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Showing posts from January, 2012

This Day Was Full of Happy Things

There's just no other way to describe it. Today was a happy day. Life could not get better than today.
First of all, the third and fourth periods of our normal Saturday half day was the speech contest that I'd written my lovely rock-paper-scissors speech for. Needless to say, I was sweating bullets. Despite the freezing weather, the contest was held in the gymnasium. Fortunately, everyone was allowed to bring blankets and scarfs so we wouldn't freeze. I was glad of my shivering for one reason: it hid my shaking and gave me an excuse. Of course, as the exchange student they put me as the last person.

It went rather well. When it came time to announce the winners (first, second, and third in both English Speeches and Japanese) for some strange reason they announced that I was the second place winner in the Japanese Speech category. Go figure...
Then, my friends told me to wait in the classroom once class was over. They contrived something about Gashosai (Music Festival) singi…

Crafty Things

As school is winding down (for me at least, I only have 2.5 days left!) I've started to either complete projects or get them back from teachers. So without further ado, I present to you the various crafy/artsy things I've done recently.

Marco the Phoenix from One Piece. Forgive the horrendous way the colors came out, my camera killed them.

Poplar from Working!
Both pictures were sketched and then painted with watercolors for club.

Scarf and pattern detail that I knitted for Home E.C. Now that I'm finished...I wear it, because it's ridiculously warm, if a little short (I ran out of yarn, so I just use a pin to attatch the two ends together and then it stays in place). The teacher had us knit them all ridiculously wide, so each row is 40 stitches...I could have made a longer scarf if I'd gone with 25 or 30 per row, but I'm not in charge so couldn't complain.

Book that I made with some of the calligraphy I did. The middle photo's left page says "ookam…

Proud Confession: I am a Nerd

Monday, fortunately, was a day off school, so I opted to do something I've wanted to do for a while and head over to Ikebukuro. I did this by myself, and just to give a hint as to how proud I am of myself for being able to navigate this place all by myself let me put it in perspective: Ikebukuro Station is the second busiest station in all of Japan, second only to Shinjuku. Both of which I've been to and transfered around in, without getting seriously lost. I mean, even some Japanese people don't like those two stations, if my host family is any example, because they said themselves they think they're too mazelike. But I digress. Point is, I felt awesome about myself for a bit.

Personally, I rather like the vibe that Ikebukuro gives off, business and all. To me it has a different beat than the rest of Tokyo, and for some reason it makes me feel extra alive, like I'm part of some large piece of music with this addictive beat running through it. It doesn't make m…

AFS Chapter Goodbye Party

Sunday was part 2/2 of this weekend's series of AFS events. This one was more personal, since it was the goodbye party for my chapter, Tokyo Nerima. Relatively earlier than I'd like for a Sunday morning my family and I (as well as one of Ryo's friends, who had stayed over the night before) took the train over to the ShakujiKoen Center where the event was held. It was also the same place that the chapter welcome party was held all those months ago.

The first part of it was, for most purposes, uninteresting. Lots of speeches, including one of the three I had to write. So I can check one of those off the list! WHOO!
It didn't go too badly, if may say so myself. Even though it was only in front of host families and AFS volunteers, I was more nervous than I needed to be. But I was confident in the Japanese I had written, and everyone said they understood it clearly, so that's all good.

Huang, the other AFSer in my chapter also gave a speech. Then we both recieved small …

Exchange Students Make Good Performing Animals...

...that must be why we're always asked to put on performances and attend functions and whatnot. We are paraded out, say our little spcheal ("I love Japan, I have made so many great friends and I don't want to go homeeeeee!"), put on a performance and BOOM! Instant intercultural event! Just add some insanity and mix thoroughly.

 Today there was a "Cultural Exchange" at Kokushi high school with some local AFSers and exchange students from two Universities. The exchange students were going to give introductions and a few performances, and the high school was going to demonstrate taiko, other traditional instruments, and allow us to try calligraphy and tea ceremony.

The AFSers all walked from the train station together, and once we'd met up at the high school all of the exchange students were asked to give a brief self introduction. With the self-introductions out of the way, the students started with their demonstrations. After the taiko and koto (which we …

An End and a Beginning

Today was both a happy and a sad day. Today my host brother, who has been an exchange student in Germany for the past year (that's why I have his room...ahaha) returned to Japan. My host dad came back for the occation, but unfortunently after this his work becomes busy, so it was also the last day I would get to see him before I return to Chicago.

Ryo's (my host brother) plane arrived at eight in the morning, which meant that my host mother and father had to leave the house a little before five in order to pick him up. Ayuko and I wisely--in my opinion--elected to wait at home, earning ourselves some extra (and MUCH NEEDED) sleep. They didn't get back home until a little after twelve, which makes sense once you factor in all the waiting at the airport and the travel time home.

Spending a year away from Japan has definitely made him more open than most Japanese, since the first thing he did when he got home was give me a hug instead of a bow to say 'hi'. My first …

Winding Down, or So I Thought

Down to 23 days now (yes, I am keeping a countdown). Winter break is over and it's back to school as usual. I thought my work would be over and I'd be enjoying my last weeks here with my friends. Apparently, I was severely kidding myself. I have been assigned three speeches to write and present in front of large groups of people, all within a week of each other.

One of them you already know about, my speech about rock paper scissors that I was toying around with. I did decide to go with it, and over winter break I spent an obnoxious amount of time trying to translate the version I wrote in English. Here's what I wrote in English:

There is a saying that goes “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. It can be applied to books, of course, meaning that you shouldn’t judge the quality of a book based on the quality of its cover—or, things are not always what they seem—but it can also be applied to other, everyday things such as rock paper scissors (RPS).
RPS is a game that is k…

Friends and Large Buddhas

The day after my lovely Ghibli adventure, I was invited to chill for a bit at one of my friend's house. It was the first time I had been to someone else's place since everyone is usually super busy with club and what not, and if we did hang out it was someplace in Tokyo. So I was rather excited. I took the train to her house, and then we took purikura (what else) at her home station, then did normal girl hanging-out stuff. Ate lunch, listened to music, watched a movie...just generally talked. It was a lot of fun.

I also met her Mom and older sister, who were both very nice. Had a blast using google earth to show them my house and around my neighborhood.

Then the day after that I got up at six thirty in the morning to take two hours--TWO HOURS!--worth of trains to Kamakura to hang out with Troy. (TWO HOURS. GAH). I had my first experience with Tokyo rush-hour trains. Two words: they suck. We were all packed like sardines into that train. I had a guy in my face and a guy right …

Ghibli Ho!

Aaah, Ghibli, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
On Wednesday, while my host dad was still in town for New Year's, we made a family excursion of it and all went to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. Having been there two years ago when my family went to Japan for YaleGALE over the summer, I was excited to be going back.

So it was early on Wednesday morning when the family (and one of my host sister's friends--Miho--who went with me to Harajuku way back in August) set off to the museum by (of course) train.

That is the Ghibli Museum. Unfortunently, the museum doesn't let you take photos inside of it, so I can't show you its wonders, I can only describe some of them. When you go in (and your ticket is for a specific date and time since a limited amount of people are allowed in the museum each day) you are given a movie ticket for their short-films theater. The movie we got to see was a short animated film about an old couple living on top of a mountain, going through …