Step 2 to Becoming Japanese: Live with a NihonJin

During the mission, we have “transfers” every 6 weeks, where you either stay in the same area, or are moved somewhere else to work in a different area of the Tokyo-South mission. When you’re a “bean-chan”, or a newbie, you have a trainer for 12 weeks, either the same person for 2 transfers or a different person each time. I got the chance to have two different trainers, and when you’re finished being trained, you’re supposed to be ready to train someone else if needs be. Usually that’s not the case though unless you’re Japanese, like my current trainer, who just graduated from Beanhood.

Elder w plates
He literally ate 13 plates of sushi. And didn’t explode. Now that’s a feat of strength (don’t tell him I uploaded this picture!)

This week we had lots of teaching appointments and dinner appointments and besides that didn’t eat much because we were so busy. We also somehow got roped into performing a musical piece by the choir director, so suddenly after teaching lessons at the church I was singing alto, which I’m terrible at, and being told that I sound like a tatami mat rolling and that I need to be more like a fluid grasshopper. Or something like that. But of course all in Japanese. To top it off the soprano next to me is ACTUALLY a professional opera classical singer so I was just way out of my league there. And in those situations I just laugh so I was trying not to crack up about how ridiculous the whole situation was.

Shimai at station

One nice moment this week was finding an old woman sitting in an alleyway by herself. We walked over and just sat down next to her and started talking. She told us about her life and her fears of being old and her ancestors, and thanked us, because she was lonely and didn’t have anyone to talk to. She worried that her son didn’t like her and that she hadn’t done a good job of raising him and we were able to just talk about our own mothers and how grateful we are for them and reassure that no one is perfect, but as long as she tried her best that’s all that she can do.

This week there were lots of omatsuri, or Japanese festivals, which were really fun to go see and meet lots of people at. We even found some people who were interested in coming to our English lessons and wanted to practice English with us. At every festival they give out fans, so now I have a collection of about six and counting.

Kira painting     Shimai paintings
We went water coloring…

street artists
…and got shown off by this fine gentleman. Lesson of the week: must hone my talents.

Because my new Douryou was new to the area I suddenly had to be the expert and teach HER, a nihonjin, how to find things and who everyone was. It seemed a little surreal and at first was stressful, but now I feel a lot more comfortable with the area and my own Japanese skills.

Almost forgot to mention!!!! I ran into another half Finnish girl near Yokohama eki yesterday! She had been living in the area for about 4 years now. Her friend was Swedish so we ended up doing a mixture of English Japanese and Finnish, and all the languages were getting mixed up until I didn’t even know what I was speaking anymore. But it was great being able to speak in Finnish with someone! Also, a family I know here in Yamate just got back from their travels to Northern Europe and actually met my Finnish grandma at church one Sunday while there and she sent back a note for me with them. They even brought me Finnish candy. I was so ridiculously happy. What a small world though!

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