Apr 22, 2008

So, how was it?

If you keep track of what is going on here, you would know that I went to a marine base for this Passover dinner.
It was really nice and different... but I will start from the beginning.
In order to get there I tried to find out which bus should I take - and indeed - I took the right bus. But the gate wes closed!
So after walking aimlessly for half a hour, I found some guys that told me where the only open gate is. so I started walking - quite a lot. Uphill. And with nice clothes for the dinner...
Finally I got to the gate (after getting a lift from a marine from a near by gate). Apparantly, in order to get in, the guy that invited me had to come and get me from the gate.
So I tried to call him. No answer... oh, dear... I tried to talk to the security guy - nothing, had to get the man here. Tried to call again (remmember - I am calling a Rabbi's house on a holiday eve). Luckily - someone answered - a friend of the Rabbi who isn't Jewish, but was invited to the dinner. He came to pick me up... Lucky! I was sure for a moment that after all the trouble of getting there, I will have to go back just like this.
OK - so here I am at the Seder. There were about 15 people - most of them marines (no uniforms, though), some wives. Surprisingly, one of the wives was an Israeli, which means I was able to speak Hebrew. Yey!
The Seder itself was quite interesting. Except from the blessings, everything was in English, so suddenly it clearifies the meanning of everything, because you actually listen to the words. Sadly, though, most of the time there were no music to the lyrics...
Besides that the Rabbi talked about the meanning of Passover and asked questions. It was really interesting and nice. He also gave prizes to people who answered good answers - kind of Torah thong. real nice (Yes, I got one... I am so smart ;)

So thats it for now, tomorrow I will probably finish a few more things with the appartment, so wish me good luck.


Apr 18, 2008

A few things...

First of all, happy Passover everyone!

This will probably be one of the strangest holydays I ever had, as I am going to do it with the the only Jewish community in Okinawa - in the marine base Camp Foster! I hope it will be nice... Actually, I am sure it will be nice. (Just hope I will manage to get there without too many complications).

This week was the first one of my studies! I have four Japanese courses, and one more course with my professor. The Japanese classes are going fine - hey fit my level I think. The professor's course, though, is a bit out of my league... He wanted me to take it in order to practice my Japanese and befriend some Japanese students. I hope it will go well - I didn't understand a thing from the first lesson. The nice thing about this course is that we will go on May 1st to a day trip in the northern part of Okinawa... It is supposed to be the day I move to the appartment, btu I hope it will be fine anyway.

One last thing - In one of the previous posts I said that Yamashiro sensei is the one that teaches when Higaonna sensei is not around. I was wrond - Yamashiro is the head of another Dojo in Okinawa, Kuramoto sensei is the one that teaches.
If you want to see how the dojo looks like, who is Higaonna, and who is Kuramoto, look at that Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD7LH92TDuA
Kuramoto is the guy with the grey hair. I must say the dojo looks much bigger than it really is on that video.
If you like martial arts, you should watch this series - it is real nice (although the two American guys are a bit dumb sometimes). It also have an episode about Krav Maga in Israel! Yey us!

So keep in touch, and don't hesitate to write comments. it is really nice to know that somone is reading what you write - I am trying to answer each and every one...


Apr 15, 2008


I had a really great weekend!
After the practice at the Dojo on Saturday, Tifity (sorry if I misspelled it) - the New-Zealand guy, asked me if I want to join him, Brent (Australian guy) and Ryoko (Brent's wife). They were going to Nago - Tifity's home. Nago is about a hour drive to the north from Naha city.
Being very spontanious here in Okinawa, I accepted the offer, and joined in. Tifity's blue "Ferrari" is very small. So small that two persons cannot fit in the back seat - so I set in the rear... it was actually quite comfortable - Tifity arranged it with mattresses and stuff... real nice.
So... after getting to Nago we were starved - didn't get to eat after the practice. We went to a restaurant, and then to his house - where we set and talked until 6 am... I didn't do that for quite a while.
On the next day we went to the beach, after waking up to a fruit shake that Tifity made - Delicious! I have to say - the beach is fantastic! Extremely beautiful. We ran for a whie, got into the water... you know - the things you do on a beach. I got some sun burns though )_:
After that we went to a place called Pineapple Park. Guess what it is about - bzzzz - correct - PINEAPPLES.
It is a really nice place, with a nice garden, and then a huge store of trillion things made out of pineapples. And the greatest things - free samples!!! I ate and drank so many things made out of Pneapples, it was crazy. But oh, so tasty.

That's it for now, I am going to meet Gabe sensei, so he will sign some papers for the appartment...


Apr 11, 2008

First practice

Yesterday was a real nice day - I decided to finally go to the practice at the karate Dojo here. For those of you who don't know, the master of the karate system I practice (GoJu Ryu) lives and teaches here in Okinawa. I didn't really know when the practice starts, so I took a bus at 14:30. That was a mistake - I got to the city at about five - to discover that there was no one in the Dojo. So I walked along the main street, trying to spend time (and trying not to spend too much money ;) At about five I went to the Dojo again. Luckily - a student just came to talk to Higaonna Sensei (The Master {Dramatic sound effect}) so I joined him, met the Sensei, and gave him the present my teacher from Israel sent with me (if someone from the dojo in Israel reads this - tell the sensei he seemed to like it...). I also got the important information of when is the class - 20:00. I had to walk for three more hours! Ok - I managed to do that - and finally, I went to my first practice at the Higaonna Dojo. It was a great practice - at the beginning, Yamashiro sensei (he is in charge of the Dojo when Higaonna is not around) was the one to teach. We did mostly basic drills - but lots of them! It was quite exhausting. After a while Higaonna sensei came in and we started doing Kata - he also explained lots of stuff - it was real interesting and inspiring.
Besides that, I met in the Dojo two nice guys - An Ozzie and a Kiwi. Obviously, I had to ask them if they saw Flight of the Conchords - They Didn't! Too bad...

About the apartment - I already found one, and starting to make the neccesary arrangments in order to rent it - it is quite difficult here in Japan.
First of all - the payments - in the first month you have to pay:
- This month's rent.
- Payment to the real estate agency (it is the way to find apartments here) - as the sum of a monthly rent.
- 'Thank you' money for the owner - again - as the sum of a monthly rent.
- Deposit - you know it - as the sum of a monthly rent. It is refundable, though.
- Also, fire insurance is needed.
In addition - I need to got someone to be my guerentee (I am sure I wrote this wrong) - so I need my professor to sign some papers for me. Oh, yeah... it also costs some money...
So basically - the first month takes all of your money.
And I almost forgot - there is no furniture at all - no refrigarator - NOTHING! So if I had some extra money - here it goes...

Thats it for now.
Take care,

Apr 9, 2008

News from Okinawa

Well, the last few days were kind of fruitful (no, no adaptor yet...):

I finally met my professor - Gabe sensei. He seems real nice, but messy like hell. when I entered his office I had no room to stand. Really. All the floor, shelves, desk and everything is filled with books!
He is trying to make his group of students (he has a few other students he advises for graduate thesis and PHD - Junko is one of his Graduate students...) a group, and wants us to talk and consult each other. I like it - it can be useful and interesting. Well... at least after I will know Japanese better.
So it seems I start studying next week - a few Japanese classes and one with my sensei about American policy I think (this class will be in English).
Cool thing happened yesterday - as I went to take a shower - which is outside the building, but close to the dorms central building, I saw a bunch of people doing all sorts of juggling. I stayed there for a few minutes, and then one guy asked me if I want to try as well. I agreed. After a while they went to a dinner together, and invited me as well... I agreed again. And so it seems I joined the juggling club. It was not in my plans, but what the hell - why not? I have time (at least now...).

That is it for now...

Apr 6, 2008

Just a small thing

Well, I thought I should mention it - because my name causes whole lot of trouble to the Japanese (and actually to every non-Israeli...) I started using my middle name - Raphael. Much easier for everybody. The problem is - I have to feel all the formal papers with three names - that get very long in English (actually in Japanese it is a bit shorter)...

Good day all,
Yiftach Raphael Govreen (see... I told you it is long!)

Apr 4, 2008

The Beginning

Hi all!

Well, I am writing this post from the library`s computer. You might ask yourselves why not from the laptop? Well... I did’nt think of taking an adaptor to Japan, and now I have no way of connecting the laptop to the electricity line... Finding an adaptor here is much harder than expected.

Okay... that was long.
Now, back to the beginning. After a VERY long flight, I finally arrived to Okinawa without any real problems (thank god). In the airport I met my amazing tutor - Junko. She took me to the dorms, where I put my stuff. I can't believe I am living in dormitories again... It feels really out of place - I am in a different place now (and what can I say - Japanese male dorms are as dirty and messy as any other).
So... here I was, standing in front of a really small room, with a dest, a few shelves and a bed. Without a mattress. Yup, I had to buy one. And it smells like food. I think it is made out of rice or something...

After putting my things in the room we went shopping and arranging things (this is when I bought my mattress). The last couple of days were mostly about arranging stuff. Lots of papers and beurocrcy (or however it is written), but I must say that everybody's so nice and thing are going quite smoothly. Mostly because of Junko, which helps me a lot - she is taking me from place to place with her car, and talking to all the clercks - she is really great. Yesterday evening I went to dinner with her and her older sister, and most of the time we talked Japanese. Yup, I am starting to loosen up and managing to understand a bit, and talk a bit. This is great.

What else? The weather here is not exactly as I expected - when I arrived it was quite hot and humid, but since that evening it started raining and got colder...
I think it is getting warmer again now, though.

Last thing - the dress code is much more casual than I thought, and I have no casual clothes at all!!! I could'nt take any because of the lousy weight restriction (that by the way, nobody cared about...)

That is all, I really miss everyone.
Love you,