I’ve Been Busy, Please Accept This Short Lesson

I’m sorry I haven’t updated in a while; I’ve been relatively busy.  I actually have a whole list of things to post about, but I don’t have the pictures for one of the posts, and I kind of want to do them in order.  Also, it takes me about 30 minutes or more on average to post something, since I go into detail and have to position the pictures and such.
I have been really busy with classes and hanging out (probably 45% schooling and 55% hanging out) so I haven’t had a whole lot of time to post, but I am doing well.  I attended two culture programs this week, one on Nihon Buyo, and one Kabuki showing, both of which I promise to post about once I gather up the pictures from Nihon Buyo (I’ll try for tomorrow night or the next night).
Then, last night I went out and had fun with some friends.  We went shopping in Harajuku and ran across an amazing 1,000 yen sale (about $10) where I bought a big, cozy winter jacket (yes, for about $10) that has a removable wool-like lining and a hood with a removable furry rim.  It will be really nice for winter time.  I also got a top for 500 yen ($6).  Then, I found my dream heels.  As soon as I got here I saw that girls like to wear strappy wedges, and I conjured up a pair of wedges in my mind that I wanted, but had never actually seen.  Yesterday I saw them sitting on a shelf, so now I have some very comfortable nice shoes.

After shopping we met up with some more people and went to a restaurant and then a bar (the legal age here is 20).  It was a really nice experience.  We mainly danced around a little (Tokyo pretty much exclusively plays American hip hop) and just got to hang out all night and talk, which was a good uplifting atmosphere.  The night life in Japan, and especially in Harajuku, is very lively, so it was a really fun night.  There isn’t a whole lot to tell about the day/night because it was mainly hanging out, but I wanted to let everyone know that I am still having the time of my life, and that everyone here is really nice and enjoyable to hang out with.

And yes, mom and dad, I am keeping up with my school work, too.  We’re only three weeks in, but half way through the intensive language course.  They call it intensive for a reason.  So, Friday we had our midterm (part of the reason we did a little extra celebrating that night) and I think I did pretty well.
We’re learning honorific language (keigo) now, which is incredibly difficult, even for native Japanese speakers.  Luckily, I have learned it before, so I know it pretty well, but it’s still really confusing.
Here’s a little crash course:
Essentially, the way Japanese verbs work is the same way that American verbs work: there is a fixed main word and either the suffix or a preceding word changes depending on what you are doing with the verb.  For example, take the verb “eat.”  You can be “eating,” you can have “eaten,” you can be “able to eat,” and you can “want to eat.”  Likewise, in Japanese these verbs would be “taberu,” “tabeteiru,” “tabeta,” “taberareru,” and “tabetai.”  In both languages there are also exceptions, like “edible”.  The exceptions in Japanese are 99% of the time only in the words “to do” (“suru”) and “to come” (“kiru”) which conjugate differently than the rest almost always.  But what does all of this have to do with keigo?
When speaking to someone of a higher status than yourself, you use keigo, and there are about 20 exceptions.  These exceptions are ridiculous.  Whereas “eat” would generally be “tabe—,” when speaking of someone in keigo, you would say “meshiaimasu.”  If anyone can find a link between those verbs, I would be more than happy to hear it.  Just a couple other examples: “know” –> “shiteiru” –> “gozonjideirassyaimasu” and “sleep” –> “neru” –> “oyasumininarimasu.”
Now, as I said, only about 20 words are like this, and the rest have a rule of thumb: o + the verb’s general fixed suffix + ni narimasu (so, “dance,” which is “odorimasu” would be “oodorininarimasu”).
On top of all that, these crazy new words also need to be conjugated for everyday use.  So, when adding “tai” to “tabe(ru)” would be “want to eat,” you still need to be able to add “tai” to the keigo form, so if you want to say that your professor wants to eat, you would say “meshiagaitai.”
And finally, there are three sets like this, which each have their own exceptions and rules of thumbs for non-exceptional words.  One is keigo (the honorifics I just explained), one is humble (which you use when you speak about your own actions that you are doing out of respect for someone of a higher status than you), and the last is extra-modest (which you use when speaking of yourself or your family to someone of a higher status than you).
Well, now that you know how to be polite in Japan, I’m going to wrap up this post.  I am going out with a couple of people from my dorm, including one of the helpers, and some full time students from Global House.  The helper who is going will be in Global House starting in September (all of the helpers are full-time ICU students).  One other helper will be in Global House, as well.  Then, tomorrow, I’m meeting up with Shiho (a girl from a nearby college who was studying abroad at my school last year) and she is taking me to Kamakura, which is a place full of temples and history.
I promise to update on my events and adventures soon!
Matta ne-! (That means “see you later”)