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Axolotls

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  • Writer's pictureTeacher Peter

Naru Hodo, ne?




I lived in Japan from 1997 - 1999. I was about 23 at the time. Now, looking back , as a trained Montessorian, I know that age 21 - 24 is the final developmental cycle as observed by Dr. Maria Montessori and that the brain and the soul of the "child" is not yet fully formed.





' During this time, the young adult discovers their place within the world and asks herself “What do I have to give to the world?” '

Funny that. I know a lot of adults who are becoming parents, starting careers, making huge decisions before the age of 24. Should I be surprised that a lot of my peers got a divorce or headed over to graduate school around that age?


No disrespect or harm intended. What I'm trying to say is that life is hard, complicated, and we should all give ourselves credit for not having ever figured it all out. But especially for those of y'all who haven't reached your 24th birthday yet.


We're all works in progress.


Twenty-four year olds? You're still in the midst of your (shitty) first draft.


When I moved to Japan right after college, I learned so much but especially because I was so young. Just like age 0 - 6 is a sensitive period for learning language, I feel there must be something about 16 - 24 that makes it the idea time to learn about other cultures, the world, and your place in it.





I learned ALL of my Japanese language skills through immersion. Before I lived in Japan, I

  1. Could not find Japan on a world map.

  2. knew nothing of the country other than "tokyo"

  3. "Knew" I was bad at languages because I couldn't get into AP Spanish.

Most of the Japanese I learned, came from the people I happened to spend time with in the small town of Nanbu (town), Yamanashi (prefecture) , on the main island of Honshu. I spent time with mostly women because, let's face it, most of my friends and role models have been women since I was about the age of 10. It wasn't until much later that I found other males that weren't complete jerks. #feminism


Japanese, like many languages, is heavily gendered. I've been told that much of my vocabulary is "onna poi" or "girlie" but I wonder what else my word choice says about the people I hung out with.

"Naru hodo" is one of my favorite phrases. I never found it in a dictionary or a grammar book but someone I knew at the time must have said it a lot. In 1997 I translated it into my head to mean "learned thing" because Naru reminds me of the Japanese verb "to become" and hodo sounds like "koto" which means thing.


Oh yeah, "learned thing" ! " Axolotl's are actually Amphibians? I never knew that. Learned Thing! Naru hodo, ne?"


Like that . I say stuff like that A LOT. In both English in Japanese.


Other phrases that I learned back then and STILL have never bothered to look up until today?

"hiro konpai". The gym teacher at the Junior High where I taught translated it as "very tired" which I took to mean "exhausted." His English was about as good as my Japanese at the time. I wonder what this slang REALLY means?

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