Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Little Bunnies Foo-Foo.

The Mister and I have finally started our Language lessons here.  They're private lessons, so The Mister's classes are separate from mine in order to progress at our own paces.
For me that means once a week I meet with a wonderfully patient Japanese woman who explains Japanese grammar and sentence structure to me… in Japanese.  

There’s a lot of research out there that supports the idea that the best way to learn a language is “total immersion,” meaning that you are forced to learn to speak the new language because no one is using a language you’re already comfortable in - you have to speak Japanese because there's no chance punking out and saying something in English is going to be understood any better than whatever you're trying to poorly pronounce already.

I… honestly have some conflicting thoughts on this. Yes, having a teacher who does not speak English does force me to speak in Japanese, but. I feel like it means that I’m speaking Japanese but it’s not correct Japanese.  And knowing it’s not correct makes me too embarrassed to use it in the real world where people aren’t as patient to put my words in the right order. So I will instead invest more time in just wandering around until I find whatever I need on my own.  Guess it's good for developing my sense of independence?

What are your thoughts on language learning techniques?  
Tell me in the comments!

I can learn vocabulary through repetition games and flash cards on my own.  What I need in a teacher is someone who can explain the rules to me, and the 'whys.'  Because I, personally, remember stuff way better when I have a reason beyond “just because that’s how it’s said.”  We had a similar "total immersion" experience in Mexico with our Spanish teachers, and it made me so frustrated that I quit our lessons pretty early on.  

All that said, for a woman who doesn’t speak English, S-san (for the purposes of this blog, I shall call her S-san, but she does have a longer name than this, obviously) is pretty awesome at playing charades with me, so I don’t get that frustrated feeling so much.  
for instance, this is how she taught me the word for “Ambulance.”
I’m pretty sure I will remember it forever.

During today’s lesson, she was asking me about the pets I have had over the years, because she’s quite enamored with the fact we don’t just have one, but TWO critters with us here in Japan.  She asked if I ever had bunnies.  Here was my response:
This is stupid charade signals for "no.  my cat would kill bunnies."
Which is not to say I dislike bunnies.  In fact, two weeks ago, I dragged The Mister to one of Japan’s quirkier cultural ideas:  The critter-themed cafe.

Pets can be difficult to keep in such a fast-paced, small-spaced country, and as such it is very popular for coffee shops here to sell time-slots to sit with a small fluffy creature while you drink your cup of joe.  Cat cafes are the most popular by far, but I’ve heard mention of sheep cafes (since it’s the year of the sheep) and owl cafes (there's one in Tokyo.  I must go there and be Harry Potter!). 
just in case you didn't believe me that these places are real.

The one The Mister and I visited was a bunny cafe.
It occurred to me when I sat down to write this post, that I don’t actually have too much to say about Usagi no Wonderland (Bunnie’s Wonderland), but I do have a bunch of pictures of the adorableness.  Click any picture to embiggen it.

They had portraits of each bunny on the wall with arrows to indicate the relationships within the bunny "pack."  What's a group of bunnies called... *googling* ah yes, it's a herd.  

So long story short, the top two buns with the pink arrows are sisters.  And everyone else... is in love with the baller-bun in the middle (who's name is PUMP).  And Pump?  Returns none of that love.  Pump? More like PIMP, amirite?! Ha.

This is the bunny (named Berry) we hung out with most during our 30 minute time slot.  We even bought rabbit chow so we could bribe her into sticking around.  But since you're not allowed to hold the bunnies against their will, she was pretty deft at eating the good bits of our bunny food and then hopping away to steal those same bits from the other cafe customers.

This is Pancake.  I don't have anything to say about Pancake other than she was featured on the shop's brochure, which I'd put out on our dining room table the week before to hype this adventure.  I had spent the whole week pointing at her picture and telling The Mister that I wanted to pet Pancake.  Dreams can come true, guys.  

We figured out pretty early on that this sort of cuddly experience is one that is mostly catered toward women in Japan.  Sorry Mister... he was the only guy in the place.  This is his best "I'm trying hard to not look like this brings me joy so that you will feel guilty and I can convince you to Karaoke with me later."  Whoops.

Before we left, we were introduced to the newest members of the cafe staff: the kousagi (BUNNY CHILDREN)  Which, I mean, come ON.  Cutest little fluffy face you ever did see, right!?  
The babies that aren't going to join the permanent staff at the cafe are for sale as pets.  They were trying to convince me that Bubba and Mac would love a bunny sibling.  (see above cartoon depicting scooping up bunnies and bopping them on the head).  

But what tickled my funny bone is this:
The "staff" bunnies all have adorable names like Popcorn, Pancake, Princess and Berry Bon-Bon.  The mother to these tiny bunnies?  Her name is Brenda.  BRENDA.  I snorted.  ...Maybe you had to be there.

This trip's conclusion?  Bunnies are cute, but they poop everywhere. And often.  So often in fact that patrons all receive a lap blanket upon arrival so they don't get crapped upon.  I think maybe no pet bunnies for this family.

Besides, dogs are clearly better anyway, even when they're frantically sniffing your pants because said pants smell like bunny. :)

Have you ever had a close encounter with a bunny?  
How about an animal experience like a critter cafe?  
Tell me about it in the comments!

today's little language lesson
うさぎはどこにありますか?うさぎの匂いがあります。あなたは  "ポップコーン" を言いましたか?
Usagi wa doko ni arimasu ka? Usagi no nioi ga arimasu. Anata wa 'poppukōn' o iimashita ka?
Where's the bunny? There is bunny smell.  Did you say 'popcorn?'

1 comment:

Jamie said...

First: OMG animal cafes!!! I want to go to there.
Second: thinking about the language lessons. Can you use your "study on your own time" to research the hows and whys of the structure vs. just vocab? If your teacher is helping you practice and eventually gain fluency, can you explore the grammatical rules a bit more independently? I know that stuff doesn't matter as much to everyone and isn't the way everyone learns, but I agree - knowing structure of a language helps me decode much better. Just a thought. Good luck! I know it's very difficult - which is why I haven't touched a language in 15 years. :)