Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Through talking to most of you via facebook, email, skype, or otherwise the same questions keep coming up so I thought I would take a sec and answer them for ya, wow I feel like Oprah, ok here we go.

How is it since you speak no Japanese?

Tricky. Many JETs don’t speak upon arrival, so this is not as though I am the first person to come on this program with this as a burden. I know a few basic phrases and try to use them as often as possible. Every once in a while I am able to grab the gist of a conversation which gets me pretty excited. Being at Reiko’s helped a lot! I can kind of ask questions, though then I have no idea what the response means. Luckily I’m generally around someone who can communicate in both languages so that obviously helps a ton. There is pretty much lots of smiling and nodding on my part, and I’m becoming a master of gestures. Oddly enough I am always eager to answer in Spanish, and compared to my Japanese I’d say I’m fluent in Spanish, which in reality is far from true. I think what I’m really lacking is vocabulary and that is the one thing I do kind of have a handle on in Spanish. Let’s review Kate’s vocab shall we? In Japanese, I know how to say…

Nice to meet you.
Good Morning.-both formally and informally, thank you very much
Good Evening.
Thank you
Thank you very much
Thank you for all you’ve done-I pretty much thank anyone and everyone who so much as smiles at me
1-10-which means you can basically count to 100 because of how their system works
Hello when answering the phone-yup it’s different
Cell phone
Eggplant-handy right?
Sh**-why do the bad words always stick!
Excuse me.
Train station
Japan, Japanese
American, American
I’m Kate.
I’m from SF, CA.
My hobbies are jogging.-Which is kind of true, though it was one of the few words I could say
I went to the University of San Francisco.
I’m ok.
Are you ok?
So it is.-Something they say as an affirmation during conversation, though I have yet to use it since I’m not quite sure what’s being said to begin with.
Itadakimasu-there is no English equivalent, said by all before meals.

That may just about be it, haha. I’ll see if I can add a few more to the list by the next time I write.

Are you going to take a Japanese class?

Absolutely. Singed up today. It’s self guided and free through CLAIR the program that backs JET, I forget the acronym.

Do you know how to use chopsticks?

Yup. Being half raised that the Namimoto household my have been my best preparation for this excursion.

Do you eat fish?

Not as a kid, but I do now! I LOVE sushi, though I have yet to have it since I’ve been here. I did meat some people at orientation who said they don’t eat fish, which is going to be a legitimate issue for them.

How’s living alone?

So weird! It’s quiet all the time! I can go for hours without saying anything, SO not like me. But I’m getting used to it. All the other ALTs live in the same apartment complex so it’s not like I have to go far to find other English speakers, though we are the only foreigners in town.

Am I homesick?

Honestly, not at all. Sorry mom and dad. I have only been here 11 days so everything is still so new and exciting. Though I’m sure as things settle down into routine, and the weather cools, I’ll wish I was with everyone at home sipping Starbucks. Except we have a Starbucks in town, so maybe Coffee Bean? J

Do people stare?

Not really that I’ve noticed. I am in a city only an hour from Tokyo, so it wouldn’t be as bad as if I was in the country. Occasionally I’ll catch an onlooker’s gaze and I just smile, as they don’t look away cause I’ve clearly “caught them”. I do find that kids tend to stare the most, and we all know kids do and say exactly what adults are thinking, which leads me to assume that the general public is paying attention to me whether I’m noticing or not. Today on my long train ride I saw literally ONE other white guy, and a gazillion Japanese people. With those odds how could you not stare?

What does your apartment look like?

Pictures are worth a thousand words so here ya go!
Walk in...
...Look left, kitchen table.
Walk through this door to the living room...
...hello living room!

Bedroom, yes I sleep on the floor
Everything was completely furnished, past down from other ALTs. All I’ve purchased thus far is food and few decos. I have AC and a floor that heats in the winter.

My Kate, things sound like they’ve gone so smoothly thus far, any big concerns?

I don’t mean to make it all sound picture perfect, but overall things have gone probably as smoothly as possible. Though everyday I do wish I could speak more, but this blog has actually kept me grounded in that sense. I find that I narrate what I’m going to write in my head as it happens, the more awkward the moment, the better the story. Thinking of all you back at home reading this makes me feel like I’m not the only Caucasian around occasionally getting double takes, when in reality, that is exactly the case.

Since I don’t start work until September I do have a lot of down town and I find myself wishing I had playmates. I am eager to create my own life here as well as my own group of friends, but meeting people isn’t too easy. The other ALTs have been here for a while and have their life pretty set. Sinapi has been sooooo sweet to let me basically join in her life and outings, and mingle with her friends. Though, there are tons of things I can get involved in that I most definitely want to take advantage of. For starters, Japanese class (a must), a soccer team I think, flower arranging (God I’m gonna be so domestic), net ball (kind of NZ version of basketball) apparently you don’t have to be good, the Japanese just use it as an excuse to drink…sold! I’m sure I could benefit from a cooking class as wellJ

Hope all is well to everyone reading! Thanks for taking the time to sit down and read about my life, I really do appreciate it!

Mata ne!


  1. KB love the letters & the journey, you must save all of the blogs & photos this is a book!
    I like the captions on the walk-through, need more photos of the chest in the bed room, like the work on the front. Would the table fit long ways from the window? may give more room at the stove & open drawers? you have a good sense of humor & nice sense of your surrounds. Mata ne Love ya

  2. So, Kate...after this weekend in Tokyo with Jessica, would you still say that you don't notice the staring? Men of Japan, cut it out!



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