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Showing posts from October, 2011

Making Sushi and Dazzling 5th Graders (Or is it 6th Graders?)

Come one come all and listen to the tale of Claire, an English speaking girl who has to catch a train by herself to a strange location known as the Ooizumi-gakuen station! You will be dazzled with the history of her wit and skills at navigation!
(As if!)
Sunday was an AFS-Nerima chapter event, where Valeria and another exchange student, Huang (who is from Vietnam) were going to make sushi! Yummeh, I know. Anyhow, I had to get there myself, and my host mom printed out a sheet with my train times: I had to take the Seibu-Shinjuku train from my home station to Tokorozawa, which is big and busy. Once at Tokorozawa I had a minute to find my transfer and get on it.

I missed it.

So there is Claire, standing in this station trying to figure out the map of what trains go where. And taking an educated guess, she gets on the Ikebukuro train which seems like it'll work.

Fortunently, it does. CRISIS AVERTED!

There ended up being quite a group of us: Valeria, Huang and me, plus some AFS volunt…

Shabu Shabu

No I don't have a cold! I just ate some awesome meat.

It's like a do-it-yourself stew, where they place a pot of water at your table, you boil it and then put in paper-thin meat and veggies and tofu and noodles. And then eat! The meat there has three layers...and we (me and my two friends, Emi and Rima) ate 2.5 layers of 'em. As well as multiple veggie/tofu/noodle helpings.

Food babies abound!

But before we ate dinner, we 
A. had to sneak out of our school uniforms by changing in the bathroom of the train station, and
B. went and took purikura (Japanese photo booth pictures)
(Rima is on the left, Emi on the right. Guess where I am!)

Going out with friends was really nice, and it felt AWESOME.

And in more cultural news, here is some calligraphy I did in shodo class:

Even though I don't have any examples, I've graduated from the blocky, make-every-stroke-precise style into the more fluid style. (Which is SO much prettier! I'll try to get pictures so…

What's Stuck in My Head

These are the songs that get me through life here: studying, sporadic homesickness, boredom. I listen to them all the time. And now I'm spreading the joy! They're going in order (more or less) of,
A. how much I listen to them and
B. how much I like them


This song= addicting as chocolate. And that's saying a lot.

Possibly the coolest thing ever. A 2000 person virtual choir. I recommend either headphones or turning the volume up on the speakers to fill your brain with this glorious sound.

Video, kinda odd. Song, epic.

This is my official sleepy song. When I can't sleep because I'm thinking or worrying or whatnot, I turn this on and go right off to la la land.

Normality Does Not Make for Good Storytelling

On one hand, normality=yay, me becoming a successful part of Japanese culture has been achieved! On the leaves me with nothing to tell you guys about.

So I figured, now that I'm more or less a part of this all, what have I achieved? So I went back two months to my Bucket List.
Here's what was on it:
1. Learn how to make miso soup
2. Go to a Maid-cafe
3. Return to Chiiori (What's that? Click HERE. No, seriously. CHECK IT OUT IT'S REALLY COOL.)
4. Go to a movie in Japanese
5. See Kabuki theater

Here's what I added to it:
1. Go to Tokyo Disney
2.Go see From Up on Poppy Hill, the new Ghibli movie

And here's what I checked off:
1. Sushi and ramen (I've had each about five times. Yummy, every single time)
2. Go see From Up on Poppy Hill, which covers both that and "see a movie in Japanese"

...long way to go, folks.

Language. Ah, language. How I miss effortlessly speaking!
But on the plus side, I've gone from knowing n…

In Which Claire ALMOST went to Tokyo Disney

As some of you probably saw, I posted a very enthsiastic, capital-letter message stating how I was totally going to Tokyo Disney. And indeed, that WAS the family plan...which subsequently got interrupted becuase my host father got sick. So I did some other fun stuff instead.

Like going to a zoo and becoming an excited five-year old, because chicks are soft, fluffy and cute.

And watching monkeys.

And eating a bunch of sausage at this market which was full of pork. It was literally a shop full of meat and then full of people scrambling to buy said meat. Probably because ot was really good. One of the best hot dogs I've ever had. EVER.

And then I did something I've wanted to do since I came to Japan and saw an advertisement for it. You may know (or if not, you know now!) that I love, love love love love Studio Ghibli, which does these amazing animated films. Of which there's a new one that just came out in July.
So I went and saw it. In Japanese. Then I surprised myself by act…

A Matter of Trains

Now that all the really interesting school festivals and events and whatnot are over, I wonder if I'll have much of interest to post.
So I guess I'd like to talk about trains. In particular, trains as a second home, the same way our cars are often our second home. First of all, I have to say that I LOVE Japanese trains, even though they're usually packed (and really, in the scheme of things when you really need to go somewhere the train you want is always packed, so it makes no difference). The seats are super comfortable...they have actual, plush padding, and they have decent width so you're not constantly spilling over into someone else's personal bubble.  The most desirable seat, I've noticed, are the two end seats where there's a wall you can lean on. Because everyone, everyone (even standing people!) sleep on the trains. I'm always way to scared to do this, even in Chicago, because I have this paranoid fear I'll miss my stop. But the people her…

Shave and a Haircut...

I've gotten to listen to a lot of new music over here in Japan, and I just thought I'd share some of my favorite songs with you.

moumoon-Tiny Star

Sakanaction-GO TO THE FUTURE

The ending theme from one of my favorite Ghibli movies, Itsumo Nando Demo.

And I've saved the best for last so DEFINITELY LISTEN TO  THIS SONG:
I spent one morning actually translating this one--Arrietty's Song--and here's what I came out with:
I'm fourteen years old, I am pretty
An energetic and small little lady
I'm always underneath the floor
Borrower Arrietty
Sometimes I'm happy and sometimes I'm blue
I want to meet someone

Feel the wind blowing in my hair
Gazing at the sky
I want to give a flower to you
Over there is another world
Look, butterflies are waiting
I am waiting

Don't replace anything in
My tiny world
I don't hate it, but you
I want to know more and more
Joy and sadness
Are always blended together


Under the ocean
Surrounded by flowers
Spending all my…

Claire's Awesome Weekend of Awesome Awesomeness

...because just one awesome wasn't enough. I have so much to tell about this weekend, be prepared for a long post!

Day 1: Saturday-School Sports Festival!
The second of the most manga-cliche school events! At Musashino, everyone from middle school to highschool is divided into four color groups: Green, Blue, Red, and Purple (I was in the Green group) who compete against each other in a variety of events. Not structured sports, like soccer or baseball for several reasons:
1. Matches in those sports would take way too long and not enough people could participate and
2. They require special skills/equipment etc.
Instead, there are a lot of races, from straight out sprints, to funny races (like where four people are running in a pair of giant pants for example) to relay races, or other stuff like tug-of-war. You get points based on how your groups do in the events, and the points are tallied up to find a winner at the end of the day. Pretty simple.

Here's what I did:
1. This d…