Okaasan (mother) is probably my main communication point into the family... not to say the best. She tries to speak English half the time but usually just messes a sentence up so bad that I would have had alot better chance to understand it if she used Japanese. At other times she just speaks Japanese so fast that there's no way in hell I could understand and gives me this blank stare when I don't answer. I do give her credit for trying though, and she does talk alot to me without ever seeming to get too frustrated, so it all works out in the end.
Okaasan is also a expert piano player and teachers singing lessons. I've entered into some unwritten contract where I get to learn to play the piano a bit in exchange for English lessons, but the way that others acted as if I just made the worse decision of my life, I'm beginning to wonder if it was a good move or not.
At times she gets a bit fanatical. And its hard to fully understand her approach. Out of the blue, I got talk the other day about never bringing girls to my room. I said I understood, an answer that I've come to favor into in the past weeks as a way to express that I understand the Japanese (wakarimashita). But then she went off on some speel as if I said I didn't understand at all and begin telling me again, this time slower. Again, I say I understand. Then she starts over like a broken record, this time adding in hand gestures and demonstrating as if I was an idiot. "Wakarimashita." She continued going over these details of never having a girl in my room over and over again until I could do nothing but put my head on the table and sigh. What made it worse is Obaachan (grandma) was sitting at the table and laughing at me the whole time.
As I said though, she does try, and is always accommodating. Great person all around, though I wish the same thing upon her as I do my real mother, to stop worrying all the time. Its a universal bad habit I guess.
Otousan (father) is a great guy. He's a hard worker, commuting to Kyoto everyday (about hour long train ride one way), so I don't get to see him as much as the others. If he didn't have to work so much and have a family to worry about, I bet we could be best friends because we have so much in common. He's an avid video game player which really shocked me, with a big interest in flight simulators (its kind of weird to watch a Japanese guy play a game where he's an American fighter pilot shooting down Japanese planes). He also talks to me about alot of different anime and its not uncommon for me to walk in a room to find him watching some cartoon or something. As I've seen to notice with a few Japanese guys, he has a gun obsession too. I guess its the whole desire the things you can't have kinda situation as in Japan, its illegal to own a gun. To get around this, he's bought high powered plastic pellet pistols. These things are designed like a real gun, but only launch plastic BB's and junk. The thing that got me thinking "why..." is when he bought a laser sight for one of his guns. Now this sight is designed for a real gun, and cost a ton of money. I have pointless collections too, but I just can't understand a laser sight for a BB pistol.
Otousan is also a pro guitar player. He specializes in old rock for the most part and has said he would teach me if I want. If I get the time I might take him up on it because I have a guitar but don't know how to play. Along with his guitar skills though he also plays a wicked banjo. And he's really good too... good enough to play the "Dueling Banjos" song and all. I never would have guessed in my life that I would meet a Banjo playing Japanese guy some day.
Obaachan (granny) is quite a character. I can't really understand her Japanese at all, but I can usually get the idea of what she's trying to say cause she's always laughing at me. Giving me some god awful food or something seems to be her favorite hobby as it cracks her up every time.
Obaachan was an unexpected family member in the house when I moved in. She lives next door, but basically does everything but sleep in the house I'm living in. She's nice though and quite a character at times. She's also the families self proclaimed alcoholic. Every night she's cracking open a few Asahi's with dinner.
As if the family wasn't already bursting with creative talents... Obaachan gives lessons on traditional Japanese kimono making. The tatami room (I don't know exactly what the room is called, but its the traditional room that seems to be in every Japanese house that uses tatami mats and has a shrine) also features her latest creations on mannequins.
Kazuki is the little brother of the family. I honestly don't know what to make of the kid sometimes. About the only English he knows is "Oh my god" and "Nice to meet you." He uses "oh my god" at the right time, though way to much... but he just can't seem to place "Nice to meet you" right. For example, I accidently spilled a drink one night and he gets a cloth to clean it up, with each pass of the cloth he mutters out "nice to meet you, nice to meet you." Kinda like a weird form of "wax on, wax off" from the Karate Kid movie.
One of his favorite things to do it seems is to get his friends and bring them to me so he can make them hold there hand up to mine. It kinda amazes them for some reason that my hand is like 3 times as big as theirs. I'm pretty sure they believe it to be because I'm a big foreigner, but I think its mainly for the fact that he's just 11 years old.
This family is quite eccentric, but they are all good people really. Their is also a daughter in the family, but I haven't met her yet because she's studying abroad. From everything I've been told, she's supposed to know good English and will translate for me when she gets back... though when Okaasan tells me that, I wonder because I'm supposed to be speaking Japanese. I honestly feel like I'm here to give English lessons to Okaasan sometimes, as well be "her American gaijin" to show off to all her friends, but I don't mind honestly. All is well that ends well right?