Mochi mochi mochi mochi

My stomach is full of mochi right now. I just got home from the Mochitsuki, a Japanese new year celebration put on by my uni’s Center for Japanese Studies. I volunteered for four hours and my job was to help at the games table.

The time actually passed really quickly because it was basically spent playing games with the people who would come up to the table. I was expecting something more like carnival games where I would simply direct the players in what to do and then monitor their game-play, but instead I got to play Japanese board and card games with them. It did start to get old after a couple hours, but at least I was occupied. 🙂

The person in charge of the games table turned out to be a Japanese teacher at the university. I believe he teaches third-year Japanese; I’m in second-year. I felt pretty embarrassed talking to him because he was speaking Japanese and I kept having to ask him to repeat himself, and then sometimes I still only understood part of what he was saying. I was probably pretty disrespectful, too (in Japanese culture it’s important to be extremely polite to your superiors), but he knew I was only a second-year student so hopefully he understood. Maybe he won’t remember me when I have him as a teacher next year… or maybe he’ll remember me and like me more because of today. xD He was very nice, at any rate.

And then there’s one of my Japanese teachers who I’ve had ever since I started three semesters ago. I love him to bits, but I always get so caught off guard when I run into him. I remember the first time I saw him outside of class, instead of the required bow, I WAVED. I was so, so, so ashamed. It’s easy to remember to conform to Japanese cultural standards in a Japanese setting, like class or today’s Mochitsuki, but outside of that, oh man. OH MAN.

I ran into him a couple times today since he was also working at the Mochitsuki, and he waved both times. Both times! I don’t understand things anymore. “Leggetto-san, konnichiwa!” And yet, a wave. Ah well. I’ll go nurse my smarting brain and tired stomach with some good old-fashioned video games. That, or a book. Not a Japanese book, though. I need some respite.

18 thoughts on “Mochi mochi mochi mochi

  1. Old fashioned? Video games? Nonononono, since you’re not playing Commander Keen, I wouldn’t say that’s old-fashioned. 😛 But I know, it’s just a saying. I’m a bit mad at the moment.

    I’m a bit like that when it comes to days full of activities around the same theme or same environment. A bit like when I go out with friends, I need some time alone after that.

    I really like mochi, my favourite flavours are the green tea and peanut butter ones, but admittedly, I’ve never come across a bad mochi. They fill you up so much though because of the rice element.

    I don’t think I’ve ever played Japanese board or card games. But as with Western ones, I think they get a tad boring after a while. It depends. It’s a bit like how everyone at a party wants to play Monopoly when it comes to the games, and as soon as someone goes broke or all the houses are gone, no one wants to play. LOL. And then there’s the cheating factor where you borrow money from the bank but you seriously actually can’t do that because it’s breaking the rules. 😛

    I suppose the teacher doesn’t mind you waving. After all, it shows that he shows some respect for Western culture too, I guess. But I can imagine feeling a bit ashamed by the wave. x)

  2. Here’s a photo of my electric guitar:
    It’s a Squier Vintage Jaguar.

    I never had mochi, even though I see it all the time whenever I go to an Asian market. There’s like 4 or 5 “Asian” squares in my area because we have such a huge Asian population.

    I love board and card games, but after about an hour or two of playing them, I get bored and want to give up.

    I heard that Japanese culture involved a bunch of respect towards others, so I can understand your embarrassment at waving. It reminds me of how I’m supposed to bow towards Vietnamese elders, but I always just say “hi” or shake their hands.

    I’ve only seen a Japanese book once because of a Japanese classmate. I thought it was intriguing because of the positioning of the text. XD

  3. MOCHI!! AGIFBFGKGHID! hahaha I do like Mochi!! hahaha. And Japanese stuffs 8D Japanese culture is very popular here and I too love it! And hopefully if plans push through, I might be able to… go… or something… *doesn’t wanna jinx it XD* hahaha!

    Sounds like you do know more japanese than me and I’m sure the superior understood! 🙂 Woot good luck there 🙂 My university will actually have its first college fair this weekend and I’m one of the volunteers! Can’t wait 🙂

  4. I don’t really like Mochi, but I do enjoy them as a topping in my frozen yoghurt. 😛

    I’m not really familiar with Japanese board games, but I want to try it. Well, I guess it’s better that you got to play in the game then only monitoring it. I hate seeing people playing interesting games when I don’t. xD

    Ugh, it really is embarrassing talking to someone speaking in foreign language and quickly. I haven’t had a real conversation with someone with Japanese though, but I had my first listening test and the person who was speaking in the CD was pretty quick. Well, I think he’ll understand about your difficulty if he knows you’re a second-year. 🙂

    LOL Japanese politeness! I saw a DVD once about its culture and I wasn’t surprised to see how they trade cards. It really seem troublesome for me. XD Well, he seems not really minding it after all if he waved at you twice. LOL.

    1. LOL we’re actually learning how to exchange business cards in Japanese today! I had to watch a quick little video on it in preparation. Apparently you never exchange them over a table. xD

  5. I studied Japanese for 5 years. We had to pick a language other then English. I thought German was boring and French was too, but Japanese had a certain fun to it and I was very intrigued, so Japanese it became. I remember basic still but not like I was in school. And my Japanese teacher was part Japanese and her father who was Japanese would come into class and that whole class we spoke in Japanese and if we used any bit of English no one would respond to you. It was hard sometimes, but gee whiz we learnt a lot in a short amount of time.

    As for your comment … I blushed. Art is my therapy for when things are going scattered. Design is my niche and writing poetry which is personal is my choice of literature 🙂 So thank you for that. Much appreciated. Helps I have a degree in Digital Media and Design. Websites comes with the territory. Plus I am a obsessed perfectionist. And even then it’s still not enough heh 🙂

  6. I’m sure that your teachers realize that you’re an American student learning (and struggling, because every language student is struggling) the Japanese language and forgive you for not speaking in the correct form, especially since many of those forms just don’t have a counterpart in English. Being rude and messing up is definitely a part of learning a new language. Also, since you’re in America, it’d be weird if you bowed outside of class, even if the person you ran into was your Japanese teacher. Waving is the polite thing to do here.

    I’m glad that you had fun! You must be really good at the games by now!

  7. Japanese is very difficult to learn and I’m sure that your teacher knows it and he didn’t mind when you asked him to repeat himself. I think he is used to it. Many students did that before. I hope you had a great time playing Mochi!

  8. Wow, that’s awesome. I’m so jealous of you learning Japanese – I’ve always wanted to learn it, but at the same time you’ve kind of terrified me by all this talk of etiquette and rules 😛 I’m just far too much of a slob for that kind of a culture, I think. Still jealous, though. You’re going to have such an awesome skill when you’re through with learning.

    The subject I’m studying that I hate so much is mathematics, which I’m (stupidly) taking at the highest level possible. I’m good at it, enough to take the class, but I just really dislike it. It’s kind of an essential thing, though, and seeing as I have absolutely no clue what I want to do post-school, I was strongly advised not to drop it.

  9. I’ve never tried mochi before. My Japanese food adventure only goes as far as sashimi and udon, but my brother says mochi is really nice. XD

    I studied Japanese for about 3 years but had to discontinue it because it clashed with my university schedules. It really was such a pity because that’s the only time I ever shown so much interest in learning a language (apart from English, that is).

    I can understand how it can be embarrassing speaking with someone in a foreign language, especially if you’re not very fluent in the language. It happened to me years ago when I tried speaking in Japanese to a Japanese boy who happened to be visiting my country. Hahaha! But I’m sure your teacher understands your difficulty. It’s something that everyone faces when learning a new language. 😀

    Yeah the Japs and their culture. I hear there are various degrees and ways of addressing your superiors and subordinates. And there’s also the Koreans who are very meticulous about addressing people according to their titles. O_o

    While I was in the UK, we do get the sun every other day, but you can’t feel the heat at all. It was just all cold air and freezing wind all around. But then again, that’s what you get if you’re visiting the place in winter. XD

  10. I’ve never heard of mochi before, so thank you for linking it to Wikipedia. 😛 Probably not something I would enjoy though since I am an incredibly fussy eater but for the record, it looks rather nice. 😛

    I think all board and card games get boring after an hour or so; but they do keep you occupied and are fun to play whilst you’re enjoying them. I can’t remember the last time i played a board game, damn the internet being far too addictive. xD I used to play cards with my ex a lot, we’d play with my sister and her boyfriend and it usually turned into a game of “who can throw the most cards on the floor”. Gah.

    I remember bumping into a couple of German tourist when I was walking my dog a few years ago; I studied German at school and got a B, but I couldn’t speak it fluently. They couldn’t speak a word of English so I kept asking them to repeat themselves until I could understand – I think they were quite offended in a way, but understood that I was just a young girl trying to help. I’m sure he realised that you were trying your best and wouldn’t take an offence!

    I’m sure he admired your enthusiasm for the language, though. 🙂

  11. Mochi is delicious! Universities are awesome when they have awesome little clubs where they have these free food :P! I’ve never seen Japanese board games before. But I bet they’re really fun considering how fun things are when they’re Japanese ;P!

    And for you knowing how to communicate in Japanese is like +10 kudos. When I encountered the Japanese band from the Rose Parade, and it sucks that I didn’t know how to talk to them :c. You have one awesome skill ;D!

    The 6 miles isn’t long- but the .2 mile screwed over a lot of us first timers XD! I guess it’s because when you know where you’re coming close to the end, you lose more energy D:

    Performing in a parade where you walk/march it all instead of being on the float is legit. You worked harder than those kids who got the easy way out!

    In-N-Out is delicious when you eat it once in a while! Mmmm ;D! It’s a lot better than McDonalds. What kind of fast food buger joints do you guys have in Michigan?

    Take care ;D!

  12. Rachel thanks for visiting! Sorry I am late in replying back because I was away for a long while. Happy belated new year!

    OMG the moment I saw your title…I was reminded of yummy mochi ice-cream that I am missing so much now :(. I would love to work at a Japanese place!

    At least you can understand him…I would love to learn Japanese…all I know if just phrases that I learnt via anime, dramas, movies, etc. Hehe I can sort of understand your dilemma…I am sure eventually you will pick it up unconsciously. I love video games…that’s pretty much what I do in my free time these days XD.

  13. Oh gosh, I totally know how you feel XD My brother studied Japanese and moved to japan afterwards. Lived there for ten years and then moved back to Holland with his Japanese wife. I always feel so rude around her… Not that she ever called me on anything, but still… She’s so dainty XD I am NOT =P

  14. That Japanese new year celebration sounds fantastic! Mochi is love 🙂 Though, I much prefer mochi ice cream balls. So yummy!

    I’m sure the professor wasn’t annoyed. He probably understood that you were only a second year student and appreciated that you still tried to speak Japanese anyway 🙂

    Japanese is on my list of languages to learn. I would love to just immerse myself in the culture and see how much I could pick up. That’s how my parents learned Arabic.

    Hahaha. I would’ve waved, too. And, not a normal wave, but that goofy-looking arm wave that excited people do. I’m quite embarrassing that way… or endearing, depending on how you look at it 😛

  15. I’ve been studying Japanese for a while, and got my N2 certificate.
    I know it It’s hard to talk in Japanese if you don’t have someone to practice with everyday. The best way is to go there, if you obtain a scholarship or if you have enough money.
    I know many people who went there, unfortunately I haven’t had the chance yet.
    Anyway you don’t have to be embarrassed with your Japanese. Even if you can’t be polite. I know it’s hard. I’m used with the informal speech, and I tend to talk like that to my teacher too, who is Japanese. :/ I guess it takes a lot of practice, but if you don’t try you won’t get anywhere.
    And there’s one more thing I wanted say. I’ve met a couple of Japanese who could speak in my mother tongue, and they were really bad at it, I could hardly understand them, but they weren’t ashamed at all. I think that we think too much and worry too much about the way we speak a different language. I’m like that too. 🙁
    Good luck with Japanese.

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