Today I got a small glimpse of what the kamikaze must have felt like. I woke up this morning in a sullen mood. I knew the mission was hopeless, but I had no choice. I was ordered to go by my superiors and so I went. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating just a little bit. Yes, I did go on an impossible mission, but it wasn't a deadly one. Today I had to take the Japanese proficiency test, level N2. I'm ashamed to say that, although I've lived here for two decades, I never really learned how to read. Reading here is different than it is for people who speak English or French or any other alphabet language. There are thousands of logographic characters to memorize. Many of them start to look similar. I honestly don't know how nations of people could learn this system. Recently, I read a news article about groups in America who were upset because Asians were taking over in math and science. I think that if you grow up learning an intricate system of writing, like Chinese and Japanese people do, it's bound to give you some sort of mental superpowers. There must be some benefits to learning this at a young age. At an old age it just proves how inflexible the mind can become and perhaps how limited my western view. Although I crashed and burned on the reading and grammar sections, the listening section was so easy it felt like I was cheating. I wish the whole test could have been a listening test. I would have passed with flying colors.
Inside the auditorium there were hundreds of people. The ones in the picture are just a fraction of the total. Among them, there were only a handful of people from alphabet countries. I wondered if all of those Asians had an advantage when it came to reading. I thought to myself how lucky it was for them to have been born Chinese or to have been born in a country where they studied Chinese characters. The results of the test should come back in a month. They can save their paper though. Before I left the house this morning I already knew it was a mission from which I would never return.