These are the bees who took up residence outside my Japanese class. Naturally someone therefore heaped a bunch of poison on them, for which there were warnings posted around the classroom. Just a few days earlier, I'd heard my mother telling a story about a bee hive at her house she'd called someone to get rid of. She'd had him promise her he wouldn't kill the bees. He promised her, and then went and killed the bees anyway.
I stood under the hive at school on Monday and the swarming and upset bees didn't touch me. I was happy to see they were still there on Wednesday, though I guess that just means a slower death.
The area had yellow tape around it like a crime scene. The teacher had to take the long way around because she always has a big steel suitcase on wheels she's carting around. I ran into her a ways away and I walked to class with her, talking to her about the bees. "How do you say 'bee' in Japanese?" I asked.
"Hachi," she said.
"Like 'chopsticks'?" (hashi).
"No, like 'eight'. Hachi."
I wondered if this could possibly be because bees look like little figure eights, though I'm sure they must have been in Japan long before Arabic numerals were introduced.
I got an A on the last test, which I'm really pleased about. That's two As in a row I've gotten, preceded by a C and a D, and she told us she knocks off the lowest scoring test from our final grades. At the beginning of this class, I thought I'd fail the class but learn Japanese. Now I think I'll pass, but I'm frustrated by how little I still know. I still can't watch an episode of an anime series and totally understand it. I certainly couldn't understand Yojimbo, which I watched again a few nights ago, but Kurosawa's jidaigeki, period films, use antiquated dialect. I wondered why I couldn't understand the sheriff whenever he called the time, but my teacher mentioned they used to tell the time differently in Japan, using animal symbols.
I still can't quite read the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei manga I got. But I'm surprised how helpful it is knowing more kanji. I know the kanji for "think", 思, and I was able to figure from context that 思つ means "ideas". The manga begins with Itoshiki Sensei explaining to his students that the manga is ending because the writer and editors are running out of ideas and energy. That's about all I got so far.
I do know enough to tease a guy in a Second Life chess club I see now and then who wears a "Sensei" tag. My Japanese teacher explained that only a moron calls him or herself "Sensei"--it's a term of respect. People in Japan don't even introduce themselves as "-san", which is basically mister, missus or miss. There's such a fundamental disdain for self-glorification in Japanese culture I find tremendously refreshing.
To-day I've been digging Aimee Mann.