Na een lange reis aangekomen in Japan. Maar helaas te moe om er echt van te kunnen genieten de currency hier is enorm wennen. Prachtige gouden munten zijn 5 yen waard (5 eurocent ong). Ben hier samen met Suraya Tjon, Dennis Jongejan en Jeshua Bishop. - bij Station Tanimachi Rokuchome.
Dennis Kalkhoven, Suraya Tjon, Jeshua Bishop, foto Dennis Jongejan
In de metro in Japan, op weg naar het hotel 20 januari
Osaka, Station Tanimachi Rokuchome
Ze verwachtten in de trein geperst te worden zoals ze op tv hadden gezien, maar zo te zien was er ruimte zat!
Flight AY 77 From Helsinki to Osaka Kansai Japan 19 januari
Dennis Kalkhoven 20 januari
Dennis Kalkhoven 21 januari
Today our party ventured further into Osaka city. It's amazing how this city can be so clean yet so totally devoid of trashcans. Finding a trashcan in this city can almost be seen as a worthy quest to undertake. While walking trough the city we found a park with a lot of Sakura (cherry blossom) trees. They look sort off dead at the moment but the whole riverbank was littered with the trees, so with some fantasy one can imagine the splendor of this place come April. I had to carefully examine the park for a full 10 minutes before I found one single piece of trash, a sigaret bud. And let me remind you once more, this park was also devoid of trashcans. The discipline of the Japanese people concerning cleanliness is truly impressive.
I played some poker with the guys in the evening. Due to lack of poker chips we had to play with booze which happens to be quite cheap here. I was even asked for my ID when I purchased a half bitter lemon half alcohol drink 8%. The clerk seemed quite impressed by my Japanese and after I told her that all of us were students from Holland of the same age she didnt ask the others for ID. Which is great when you think that Dennis Jongejan is below the legal drinking age in Japan.
Poker went great till I lost once.Those who know me well know that my alcohol tolerance is so low that I would get drunk from drinking water from a cup that previously contained some liquor. Losing once leads me to a slippery slope of bad decisions and I fell knock-out in my bed by 6 o clocks Japanese time. Today is a new chance to try and beat jet lag!
In de metro in Japan, op weg naar het hotel 20 januari
Cherry blosom (Sakura) not in blossom until April 21 januari
Starting to know my way around Osaka! I went to the Family Mart (convenience store) to buy some early morning sushi. Have to say that I now understand why I often hear the phrase:"one does not simply eat sushi in another country after having eaten sushi in Japan". It was truly delicious and pretty cheap 3 euro for around 8 pieces.
The staff is starting to recognize me as well, the clerk told me:"onii-san, hontouni o sushi ga suki desu ne~". Which translates to, wow you really like sushi don't you!
Afterwards I went to the city and visited an arcade game centre. There I met an innocent japanese girl, around 12 years old. And she was playing Dance Dance revolution. I told her that I was the Dutch National champion and I had come here to challenge her. We played at the highest level and she proceeded to destroy my confidence and reputation in the next 5 minutes. (pictures of this historic event will follow later)
In the centre of Namba I was waved over by a street comedian. we bowed akwardly long to eachother multiple times and together with Dennis Jongejan and Jeshua Bishop we did a martial arts exhibition together. It was great fun to be able to yell and fight in the middle of a busy street, great way to get rid of stress! He was impressed by my Japanese and gave me his microphone. I announced to the street that this show was the best in Osaka and the comedian seemed pleased. Looks like I said the right things. Tonight I'll see if I can visit a special light show at Osaka Castle.
Dennis Kalkhoven 22 januari
Totally destroyed by a 12 year old girl! 22 januari
Yesterday I finally obtained my first blister after walking around for over 8 hours. Osaka is really beautiful at night, I've never really walked trough a big city before. So all the streets shining bright like a diamond were really impressing. It was sort of strange to see people hired as billboards though. Their job consisted of standing next to a shop dressed in commercial advertising, and stare forward with dead eyes while repeating the same phrase every 6 seconds.
Dennis Kalkhoven 24 januari
In the skirts of Namba I was approached by an old mysterious man. He proceeded to talk to me, Jeshua Bishop and Dennis Jongejan for an unknown reason. Not seeing any harm in this I replied with konnichiwa (good afternoon). I quickly corrected myself with konwanba (good night) though seeing as it was night. The old man was surprised by this and laughed loudly, saying:"that's right it's konwanba in the evening, konnichiwa during the day and ohayou gozaimasu in the morning". The conversation seemed innocent enough, but little did I know that things were about to escalate quickly. He literally said:"I used to be able to walk trough the city like you" and then he rolled up one side of his pants to show his knee. I was half expecting to see an arrow sticking trough it but was left dissapointed as there was no visual problem. Then he said his knee hurts and he was no longer able to work and needed 200yen from each of us to feed himself with a katsudon bowl special. I could swiftly see which direction this conversation would take so I replied in Japanese:"we are all poor students who haven't eaten in 2 weeks". The old man was not unkind to us and lowered his demands. "allright, 100 yen from each of you then so I can eat the not-special-pork-bowl" he said.
I thought for a moment and then a cunning plan came to me. I pulled out my wallet and was about to hand over some money when my eyes grew large and I pointed behind the man and said:"Oh my god it's Godzilla!". The old man turned around in horror, giving us a chance to make a quick getaway. Now some of you may say, Oh Dennis that's so rude. But in Japanese culture it is considered rude to say no. So this was truly the only wallet-safe way of getting out.
There were also some awkward moments in the city. We entered a random arcade hall and saw a yakuza with 3 skimpily clad women attached to him, so we promptly evacuated the arcade. And I made a japanese pun in a bar(those who know me well know I am fond of this). We were eating Tsukemen and I said to Dennis Jongejan:"kore wa tsukemen, watashi ha ikemen". This means, this food is Tsukemen, I am a good looking man". Because both words end in men it's a play on words which qualifies as pun. The awkwardness of this moment was that neither Dennis nor Jeshua understood the pun but then 2 salarymen next to me burst out laughing at the pun and congratulated me on my funnyness.
The Japanese people seem extremely pleased if a foreigner bows to them. Behold how happy this Japanese cosplayer is when I bow to him in the added picture ( you can tell he is happy by his smile).
Just moved into the Kansai Gaidai university. I already met my roommate. When I entered I said hello and I immediatly heard an indian voice:"goodday, my name is Asraf how may I help you". Unfortunately I've got no internet here whatsoever so I won't really be able to post much in the coming week. The university disabled Wi-Fi in the orientation week. Next week I'll be shown pretty much everything of the university and the neighbourhood. I'll also meet my host family for the first time on Thursday and I'll have an aptitude test on monday to check my Japanese level.
There's over 300 foreign students here to study Japanese. About 220 of them come from Canada or the US. I met about 30 students and yet I'm the only one who seems to be able to understand and speak Japanese? All the Japanese people at the university speak very well English so this is not a problem. Yet they too are surprised when they hear me speak Japanese. Going to do my best on monday!
Dennis Kalkhoven 25 januari
Dennis Kalkhoven 27 januari
Today I'll try to write about some of the cultural differences I'm experiencing in Japan. What I find really strange is that I cannot afford to let my guard down when walking in the city. Bikes are driven on the sidewalk even though a lot of people walk there. Because the Japanese do not want to inconvenience others, they will silently creep up on you from behind on their bikes. They do not use a bell to notify you and they pass you if they see a chance.
I've had multiple times that I was about to turn right to walk in a shop, when suddenly a bike shot past me. It's good that I always look before I walk but I shouldn't have to be so aware of my surroundings if I'm just strolling down the street.
The same problem applies to crosswalks. The whole point of the zebra crossing is to assist pedestrians in crossing the road right? Crosswalks that are not accompanied by a traffic light should indicate that pedestrians have priority. Yet the cars shoot by without even caring. Whether I walk on the sidewalk or on a crosswalk I always have to keep my guard up in Japan.
On the positive side, The people here are really helpful. Since I like exploring I've already traveled on foot to some random directions to see where I end up. It has happened multiple times that, while I was walking around and looking everywhere, a Japanese person came up to me and ask me:" are you lost?". I've even had Japanese people escort me to my destination, even though I was quite sure that person had to hurry to catch a metro or bus.
The same applies in the store. In the supermarket I showed a picture of a tasty snack I had eaten in Osaka city to one of the people that worked there. The outside of the snack was made of rice stamped down by a stamper covered in milk. The inside of the snack contained a strawberry. It tasted very soft and fruity. The Japanese worker took me all around the supermarket to look for the item, even though I told him I didn't buy this product from this supermarket. When he couldn't get it he got his friend, and when his friend couldn't find it either he went to his boss. All three of them searched everywhere before bowing to me and apologizing profusely for their lack of assortment.
I then went to the bakery shop that was attached to the supermarket and repeated the question. I was helped by two nice girls who showed me different kinds of tasty goods while a third girl went all the way from the bakery to the supermarket. She showed some real problemsolving skills in bringing back icecream in a bottle. She explained that there was a strawberry in the middle and the rest around it was soft,tasty and fruity.
I had already bought something from the two girls before she came back with the icecream in a bottle, but since me and Dennis Jongejan didn't want to inconvenience her we bought the icecream as well. I was left to ponder the following: if I asked a Dutch butcher in a Dutch supermarket for some cheese with a piece of cucumber in it, would he/she then leave his/her position to help me find it? Would he/she draw out all possible resources to solve my problem? Or do the Japanese just really appreciate their customers?
Dennis Kalkhoven 28 januari
Today's evening event clearly showed another difference between the Dutch and Japanese culture. I went out with Dennis Jongejan and 18 other students from the University to a restaurant. Most went to get totally drunk but me and Dennis just wanted to have some fun so we tagged along.
While we were there, we each ordered a glass of beer 300yen and Miso soup 70yen. Some edamame (beans hidden behind a tough skin, just google it) arrived on the table about 10 minutes after we took place. We just assumed someone ordered it or that it was a free service so we each took a few beans.
We ended up leaving a bit earlier than the rest because there was a mandatory lesson the next day that required us to get up early, but as I approached the cashier to pay my 370yen bill she told us that we had to pay the total amount of all 20 guys 30.000yen. We couldn't leave unless we paid the full amount. That struck me as rather silly to be honest, if you as a customer wish to leave you should be able to do so. In the end I convinced her to let us pay our bills to the rest of the guys so they can pay everything in the end.
Then a new problem appeared. We each had to pay over 700yen. I carefully explained to the girl that I ordered a small glass of beer 300yen, not some big bottle worth 600yen. It took a while before I caught on that she was charging us for multiple things, namely a 100yen sitting fee. Which she called sekijirou or something, and 220yen for the beans. Now we weren't told ahead of the sitting fee/entrance fee, and I personally did not order any beans. She then explained that everyone has to pay for the beans not just me. If she thought this would help calm me down she was deeply mistaken, 20 x 220yen = 4400yen. That's almost 35euro for 3 small bowls of beans. I absolutely refused to pay for both since I didn't order it and I wasn't told beforehand. However a Japanese friend of mine told me to just pay up because "rules are rules". This seemed to end all possible arguments for him and he didn't understand what I was making a fuss about.
I walked the whole road back to the university so I could spare 220 yen on the bus ride to settle my Dutch money feeling.
Dennis Kalkhoven 30 januari
I just got the information on my host family printed on a form. The front said that they: don't keep pets, do not smoke, don't speak English, have hosted students before and that they don't expect me to teach English to anyone.
When I turned the form around it had a backside that says that my Host mother is the only one at home and her birth date is march 1941. Looks like I'll be staying over at a nice old grandmother after all. I'll meet her today and I'll go over to her home on Sunday. Most likely this will make it even harder for me to access internet. I'll let you guys know how it went soon!
Dennis Kalkhoven 31 januari
Today I went to eat some more delicious ramen at a restaurant. When a girl arrived to take my order I tried asking her if there was any "buckwheat" in the ramen. Since I had no idea what the japanese word for buckwheat is, and since I have no internet on my phone, I couldn't let her know what I wanted. She then asked the chef to come over because he spoke a few words of English.
I told him the Japanese word for Allergy and he seemed to get what I ment because his eyes grew wide and fearful. He asked me to write "buckwheat" on a piece of paper and then he went in the back of the shop to get his phone and look up what I ment. When he came back he said I had " soba arrerugi" which means buckwheat allergy I guess. I tried to explain to him that in the worst case scenario my face would become slightly heated and red but it was too late. Japan has a very high Uncertainty avoidance index (UAI) which means their society would like to avoid problems and the chef was very worried for me.
It took him 5 minutes to consult with the factory before he came back to me and explained that while his new factory uses a specific tank to make noodles, his old factory had a tank that was also used to make buckwheat noodles. So there was a 50-50% chance that the noodles he would use in my ramen could contain spores of buckwheat. I told him that the risk vs reward was worth it. He asked me if I could get into anaphylactic shock if I were to eat it. I thought to myself: if there was an actual chance of me dying from eating a certain food, I would avoid that food at all costs and anything that might have come in contact with it, and I would definitely not have visited a ramen shop. I told him it was allright and he went to make my ramen.
The moment I tried eating I felt the eyes of all the staff burning in my back. The chef himself had a phone in his hands and the emergency number was already dialed, his finger floating just slightly above the "call" button. I took some noodles in my chopsticks and raised them slowly to my mouth. I could hear gasps of fear behind me. Without eating I put the noodles back in the bowl and I was greeted with sounds of relief.
In the end I ate it without trouble and without an allergic reaction. It was one of the best noodles I've ever had, especially the soup. I told the owner that I would wholeheartedly recommend this to my friends and he gave me a bunch (about 20) of discount coupons if I ever came back.
Japan is a pretty cool country.
Dennis Kalkhoven 1 februari
Today’s post will be a bit longer since I’ll be telling about a rather interesting chain of events that occurred that I hadn’t find time to write about before. So much more happened that I could go into greater detail about in this story but I want this post to be actually readable so I’ll stick to the main points.
About 1.5 week ago I was in Osaka city with plenty of time to spare because university hadn’t started yet. Since Osaka city is pretty big I felt like I needed a guide. I saw an online ad on japan-guide.com about a Japanese woman who said she was able to guide people around Osaka so I replied to that. When I met her she told me that her name was Yuuko, she was 33 and she worked in the fashion industry. We walked around Osaka that day and we had a lot of fun together. Because she had been to Europe and England several times before she could speak decent English which helped a lot when communicating.
Eventually we sat down in a café to talk some more and decide where we would go. She showed me pictures of places we could go to and I was rather interested when she showed me a picture of the “most beautiful building in Japan”. It was a 30 minute walk but it ended up taking over an hour due to her map-reading skills. When we reached the building she treated me to Okonomiyaki which was very delicious! We ended up talking about rather serious topics during dinner and when the light fell on her face in a certain way I became more conscious about talking to her. It struck me then that I realized that she was quite beautiful and yet it felt very easy and natural to talk and laugh with her.
After dinner we went up into the tower (which was 173M high and called Sky Tower). Upon closer inspection the tower only seemed to contain couples (coincidence?). We went to the very top and the view was truly spectacular. I became quite aware that I was standing in a couples-only-romantic-setting with Yuuko, and since it was very cold at the top I took the chance to hook my arm in hers. From there things flowed rather naturally into resting our heads against each other and holding hands eventually.
When we got too cold we went back inside and I bought her some icecream. She told me she loved ice cream and she fed me some as well which I thought was really cute. We went up once more and holding hands we walked on top of the building for a bit until we found a nice place to settle down. Looking down upon the many brilliant lights in Osaka city our conversation continued in Japanese, she said:”this city is really beautiful”. I looked into her eyes and said to her:” I think the most beautiful thing is up here with me”. She avoided my gaze and blushed saying:” Japanese men don’t really say that…”. I replied with:” I’m not Japanese” and then I softly kissed her lips. It was a pretty good day.
About half a week later we met again and this time we started our date by meeting her old chess-teacher and playing a game of chess together. I let her beat me, since I’m a gentleman and all that, and then proceeded to challenge her teacher. This time I was determined to show my true skills. Unfortunately I was humbled again as it turned out he was a Japanese grandmaster in chess. He returned some of my honor by telling me I was very strong but then again that could also be Japanese politeness.
After that we walked through Osaka and enjoyed another meal together. In the end our second date also somehow ended in kissing in a romantic tower.
Yesterday Yuuko and I had our third date. We went to an amusement park called “Hirakata park”. It had a small zoo where you could pet pets (I also fed a penguin!) and of course it contained a lot of fun roller coasters. We were able to have some nice moments together there and at night we ate in a restaurant together.
After we were finished eating we stayed in the restaurant for about an hour longer, ordering more drinks and talking about our feelings. When the mood was right I asked her officially to be my girlfriend and she agreed. When we got out of the restaurant I walked her back to her train and kissed her goodbye. Since university has a curfew during the orientation week I had to be back in time so I rushed to the bus.
Once I entered the bus I met some friends from the university that all seemed drunk as a skunk . I joined them and I noticed that among them there was one foreigner (who I didn’t know)who seemed to not even be able to sit upright. I had hardly sat down on the bus when he started to make vomiting gestures. I thought “ oh no…no-no not here…so many Japanese people are in this bus right now don’t tell me tha…” and then he threw up in the bus. Oh wait did I say throw up? I meant more like sprayed it everywhere.
I face palmed extremely hard and had to watch how all those years of carefully nurturing the image of a foreigner in Japan got destroyed in one moment. He threw up on the checkout box so no one could check out to escape, and while he stumbled out of the bus all that was left of him was his pungent odor. I heard the Japanese bus driver say something in Japanese that sounded slightly like “ F*ck my life” and he got off the bus to get something (police or a mop?). I decided not to stay there and got off the bus and decided to walk home again. The best part was when I got out the bus and the guy told me:” I feel so bad”. I said:”yeah right all those poor people”. To which he replied:” No I don’t care about the people but I had already paid for that bus”.
First information about my host family
Moving into the dorm
The old beggar
Dennis Kalkhoven 4 februari
Voice commanded bath
Today I’ll tell everyone how things went with my host family, or should I say host person? When I first found out that I wouldn’t be able to join an actual family but would instead end up with a 73year old grandmother I had ambivalent feelings. I thought I would be too busy with my studies to be able to regularly go to the hospital or to help wash her back. Upon meeting her however those thoughts were quickly alleviated.
Even though she is 73 she looks like 50, this is due to a number of reasons. Firstly, even though this might be generalizing she is Japanese and thus she looks younger. Secondly, she uses a lot of money on brand clothing which has a great effect on her appearance. And thirdly, she goes out often to stay healthy. She has a boyfriend who is 30 years younger than she is.
She speaks only in Japanese and extremely fast with the Osaka-ben accent that I hear all too often here. We got on very well very quickly and it looks like my stay here will go exactly as my internship went with Priva. She said I was cheerful, smarter and more interesting than any of the previous 30 homestay experiences she had, she says I continue to suprise her and she’s very happy I’m here. When I told her I'm in level 3 of the 7 Japanese language levels she laughed very hard. She only accepts students in her house that actually speak Japanese, and because she has had so many students before she knows exactly in what level who belongs. She was adamant that I should have been in 6 or 5 at least. Rather sweet of her to say but I'm staying in 3 for now!
She said I was the first to actually pick up the phone in her house when it rang, and she’s very much surprised every time I demonstrate that I’m able to remember a name or a word. For instance in psychology the other day I learned about the word “ishin denshin” (this means interpersonal communication through unspoken mutual understanding) in psychology class from an American teacher. It was just used as an example then but I remembered the word and was able to use it later that day to outstanding comedic effect.
I have to get used to the fact that everything talks in her house. I have to take a shower first before I can enter the bath, but while I shower I just say “bath on 40 degrees”and it automaticall fills itself. She comes to my room regularly to provide me with snacks or put a warm blanket around my shoulders when I study. Right now I’ll go down to enjoy another delicious warm bath!
I am no Hermione
Dennis Kalkhoven 5 februari
It's so hard to hold back in Japanese class. I'm in level 3 which sort of picks up where I left in my Dutch University. But there are a lot of people that have significant trouble with even the easiest grammar. I'm not gonna make fun of those people and I don't want to become a Hermione in class so I try to hold back as much as I can but I am seriously doubting Kansai Gaidai's ability to place people in correct classes. There will be a final placement test on monday. During this time you can either move up a level or move down a level. I'll probably do the test without preparing for it. I think that if I can't even pass this level without studying I don't actually belong in this level. I hope people that aren't ready for level 3 are not afraid to go down a level because if they are and they study megahard in the weekend to pass the test it's going to be a hard 4 months for them.
Dennis Kalkhoven 8 februari
Since the days are starting to flow together I’ll wait a few days between updating blogs (unless something awesome happens). For now I’ll write a bit more about my homestay.
My Home stay in Japan is a very fulfilling experience. My home stay mother really goes out of her way to acquire all the various dishes that Japan has to offer in order to broaden my culinary view. We are getting on very well together and have no problems communicating. I can freely talk to her (and I gladly do so) about everything that happens/happened to me in Japan. She seems to really appreciate this when she told me once again how different I am from her previous home stay students. She asks the students in her house to call her “mama-san” but even if they do she always feels there is an emotional wall between her and the student. Whether this is due to the language- or culture barrier or to something else, she feels it very clearly.
She expressed how happy it makes her to hear me call her “mama-san” in a natural and honest voice and that she really appreciates that I open up to her, which is I guess is uncommon in Japan. I couldn’t break her happiness by telling her that due to past events I have grown used to calling other parents “Mum” or “Dad” (Frans van Buel). Though I must say that neither can I deny that both my emotions and my behaviour are vastly different than those of others (even of my own culture). I also lack inherent inhibitors (such as shame or awkwardness) to prevent me from saying certain emotional things, or making certain jokes. While this can occasionally get me into trouble, it can also function as a strong point to honestly capture someone’s heart.
Kawaii (cute) photoshoot
Dennis Kalkhoven 20 februari
Last week I went to this fancy smancy Indian restaurant together with some friends and ordered the super special Indian meal. It started with a banana milkshake and some soup with crème fraiche. This was followed by a nice milk curry rice dish and some naan bread with cheese(milk). For dessert we got some tasty icecream (milk).
Unfortunately I’m allergic to milk so I was out of commission for well over a week. If you ask me:”Why Dennis you must have realized at a point what you were eating, why did you continue”. I can only say that it was a combination of my Dutch culture (if I paid for food I will eat it!) and of a YOLO lifestyle.
I’m happy to say that I’m fine again now! Time will tell how long this newfound renewed vitality lasts because there’s a nasty virus spreading around the school that turns common students into.....something else. You can tell which students are affected by the way they shamble and drool slightly. To determine the mental fortitude of these affected students I asked one:” What is required to succeed in University?”. To which he answered:”Brainsssssssz”, well glad to see that the virus has done nothing to dampen people’s sense of humor here.
On a happy sidenote, I just got permission from Tom Sluijter to spent my springbreak vacation in Korea! So march 21-30th I’ll get a great chance to see some of Asia and to meet my awesome family!
Time for a long overdue update!
Dennis Kalkhoven 1 Maart
First Japanese exam results
The first big Japanese exams are done! The next exams won't be until a while. Looks my time at TMA under the care of Konami sensei and Fumiko Inoue sensei prepared me well for the tests!
Stand aside, he is DUTCH!!
Dennis Kalkhoven 2 Maart
Today was another awesome day with Yuuko! We went ice skating in Namba, Osaka. It was around 15 euro for three hours of skating and to rent some skates. First I had to select a shoe size....Those who know me well know that I am not particularly interested in keeping up with the latest fashion styles. In fact I hardly have an interest in clothes....at all. As such I hardly have an understanding of selecting shoes and clothing in my own country let alone another! It took a long long time before we were able to skate. Because my inability to select the correct size wasn’t my only handicap...there is one more thing I am inept at which is the dreaded tying of shoelaces. It so happens that skates have a LOT of shoelaces and they have to be EXTREMELY tight. Eventually we were ready to start skating. Then I noticed a new hurdle. It was weekend so the ice ring was absolutely packed with people, with some people trying to get in the ice ring as well as some people trying to get out.
Just when I thought that we would never be able to enter the ring Yuuko said in Japanese:”everyone make way make way!”. So people looked at us strangely , saying things like “you shouldn’t convenience others” or “why should we have to move?”. Then Yuuko answered:”because he’s...Dutch!”. It took about five seconds for the message to sink in before they reacted. The reason they reacted in this way is probably due to the fact that the Japanese are avid Olympic fans, and the Dutch took Gold, Silver and Bronze in the ice skating competition. So upon hearing I was Dutch I saw a few eyes open in recognition, the people started clearing a path for me, a few people bowed to me and one baby started crying.
Now I may be Dutch but I have never skated before in my life. Feeling emboldened by the reverence shown by these people however I confidently stepped on the ice. I remember thinking for a few seconds how pretty the lights on the ceiling looked before I realized I was lying on my back. Slowly crawling back up like an unsteady newborn deer I used the wall to help me get back up. I fearfully turned my eyes to the crowd to properly face my disillusioned fans. I needn’t have worried however, as these were Japanese people. Meaning all of them clapped, bowed and congratulated me on a job well done. With the pressure taken away I could finally focus on what I came for.
After three hours my ankles were raw and all I could concentrate on was the pain in my feet so I was glad the time was up. Having said that the ice skating itself was a very fun experience. I couldn’t believe how good everyone was at skating, from little kids to 80 year old grandfathers skating at Asian difficulty levels. Now that the skating was behind us, Yuuko took me to a cat cafe which as you might suspect is a cafe...with cats.
The entire cafe is filled with all sort of cats and there are many toys that you can use to play with the cats. It was about 7 euro to enter the cafe which included a drink and some cat snacks to feed the hungry kitties. The owner handed me a special English version of the rules so I could read them also. Most of the rules made no sense to me even though they were in English but of course I showed nothing but utmost gratitude for the trouble she must have gone trough to compile this list of rules in English. I added a small part of the English rules as a picture, along with some kitty pictures
Dennis Kalkhoven 21 Maart
Mid term exams
Mid term exams went really well! I'm sure I passed all of them with good grades so far. Unfortunately I still have one last mid term exam which will come directly after spring break but I will post the results when it's finished.
Tomorrow I'm going to Korea to visit my lovely aunt and uncle. It's only one hour by plane so I have to take this chance! Especially since they were nice enough to pay for my ticket there! Have to quickly finish packing my bag. Next time I write will probably be in Korea!
Visiting Uncle Tom and Aunty Monique in South Korea 22 maart
Arrived in Korea safely with my sweet family. Their house is technologically even more advanced than the personal lodging of NASA's chief of command. I doubted when I first landed here wether it was truly Korea, since the flight was only one hour and everything is very similar to Japan. But then I saw the barbed wire and the "North Koreans are shot on sight" sign and I knew I was safe. - met Monique Sluijter-Hensen en Tom Sluijter bij 깨끗하고따뜻한우리집내방.
Fridgeezoo Fridge Pet (Penguin) by SolidAlliance Corporation Put it in the fridge. Talks Japanese when you open the fridge! Talks more when the fridge's door is left opened Japan import
Dennis speaks Japanese and knows what our fridge friend is saying! One of the things he says is "find a place of your own and die"! And we thought our fridge penguin was a friendly creature!
We were assuming the little guy was greeting us whenever we open the fridge but Dennis is now translating bit by bit and we learn it is actually a grumpy little bastard.
My Korean photobook
Dennis Kalkhoven 27 maart
Visit to the Korean War Musum and Geoje island. Korean BBQ with Uncle Tom and Aunt Monique
Monique made this delicious okonomiyaki that Yuuko gave me to bring to them. She prepared it very well as the taste was impossible to distinguish from the okonomiyaki in Japan. Monique is a great cook!
Safely back in Japan
Dennis Kalkhoven 28 maart
Arrived safely back in Japan! Uncle Tom hired a limousine driver called "Mr shin" to drive me to the airport. He kept saying: "mistah Tom issa berry smaato man". My uncle must always tip him generously I figured so I did it as well so I wouldn't be the one to break tradition. He was very nice though! While driving he showed me the Cherry blossom trees. Ironic that it is not Japan where I first see Sakura but Korea.
He also asked me:"yuu rike korean mujike?" When I replied favorably he proudly let me listen to Britney spears,Backstreet boys and bon jovi for the rest of the hourlong drive. In Audio and Video format...
Once I boarded the plane I immediately checked next to me. There were no babies and no French. There were old people however...50% chance of having a lousy trip. Two minutes after the plane took off he started talking In Korean. Which was fine until my Korean vocabulary ran out one minute later. Desperate to escape this hellish scenario I thought of a cunning plan. I pretended to be thankful and I bought both of them a bottle of water. They thanked me profusely and drank. The old people did not dissapoint, within five minutes they had to leave to go to the toilet.
I used my chance to quickly plug in headphones and escape reality. The cunning plan bore no fruit alas, lacking sense the old man next to me just tapped my leg when he wanted to talk. If I ignored it the tapping would become insistently stronger. Thank god it only lasted an hour.... one....whole....hour.
BBQ Party thuis bij Mama San, samen met 'Dennis Met de Bril'
Dennis Kalkhoven 29 maart
Mama-San en haar vriend
Dennis met de bril
Spring has come
Dennis Kalkhoven 4 april
Spring has finally come! Since a few days the official semester for the Japanese students started. Before it was only foreign students (like myself ) and Japanese students that are studying to go abroad themselves. Now however all the other Japanese students are enrolling, making the school roughly 349% livelier. In addition, roughly 80% of the students are female! It's around 20 degrees Celsius and the sakura are blooming as well. Japan is a beautiful place to be now. Spring has finally come!
On a side note the weather dropped 10 degrees today and the strong wind is killing the sakura so it feels like Spring came,gave summer a pass and went straight to autumn...
Japanese Play and Mid-terms results
Dennis Kalkhoven 11 april
I went with Yuuko to a traditional Japanese play. I felt like the people stared more at me than the actors because I was the only foreigner there and about 95% of the people that went there were ladies in their 70's.
I managed to understand most of the play to get the meaning (But I might have asked Yuuko for some hints). I thought the lady in the kimono was very beautiful, so I said that to Yuuko to try and make her jealous. But then she replied with:"That's a man". Awkward......
Mid-terms are over and the results of my tests are back! They use the American system here of grading in letters A-F. So I posted the percentages to help give an idea how I did.
Intercultural Communication: Mid-term test 71% C- presentation 89% B+
Cross-cultural psychology: Mid-term test 85% B Paper project 88% B+
Business Ethics: Mid-term test 92% A-
Jap. Listening/Speaking lvl 3A: Mid-term test 88% B+
Jap. Reading/writing lvl 2G: Mid-term test 93% A (4 foto's)
The biggest cherry blosompark
Dennis Kalkhoven 19 april
I went to the biggest cherry blossom park! It was really beautiful and it's unbelievable how many people went there. There was a speaker installed roughly every 50 meters that repeated rules in Japanese, Chinese and Korean. The park was more of a single street but it was at least 1KM long.
After the park I went to the nearby Japanese festival where they sold many amazing things! Was really great to see people trying to catch goldfish with small paper nets that break easily under pressure. It's the end of the sakura season now but summer is coming.
Dennis Kalkhoven 22 april
Played pool with Yuuko. Unfortunately I lost 3-2. At least I got to take more プリクラ!(purikura)
To board a train or not to board a train...
Dennis Kalkhoven 24 april
So I'm waiting at the station for the train, and when it comes (perfectly on time as always), I want to get in the train the moment the door opens. I'm standing in line like everyone else,but the man in front of me doesn't enter the open train. Since I'm used to swooping aggressively in trains for that last open seat, it's really hard for me to hold back on entering.
I carefully look around and no one else seems to enter either. Fighting against my instinct I stay in line and wait. After about two minutes the doors close and the train moves a bit forward to align the doors with the waiting lines. The chairs, which were all aimed forward, automatically switched to the opposite side! I had never seen that before.
It turned out that the final station of that train was reached so the train turns around the other way. Apparently that means they check the seats for people that are asleep and they change all the chairs' positions. Really cool!
Osaka and Kyoto with Yuko during a 4 day stay by uncle Tom and aunt Monique.
Dennis Kalkhoven 3 mei .. 7 mei
Fumiko Inoue (principal lecturer at Rotterdam Business School) 20 mei
Today I visited a Japanese multinationals in Osaka together with a TMA alumnus Rick Hoek, his boss and our TMA student Dennis Kalkhoven. Dennis is going to do his internship at this company.
Rick is doing so well that his boss wants to help us. Dennis did it so well in the meeting today; he understands just everything what the Japanese managers said and he spoke Japanese easily, in a nice and friendly way. We all laughed a lot, because he made real Japanese jokes.
I was so proud of my old student and my young student. A happy day!!