Skip to main content


This is it. It's Friday, February 3rd and in less than 24 hours I will leave this house for Tokyo train station, which will take me to the airport, which will take me...home.

Most of this week has been taken up with goodbyes: to schoolmates and teachers, and later, close friends. There were tears involved.

I think the photos will do it a lot more justice than I could:

Kohei, from tennis group. All the tennis people got together for dinner at an okonomiyaki (think cabbage pancake, with yummy stuff like shrimp in it) but first we went to a boardwalk which had nighttime light shows.

Top: Anime Club. They threw a small party for me, where we ate lots of food and watched (what else) anime and talked.
Bottom: one of my English classes. They asked me to teach them an American game for the last day, so I taught everyone how to play Heads-Up 7-Up. They were pretty good at it.

The other exchange student, Nom, and my Japanese teacher.

The last view of school: the walk leading up to the University library, and if you turn right at the end of the path you get to the highschool building. Then there's the security guard who made sure that we crossed the street safely in the morning.

My best friends here (from left to right): Yukiko, Mizuki, Me, Manae, Shiohara (we all call her by her last name) and Saho. They all came over to my apartment and we ate and played games and later cried.

Rina and Emi, some of the first friends I made here (they walked with me to the train station since we took the same train home. They saved me a bunch of times in September when I wasn't as good with the train system here.

We went to a shopping complex the size of a small American town where I bought my third suitcase. For some reason I find it ironic that in the photo that says "best shoot" (*coughEnglishcough*) we were doing our "hengao" (strange face) shot.

That is the stack of letters I've recieved from home, as well as from my friends here. I'll treasure lots of the things I got here, but I honestly think I'll treasure the letters most of all.

So to everyone reading this blog, WOW has it been an adventure. It's been hard and fun and eye-opening and inspiring and it has made me grow immensely as a person and a student and I don't regret coming one bit! It has given me a new family and a new culture and made me treasure everything I have at home all the more. I guess I'm trying to say "thank you" for supporting me when I decided to go, when I've been gone, and support for when I get back and am totally clueless in school and going through culture shock since I won't be able to decide if I'm Japanese or American. If I start bowing or random Japanese phrases pop out of my mouth...well, I'll try to curb the bowing to a minimum.

Lots of love from the Land of the Rising Sun
T-24 hours!



  1. Dear, Claire
    You seem to had a wonderful times in Japan:) While I'm reading this one, I realized that I have to say good-bye:'( I'll miss you. But maybe, your family and friends in the US are waiting for you:D have a nice flight. I'm looking forward to seeing you next time;) love you<3


  2. It sounds like you had a great time! When you get back, let's get coffee or lunch so you can tell me all about it.

  3. Hey Claire!
    I've read your blog since the begining and it has been so much fun! I can't beleive your going back home already and I really hope you keep blogging! you're really good at it! ^^ I'll be going to Japan next year with AFS and you really helped me out with my decision!
    Can't wait for you to post again!
    Amy, from Québec! :)

  4. Hi !
    I'm also one of the people that followed your blog since the beginning, and I'm also supposed to go to Japan next year with AFS, for a full year :) Your blog is really nice, and you almost always keep a very neutral point of view about Japan, explaining what's different and such… Thank you, so so much for this :D

    I hope you'll keep on blogging even after you come back !

    Lots of love from Belgium <3

  5. Hi!
    I've read your full blog and you've really confirmed my plan to go to Japan next year for the full year! Thank you so much!

  6. Hello!
    I just discovered this blog today, and I just finished the whole thing.
    You see, I'm only 12, but once I get into high school I REALLY want to do this too!
    I'm positivily obsessed with Japan, and it's my dream to go there. I'm currently learing Japanese (even though I only know 20 hiragana and how to say random phrases like "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore")
    Anyways, I'd love to do exactly what you did! Granted, it will be several years, and I'm not sure we'll ever be able to scrounge up the money, BUT I'm going to dream about doing this someday! ♥
    P.S. I hope you don't embarrass yourself at school back in America by bowing or saying random Japanese things. XD

  7. Hi! I love your blog and your exchange experience stories. I'd like to inform you about an intersting project... Could I have your contact?

  8. Just let me know about it here, that's probably easier.

    1. I was just wondering if your host family could speak English or not. Im going to Japan next year and I can speak some Japanese but not a lot. So I kinda worried about that...(ありがとう!!!)(thanks!)

  9. Contact me at ;)

  10. Hi! I was reading your blog, because I'm interested in the AFS program to Japan, too. In a cool coincidence, my name is Claire, too. I was curious about some of it and have a few questions. Would it be okay if you emailed me? Mine is It would be cool to know someone who has done the program before. Thanks!
    -Claire :)

  11. Hey!
    ok so im planing to go to japan next year and i hope you dont mind if i ask you some questions about your trip to japan. and also did you have professional lessons in Japanese or did you self teach, because im kind of self teaching and i need some advice. so could you like email me at i'd really appreciate it.

  12. こんにちわ、Claire-さん! I've read your blog a long time ago (like, the last time you posted), and some days ago I wondered if you had to repeat the school year in your home country. So I thought hey why don't I just try asking? If you actually read this comment, your reply would help me a lot. :)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Taking a Breather

Sometimes when you're in Tokyo, as wonderful as its bustling atmosphere is, you just want to forget you're in the middle of Tokyo.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a guy from Sweden who regularly came to Japan on business and he said that despite how much he loved Tokyo he could never live here because of the lack of green space. Tokyo has its parks, of course, like all major cities, but if you want unspoiled greenery you have to be willing to head at least forty minutes outside of the sprawling metropolis limits. In winter this desire to surround oneself with greenery might not matter as much, but now that spring is seeping into the atmosphere and the upcoming sakura season is on everyone's mind (NHK even puts out an annual "forecast" for sakura!) the neon lights and concrete jungle start to feel a little oppressive.

That's when little hideaways like the Sato Sakura Museum and Kohmeisen come in handy.

The Sato Sakura Museum is a small museum in Nakameguro…

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…

Feeling a Bit Blue

It astounds me that it's already the end of August. Time has seemed to pass in a bit of a blur: one hot, sticky mess of 100-degree days and only mildly more bearable evenings. I was also fortunate to visit the U.S. for a week (not Chicago I'm afraid, but Wheeling, West Virginia and then San Francisco) for a family reunion. It was lovely to see all the aunts, uncles, and cousins who I hadn't seen in person for several months, if not years. But given the short visit I essentially spent two weeks with my body clock completely confused about what time zone it was supposed to be in.  However, I'm now I'm back in Japan for the near future and have essentially settled back in to my usual rhythm of life. 
This past weekend I decided to engage with my arts-and-crafts side. The summer of 2009, when I first visited Japan, I was lucky enough to try my hand at aizome (indigo dying) in Kyoto. Recently I had a hankering to try it again, and e-stumbled upon a shop in Asakusa call…