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The Black Rhapsody
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April 2009
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The Black Rhapsody [userpic]
Japan ho?

So this past Friday in my Japanese class, Tezuka-sensee passes around a few pamphlets for Japanese-oriented (lol) things and one of them is for a program called the Hokkaido International Foundation. In this program, you go to Hakodate, Hokkaido (the really big island just North of mainland Japan) for 8 weeks and for 5 hours a day you take Japanese language and cultural classes. It's completely immersive so you're expected to use English only when absolutely necessary for the entire program. It's also required that you participate in a homestay program (you go live with a family instead of on a campus).

A bit of backstory, although I've told many of you. I've always wanted to go to Japan, especially Hokkaido because it's so beautiful. My plan from a few years ago was to graduate college, get a stable job, and save up money to move to Japan for one year. I would get an apartment there and hopefully teach English or History at a high school. Of course to do that, I would need to get licensure to teach there and go through the trouble of moving. I would also have to be fairly literate in Japanese just to be able to get by, much less teach Japanese students. In major cities like Tokyo, you could probably get away with minimal Japanese knowledge, but I don't want to live in the big cities. Sounds complicated and aggravating, right? Obviously to be able to participate in this program would mean to be able to see a stable family and community life for 8 straight weeks, which would give me a pretty good idea on whether I'd like to stay there for the rest of my life. It would be a very sad opportunity to miss. Granted they hold this program every year, but if I don't do it in college, there would be no point...

SO... now the hard part: getting approval of the parents (and their money). I talk to my mother about this because she's my secondary defense on bringing up stupid-sounding things to my father. She says that she agrees it would be a good opportunity and that it wouldn't hurt to ask. Fortunately my father was in good spirits that night so I just asked him about an hour later. In response to my question, he decided to tell me a story of his friend, lj-cut for length and because it kindof goes off topic. I do want to mention it because he told me this long-ass story before finally telling me what he thought about the proposal. It was very interesting, especially if you know my father well.

He tells me that he used to know a Mark somebody-or-another from work a while back. My dad is a civil engineer so he works with all sorts of other engineers to get government projects done. He said that this guy was in the army for two years and that he was stationed in Korea the whole time. Most people who were stationed there normally went to Japan on their breaks because of the good relations between the U.S. and Japan. Well he fell in love with the place and after his two years in Korea, he moved to Japan for somewhere between 8 and 10 years. He met a Japanese woman there and got married, had a kid, etc. Eventually he divorced her for whatever reason, and the only reason this is relevant is because my father once had a conversation with his son, who was 14 at the time, about whether or not he wanted to claim citezenship of the U.S. or Japan. He also told some stories about the kid's father, which he also proceeded to tell me in another tangent of Listar proportions.

He said this guy, Mark somebody-or-another, took martial arts while he was in Japan and eventually became a 6th degree black belt (he failed to mention which martial art it was...). This guy liked to bet on things and one of his favorite betting tools was whether or not he could pull off martial arts stunts at his age, which was around 45 during the time my father knew him. He would bet that he could kick an empty soda can off a 9-foot pole without his other foot leaving the ground. Of course he would always win and and up taking people's money. Well the management caught wind of it and put a stop to it so that they wouldn't have to fire his dumb ass for betting. That didn't really stop him, but he kept it a bit more quiet. He once bet my father that he could stand 10 feet away from him and then run up and kick at my father's face leaving a half inch between his foot and my father's nose. My father said he wouldn't put money on it, but he'd take him up on his offer to prove his skill. He had my father stand straight against a large wooden column and had two obsevers stand on either side of them to make sure how close he came to the nose. Sure enough, he ran, kicked, and the nose was still in tact. My father looked to the two observers and they confirmed he came about a quarter-inch to his nose. Pretty skilled guy.

Well after he divorced his first wife and came back to the U.S. with his son, he married again to a white girl and proceeded to teach her martial arts. She also took formal classes. She ended up with a 2nd degree black belt in whatever-the-hell martial art it was. Storytime number three... One time when they were both working, Mark somebody-or-another got a call from the police saying that his wife had been attacked by two carjackers while she was at a stop light in her convertible Volkswagen. Without giving the man a chance to continue his message, he asked where it happened, and after a quick response, he told the policeman he would be right there, slammed the phone, and ran out the door. He came in the next day and told the story of what happened. His wife had been pulled out of the car by one of the carjackers and she immediately threw him to the ground and kicked him somewhere probably unpleasant. The fearless, although shocked wingman attempted to recover the situation, but was also denied by her martial arts skill. Mark said he was fairly embarrassed that he drove 60 miles (he commuted) to the police station in his town just to receive the information that his wife kicked the asses of two thugs and that his presence was completely unrequired. Another fairly amusing story.

Now, my father tells me one last thing. He said that the guy absolutely loved living in Japan, although he never really got to the part about why he came back to the states. He loved the culture, the food, the people, the everything. He was so confident that he wanted to live there for the rest of his life, that he had a wife and a kid there. It was a great experience for him.

After this amazingly long tangent-driven conversation with my father, he finally gave me his answer. I assume he was buying time to decide on what to say to me during the 15 minutes it took to tell me all this. He simply said that it would be a great experience and that I should go for it...

Once again, if you know my father, this is some absurdly odd shit coming out of his mouth after I just told him that I wanted $6000 to go to Japan for 8 weeks and learn... He told me to get a passport as soon as I could because after 9/11 it takes a long-ass time to get it done and that I shouldn't just dick around until the last minute and hope to get anything done. Things don't fly like that when you're trying to leave the country. So I said I'd give him all the information I could and I'd apply for a passport during this week.

tl;dr: I'M GOING TO JAPAN THIS SUMMER!!! (Hopefully)


YAY!!!! Congrats! That would be really awesome, Hopefully I'll get to go someday too.
If we send you with money would you bring back souvenirs?