Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Fletcher's Fives

Article I submitted to "Days of Awa Lives"

Fletcher's Fives
by Matthew "Fletcher" Shettler

Being a first year, I have compiled a few top five lists regarding the whole "Japan" thing.
I thought you might enjoy it.

5 things which upon arrival I have accepted without question:
1. Volumes and volumes of bad english everywhere. (confidence of creating delicious; love is message)
2. Bathroom slippers
3. The fact that my little car can at times accellerate from zero to 60 km/h in neutral.
4. That Tokushima city swells to 4 times its normal size during the month of August.
5. Omiyage

5 things which I have questioned only once:
1. That in the mountains where I live, the sun only takes 15 minutes to set-- a far cry from the hour it usually takes in the prairies.
2. A praying mantis walking accross the outside of my second floor window.
3. Japanese radio DJs see no lack of continuity in following an R&B song with some heavy metal, and then completing the trio with a bit of easy listening.
4. Bob Sapp, his 'massive' popularity, and that his ice cream is the bomb.
5. www.genkienglish.com I had a doubt at first, but it was quickly quelched.

5 things that amaze me about driving in Tokushima:
1. My little Daihatsu Mira can actually scale steep mountain roads.
2. Heavy laden cement trucks can both fit and stop on those same roads.
3. Nobody honks at the driver who is going at 20km/h below the limit, despite the fact that most people drive at 20kn/h above the limit.
4. I have not witnessed a traffic accident yet.
5. That while I can safely avoid being hit by other cars and cement trucks for three months (so far!) only to have my door deeply dented by a sleeping cyclist moving at 5km/h.

5 things which I think will never cease to amaze me:
1. How much my ego has grown since coming here. I now truly believe that I am dead sexy. Even when I examine my mini-pot belly in the mirror.
2. Somehow I managed to move out of a fiercely environmental community in my hometown, and when I get placed in random small-town Japan, I am put into a fiercely environmental community. Go figure.
3. Having managed to maintain a consistant weight through my whole high school and university career, upon arriving in a strange foreign country and eating strange foreign food I have at last put on the freshman 15. Well, more like 8. It must be the rice. That, or all the chocolate, coffee, sudachi products, beer, omiyage, and other food continually dumped down my throat.
4. In a bank of fifteen vending machines, I can consider myself lucky to find one that contains solid food.
5. That we came in dead last in the soccer tournament. How could we lose when we all looked so sexy in our swank uniforms?

5 things which I thought would never cease to amaze me, but which have since ceased to amaze me:
1. Sweet-red-bean-paste flavoured anything.
2. One of Japan's main imports is culture.
3. Jet culture is even more bizarre than Japanese culture, and that is a difficult feat to pull off.
4. A one hour drive into the city feels (and is) both close and brief.
5. I can walk into a bookstore, see thousands of books and hundreds of magazines, and know that none of them are in English. (can you hear my logo-centrism shattering?)

5 things which I don't think I will ever get accustomed to:
1. Being expected to bow to tradition and taboo. Going through fine arts at university has indoctrinated me to well for that. I want to break tradition and contradict taboos just because they are there.
2. Not eating while walking. Or when you are on a bus or train. If you are late, where else can you eat?
3. The slurpee void that is Japan. How can 7-11 not have slurpees? It defies all reason.
4. My 15 year old washing machine. It has a separate compartment for the spin cycle. It takes an hour to wash a load of laundry, and I have to monitor the machine the whole time. Then I hang up my clothes and wait three days for them to dry.
5. "kancho"

5 things which I thought I would never get accustomed to, but have:
1. Teaching kindergarden. To quote the Schwartzenagger movie Kindergarden Cop, "Kindergarden is like the ocean; you should never turn your back on it."
2. Eating the whole fish. Or many small whole fish.
3. Devil's tongue and all those other jellies.
4. Eight year old girls cuddling kabuto beatles as though they were hamsters.
5. Driving on the wrong side of the road. It's not right and left, it's right and wrong.

5 delicous Japanese foods:
1. Sushi or sashimi served with sudachi.
2. Anything with 'yaki' in it (so far): yakiniku, teriyaki, yakisoba, dorayaki, takoyaki, yakitori, yakimochi.
3. Chicken fingers done the Japanese way. They use dark meat, which makes them so very juicy.
4. Oden.
5. A steaming plate of tuna head.

5 useful Japanese words/phrases:
1. Kuchihodo no mo nai - lit: "not as much as the mouth" - a set phrase meaning that someone is all talk, or exaggerrates.
2. Hinshuku o kau - lit: "to invite a frown" - behaving scandalously
3. Yakimochi - either it's jealousy, or in Awa-ben, it's a baked mochi. You decide.
4. Ubawareru - (v) to capture. for example: "Boku wa [insert girl's name] ni kokoro wo ubawaremashita." For a while I was using ubawareru instead of wasureru. oops.
5. Dokidoki suru - (v) to feel one's pulse race in anxiety, fear, anticipation, etc.


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