Yup, I totally tried it. I went to an Izakaya with my cousins last Saturday, and had strips of horse meat served raw. A little garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, and that was it. If they hadn’t told me, I would’ve thought it was venison or something. Very lean, hardly any fat. No distinct flavor to the meat. It was nice. Then again, I haven’t turned down anything offered to me. Fuck it, can’t get raw horse in America, so why not? I’d eat human baby tartare if someone said “try it, it’s fucking oishii!”
Okay, maybe not.
Today was my first day of school. There are no exceptions in Tokyo: even the campus’s are crowded. Waseda’s curriculum is divided into seven periods throughout the day. So, everybody gets out of class at roughly the same time, and they start at the same time. I’m pretty sure of this. After the second period there is a forty or so minute break for lunch. What that means is that every convenience store in Waseda gets flooded with people. The convenience stores in Japan are just like ones in America, but they usually have extras like Japanese onigiri, ramen bowls, french pastries, slices of pizza, yogurts and puddings; and a wider selection of drinks, like Calpis milk sodas, iced coffee, iced green tea, electrolyte drinks like Pocari Sweat and Dakara. they are pretty awesome, but at lunch time you can’t really get into them. Or, you’ll get in, but you’ll have to wait in line for a really long fucking time.
Japanese language class. Was difficult. Hope it gets better…
The other two classes I’ve signed up for seem pretty cool. A Modern History of Japan. I like the way the professor thinks. He started out the class with a discussion about controversies in History, and about historiography, and the flaws with the narrative that is “the” History. His only drawback was that he has an incredible monotone: it lulls you to sleep. I had to fight back falling asleep at certain moments.
The other class, Japanese Literature After 1945, is the one I’m really looking forward to. The class is divided into two eras: the immediate aftermath of the war, when there was a proliferation of writers whose work dealt with the psychological effects of war, and defeat, and the utter destruction of Japan, and occupation — and whose works were sometimes censored by the American authorities; and the era of collective memory about the war. Oe Kenzaburo, Dazai Osamu, Ooka Shohei; these are a few of the authors we will be reading throughout the course.
Odd, there’s no Mishima in the list of authors. Maybe he’s someone that the Universities don’t want to even touch. It is strange, though, because he’s one of the most well-known post-war authors, and from what I understand his themes are definitely along the same lines as the other authors mentioned above. Is it really because he was a semi-closeted homosexual who formed his own right-wing militia in order to stage a coup to restore the power and symbolism of the Emperor, and when that failed ritualistically committed seppuku?
Those are my classes. And thus begins the semester.
Unfortunately, I get around to writing on this blog rather late, and because of my schedule and my long walks exploring the city, I end up being pretty tired by the end of the night. I wanted to write a bit about certain cultural things I’ve been noticing, but I feel that exploring this territory requires a little more concentration than what I have right now. Just little things. Mostly about trying to avoid the wide-eyed idealism that many foreigners coming to this country possess. The pre-conceived notions of Japanese-ness, about Japanese culture (as usually represented by Manga and Anime first, and then by the initial cultural immersion of being here) — I try to avoid these things, but I, too, find myself thinking in those ways, at times. I’m finding that the best way to go about it is to not take every bit of information that people give you and then running with it, making strange generalizations, i.e: the people are all nice, everyone loves green tea, their politics are like this, they do things like this and not like that, etc… It’s that weird trap that I think everyone falls into at some point. Where you start to form a large generalization about cultural behavior as a whole, and end up applying it to everyone, as if that were how people worked. Then you even become shocked when you find out that the culture is not some monolithic, objective thing, but rather like your own culture: it can’t be pinned down so easily. God knows it’s annoying when people try to do the same with your own culture.
Well, sleep is beckoning. The philosophy forum will continue soon.
I gotta at least give you one picture:
That’s an Italian Restaurant, by the way.