Nihongo: A Five-Act Class








Act I

(About thirty people sitting in front of their professor, correcting a quiz.)

NihongoNoSensei: “Niku.” (Calls a name, marker in hand.) Douzo.

Gakusei1: (Writes.)

NihongoNoSensei: “Hajimemashite.” Laura San. Douzo.

AcostaSensei: (Writes.)

NihongoNoSensei: “Inu.” (Calls another name.)

AcostaSensei: (Wonders if the degree of difficulty was a mere coincidence.)

Act II

(Next day.)

NihongoNoSensei: (calls a name.)

Gakusei2: Hai.

NihongoNoSensei: (points at AcostaSensei) Kono kata wa donata desuka?

Gakusei2: (Looks at AcostaSensei) Wakarimasen.

NihongoNoSensei: (still pointing) Kono kata wa Laura San desu!

Gakusei2: Ah.

NihongoNoSensei: What do you say?

Gakusei2: Hajimemashite.

NihongoNoSensei: Laura San?

AcostaSensei: (Fumbling.) Hajimemashite. Douzo yoroshiku. (hopes this does not happen again.)


(A few minutes later.)

NihongoNoSensei: Ok, now open your book and read #4. (Reads a name from the list.)

(Nobody answers.)

NihongoNoSensei: (Reads another name.)


NihongoNoSensei: (Reads yet another name.)


NihongoNoSensei: (leaves the list on the desk and pretends he’s searching around the class.) Laura San! Yonde kudasai.

AcostaSensei: (Pretends to giggle and reads, hoping this is the last time.)

Act IV

(A few minutes later.)

NihongoNoSensei: Now we’re going to play a memory game. You name a word and its meaning, and the next person has to say that word and meaning plus one of their own. (Calls a name.)

Gakusei3: (Answers.)

NihongoNoSensei: (Calls another name.)

Gakusei4: (Answers.)

NihongoNoSensei: Laura San!

AcostaSensei: (Can’t believe it. It’s the third time.) Nande…? (Answers.)

Act V

(Next day.)

AcostaSensei: (Thinks three times in one class were enough.)

NihongoNoSensei: Now we’re going to read the dialogue between Satou San, Yamada San, and Mira– San. Mira– San must be Miller, but in Japanese he’s Mira–. (Calls a name.)

Gakusei5: (Reads very slowly.)

NihongoNoSensei: (Corrects a mistake.)

Gakusei5: (Stops.)

NihongoNoSensei: You didn’t finish.

Gakusei5: (Finishes.)

NihongoNoSensei: Ok. Laura San! Yonde kudasai.

AcostaSensei: (Reads, resigned to the fact that this will be her life for the next four months.)

The End.

The Otaku Files

This is my Japanese language teacher. Okay, you’re right, this is Prince Malagant from First Knight. Yes, my professor looks like Prince Malagant from First Knight, only just not as bad. In fact, not bad at all. He smiles like some Japanese do. How? Check this girl and you’ll find out (center, red coat).

My professor lived in Japan for I don’t know how long. Maybe that’s why he smiles that way. He always makes me participate in class, whether I like it or not. I have to write stuff on the board, answer his questions; he knows my name and calls me Laurasan. I wonder if he does all these things because he likes me or because he hates me. Anyway, I’m planning to do my best to succeed in it.

The hardest thing must be learning how to write and read new characters. It’s like becoming a kid all over again. When you learn French or German you just change the pronunciations for the same old characters you’ve always had. However, this time we must learn a new system all over. In some ways I feel like a kid that’s already a little older, you know, the kid who has been taught how to read by her mother before she starts school. Minori and Kotaro taught me how to read, Minori taught me how to write, Yoichi taught me some vocabulary. I’m very grateful to them.

I’m sure I wanted to write something much more interesting about my Japanese class. Oh yeah, my Japanese language class is full of otaku. They’re anime freaks who think the main (or only) reason to learn Japanese is to be able to read manga and understand anime without the subtitles. It’s uncomfortable. Especially because they think they know everything about Japan just because they’ve seen it on screen or in a comic magazine. NO! It’s like thinking you know the US because you’ve been a Superman fan for decades! NO, NO, and NO!!! Of course Superman has its own history, but that goes beyond the movies, shows, comics.

Same thing happens to anime, I guess.

Right now, and very contrary to my usual hatred towards television, I’m following Sakura Tsuushin (aka Sakura Diaries or Sakura Mail) and Nightwalker. If you judge Sakura Tsuushin by the commercials in Locomotion, you’ll think I’m a very sick girl who watches hentai. Well, NO! It does have some weird scenes, but they’re more suggestive than anything else. I’m actually chasing the last episodes (all the Urara shining thing and all). Call me corny, call me lovesick. I’m lonely, I’m glum, let me live. And NO, it doesn’t have super explicit sex or anything. I’ve seen worse things on tv.

Nightwalker is actually interesting; it’s got some suspense, and I used to watch it with Minori (or else I would never have bothered to try). The theme music is incredible.

Where was I? Oh yeah, all of this comes to say that I think my professor is an otaku too. Too bad. Well I guess Japanese-speaking people end up preferring anime? I don’t know. I don’t like TV. I just like to torture myself thinking all that stuff that’s happening there is so far from me (Urara and Tonma are even living together! Urgh!!!), or that there used to be a time when I didn’t have to sit here all by myself.

Whatever I’ve written just comes to prove I’m in an urgent need for new air and/or a huge dose of Minori.

TFF! (Yearning, Missing, A Thousand Shards of Me)

Last night I dreamed about Minori and Kotaro. We were all together here in Bogota, having fun as we usually did in Dubuque. We spent the entire day going around the city… Man, I do miss them.

And maybe these Friday Five will be just dreams. My favorite things seem to have evaporated. I married the wrong girl, a friend of mine in whose lips I can’t find a tinge of passion… (I’m sorry for those confused, it’s just an allegory for something that’s troubling me, and I just can’t say “I married the wrong man “… maybe the image of a wrong girl whom a man can’t stand makes a better image in my mind.)

At this moment, what is your favorite…

1. …song?

Gessekai , by Buck-Tick. No, I’m not an otaku and you all know it! BUT, I’m a j-pop and j-rock fan (thanks to Kotaro/Scudelia Electro, and Minori/Hi-Standard, The Blue Hearts), so I’m quite obsessed with this song… I listened to it carefully when Minori stayed here and watched Nightwalker. As you might have guessed, I now watch Nightwalker every now and then. It was nice to sit on the floor, eat oranges, watch that tv show together… It made my nights worthwhile. Too bad he’s not here anymore. And he’s going to be farther yet very soon.

2. …food?

I’d bet my life on saba sushi. No, I wouldn’t bet my life. But yes I’d love to eat some sushi right now. I guess I’ll have miso soup for breakfast.

3. …tv show?

Sakura Mail: Tonma saw Urara crying in the rain, and despite her sadness, he said, he saw her shining . This vision made him recognize at last the love inside and kissed her. Could it get any better? I’m shattered.

4. …scent?

Honey. If the world were mine, it would all smell like honey.

5. …quote?

Unfortunately, my world right now doesn’t come in quotes, but in melodies. Give me that crescendo in Indefinitely , by Travis, and my heart will find a temporary balm.

Not enough? Then take this: “I really miss you.” Minori said this, and this is all I need. Yeah, people, I’m shattered. I’m thinking of divorce, but–

I’m made of glass, 9.8m/s^2 pull me faster and faster, and the floor is so close, so hard…

Maybe the noise will be beautiful, and then I’ll be reflecting rainbows all around the room.


Japan is much, much, MUCH more than this.

If only they could see…