Skip to main content

It was a Giant Family Reunion

Hip hip hooray for AFS events! Today was the Jenesys Festival, an event marking the end of the five-year program that brings people from Asia and the Pacific to Japan. (It was sponsored by the Japanese government, and the contract expires this year.) Most AFSers from around Japan and all of the Jenesys students on the two-week summer program gathered in one large room for this festival. All 1500 of us.

That made for a very crowded and hot room.
But I got to see people I hadn't seen in a long time (as much as four months). It made for a lot of shrieking--"AAAH, I haven't seen you in FOREVER! HISASHIBURI!" type screaming. It was a large family reunion. Everyone hit it off great, which put worries that most of us would have grown apart, to rest.

The festival itself wasn't the most interesting. Mostly speeches by important government officials affiliatd with Jenesys, AFS people, and short statements by representatives from each of the thirteen Jenesys countries.

There were, however, two very moving speeches by high school students from the prefectures affected by the March earthquake and tsunami. With two obviously rehearsed but emotional speeches, they talked about how they had been effected by the earthquakes and about the outreach they recieved.

They put up all the speeches on large screens, which was a good thing because we wouldn't have been able to see anything otherwise.

After that, we had to sing a song together. Yes. 1500 of us singing a very tacky song with a Laos "pop-princess".

Maybe we sounded all right as a group, but here's what we sounded like from MY section of the room:

After that the festival wrapped up, and I went out to dinner with Troy's AFS chapter. You remember Troy:

All in all, a very fun day. Next week: WINTER BREAK begins, CHRISTMAS, and off to OKINAWA. Epicness will ensue.


Popular posts from this blog

Short Hair, Don't Care: Model Behavior

I like to think I have a wide range of accomplishments under my belt:

Accidentally over-caffeinated myself conducting ethnographic research--check
Read 3+ books in a single day--check
Never (yet) pulled an all-nighter--check
Sung at Carnegie Hall--check
Published a poem--check

But now I can add a decidedly interesting item to that list:
Been a hair model in Japan--CHECK.

It's a bit of a long story.

It all starts with coffee, actually, like many of my adventures here in Japan do. I was checking out a coffee shop in the too, too cool area of Daikanyama (no, seriously, that entire neighborhood is just Too Cool for me, I don't even know why I was there). There I met stylist Yusuke, who asked if I wanted to appear in a PR photoshoot for the opening of his salon brand's newest branch, boy Tokyo, Harajuku. They're (wisely!) making a site to appeal to foreign clientele--it's a smart move because it's really hard to find a place that has stylists who truly are comfortab…

Final Touring Excursions

Tomorrow is my last day. It felt strange to write that sentence, knowing that I've been gone six weeks, which feels like both no time at all but also forever. Even though this is my fifth time coming to Japan (and the fourth for an protracted trip), the coming-and-going is something I don't get used to. Just as I start getting over my "ugh, I just want to go home" hump and settling in, well, it actually IS time to go home.

What have I done the past few days?

Well, on Sunday my host family and I took a drive to Yamanashi prefecture (re: near Mount Fuji) to visit the Oshino Hakkai, the Eight Sacred Ponds of Oshino. According to the signage, when people used to hike up Mount Fuji for pilgrimages, they would purify themselves in the ponds before starting their journey. And having stuck my hand in an (acceptable) corner of the main pond, Wakuike, it was FREEZING. Some other ponds have specific purposes, however. One was for people who wanted a good marriage, for instance.

Cat Cafe

Today I went with my host brother to a cat cafe for "research". Yes it is a cafe and yes it has (canned) coffee, but also I really really really wanted to go to a cat cafe. By doing a little research, I found one off a convenient train station that not only didn't require a reservation in advance, but had free drinks and was actually significantly less expensive for more time than other cafes. On to Nyankoto!

For cat lovers, this is paradise:

This shop had fifteen cats, each with their own names and personality described in a photo book:

This cat's name is Kinta and he's a mix--though most of the cats there were breeds I was unfamiliar with and had fur of various kinks and degrees of fluffiness. 
They were all very social, active cats as well.

Kinta greeted my host brother by literally jumping on his back. 
The other cats often ran around chasing each other (one was a very energetic kitten, so he was always pouncing on the others) or flopping down to be pet in co…