As the topic also states, I’m now only one week off from going to Japan! My period as insei starts right away on October 1, so I will only have some three days of time to get used to the new surroundings before I start with the real deal. As far as I know, I will be starting from the lowest insei group, so it may take a while before I start getting reasonably difficult games — yet I’m sure that if I don’t take my initial opponents seriously, as well, I may get some surprising losses! Most of the insei kids are most likely serious enough about what they’re doing.
My travel preparations are by now practically done, travel insurance included. For past several days I’ve been heavily concentrating on improving my Japanese language skills, to the extent of studying my university’s Japanese courses’ material without actually attending to the courses. I’ve also been reading a Japanese go theory book (Kihon Senryaku, “Basic strategy”: while claiming it is basic, most of its content I’ve never heard about before!) and Hikaru no Go in Japanese — while there are plenty of kanji that I need to check from the dictionary, I do understand most of the language after I get the hiragana versions of the words. It is probably not impossible for me, then, to survive in Japan with my current language skills. Some of the Japanese grammar still puts me off, however: for instance, it seems quite ridiculous that Japanese doesn’t have an equivalent for the English auxiliary verbs of “must” or “have to”. Instead, when in Japanese you indicate a compulsion to do something, you have to twist the whole sentence into a double negation! “You have to pay” would actually be something like “Speaking of you, not paying is not allowed”. These kinds of details are like to confuse me for a long time.