The highlights have been:
Attending a Donald Richie lecture yesterday. This is one of the handful of people who brought Japanese film to the rest of the world (pre Roshomon for those in the know). His books are still used as the primers for Japanese film in courses all over the US. The good? He's an entertaining and engaging man who was quite well spoken, quick on his feet, has lived in Japan for more years than I've been alive and proposed kind of an amusing thesis - "what can we tell from people / youth styles of dress? and are the revolutionary youth actually revolutionary when they ruck up their school uniforms or pay $400 for their hair to be dreaded?" The bad? Well, he's trying to be a social anthropologist without doing the work, and frankly, although it doesn't rankle the rest of the undergraduate audience, it does me. Underneath the witty and urbane exterior I sense there lurks a crotchety old man who wanders around Harajuku / Shinjuku or sits on the trains, looking at students and wondering why they all dress so sloppily and why their pants are around their knees. And don't get me wrong, part of me does agree with the idea that the outer trappings of rebellion, once they've been bought or sold in a commerical enterprise, are no longer rebellious. On the other hand, the man hadn't even read other work in the field (like Ian Condry's Hip Hop Japan - which even though it has problems does make the point that the Japanese adoption of hip hop culture and dress, etc is has more going on than just trying to be cool). Maybe I'm just turning into one of those uppity grad students who can poke holes into anything they don't like, but I don't think so. Still, kind of cool to actually see the guy in the flesh and get to ask him questions.
Going to the kaitenzushi restaurant in Ikebukuro and eating my fill of sushi for about $6.50. Kaitenzushi is conveyer belt sushi. And wikipedia says it (once again) better than I. Seriously, NUMMY! Fast food sushi for the masses.
Talking to my classmates. Seriously, they're amusing, and I seem to have fallen in with a German student who is in both of my classes and his friends for the moment - they're sweet and funny and yesterday we bonded over Buffy (should have ended at Season 5, Season 3 is his favorite, lol). Ah the universal language of television. And tomorrow I'm emailing another friend from my Japanese language class who grew up in Switzerland and hopefully we're going to get crepes in Harajuku. I seem to like the European peoples. I think part of it is that most of the American students just seem so... well... cornfed normal. The Europeans at least have bad habits and live in different places and do interesting things, seem to be more sensitive to Japanese customs, and don't run around saying things like "i just gaijin smash my way through the train station" or going out and getting drunk. :D
Other than that classes are great, I'm doing my homework like a good little student. I even have an appointment on Monday to see a private tutor and find out if they can help me work even harder. The only thing I wish I knew was a convenient coffee shop, but I don't think the coffee shop craze has hit my neighborhood yet. who knows though? I keep wandering around the streets when I have an hour or two to kill and I may run across one yet. Tonight I'm celebrating taking our first test in Japanese 201 (yep, a chapter test already) by going out with a friend to Ni-choume.
No new pictures though. I suppose at some point I'll take my camera to school with me and take pictures of the campus, but as of right now I'm kind of settling in to life. Perhaps there will be some great Harajuku girls who want to be photographed tomorrow!