 2009 at 12:12 , Rob said...

Hi Jen! Thanks for the advice, I'm glad to hear it sounds like I'm on the right track anyway - keep plugging away at the vocab... We picked up some kids' manga, complete with furigana, while at the Ghibli museum last year so hopefully I'll be able to move on to that soon (coincidentally it includes The Day I Harvested A Star, which I believe is the short you saw there). Checking out that website now - looks really good!