Japan Plans – Update

Osaka Castle photo

Back in April I went though some of our planning process for our March 2011 trip to Japan.

It’s been a few months now, so I thought I’d catch you up on how things are coming together. Some goals, as you will see, are easier to achieve than others…

Reality in Action

During our previous post we set 6 goals that we wanted to achieve before our departure. As with the best-laid plans of mice and men, sometimes things come up that make achieving some goals more difficult. While it’s still better to have hard to achieve goals than none at all, sometimes we need to make adjustments to certain goals as they develop. We’ve certainly had to do that with a few of ours.

So here’s how we currently stand on our 6 goals:


1. Find a fully furnished apartment or house to rent in or around Osaka

Just this month I was able to put this goal in the completed column. I’ve put down the deposit and part of the first months rent for a furnished apartment in Osaka and I’m planning on paying the rest in the months ahead. I’d love to have this major expense paid off before we even arrive in Japan.

We’ll be staying out of the main Osaka core within walking distance of the Osakako train stop.


View Larger Map

It looks like it’s going to be an interesting experience and it will be away from some of the hustle-and-bustle of downtown Osaka. Also, it’s on a land mass that juts out into the ocean.

Osakako bridge photo

I’ve already walked the streets on Google Maps looking for interesting places to eat.

2. Learn a total of 1000 Japanese words

While I’ve made a push in adding new Japanese words to my vocabulary, it doesn’t look like I’ll be hitting this goal.

I currently know about 569 words, and back in April when I set this goal I knew 470. So that means I only added 99 words in 7 months. That math doesn’t look good. I’d need to add around 140 words a month to hit my goal of 1000. That’s just not going to happen.

As I study Japanese I like to make sure I don’t add too many words too quickly. I like to take time to let the words sink in before I add more. I guess I’m different that way as I’ve heard of some people who add a hundred words a week. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s not a learning style I want to pursue.

So this goal will be adjusted to “learn as many words as you can without burning yourself out.”

I’m fine with that :)

3. Learn a total of 1000 Kanji

Actually, I really should have looked at these goals again, because I thought I had the goal to learn 500 kanji not 1000!

We’ve been on good pace to surpass 500 kanji but I don’t think we’ll make 1000. I guess this is a good lesson in setting realistic goals.

We currently know just over 400 kanji using the Heisig method we talked about before. The Heisig method is really an all-or-nothing way of learning. At about the 350 mark we started getting into some frustrating kanji and we questioned the choices of words. Why learn the word for levy when you don’t even know the word for man yet?! But we realize that it’s a complete package and we have to work our way through the entire system first.

4. Find a Japanese language school in Osaka

While I haven’t completed this goal, I’ve made some good headway.

A lot of Japanese schools have certain start dates or run for several months, which won’t work for us. So it looks like I may be going with the International Exchange Center in one of its two locations in Osaka. It was going to be within walking distance of our accommodations, but we changed our mind on where we were going to live.

I’d like the lessons to be as fully immersed as possible, so if we go with private lessons we should be able to get close.

5. Get in contact with friends who are currently living in Osaka

I don’t know what it is with the Japanese friends we know, because they never seem to stay in the same spot :)

We’ve had a hard time getting in contact with anyone we met when we were in Osaka last. But the good news is we’ve been making new contacts.

As it happens, we’ll probably meet a whole new batch of people who we will have a blast with anyway. We’ve been really looking forward to seeing our old Japanese teacher and her family that now live in Osaka.

That is if they don’t move before we get there :)

6. Buy a 50mm lens for my camera

This was actually kind of a joke goal, but I accomplished it anyway.

Since we are specifically going during cherry blossom season, I wanted to pick up a quality multi-purpose lens that could capture some of the sights. The 50mm lens is pretty much a must-have lens for any photographer, so I picked one up.


So there we have it, our goals and our progress. Some have come together quickly while others have needed some adjustments.

So what goals have you been working on and how have they been going?

Photo Credits – Osaka Castle by: Okinawa Soba, Osakako night picture by: showbizsuperstar.

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