The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back in Tokyo

Tony brought me to the airport from Fergus (thanks Tony!) and I got on my flight without too much difficulty. It was actually about half-empty, so I not only had an emergency exit seat with lots of legroom, but I didn't have anyone sitting beside me. That makes a big difference and I was quite comfortable. Unfortunately, the movies were the same ones as when I came over, so I was really scraping the bottom of the barrel to find something to watch. I saw "Win Win" though, which I wasn't really interested in at first, but which turned out to be quite a nice little movie. I highly recommend it! (And I see it's scoring 94% on Rotten Tomatoes!)

Canada had been very cool before I left, (downright cold at times) and then the plane was of course very chilly ... so I was in for a shock when I left the plane and immediately upon setting foot in the gangway (is that the right word?) got hit with a blast of hot air like out of an oven. Wow. The airport itself was also quite warm, as they are trying to save energy in Tokyo and have the air conditioning set at about 28 degrees or so. I was sweating as I stood around waiting for my suitcase to come off the carousel.

I got home with no difficulty and Yoshie came over to see me. She enjoyed her presents from Canada, I think, and was happy to see me. Unfortunately, I was tired from my flight and a bit jet-lagged, so I fell asleep at about 9 pm. I got up for an hour or so, but then fell asleep again at around midnight.

Today is my birthday (very mixed feelings about that!) so Yoshie has gotten reservations for tonight at an interesting-looking Thai restaurant we saw in Akasaka a couple months ago. There is a Belgian beer bar next door, so I am looking forward to having some expensive, delicious Belgian beers after dinner. Tonight is just the two of us, but I will probably go out with some friends later this week for a post-birthday get together.

Oh, in other news, when I got home, my score from the Level 1 Japanese Language Proficiency Test (I took it in July) was waiting for me. The whole time I was in Canada, people were asking me, "So how's your Japanese? You must be pretty fluent by now, right?" I never know how to answer this question. First of all, as a language teacher, the very word "fluent" conjures up a concept which is very slippery and hard to define. In fact, I have been reading academic papers about the very topic of measuring fluency, and it is by no means agreed-upon or easy to do. But even in general terms, I never know how to respond. Can I order food in a restaurant? Usually, yes. Can I discuss politics or philosophy like an adult? Not a chance. So does that mean I'm fluent? I usually say no. This answer is supported by the results of my test. I failed pretty dismally (69 points out of 180) ... although it is the highest-level JLP Test going, and the one that, if you pass it, you are eligible to study at Japanese Universities. So, if/when I ever pass that test, I will say, "Yes, I'm fluent." Until then, I don't think so ...


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