Our man in Japan: learning the language and catching some rugby


Words by Bill Hill

Been in Japan since Friday 30 August.

Been trying to understand rules of living with family and how to go about things while I’m living with them. Of course my freedoms to do what I want when I want have plummeted, and adjusting and understanding what is what has been a slight challenge and still is for my undisciplined and untamed mind. Seems though that after four days, now starting fifth, I’m slightly more comfortable with all this psychologically and a modus operandi has emerged. Early days but more hopeful than 48 hrs ago.

I’m ostensibly here for the rugby world cup but thought I would make this a good ol’ long three month trip first taking in the culture and the language. Pretty looking forward to the rugby and you don’t have to go to www.novibet.co.uk to check the odds that Japan will put on a good competition.

Might be more unexpected dips and turns on the roller coaster yet, but qué será será. I’m approx one hour away from school door to door, which in itself is not great, but I think it’s the result of a mixture of applying a month before arriving, it being busy, and my insistence on being the only student (foreigner) in the house.

Started classes yesterday. Five in class, all a few notches above me and after I chat with the teacher I’m going down a level from today with a different teacher.


I will have private classes for one week (next week .. three days of the week, in afternoon) with the original teacher.

I’ve also added a Japanese food cooking class in Sapporo, which I just found on internet… fairly random, but what the hell. Yesterday after recovering from trauma of how the group morning classes had gone and my decision to drop a level, I left the school in a bit of a lost daze, nothing new there, but with the aim of finding some grub.

Went into some traditional sake bar next to the school. It was an experience. As usual, lots of hit and miss, gobbledygooky Japanese leaving my lips and half landing somewhere in the ether. Anyway, got through, with a draft lager and little bottle of sake to accompany a delicate array of colourful appetisers and a bunch of things in a tasty broth.

Wandered back to Sapporo train station following Google Maps, getting inexplicably a bit lost (since yesterday I have what’s called a pocket WiFi… costs money but hopefully will get a signal most places. When I leave I just stick it in the envelope provided and drop it in a post box.)