Martin's Japan Pages

Our Man In Japan

17 May 2007

Bikkuri at the gym

I’ve going to the gym more regularly recently to get back into shape for the Nagano tournament (two weeks and counting). Last night, I went a little earlier than usual and I bumped into one of my old students. He graduated in April last year and when I last saw him, he had ideas to travel around Europe, come back and develop speaker systems. As it turns out, he’s now based in Tokamachi. I’m not sure what line of work he’s in (since I didn’t have my dictionary) but he’s training for road-cycle competitions.


Meeting up was a shock for both of us since I assumed he’d be in college somewhere other than Toakamachi and he thought I’d gone back to the UK. And after I’d explained that I’d changed schools and was here for another year, he got another surprise when he realised I was speaking in Japanese. One of the ways I try to encourage the students to speak English is to not speak English at all in school. If they want to speak to me (and the enthusiastic ones do) they have to use English. So this ex-student has never heard me speak Japanese, hence the surprise. After the shock, there was relief, a realisation that “of course he can speak japanese, he’s lived here long enough” and then a volley of converstation at native speeds. It was tough to follow everything he was saying, but I surprised myself that I could understand as much as I did. Maybe Im starting to reach that level where I can get the jist of what’s said instead of getting hung up translating every syllable.


So another step up in the language stakes, and another friendly face to meet at the gym. Maybe I should go the the gym earlier more often.


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