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Rainy season, Kotoeri, etc.

2008 June 20

The rainy season has started here in Kanazawa, so it smelled really nice out today. I love rain – Japanese people, on the other hand, are supposed to be practically phobic about it. There’s umbrella stands everywhere, even on the bus, and I think there’s an extra umbrella available on the bus in case any passenger needs one.

Today was low-key again, but yesterday after class I helped Asami write a letter in English to a study abroad program she’s applying to for her summer break. That evening she took me to dinner in the school cafeteria, which was pretty cool (and very cheap). Tomorrow afternoon, the other W&M student and I are riding the bus out to 武蔵ヶ辻 and meeting Asami to go to Kanazawa’s famous Omicho market. I’m bringing my camera this time, so tomorrow evening I should have lots of interesting photos to post, as well as an interesting story.

I’ve uploaded some photos from my phone camera(s – turns out there’s one facing the user as well as one on the outside of the phone), but I took some on my real camera today while walking down the street to get dinner, so I’ll upload those in a bit. 

Since I’ve been so boring recently, here are a few short cultural notes:

  • Which side of the street you walk on is the most confusing thing, to me. In Tokyo, you absolutely have to walk on the left side. In Kanazawa, it’s a little fuzzy. Asami tells me it varies from city to city – in Osaka, you absolutely walk on the right.
  • The best piece of advice I was given about Japan before leaving was to always put the money in the basket. In most stores, you do not hand the money to the clerk; you put it in a little tray right in front of them, and then they pick it up and hand you your change. I think I’m doing okay on this; so far I’ve only forgotten the tray once.
  • There’s no such thing as sweet tea in Japan – even black bottled tea is pretty much unsweetened.
  • There are, however, plenty of lemon-flavored things. Lots of lemon water and lemon soda – including the famous C. C. Lemon, which almost anyone I’ve ever met who’s visited Japan from the States swears by. It’s pretty good, but I prefer lemon Qoo jelly drinks. Everything lemon-flavored has lots of calcium and vitamins in it, too.
Also, I think I’ve been indirectly asked how I type in Japanese. For those of us on Apples, it’s pretty easy to activate. Under the International section of System Preferences, you can check off all of the languages you’re interested in typing in, and a little flag will show up in your menu bar indicating what keyboard layout you’re using. Typing in Japanese is as easy as choosing “Hiragana” from the list of languages; you then type phonetically, and the Kotoeri program converts what you type to basic Japanese. Hitting spacebar after you’ve completed a word allows you to examine possible kanji that fit those sounds and pick how you want the word to appear. There are technically definitions provided in that interface, too, although they’re all in Japanese. I haven’t done much work in Japanese on Windows-running machines; I think you have to install alternate language inputs from the operating system disk, rather than being able to activate them at any time. (This is certainly true of Microsoft Word – I had to install it in Japanese in order to gain access to the different layouts it offers for Japanese text.) The actual input system is fairly comparable, although I don’t know if they’ve changed it at all in Vista. One feature of the Windows Japanese input program that I’ve been jealous of is the IME input – if you know what a character looks like but don’t know how to pronounce it, you can draw a sketch of it with the mouse and have Windows look it up for you, just like my handheld electronic dictionary does. On the other hand, Apples have a good reputation in Japan because Japanese text looks much better on a Mac than on a PC. OS X happens to have better font smoothing capabilities than XP does; again, I don’t know if Vista has changed anything on that front. 

Alright, that’s enough rambling for now. I’ll put up this evening’s pictures before bed; look for some fish tomorrow!
3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sparks permalink
    2008 June 21 11:54 am

    Hmm. That might explain why my brother after giving me hell about Apples, switch to a mac when his computer broke in Japan…

  2. 2008 July 4 3:18 am

    If you want to do kanji lookup on a mac by drawing in the character, check out JEdict, which can do just that, as well as being a pretty good Japanese/English dictionary 🙂

  3. marainjapan permalink
    2008 July 4 9:55 am

    Thanks for the tip! I’ve installed it and will give it a try.

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