Monday, 7 July 2014

Tests and what not

It was both a long week and a short week this time. School was tough and even the weekends were pushing it. All the Japanese students had just come out of test week so it was back to 'normal' in terms of class life. Whatever normal is. 

I was studying for the JLPT test coming up on Sunday. (Japanese Language Proficiency Test.) This test has five levels scaling from beginner Japanese, like that of a young Japanese child, to fluency. From N5 to N1. (I don't know what the 'N' stands for.) I was aiming for N4. 

I had a lot of kanji to learn and a fair bit of vocabulary to get sorted. So that was my focus for last week. (And the last month really.) It's good to have this test as motivation to study and have some structure for what I learn. 

I think I'm slowly getting better at calligraphy
It's pretty hard though. This one says "Nanpu" Which means southern wind.
I don't know why we're writing southern wind but it looks cool.
Kendo is still as tough as ever. But I feel like I'm getting better. I got to fight with Sensei the other day. I was standing in line to fight one of the seniors when I was roughly grabbed by the arm and ordered to go line up Sensei.

I had to ask if she meant the actual teacher. It was a bit like this: "Oi! Go line up by Sensei and fight him next!"
"Me? Really? Brennan? Sensei? Really?"
"Hurry up!"

I was actually scared and very nervous all of a sudden.  I went and lined up and waited as he fought with one of the students. Then it was my turn. I bowed, walked up and bowed again. When the fight started, I screamed as loud as I could and swung at him. Of course he blocked and pushed me away.

In all honesty, he was quite kind. In the sense that he only made me work instead of killing me as he would with the other students. We fought for a while, the whole time I was screaming as loud as I could with every strike. I missed all of them and I could hear him laughing every now and then.

When we finished, he told me to scream louder. And that was that.

It's still rainy season here so whilst it's hot, it is also hot and humid. It's pretty uncomfortable sometimes but mainly during kendo. When sweat is rolling down your face and your foreign fingers are too damn fat to fit through the face cage to wipe it away. 

It's pretty tough. But it's still good fun so I'll put up with it. 

On Wednesday I took a day off of kendo so I could get my leg checked out. (It still hurts from a good week ago.) We got X-rays done and it turns out the bone is just fine. It still hurts but it's a case of "toughen up a bit." So I've gotta kick Fuyuki back real hard tomorrow at training. Then he'll probably hit back even harder the week after that.

Rice fields outside the place where I had my X-rays taken.
My host Mum had no idea why I was taking photos of something so plain.
That night we had an awesome dinner. It was just right because everyone was able to come home early; I had taken the day off of kendo, host Dad got home early from work and host brother didn't have club activities.

So we had Hida-gyu! They had been saving this for a night when everyone could eat it together. Hida-gyu is beef from the Hida area. And it's amazing. We had a BBQ style dinner and it smelt just like a summer BBQ from back home.

I even got to have a beer. It was almost like I was back home. It was an awesome feed.
Indoors BBQ. Itwas an awesome night and I definitely over ate!
At karate the next night, everyone took it a bit easier than normal because we were all a bit sore. But this massive bug flew up to the window and gave me a bit of a shock. Sensei reached out side the window and grabbed it, tried to place it on the wall but it just flew about the room. It was the size of his hand! All the kids freaked out but it soon stopped and then sat on the roof for about an hour.

So I got a kid to get on my shoulders and take a picture.
It looks disgusting. It had a weird neck that it would crane around and look at us with.
There was a kendo tournament that I was invited to watch on Saturday. I said "Of course I'll go!" not knowing that that would mean a 5:00 am start. Shiiiiit.

There were two people from our club entered in this tournament and the whole club was coming along to support them. I think that it's pretty cool that everyone was going out of their way for just two people. There is a real team spirit in the club and it's just the best thing.

So I crawled out of bed and managed to get to the train station where we would meet and then go to Gifu via bus. The kendo bus is way too small and very uncomfortable. It's not pleasant at all.

We have two kendo teachers, one is the infamous Mr. Nomura, and the other is a lady whose name I've forgotten. She's strict but nice. She was driving our bus today and that meant she played what music she wanted. So we listened to this one CD for the entire ride there and back. 

I like J-pop (Japanese pop music) but this one artist for four hours in total. The same songs over and over and over again. It was like a kind of torture that turned us all insane because we were singing by the end of it.

But there was one time when the CD was changed. Whenever we get close to the event's location, Queen's "We are the Champions" is put on as a 'get pumped' like thing. It's pretty cool actually. 

We get to this big arena and there's like, 50 million people smashing each other with those bamboo swords in warm up for the fights ahead. It was pretty cool.
Maybe not 50 million. I swear it looked like there was a lot more

Getting ready to lign up.
The club has these cool blue shirts, we stuck out.

A big panel of judges

I kind of wish I got to fight
After the kendo match. (Which unfortunately didn't go well.) We went to cheer on the school baseball team who were having a game nearby. It was awesome!
Can't miss the kendo team

High school baseball is pretty serious!

The cheering was pretty awesome.
So whilst the stadium wasn't filled, both schools had a pretty decent turn out. We all had these funny cone shaped things that were designed for smacking together and yelling through. Whilst the game was impressive, it was the noise that took the show.

Both schools brought their brass bands and big bass drums along and it was spectacular. Every player had a different song played and the atmosphere was just buzzing. Unfortunately, the other team had a bigger turn out and they seemed a bit more organised with their cheering and it was impressive.

The game went until about 6:00 pm so it was  along day. There was still a two hour drive home. I wasn't too excited to get back in the bus...

The baseball team were just as successful as the kendo team so it was a pretty unlucky day. But I thought it was quite interesting. After the long bus ride, I got home and studied a little before I went to bed.

The test was on Sunday!

I got up early and rode the train to Gifu. I had a tight time schedule and if I was late to the test I wouldn't be able to sit it. So when my train was delayed by an hour, I wasn't too happy. We got there eventually though. The next stage was by bus, and hooray! That was delayed too. Oh dear, it was looking grim.

Finally we got to the test venue and had to run from the bus into the building. I was the last person in my test room and everyone laughed at me. I was the only white kid there. Everyone else were adults and from all over Asia. 

I felt intimidated.

But the test went well! I am confident that I've passed. Whilst I didn't get 100%, I think it should be right. The results come out in a couple of months so we'll find out then! 

After the test was pretty miserable though. We had to wait for over two hours in the rain because the buses were few and far between and there must have been 200 people waiting. We finally made it onto a bus which was packed to the brim.

A very long drive later, we got to the train station. 

Jordan fell asleep on the train and it looked funny because some other kid was mirroring him.
Everyone sleeps on the train

It was about 10:30 pm when I got home. Pretty damn tired.

Sorry that this week's blog is both late and not so exciting, it's been a tiring week and I'm still tired! I plan to study for the N2 of the JLPT test which is in December. So including this month and December, I've got six months to get my ass into gear and get super fluent. We'll see how this goes.

But that's all I've got for now. Until next time!

Hungry on the train
But seriously, it took so long to get this photo lined up

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