This afternoon, we had our first lessons at the Naganuma School. These were two test lessons for each of us to see if we think the school will work for us. A humbling experience, because it showcased our greatest weakness – comprehension of Japanese spoken at the quick pace of ordinary people. Even Japanese language teachers don’t believe much in slowing down. On the other hand, in a way we were comforted by knowing that this is exactly the reason we came to Japan – to be immersed in Japanese and to hear it spoken and to speak it every day.
And this experience was bookended by two much more uplifting ones.
In the morning, we went to visit the Nezu Museum. Another treasure only 15 minutes walk from our apartment, past the amazing Prada building, which looks sort of like bubble wrap (see photo). This small museum itself is an architectural gem and it is set inside a lovely traditional garden, which includes waterfalls, teahouses, lanterns and Buddhist statues.
After our lesson, the school was having its monthly calligraphy class. This was also a humbling experience, of a more enjoyable kind. The instructor was charming and skilled and made us appreciate the delicacy of the calligraphic art. We practiced first on the easier Katakana テand ン. These characters sound respectively as “te” and “n” or, together, “ten”. Then we moved onto their more curvy (and therefore more difficult) Hiragana counterparts て and ん. And finally, the Kanji character 天, pronounced “ten” and means sky or heaven. We reached no calligraphic heights, as you can see and notwithstanding the kindly praises of our instructor, but it was fun and informative.