But then I realized something: I don’t need an answer. As someone who moved outside of Japan, I decided that wanting to test my knowledge of Japanese, carry a certificate of my current level, and have specific goals to work toward was reason enough for me.
Recently I have been working with my language tutor to work on my Mandarin pronunciation, and I think that is coming along nicely. Like most non-native speakers, I really struggle with the U-sounds, such as yú. I’ve heard that Germans have an easier time with it because it’s a sound they have but, but we lack in English. I typically have to make an Eeeee sound, and then round my mouth (as if you were going to blow over a bottle) to make the right sound. I found that I really needed an explanation on how to shape my mouth, not just have a native speaker say it to me over and over again. I mean, I can hear that my yú and their yú didn’t sound the same, but it wasn’t a matter of not understanding tones, but rather not knowing what to do with my mouth to make that noise! It’s been a long term problem for me here, as one of my closest friends is named Yun and I’ve been very anxious about pronouncing her name correctly.
Last month I met up with a Japanese woman from Osaka, who is visiting our city to do some professional development. I studied Japanese for my undergraduate language requirement and visited Japan twice when I lived in China. More recently, Princess Mako of Akishino was a student in my department and of course, I have continued to keep up with Japanese films and magazines. Anyway, I mentioned to her that some of my friends are huge fans of Takarazuka, and she was shocked to hear it – because she had attended the famous Takarazuka School! The school is for the all female Takarazuka Revue, which teaches music, dance, manners, deportment and only a few are chosen from the thousands who apply. The young ladies must live a highly disciplined life, and their motto is to “Be Pure, Righteous and Beautiful.” We’ve been meeting once a week or so and I’m hoping she teaches me all her beauty secrets.
If you’re a fan of Lisa See’s book Peony in Love, you might enjoy watching the actual opera of The Peony Pavilion online here. I’ve had a few people here ask about Chinese-American history, specifically in California, and I always mention Lisa See and her work. Her paternal great-Grandfather was Chinese, and she has written on the importance of Los Angeles and Chinatown. It’s been an interesting way to to discuss the United States and our history, and the issues related to that.
I’m still working in game development, and after adding a new introduction, I think I will start working on the actual game art when I return to Australia after a trip overseas.
My tutor and I had been discussing The Peony Pavilion, in addition to the four great classical novels, the four books and five classics. It’s been an interesting way to work on my pronunciation, as I already have a strong vocabulary, so going through the beginner level pinyin books was becoming a bit boring. Since he found out I know about opera, he gave me this fabulous pen:
Yes, those are real feathers sticking out the top.