In other news, I gave into temptation and bought a cheap bike. It's making my life much easier. So easy now to get to and from the station, go shopping, go sightseeing, etc etc. I also managed to prove the old maxim ("once you learn how to ride a bike you never forget") true since it must have been 10 years or so since I last rode a bike. I thought it would cost a lot more than it does as well so I would absolutely recommend it if you can find a cheap bike (¥10000 or less). They come with a lock already. In my case the bike itself was about ¥10000 plus ¥120 every time I want to park my bike at the station which would be about 4 times a week...
¥10000 + (¥120 x 4 x 4 weeks in a month x 9 months) = ¥27280 = £172
Not bad at all I think!
I want to talk a little about clubs (サークル) at Japanese universities and why you should definitely join one regardless of your Japanese level. First of all, there are clubs for everything. Multiple clubs for every kind of sport you could think of; everything like photography, film, hiking, walking, anime, manga; niche clubs for fans of certain bands; clubs without a particular theme just for people to hang out and make friends... everything! Of course, there's also the typical clubs for foreign exchange students like language exchange or "cultural exchange" clubs.
I've been thinking about clubs and exchange students a little lately and I can only recommend joining a normal club full of Japanese people if you have even a basic level of Japanese where you can have basic conversations. I think it would enhance anybody's experience in Japan so much as well as push up their Japanese level leaps and bounds. Of course everyone in the club will be super nice and welcoming to the new foreign guy, and it's such a great opportunity to make genuine Japanese friends based off a common interest.
Perhaps if I talk a little about my experiences so far with the Keio Chess Club you'll get what I mean a bit better. We generally meet up a few times a week and chat about random stuff while playing/studying chess for a few hours. Everyone's super laid-back and up for a laugh so it's a nice atmosphere. We also tend to go for dinner at a restaurant afterwards which is nice and provides more opportunity to chat. From the start, everybody was really welcoming and inclusive, and by now I've made some proper friends who will invite me to stuff outside of club activities.
I doubt many people reading this care about chess (World Championship just started!!!!) so I won't bore you with any more info about what we do (if you want more details leave a comment^^;). I just wanted to say I think people are missing out on an great opportunity when they just join the typical "exchange student" clubs, and people shouldn't be afraid to join a "real" club. I seriously feel people will try to accommodate you and include you no matter what your level of Japanese is.
Hmm. Let's end this post with some photos!
Tokyo Tower, as seen from the observatory deck of the Trade Center.
Kyari Pamyu Pamyu concert yesterday was fantastic. I now know the dance moves to go with four of her songs(^^;)
Mt. Fuji. From a local festival.
From the nabe (hot pot?) party at my dorm.
Miyazaki's last film was awesome.
Shinagawa station, Yokosuka line.