Ishida House, Matsudo

Today was my first full day at Labo. I left early so as not to be late, so I got to hang around the Labo offices for a good 45 minutes. The four of us new interns met with Ariel to go over the program guidelines, thirteen pages of technicalities and common sense ("no stealing"). It took from 10:00 all the way to 1:00, but at least it's over with. Labo owns my soul for the next 12 months.

We had lunch together out on the courtyard. Coral has a college degree in Japanese, so she's in the nihongo institute classes, which start at 1:30. Emma, Katie and I are doing lessons with a teacher in our own beginner's class, it doesn't start until 2:00.

Our "class" is pretty much starting from the beginning, mostly for Katie's benefit. I spent most of the class trying to convince the teacher (Harioka-sensei, one of my teachers from two years ago) that I already know hiragana, and helping/distracting Emma and Katie. I did learn a few new words, (みかん=orange, ふね=boat, among others), and had a good time (Harioka-sensei is a fun teacher), but I hope I get to move on to kanji soon.

During a break, I went out to the hall to buy a drink. There was a man messing with the vending machine, trying to get a stuck drink out the dispenser. He asked me if I could give it a shot, so I got it out for him. He thanked me and asked for my name, so I introduced myself. He replied with his own introduction; he was the director of Labo, definitely someone I would want to have a good impression of me.

After class, Coral had something to take care of with Ariel, and the rest of the interns went to Nishi-shinjuku station. I stopped at i-Land and picked up a notebook and a nice pencil, then went to Bic Camera to try to buy a phone. I spent two hours with an AU-KDDI lady trying to figure everything out. At first it seemed like there wouldn't be any way to get a one-year plan, all the contracts were at least two years. However, they had a one-day deal where if you bought a certain phone, signed up for the contract, and were under 22 years old, they would give you 10000 cash back on the spot. Since the contract cancellation fee is 9975 yen, they figured everything worked out. The only catch is that the phone in the deal doesn't have an english option, so I'm going to be experiencing the Japanese Phone in all its original glory.

The forms (oh, always with the forms) were all in Japanese, but the lady walked me through it. There was some kind of rule dictating that I needed to be the one making the pen marks, so I had to put down my host family's address. I had the address, but it was in Japanese. The thing about Japanese proper nouns is that they are in Kanji. Creative kanji, sometimes so much so that literate Japanese adults can't read them. The thing about Japanese addresses is that they are long. So I had to copy down this dozen character address, each character being about a dozen strokes, from a twelve-point font printout. At first I stopped dead, thinking I would need to stop and come back with someone who knew what they were doing. After taking a longer look at the address, I found that I actually could identify the stroke order, and did a legible job of transferring the address to the form. They didn't actually have the phone in stock, so I'll have to come back tomorrow to pick it up.

It was dark by the time I got out of the store, so I figured I needed to call my host family to let them know where I was. I had a telephone card, but I couldn't find a telephone in the station. I ended up asking some policemen, and they showed me to a hidden bank of camouflaged phones, four feet tall, in a dank corner under some stairs.

Got kinda smooshed in trains today. I'll have to get used to that.

After I got home, the opportunity presented itself to use the net for a little while, so I launched my journal. Hope that goes well.