Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Last 30 days in Japan

Now I'm back home, but I did a heck of a lot those last (roughly) 30 days in Japan. I was too busy trying to enjoy/soak up every last bit of it that I didn't have time to blog it all, but I'll try to do a summary of what I did/what happened.

  • Went to Kyoto at night with Vicky: I would not suggest this. Not going with Vicky, but going at night. It was cool in a way, but it's not the best time for taking pictures of the temples (as you can probably see from the slide show). However, something really cool and unexpected did happen. There was this random water show on the top of the Kyoto train station entrance. It was really pretty and reminded me of something they would play at Disney world :D
  • Went to our friend Yuuki's "special spot": Ok so Yuuki is a really cool guy, and he speaks great English but he is a little (read: VERY) shady. But then again he is cute...yes, I know, that should NOT be a judge of character. But anyways, the night turned out to be a lot of fun :) He took us to this really fancy restaurant place and we went on the top of the roof (which has a bunch of cool canopy places to sit, and you could see the the city from up there. At night it looks really pretty :D
  • Vicky's birthday: On Vicky's birthday, my Okaasan brought a plain cake and told me to decorate it. Now I did work at a bakery before, but they didn't let me near the cakes, let alone decorate them (I was on box making duty...with the occasional cupcake thrown in there), so I was a little skeptical. However, I managed to spell "Vicky" but cutting up kiwis, so I was quite proud of myself ^0^ Maybe I should become a baker...ok, let's not get ahead of ourselves ;)
  • Another Kyoto Trip, but this time with Okaasan: Since our last trip didn't work out so well our Okaasan took me and Vicky to Kyoto during the day. This time we went to view the leaves, which were BEAUTIFUL!!! The leaves do change colors in America, but I've never seen any so vibrant and rich before (and also the Japanese seem to appreciate leaves and nature more than Americans, so I might have been brought in by the "hype"). After we got there we preceded to climb a mountain (this host family is OBSESSEDDDD; monkey mountain, killer mountain, tengou mountain, bird mountain, mountain mountain. I've got some serious calf muscles going on right now). Once we got to the top we stepped inside of this giant circle thing to make a wish. It was a lot of fun, but we were all totally beat by the end of the day.
  • Yakitori Restaurant: Yaki means "barbeque" and "tori" means chicken. Usually you go to Yakiniku (niku meaning "meat") restaurants, but Vicky doesn't like meat so the family went to the Chicken version. Since it was a whole restaurant based off of the chicken, they had to get...creative. Aka: chicken hearts, livers, spleens gull bladders (well not quite gull bladders, but you get the idea). If I hadn't known what I was eating I would have been fine, but whenever I picked something up my Okaasan would put out to me (using her body as a diagram) what I was eating and then my little brother would act out what sound it made. For example, if I picked up a piece of heart, my host mom would put to her chest and say "see??? right here!" and then my host brother would yell "DOKI DOKI DOKI DOKI!!! (the equivalent of "bathump bathump" in Japanese)", not very appetizing....
  • Mountain in Nara: This time we drove up, so my calves got a break :) It was some very intense driving indeed though. There were a bunch of sharp turns and bumps, and even 100s of people going down the mountain to hike. Add pitch darkness, and then you got yourself quite the exhilarating drive. It was totally worth it though, when we got to the top it was like this shopping complex thing, but then when you walked out onto the patio/viewfinder area it was BREATHTAKING. I had never been up that high before and there were so so so so many lights so it was And the gift shop was pretty cool too, it had a bunch of turtle stuff. I think this mountain was "Kameyama" (literally means: Turtle Mountain"). I was gonna buy a trinket for my friend whose name is Kameyama (me and Vicky had a laughing fit), but they were too expensive. And the one thing I thought would be perfect for my dad turned out not to be on sale :(( But oh wells, I got a lot of other good stuff. 
  • Saying Goodbyes: Ok this was the hardest thing. Especially with my school teachers. They presented me with this BEAUTIFUL certificate and went around a circle saying how amazing I was and how they all want to visit me in America. They were all so nice and helpful to me during my stay, I am forever grateful to them, and it made my heartache to think that I might never see them again :(( When I had to say goodbye to my best friends, Chibi and Misato, it was really heartbreaking too. They even told me that they loved me, something the Japanese NEVER do, because they are all so shy. It was so touching and it made me want to stay forever :(( 
  • Seeing the Leaves: The day before my departure, Vicky's school friends took us to go see the leaves in a town (I forget the name, but it's famous for leaf viewing). It was the definition of bittersweet...

I put in a slideshow of all my pictures, but just in case the slideshows decide not to work in the future, here's a link to my pictures: 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Yankiis Galore and Other Fun Happenings

Ok so first I think I should start of with the definition of what a “yankii” is:

A yankii is simply a subculture that was popular in Japan in the 80's and 90's. It is still popular in some areas of Japan. Moreover, it is basically the style of delinquent students. They are characterized by punch perms or pompadours, shaved eyebrows, altered school uniforms, popping squats, being poor students and causing violence or trouble. Yankii is a term that applies to both boys and girls. Although it is said some yankii would be recruited into the yakuza, or Japanese organized crime, this is not always true. Many yankii simply join the regular workforce and live regular, productive lives after high school. Being a yankii is simply a way to enjoy youth and lash out at society similar to the punk rock movement in the West.

And yeah, hope that clears things up a bit. I live in a relatively…”shady/seedy” part of Japan. So there is a whole lot of yankii where I live. Also, my host sister and all of her friends are yankii too. My host sister thought I was leaving November 1st (I am leaving November 27th), so she was trying to set me up with all of her yankii friends during my “last” week here. It was quite amusing…And I have come to realize that I love the yankii lifestyle ;)

Me and Vicky have met a bunch of yankii in a park near our house, and even when to karaoke once with them. The bill came up to 12700 yen and they payed O.O So we have decided that they are harmless enough…and rich xD

One of the yankii boys I have actually grown quite fond of. His name is Yoshii-kun, and we ate yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) with him, my host sister, and her boyfriend. He’s nice, but mecca hazukashi (very shy). But he’s really takai (tall) too which is cool :D

Ok, now that I’ve talked about a very interesting subculture in Japan, its time to get into the “traditional” Japanese stuff J

Over the past 2 weeks I have:

Went to a batting cage with my Otosan (host dad):
This was fun. I had never been to a batting cage before in my life, but the Japanese version seems pretty similar to American batting cages I’ve seen on TV. I hit one ball…out of all of the 200 balls that came my way. I apologize for my lack of hand/eye coordination.. My host dad was a beast however. He hit like all of the balls out of the park!! I think he was showing off for us :P These other guys kept trying to show off their skills to us too, but we left too soon xD There was in arcade there too, so while Vicky and Otosan were watching Monan (my little host brother) bat, I decided to play a racing game. When Vicky came back over she said “Oh, I see you’ve made friends”. At first I had no idea what she was talking about but then I turned and realized there were about 10 Japanese boys crowded around me watching me play. Talk about awkward (-_-;)

Climbed “monkey mountain” with my okaasan (host mom):
When my Okaasan came before there were a bunch of monkeys (just like how Nara has a bunch of deer), but this year the locals said the monkeys were gone L It was still fun anyways though. We found this really pretty waterfall, I got a monkey lollipop, and we ate leaves. Yes, leaves. Or actually more specifically, “fried leaves”. The leaves on monkey mountain are deep fried and then you eat them. Who knew leaves could be unhealthy? The actually fried leave tasted realllyyyyy good though. Kind of sweet, kind of not. Like a really good snack.
Had a Halloween party at my school
Self explanatory…

Went to Tennoji to see the golden Buddhas:
We saw the golden Buddhas (which are beautiful) and we also saw the Buddhas made of human remains. 150,000 people’s bones. I was quite concerned, but my Okaasan said “no it’s ok! Because this means the people turn into Buddha”. I am still quite confused, but from what I could make out they make a new “bone Buddha” every ten years. The bones of the people are kneaded/molded into the shape of the Buddha. I would not want to have the job of kneading those bones. My okaasan is proud because her grandma and grandpa’s bones were in one of the Buddhas. After seeing all the Buddhas and praying at a few god statues/lighting incest, we went to this really cool burger restaurant. But the burgers in Japan are different from America. There’s no bun. It was however the best burger I have ever tasted J

Went to an amazingly amazing cheap shopping plaza called “Tenjimbashisuji 6-chome”:
IT’S SO CHEAP!!!!!!! Mecha yasui (very cheap)!!! I found a bunch of good sweaters there, and a full blown warm winter coat that only costs sen yen!! (about $10 us dollars). I think I’ll definitely be going back there ;) and its just a short bike ride from our house!

Went to sleep over at my friend’s house…which is actually part temple J:
I thought the temple part was cool, but kind of eerie too. We got our fortunes and my friend’s dad read them out to us. Supposedly I’m going to be a teacher in the future/make my own business. But I cant teach with the personality I have now, I have to change. And its better for me to marry early xD We had dinner/did a little dinner time karaoke, and then watched scary movies.

Got an amazing instant camera from my host mom:
Yes! So now I’m going to take instant pictures and make a scrapbook, I love my host mom :D

Had a ceremony for grandma:
I’m not quite sure the details, but in Buddhist culture, a certain number of days after the death of someone you have to hold this special ceremony. We went to a really pretty temple (dressed in all black) and this priest sung from this book. We had to sing too and since the book translated all the kanji into hiragana I could understand it. After the ceremony my host grandpa took us all to this oishii (delicious) Chinese restaurant :D

Went to an amazingly shady concert with my yankii host sister on Halloween (Cosplay was in fact involved)
This was probably one of the most interesting things I’ve done while here in Japan. My host sister’s boyfriend (Shin-chan) and his friends have their own band. They had a show on the 31st so we went to go see it. It was in Umeda at a venue called “Live House”. There were a bunch of other bands performing too, some good, some…..kowaii (scary). The venue itself was quite dark. Literally and figuratively; the lighting was very shady, as were the people, and there was (at least I hope that‘s what it was…) red paint splattered all over the wall. But I guess we couldn’t really talk about those people considering the fact that me and Vicky were both in Cosplay. And for those of you who don’t know; Cosplay is an abbreviation of “Costume Play”. It’s really popular here in Japan and I see at least one person a day dressed in Cosplay. Usually the costumes are based on some sort of anime or manga, but in my case I wasn’t sure. My costume seemed like some sort of maid thing….Anyways, back to the bands. I thought Shin-chan’s band did pretty well. And his band consisted of most people I know. Including Sho-chan (supposedly he has a crush on me, says my host sister), Yoshii (watashi no sukina (my favorite) :D), and Katsuya (I thought he had a crush on my host sister, but it turns out he only likes men. homosexual.). So it was exciting to watch, and me and Vicky realized that we know quite a lot of yankiis xD The last band scared Vicky, but I thought it was hilarious and just played along for the hell of it (very big pun intended) and danced along (which my host sister loved). But the lead singer wasn’t really…singing. It was more of a low pitched scream roar. It sounded like he was trying to open the gates of hell actually. And he kept screaming “Korra sei (kill)…korra sei!!!!! Korra sei!!! KORRA SEEEEEIIIIIIIII”. His costume (at least I hope it was a costume) was quite interesting too. It included all black, chains, white contact lenses (so you couldn’t see his pupils), and red/white hair. Seemed like he was going for a “Satan’s son” look. Vicky told me to ask him for a picture, but I was worried for my soul so I passed….However I did take a picture with pikachu ^^ The most kakkoih guy of the night :DD He was really charismatic, and polite too (*^0^*) And hey, I’d rather have a picture with pikachu than “Lucifer’s offspring” ya know?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Journey to big waters (aka: the beach)

My host dad works part time as a kayak tour person (at least that’s what I think he said) but he’s pretty famous for what he does. He’s in a lot of kayaking/camping magazines and stuff like that. He doesn’t work a lot during the fall/winter seasons though, it’s mostly during the summer (he actually spends the WHOLE summer at the beach kayaking sometimes). Since me and Vicky had been dropping a lot of hints (well maybe we weren’t all that subtle…), he decided to take us with him on one of his excursions J We woke up early one morning and basically started driving. When my Otosan (host dad) was younger, he used to live in Okinawa so he has a lot of Okinawan CDs (which we listened to the whole drive up). Some songs are really catchy, some are funny, and some have ear bleeding qualities about them. Like in one song these ladies with really really (realllyyyyy) high nasally voices keep repeating “Iya…SASASASASASA” and just when you think it’s finally over, again, “Iya…SASASASASASA”. My favorite song is the one about goats though. Yes, goats. Supposedly Okinawa is known for its many goats (?) so there’s a song where this shady guy says “Okinawa dokodemo hija ‘MEMMEMEM’’. It literally means “Okinawa anywhere goats ‘MEMEMEMEM’” The “mem” part is the guy trying to sound like a goat. And then there’s a crazy guy in the back screaming “Memmemme!” in a high pitched raspy voice. The first time I heard it, honestly I was frightened. But now that I have gotten used to it I enjoy listening/singing along. I do quite a good “MEMMEMMEM” if I do say so myself.

The beach itself was really pretty. It felt like we were on a tropical island :O While Otosan was working, me and Vicky walked around the neighborhood. We found a little island with a lot of houses, an abandoned haunted looking building, this crazy Egyptian guy, and a temple. Japan surprises you sometimes like that. On the island with a lot of houses Vicky had to go to the bathroom so we went looking for one. However, all we found was a bunch of narrow streets and alleyways. When we got to the Ojisan (old man) we asked him where a public bathroom was and he chuckled and said there wasn’t any on the island, just houses. But he kindly let Vicky use his bathroom J When he opened the front door to his house his wife looked at us like “What the heck are these foreigners doing in my house?” but then she warmed up to us xD When Vicky was finished we went looking some more around the neighborhood and found this cat lady. But all her cats were sneezing for some reason…Then we found this guy dressed in all black and he started whispering something to us. We decided something wasn’t right on this island and before the townspeople could offer us as sacrifices at the temple we decided to go back to the mainland. Where we preceded to make a sand castle J

Overall it was a pretty fun day, and all the scenery was like out of a Hayao Miyazaki movie. That’s something I’ve noticed about Japan though. I used to think that the scenes in Manga and Anime were just imagination, but it’s really just the real Japan. Aside from the fantasy manga, the scenery and different places in Japan aren’t glamorized or made into something else; for the most part they’re copied down exactly how they are.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Nara with the deer~

Me and Vicky took a train to see the deer in Nara! It was a lot of fun!! And I found my favorite matcha ice cream too ^o^ The deer were really kawaii (cute) but they were very forceful…and I bought some of the sanbei to feed the deer with. They nudge you a lot and there was this one deer that seemed like a demon deer with its cut off horns and gray fur. We pet the deer for a while and then we walked around the shopping district and I bought souvenirs for people in America.

Baseball Game

A few weeks back my Okaasan took me, Vicky, and my little host brother to a baseball game. Since this was on my list of stuff I wanted to do I was really excited :D My okaasan made a big lunch of rice balls and sandwiches and we set out. My Otosan drove us to the Osaka dome (another thing of my list J ) and dropped us off. It was a really exciting atmosphere! It was pretty much like a baseball game in America, but there was actually less technology when it came to the tickets. I think that’s because this wasn’t a major league game though, just a small league. We came into a big room and gave a person our tickets (and we got a discount because of my little brother’s school ^^) and they gave us free T-shirts. Tada suki (I like free)!! \(^0^)/ When we got into the arena it was a lot bigger than I thought it would be! And it seemed to perfect, like a hologram or something. I found the cheering very interesting though. It wasn’t like America where people just yell and shout out random things; people knew exactly what to chant/yell. It was very orderly and they switched between fans. Like our team sung/chanted/did a specific song, then the other team did the same. It reminded me of my high school football teams and how the bands play. Oh and something else that I found quite interesting was that there were a lot of foreigners on the baseball team. Like there were 3 whites guys, One Hispanic, and one Indian guy. Whenever the white guys went they played rock music, Hispanic guy: samba, Indian guy: music from the movie soundtrack of Slumdog Millionaire xDD Towards the end, we blew up these balloons (that looked oddly familiar to something I learned about in health class…) and we let them go all together. It was really pretty, I wish I could have gotten a video :O Otosan said he didn’t feel like picking us up (gotta love Otosan haha xD) so we took the train home. Overall it was a good day ^^

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Birthday :)

Well, my birthday is September 23rd, and it was on a Wednesday, but we didn’t celebrate it until Friday. The day of my birthday was actually kind of sad. My Otosan (father)’s Obaachan (grandma) died on the day of my birthday (depressing….) so my host parents had to drive far away to get to her funeral. When I came downstairs my Otosan was playing on his guitar in the dark and singing a really sad Japanese song… My okaasan (mother) was ok though. She kept apologizing at the fact that they couldn’t celebrate my birthday. What the heck???? I’m not a monster!!!! His grandma DIED!! Of course I understood!!!! She made me feel bad. But it was ok. Anyways, they put me and Vicky (did I mention that me and Vicky live in the same house? It’s a long story) in charge of my little brother and the dog Reita (yeah, she said dog too xD) and said we could use the internet in my Otosan’s office. It was funny though because when I came home from school I found this huge pile of junk food (instant ramen, melon bread, candy, etc) on the dining room table table and I was like “eh…is someone robbing our pantry?” and then I found a note from my Okaasan that said “Dinner is on the table” Hahaha I love my Okaasan. And she knows how much I love budou (grapes) so even though they are takai (expensive), she bought some and they were on the table too. Along with a note that said “Here is budou for Jojo~ Hugs and kisses, okaasan”. So nice!!! (>_<) That day my little host brother was going to a friend's house so me and Vicky went to Karaoke with my three good friends Misato, Shota, and Chibi (Mai), along with Shota’s friends and some other exchangers. It was a lot of fun and I got a really cute gift from Chibi (^0^) and Shota gave me a dragon ball. Yeah, don’t really know how to explain that. Then me and Vicky came home and had budou and instant ramen for dinner. Not very healthy but it tasted good xD And then we went out again with my yankii host sister and her boyfriend to sushi :D My birthday was kind of sad though. I really missed my family and friends back home :( Ok now for Friday. This was definitely one of the best birthday celebrations I have ever had. It was just…perfect. Okaasan made all of my favorite Japanese food (including Karaage [Japanese/Chinese style fried chicken] and dumplings). I think the best part was my cake though. She spelled name with budou on the top. Best. Cake. Ever. xD Now onto my Otosan. Even though Okaasan and Vicky are always saying how much he likes me (because I make him laugh a lot, something he rarely does), he never shows it much because that’s how Japanese dudes are. But his present to me was my name in Kanji. It’s a really beautiful kanji that literally means, “beautiful, pretty, lady” and basically a bunch of other pretty things. My okaasan said it took him a long time to figure out the name. So my Japanese name is: Jojo Yoshikawa (the last name is my host family’s name). I was so touched!!!! I actually almost cried. I really feel apart of the family!!! I think this was one of my happiest moments here. I feel so grateful to have such a great host family.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Umeda, Naruto, Imax, Oh my!

>Sooo…it’s been exactly 2 weeks since I’ve last written anything (which is a big surprise, considering the fact I’m always writing). I guess I haven’t really felt like writing anything? Not because everything’s been boring, but it’s just been so hot and heat/humidity make me sleepy. I asked my friend Shota, “Oh my god when is this heat going to END??? And please tell me what I want to hear!” and he said probably not until I leave (-_-) Anyways, a lot has happened. So that I won’t go on a ramble I’ll make a list and then talk about things of interest:

Umeda Sky Building (SO COOL!!! Especially at night)

Suntory Museum: Largest Imax in the world (hmm…the IMAX screen was cool but the movie was boring)

Tempozan Ferris wheel (Kind of scary because it was up so high xD)

Overnight stay at Obaachan’s (host grandmother) house in the country

Onsen (public Japanese bath)

Climbed a mountain

Visited Okaasan (my host mom’s) ancestor’s grave and cleaned it up

Universal studios Japan with my “yankii” (gangster/rebel) host sister and her friends J

Movies with Vicky and her friend Masaki from school

Karaoke with Vicky (and my stalker, I will explain that later)

Tennoji zoo date with Vicky an stalker

Tried to be picked up by guys that were old enough to be my grandfather

Australian kid’s welcome party at Shota’s friend’s house

Most of these things are self explanatory by pictures, but some stuff deserves a bit extra info. We went to Obaachan’s house for an overnight visit. Being in the car for 4 hours with my 9 year old host brother was…well…not fun xD But the scenery was beautiful. I was really excited because I had wanted to go and see a more country part of Japan since all I’ve really seen are big cities and suburbs. We ate udon first (supposedly the best in Osaka, I think it was really oishii [delicious]). When we got to Obaachan’s house we watched “The Day after Tomorrow” and then all of a sudden my host dad said “Ok, Onsen! Let’s go!” Now for those of you who don’t know, an Onsen is a public Japanese hot spring/bath. It’s supposedly very relaxing/healthy. It’s like a giant hot public hot tub and they are very popular in Japan. Only thing is…no bathing suits/no towels/no nothing. You have to be completely naked. Yeah. I kind of had a freak attack but in the end I decided to go (or maybe I was forced, my memory is a little hazy). It was probably the most intense experience of my life, especially since America has nothing like this. In the end, it was quite the experience, but I think just going one time is enough for me J When we got back to Obaachan’s house I had a really bad asthma attack (I didn’t know that obaachan had a cat (-_-;)) so I had to go to this clinic near her house the next day. Her really nice old lady friend drove me. But I didn’t know whether to call her Obaachan (grandma) or Obaasan (aunt) because she seemed so full of energy xD After a painful IV and a bunch of confusion/me slowly dying, the doctor brought out an inhaler and I took it and was all better J But laying on that hospital bed with no air and all those nurses and doctors saying things I couldn’t understand, I honestly thought I was going to die O.o Because I kept saying “Inhalor!!” and “Aerosol!” but all of them were looking at me like I had five heads. However, because I learned Katakana (Japanese alphabet used to write foreign words), I was able to write it out and they understood. Thank god I had learned Katakana!!!!

Pretty much right after I got out of the hospital/clinic, we went to my Okaasan’s ancestors grave. It was a very interesting experience. In america, we bury the dead and kind of leave it at that (and maybe when you’re sad or it’s the anniversary you go and visit the grave, but usually not), but in Japan there’s a law against burying people. I guess because theres not much space? Also, every year on the anniversary of the death you go and clean/wash up the grave and light incest and pray. It was all really sad/deep until my Otosan (host father) said, “Jojo you should pray to find kakkoih otokonoko (handsome guy) in Nihon (Japan)!!!” hahaha I love my host dad xD

I slept in the car because I was still feeling a little sick, and then when I opened my eyes we were at…a mountain. “Hey jojo I know you just had an asthma attack but let’s CLIMB A MOUNTAIN”. At the time I was like “Oh my god” but now its kind of funny xD Everytime we turned a corner there was more steep stone stairs to climb up. I had forgotten my camera in the car, but I’ll get the pictures from Vicky because she was there too.

My stalker. Yep, I got one here in Japan. He’s this salary man type and he stalked me off the bus. He seemed kind of desperate but nice/harmless enough. And me and Vicky were bored so we decided to meet him at McDonalds. It was SUPER awkward, so we went to Karaoke which was fun. The next day we went with him to the Zoo too. Vicky thinks hes creepy/shady, but I think he’s nice and really funny. Anyways, he said he’ll call again this weekend to do something so we’ll have to see what happens then. By the way, the zoo was SO COOL!!! It had a bunch of animals I had never seen in my whole life!! Like a bunch of cool monkeys…and one monkey that looked like a character off of star wars, you’ll know when you see it xD

Ok now random/off the list stuff. I got my uniform! You don’t really have to wear a uniform at my school but I kind of wanted to (I’m strange) so I’m super ureshii (happy) :D Oh and my Japanese is slowly getting better. It’s just the grammar that’s really hard (T-T) but I will try to study hard! (^0^)b

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Asahi Festival and Making friends

Well currently I am soaked in rain water and trying to keep a very wet (and smelly) doggy Reita away from me. But it’s not so hot! I am so happy! I think Japan weather finally realizes that’s its fall and not summer :D Although I’m a bit scared because now it’s entering typhoon season. I heard from my Korean pen pal the other day that he typhoon in Korea destroyed some streets in Seoul O_o

The past few days have been unbearably hot, but at the same time eventful. On Sunday I went to a festival at my old high school, Asahi. Everybody was really excited that I came to watch, and some people asked me which performances were better so I was feeling the pressure (-_-;) but my old class did really good!! I was surprised to see Kokurin dancing so animatedly xD I inadvertently ignored him though (because I was trying to talk to everyone at once) and at one point he even tugged on my hair. I think he’s mad at me now (-_-;) Basically, all the grades and classes did a dance, and then the ones who sung really well on Saturday were chosen to sing for a competition today. My old host sister’s class lost the singing competition though. I was surprised because I thought they were the best. But everybody gets really into it…like one of the girls in Vicky’s class started crying and Vicky was like “Come on, it’s all for fun right?” and the girl she got…she got so angry!!! <:O But I can see why everyone gets so intense, everybody works really long and hard on their routines so they want some recognition. At the singing competition Vicky and I sat with Yuuki and Shota. We were trying to figure out whether or not the songs the people were singing were in English or not. They kept asking me and I’m like “I don’t hear English…” but it turned out that a majority of the songs were in fact English, just with a very thick Japanese accent xD Like one class sung “We are the world” and well…I thought they had translated it into Japanese but apparently not…but everyone’s voices were very good (^-^)

Ok, now before I talk about what happened on Monday, I will tell you a little about my school. KTC high school is a very…special school. It’s not a school for the mentally disabled, but it’s basically a school for socially awkward people who…well, who don’t like school. Also, the teachers hover around you and don’t really give you any space. Not that it’s a bad thing, the teachers are VERY kind, I love them, but it just makes it difficult to make friends. However, I did J It was very challenging at first. I am a very awkward person in America, but I have never experienced this feeling of awkwardness in Japan. After all, everyone here really wants to know you but they are so shy, so if you act shy too then there will be literally impossible for you to talk to them. So in Japan I have made 3 rules:

1. Ask a person’s name if you make eye contact with them (If you make eye contact it usually means they have been staring at you for a long period of time and want to talk to you).

2. ALWAYS SMILE. Never stop smiling. Japanese people expect foreigners to be happy, and they’re are already a little scared/intimidated, so if you’re not smiling they’ll think you’re a demon trying to steal their soul

3. Get their phone number/email (because of the language barrier, it’s kind of impossible to have a smooth conversation in person, so you can work to build up a relationship with them through email. Also, you have all the time you need to look up translations and the like)

Ok, so these KTC students…wow. It was a bit of a challenge. And I had a few duds (people who actually really weren’t interested in talking to you) which is something I had never experienced in Japan before. But there were a few diamonds in the rough. I met a really shy, but very nice girl named Shirakawa and we are going to do purikura (Japanese photo booth) together tomorrow! So I am very excited ^^ Now me and Vicky decided that I should also make some guy friends…but I’m not sure. All the guys at KTC seem shady! They are either yankees/ganster types, or they are very super mega “oh my god” awkward. But I’m gonna make it my goal to make at least one guy friend. I think I am close to being friends with this one guy, we rode the elevator down together and talked some. I love all the people here in Japan though because they will look really intense at first, but as soon as you talk to them they get this adorable/happy/honored look on their faces. It makes my heart smile J

On Monday after school Vicky and I went to the revolving sushi bar. It is so oishii!!!!! I had missed good/real sushi in America. Wow, I was about to spell it “Amerika”. Oh lord.

Oh and I have a bug story, when you have to leave your window open 24/7 you are bound to have at least one:

*sitting in my room*

Vicky: So yeah there are these places in Japan where….8O

Me: Yeah??? Where what??

Vicky: Jojo…get down!!

Me: eh why??? *looks up and sees demon bug* OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT???

*me and Vicky both duck to the ground*

Me: *whisper* Is….is it gone??

Vicky: *whisper* I…I don’t know. Maybe…

*demon bug lands in between us right next to our heads*

Vicky and Me: OH MY GOD!!!

Me: what is it??

Vicky: Maybe its batman’s little brother????


It was quite frightening. I live in a forest-like area in America so I do see my share of bugs, but never anything like that. It was like something out of Satan’s insect collection.

Oh and if you’re interested, this is my schedule at school (there’s like different classes everyday but basically this is what I’ve taken so far):

Period 1: Business or Japanese History

Period 2: Art or English or Japanese

Period 3: Geography and Philosophy

The classes go until 12:30 and then there are clubs until 2:30. I did the chorus (which also doubles as the stretching club because that’s all we did xD) and cooking club yesterday.

The teachers are really nice and they cater to my every need (even when I don’t think I need anything), so I’m happy. But I’ve been really tired lately so I feel bad because I can’t smile/speak as happily as I usually do. But I am trying (>.<) And I’m going to make a sleep schedule so that I’m not on the brink of passing out in the middle of the day. And the way to get to school is a bit tiring too:

-Walk about 10 minutes to bus station

- Take bus 8 stops to Osaka station

- Walk through Osaka station to Nishi-Umeda station (about 10 minutes)

-Take train 5 stops to Namba station

-Walk to KTC

I don’t think it’s that I’m tired really though, it’s just been so HOT!! But now it seems to be getting cooler so I’m happy (^0^) And I’ve made a list of places I want to go, so me and Vicky (and any Japanese people that come along xD) will get started on it soon :D

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First few days back in Japan

First of all, IT'S SO HOT!!!

Ok, now back to the first few days~

Well, a lot has happened in these past 2.…no maybe 3(?) days so I’ll have to categorize or else I’ll start a never ending ramble

Flying over : This was by far the WORST experience of my life…it was actually like an out of world experience because I was so tired/confused throughout the whole thing. America to Tokyo was fine, but once I got to Tokyo international airport, it was a different story. Because of so many rules and regulations due to terrorists in Japan, I had no idea why I was sitting in a shady basement terminal waiting for an airplane for 4 hours. However, it did turn into a very cool experience (one which I will probably NEVER experience in America) and this bus took us to the plane. So there were no tubes or anything, we were like out on the runway outside taking stairs onto the plane. It was quite amazing, as I’ve never been that close to a plane before (at least without all the tubing and security). That was actually one good about the whole experience J When Vicky (my bestest friend from my previous exchange to Japan), Yo chan (my new host sister), and Shinya (Yo chan’s boyfriend) saw me we all FREAKED OUT. I think all the Japanese people around were scared xDD Me and Vicky had a total spaz out hug fest, but then I realized it was about…oh, NINETY DEGREES HOTTER THAN AMERICA (!!!) and I stopped. Seriously, I hadn’t walked even five steps before I was drenched in sweat (-_-) mecha atsui (very hot) !! And the humidity is like 110 percent if that’s even possible. But I was so excited!!!! I AM IN JAPAN!!!!! And all the bright lights in Higashi Umeda (train station in Osaka) seemed even brighter!! Even now I can’t believe it, I’m back. This is so cool!

First Night: I think Monan (my 8 year old host brother) is trying to kill me and Vicky (-__-) Everybody loved all the present I got for them though J I bought a couple shirts for Shinya, but Yo chan wears them instead because she said she liked them, poor Shinya haha xD My new host family lives right across the street from a vending machine too, so 24/7 access to Coca Cola Muwhaha >:D Anyways, we all walked Reita (my new adorable host dog) together to the park and laughed and took pictures. Me and Vicky were too slow though so Monan kept yelling “HYAKU HYAKU!!! (faster!!)” but we just went slower xD The park is really nice though, and it has a really pretty view of the river, I think I’ll enjoy going there mainichi (everyday). For dinner Otosan (host dad) made me sashimi and we all had sushi, it was very oishii (^0^)b I really love my new host family. They are so down to earth so I feel so comfortable around them!! Watashi wa ureshii (I am happy) J Oh and I met my sister’s yankee (gangster(?)) friend Sho and I said he was “kakkoih (handsome), so now Yo chan is very excited for me and Sho to talk again. I only said he was handsome to be polite though.. But he seems like a really nice person. They all do!! After meeting Sho, Okaasan helped me with my application to Yo chan’s school. I had to write a letter about my dreams for the future…in all Japanese!!! I was pretty nervous at first but I got it all done so I was super happy (^0^) It’s a good thing I learned Hiragana (Japanese writing system: used for words that don‘t have a kanji) before I came! Okaasan was really impressed that I learned them all in just 1 month, but I used a Hiragana pictogram app on my phone so it wasn’t too hard to memorize them. Even though I drunk like 50 bottles of cola (I get thirsty so easily here!!) I slept like a baby my first night J

First Day of school: Okaasan took me to school my first day to talk to the guy who is going to be my teacher. The way seems a bit…complicated though. It’s like we take a bus a lot of stops, get off at Higashi Umeda station, walk down a shady staircase (haha xD) and then take a train. But the good news is, KTC (my new school) is basically right across the street from the train station :D We sat in a room and conversed with my new teacher, he is so nice!!! Actually, all the teachers are!! And I was a bit worried about the students (my okaasan said that KTC is a school for kids who…well…don’t like school xD) but everyone was very kind, just a bit shy J We decided which classes/clubs I would take (I’m actually not quite sure what those were, as everything was decided in Japanese, but I guess I’ll find out tomorrow J After this we me and Okaasan (mom) went to Makudo (McDonalds) and I tried the “McPork”. Huh. It kind of tasted like sausage. Kind of…haha. Okaasan was telling me about when there were the bacteria in the cow beef in America so all the places in Japan that had gotten their beef from America were losing money because people didn’t want to buy it. So that they would still make money they came up with an all new pork menu. Which is how the McPork came to be in Japan McDonalds :) I found that quite interesting.

Visiting Asahi: So when I was last in Japan, I attending a Asahi high school. I made a bunch of good friends there, and Vicky still goes there, so I decided to visit. Sunday is the day of the Asahi festival so there are no classes this week and everyone is training super hard. When me and Vicky were walking up the stairs to my classroom, we saw some of my old classmates and they FREAKED OUT!! Hahaha:

Vicky: So yeah I…

Old Classmates: *dead stop when they see me* Jojo….Jojo?….JOJO????? JOJO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *runs up and grabs me*

Me: Oh god! Konnichiwa??!!!

Old Classmates: JOJOOO!!!!!

And they just kept saying my name over again and saying how it was impossible for me to be there xD Oh and we saw Kokurin (one of my best friends from last time…we have a bit of a love/hate relationship though), Jun, and Hiro (my old classmates) and they had pretty much the same reaction xD I asked Kokurin is he had missed me (expecting him to be like “Oh no whatever”) and he went “OH YES!!! YES!!!! So…so much” hahaha oh god, these Japanese sure know how to make a girl feel special xD They made me promise to come to the festival on Sunday. And I will, because Vicky kindly bought me a ticket J I’m excited, I’ve always wanted to see a Japanese high school festival! Oh and Kokurin looked quite different. He changed his hairstyle, and he wasn’t wearing his uniform shirt, but a bright turquoise undershirt. Vicky was like “What the heck! You can’t wear that in school man! >:O” haha

After this it was time to see my favorite Japanese people: Chibi and Misato They were my bestest best Japanese friends last time and they are so kind/funny! They taught me a lot of Japanese and they can speak very good English. We had to meet them in the room above the cafeteria (it’s like a meeting room type place) because they were painting. Vicky walked in first and said “Hey guys I’m back!!” and they said, “…Where’s jojo??” and when I walked in behind Vicky they were like “OH MY GOD!!!!” and ran over and grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go xDD I missed them so much though!! We all sat/drank juice/laughed together and then another one of my favorite people came! Shota! He’s really nice too. He speaks really good English because he went to America for a year. By the time we left it was really dark/shady outside and Vicky didn’t have a bike so we asked Shota to take us back to my house. He rode Vicky the whole way, even up all the really steep hills (which I couldn’t even get up by myself xD) so we were like, “Whoaa!! You are strong!!” Once we got back we walked Reita with Monan to the park again.

Jenga and friends: After my second day of school, everybody threw me a welcome party J We all played games (Jenga/card games with Japanese people is the best thing ever) and I met this guy names Shide. He’s half Japanese/half Filipino and he speaks good English so we were talking and he asked me a bunch of questions about America. They taught me rough Kansai ben (Osaka Dialect), so basically instead of saying “O namae wa nan desu ka? (what is your name?) J ” its, “Omaidyanen?! (Who are you man?!) >:O” hahaha

After school I hung out with Yo, Shinya, and Sho. Yo kept trying to get me to tell Sho “Ashiteru! (I love you) “but I escaped and went to go pick up Vicky at Asahi and went with her to a hair salon near my house and it was pretty cool. I want a cute Japanese hairstyle (T^T) After I take out my braids in October the hairdresser ladies said they could do me :D And that they can handle my unruly curly hair, we’ll have to see about that xD When we got back to my house we had the funniest dinner in my entire life (Vicky is quite hilarious), then went to the park to play soccer with Reita and Monan.

My first few days have been quite eventful, and I can’t wait to experience all things Japanese!! I’m back!! \(^0^)/


I'm Jordan, nickname: Jojo :)

I recently went on a 6 week exchange to Japan from June-July (blog: and it was the most amazing and life changing experience of my life! Because of this, I have decided to come back to Japan. I will be staying in Japan for 2 months, starting August 31st. I will be living with my friend Rafa's old host family in Osaka and will be attending high school with my 16 year old host sister, Yo. I am very excited and I feel so blessed/grateful for this opportunity! This blog will document the second part of my adventure to Japan. Enjoy! \(^0^)/