Are you a chopstick?

I’m in Japan for a year-long fellowship ( and am a week and a half into a homestay/language study/cultural immersion program in the Ishikawa prefecture ( I’ve had the very good fortune to be placed with a welcoming, interesting and dynamic family, the Sakikawas. My host parents have three daughters; one, Maho, lives in Kanazawa and is a dentist (like her father). She and a friend/colleague of hers were over for dinner the other night and in an attempt to use my limited Japanese I gestured to her friend and asked her if she too was a dentist. Except, …that isn’t what I asked.

I asked if she was a chopstick. “Hashi desu ka?”

Dentist is “haisha” (はいしゃ)。

Chopstick is “hashi”(はし)。

Or I might have asked her if she was a bridge, because that is also hashi, just with a different intonation. I’m not really sure.

So yeah, the Japanese study is going swimmingly. Lots of room for improvement. But I’m trying!


My awesome homestay family: The Sakikawas .

We have 4 hours of language class Monday-Friday (げつようびからきにょうびまでよじかんにほんごのクラスがあります。) And in the afternoons we’ve been participating in cultural learning activities or local tours; we’ve had a pottery class, a calligraphy class, a tour of one of Japan’s national gardens (see previous post), a trip to a local elementary school (more on that later) and on Tuesday we met with the governor of Ishikawa prefecture. On the weekends my host family has introduced me to some of the greater Ishikawa sights: Ishikawa Jumoku-koen (woodland park), Hakusan hime jinja (白山比咩神社 ), Nanatsu-daki (7 waterfalls), Takeyabu Soba, Kamikochi (not actually in Ishikawa, but in Nagano) and Shirakawa-go.

Here are some photos from the first two weeks (actually these are all from one spectacular day). Stay tuned for further details on Kanazawa, Kamikochi, the Mansfield Fellowship, my family away from home, and Japan in general.





4 thoughts on “Are you a chopstick?

  1. Inazo Nitobe — the author of Bushido and first graduate of Johns Hopkins — said 「われ太平洋の橋とならん」– roughly “I hope to become a bridge across the Pacific.” Now you too are becoming a “hashi” — I hope a bridge not chopsticks.

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