Sunday, January 12, 2014

Now I'm a Panda

When I got to Japan, I gave up pretty quickly on trying to identify the things I eat anymore. Last week on Friday I was eating vegetables that came out of an easy-cook pouch, and among them were these rectangular things which, had I blissfully finished the meal and then been asked what they were, I would probably have assumed were caramelized onions. But while I was eating, my trainer pointed out that this particular vegetable was bamboo. I promptly stabbed one of the slices with my fork and examined it, thus finding that it did, indeed, exhibit bamboo-like qualities, though it was also relatively soft and squishy like cooked vegetables often are. And then I ate it. And I enjoyed it.

The next day, our ward had a rice-pounding festival (known here as a "mochitsuki"; the "u" is silent). They'd cook up a pot of special super-sticky mochi rice and then dump it into a stone bowl. Two men would knead the rice with wet wooden hammers while a third man used his hands to knead and splatter water on the rice, and then after that everyone would take turns pounding the rice with a hammer while the aforementioned person continued to knead and splatter the rice with water. I got to take a turn pounding the rice. x3 Once the rice was sufficiently pounded into mochi (mochi is kind of like a sticky rice dough; you can't make out individual grains after it's been pounded), they'd take it into the kitchen and put it in soup for everyone to eat while they started another batch. 'Twas fun. :3

We had our first English class last week. Most Japanese people speak at least a little bit of English, since they have to study it in high school, and as I understand it they're usually better at reading it than speaking it. Our class focuses on speaking English. Since last week's class was the first one of the year, it was mostly a social activity with food. This week is going to be a bit more formal.

The other day, an elderly gentleman informed me that the English word "squirrel" is very hard for Japanese people to pronounce.

So far, the work in our area so far has mostly been trying to talk to people on the street, handing out fliers for English class, and ringing doorbells.   I'm still not understanding most of the Japanese that's being spoken, but that's okay for now.  I haven't even been here for two weeks yet.  xP
Elder Taylor

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