Friday, June 18, 2010


Today was hot. Very hot. 蒸し暑いも。(Mushiatsui mo., Also humid.)

I sat in the school and talked in English a bunch and then went outside for a couple hours for a disaster drill thing... BUT THE PRINCIPAL STARTED AN ACTUAL FIRE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD AND THEN PUT IT OUT WITH A FIRE EXTINGUISHER. And then half the school ran away from the white smokey stuff that comes out of fire extinguishers. It was kinda fun.

And then in the cafeteria I saw this, which is the BEST thing in Japan I've seen so far:

OH MY GOD. I laughed so hard.

After school, I asked my homeroom and English teacher who doesn't speak English if I could see a list of clubs... she was like "oh it's all in Japanese, so no. Also, ask me in English, I need to improve my English" ... so after I finally got a list of clubs from her (which was in Japanese), she took me to see about three clubs in the gym and also some rough sketch art club or something... and then was like "I need to go meeting so you wander yes?" so yeah then I basically had nothing to do for three hours before my bus arrives. (school this week gets out early due to tests every day)

So I wandered around the neighborhood... which was actually very pretty. :) I took a bunch of pictures, and saw a forest, an elementary school, a kindergarten (which by the way looked JUST like the one from the animu はなまる幼稚園 [Hanamaru Youchien] ... lolwtf) and also someweird circular house on top of a hill where some Japanese students were being all かわいいラブラブ♥♥☆〜^____^です。

...And then we went shopping and I saw this:

WHICH MADE ME SUPER HAPPY AND LAUGH REALLY HARD.... BUT THEN my host mom told me it was Shingo Mama. OH MY GOD. For those of you who don't know, Shingo Mama is this Japanese crossdresser guy who sings songs about "sucking mayonnaise in the morning." yeah, he's pretty awesome.


OKよ、 until next time, バイバイ。 (bai bai!)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Disneyland & Other Tidbits

EDIT: Oh yeah, I forgot. I also saw some Pikachu billboards.


Hi everybody. :>

Disneyland was super fun. I went with my my host mom, Taiga (my host brother), Taiga's friend Shun and Shun's mom. I met Shun (pronounced 'shoon') a few days earlier and totally forgot to mention it, but yeah, he went too. He's super amazing since he knows lots of animu and really likes CLANNAD and other stuff with スーパーかわいい animu girls in it-- like ハヤテのごとく! (Hayate no Gotoku!)、とらドラ! (Toradora!)、けいおん! (K-On!) and リトルバスターズ! (Little Busters!)... god, I just realized those all have exclamation points on the end, lolwut. Anyways, we went on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and some Buzz Lightyear shoot aliens thing.

Also, tons of people were wearing Engrish shirts at Disneyland. Here were some of my favorite sayings:
  • Cool time! Let's have fun and games.

After Disneyland we went to the airport to welcome back Shun's older brother Ryosuke who had been living in America for a year through YFU. He was pretty awesome too, especially since he knew more animu than his brother. Then I explained to my family how Americans overuse the word "awesome."

High point was definitely when we were waiting for Ryousuke at Narita airport-- I had bought a present for Mami-chan at Disneyland and my host mom started telling another YFU student in America's mom about how Mami-chan was my "girlfriend." I then explained to her how "girl friend" (a friend who is a girl) and "girlfriend" (ラブラブ tiem) is different in English... she was all like "oh" and I was all like "lul" (if you didn't understand that, don't worry).

...well, that was one of my high points. The other one would have to be hearing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" in Japanese.

And that's about all that happened yesterday that wasn't riding super fast trains for multiple hours to get to Tokyo, Narita and back to Sendai.

Today I got to sleep in and miss school because I was tired, and yesterday I missed obviously because of Disneyland-- the school was okay with both reasons, apparently. :D This week is just filled with tests, so I would just be sitting in the library with other YFU students making paper airplanes and watching movies. One of the English teachers, who is actually French and now knows French, English and Japanese, and who's English class I am sadly NOT in (though both my YFU friends who go to the same school are), has his students watch movies in English all period and then analyze dialogue. Much better than my English class in which I get bad English sentences with blanks in them and fill them in with choices from a word bank, unscramble sentences or pick the common word in two sentences. :/ The cool English teacher told us on Tuesday: "I'm not here so I can teach, I teach so I can be here." ... wat.

And now for two random things that I forgot to mention earlier...

On Monday, my first day of school, they gave me a bunch of stuff including a poster with all the teachers on it drawn as little cartoon characters:

And then I was given a card on which I drew a cartoon version of myself and wrote down my name, birthday and "hobbyies." Then they made copies of it and did who knows what with it-- all I know is that I haven't seen it since.

Also, in the hot springs/bath place, the shoe/clothes lockers cost 100 yen. BUT WHEN YOU PUT YOUR KEY IN TO GET YOUR STUFF BACK IT GAVE THE 100 YEN BACK TO YOU. I was super surprised. I told my host family that wouldn't ever happen in America. :P

There's an evacuation drill in school tomorrow. I'm excited. Bye for now. :D

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Second Day at School (and some other stuff)

UPDATE2: Oh, another huge difference between American and Japanese schools that I forgot to mention earlier: your homeroom teacher is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT. They're basically another parent to students. For example, if you get caught shoplifting in another city, or even another island in Japan, guess who's going fly out to pick you up and take you home before your parents do?-- that's right, your homeroom teacher.

UPDATE: I'm back from the bank, yay. Biking is kind of strange when you bike on the left side of the road and the sidewalk. :P Anyways, I saw some elementary school kids on the way home-- one was wearing a shirt that said "JOY☆BRIGHT SHINE" or some sort of badly mutilated English phrase. I also learned that in Japanese, you say "hoipu" (ho-e-pu) instead of "uipu" (wii-pu) for "whip" (as in "whipped cream") Well, it makes sense, as you also say "howaito" (ho-wye-to) instead of "waito" (wye-to) for the color white. But either way, throwing those extra H's in there sounds really weird.

So today I learned that my school is where students go when they fail their entrance examinations... or something like that. I'm not really sure though. In Japan, the passing grade is 40%... yeah. If you fail (meaning under 40%) a test for the first time, you get an easier re-take test. If you fail that test, you get another retake. If you fail that retake you get a bunch of homework and if you do it all you pass.


Anyways, I forgot my camera battery at home today so I didn't get the chance to take many pictures... but that's okay, you're not missing anything. Literally. Today was a testing day, and school only lasted until 11:00 AM. I got to sit in the library all day and "study" ... and by that I mean make origami, play word games and talk with other YFU students. The art teacher (倉本先生, Kuramoto-sensei) also came in to the library where we were spending all day and gave us a school calendar, some stickers for the calendar (which were in kanji and I could not read :D ) and a book with drawings and paintings done by his university students-- the artwork was truly amazing.

Oh, and speaking of art, turns out my two YFU friends who are attending the same school are in art courses, while I am in a ............... nursery course. Or something like that. My reaction is: "UGHHH, WHAT THE HECK, WHYYYYYYYYYYY" >__> but I'll manage. somehow.

I also got a bus pass today, so from now on (well, once I know the route) I'll be walking to the bus station and then taking the bus to school with my (and my host brother Taiga)'s friend Mami-chan who by the way is like super friendly omgwtf.

I probably have more to say, but I don't remember as I'm pretty tired-- I had to wake up at 6:30 AM today for school (don't worry mom, I'm going to bed early)... And tomorrow, I get to wake up at around 4:45 AM as we leave for Tokyo Disneyland right after 5:00...!!! D: but it'll be fun, so yeah. :B

And now I'm off to bike to the 銀行 (ginkou, bank -- not a ginkgo tree!) to cash some travelers cheques before it closes IN LESS THAN 30 MINUTES!

kbai for now.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jiyuugaoka, Hot Baths, and School!

Yesterday (Sunday) morning I got to explore my town in Sendai named Jiyuugaoka (自由ヶ丘) with my host mother. It's small, but very beautiful. :) I got to meet some of the neighbors as well. Before returning home, we visited a swampy pond named 大堤沼 (oodutsumi-numa, numa meaning swamp, marsh, or pond)... there we saw a father who was fishing with his two sons. We learned that he lived in the same neighborhood as us and talked for a while. The dad was wearing a shirt on which there was a man dressed as a cat with a disco ball between his legs... and the son was wearing a shirt which said "STRIKE WHILE IRON IS HOT!" hehe. Very strange. :P

Anyways, after that we went to a 百円 (hyaku-en shop, "100 yen shop") which is basically Japan's version of a Dollar Store. There I bought some Japanese candy (Hi-Chew), some cute stationary and three cups with a different animal on each-- panda-san, lion-san and giraffe-san. :3

That night, we visited an お風呂 (ofuro)-- a hot bath... and it was AMAZING. First, you sit on a stool and use a shower handle to wash yourself (yes, in room with other people, naked). Then you wash your hair and all that and clean off-- just like an old style Japanese bath. Next, you go into a room with about 10 different "stations"-- there was a massage bath where there were super hard water jets massaging you from all sides, a SUPER HOT sauna where you could hardly breathe (it got up to around 90° which is about 190°F)!!! There was also a rotenburo (open air bath), daiyokujo (large public bath), mizuburo (regular cold water), iwaburo (bath made of rocks) and a denkiburo. The denkiburo, literally meaning "electric bath" was SO FREAKY. Electric currents came out from each side of the bath and made my sides feel... just strange. I can't describe it-- but the Japanese can! In Japanese, that feeling of electric shock is called びりびり (biribiri) and is one of many onomatopoeic words in the Japanese language. I could stand the 弱い (yowai, weak) denkiburo, but the 強い (tsuyoi, strong) one I couldn't sit in for more than a second.. Finally, there was just a normal shower. A freezing cold shower had never felt so good, as I just got out of the 190°F sauna before that!! In all, it was a great experience. :) Also, in the lobby of the bath place (named 極楽湯, gokurakuyu) there was a tank of fish which you could put your feet in for a small price... I kind of secretly wanted to do it, to see what it would feel like .___.

In the lobby, we met a very nice old woman who overheard me talking with my host brother about the drinks in the vending machine there, and which ones existed in America. It turned out that the woman actually lived in Wisconsin (where I live, if for some reason you didn't know) and taught English there over 40 years ago! She was really nice, and helped me translate some Japanese words too. :) haha

AND FINALLY. ON TO TODAY. ("today" being Monday, of course)...

My first day of school. The school looked HUGE... and it was-- it was both a university and high school, in two separate buildings (well probably more like three or four... idno). Anyways, everyone was really nice and welcoming. :) Below is a picture of two students I didn't know and me... they insisted on having my host mom take it. I look super worn out already... >__>

For the first time in my life, seeing high school girls made me happy. They were all so... just... 元気 (genki, roughly translated as happy, bubbly or having energy and vigor). In Japanese high schools, nobody wears makeup or earings, and they're not... fake. You can really see who they are. :) and yeah, the boys were nice too. EVERYONE'S SO FAST AT TYPING ON THEIR JAPANESE CELL PHONES (携帯電話, keitaidenwa, usually called 'keitai'). Japanese cell phone are MUCH different from American ones-- though none have slide out keyboards, they generally have amazing and cool interfaces... and emoticons! But not text emoticons... like, pictures. And they can send mail too-- everyone uses their cell phones for mail. And most have dictionaries on them too...

Anyways, back to the high school girls (if that doesn't sound too creepy). 99% of them are EXTREMELY shy, and huddle around in groups pointing at me and whispering かっこいい (kakkoii, cool) and かわいい (kawaii, cute). :3 Well, I must admit, they were much prettier than American high school girls filled with their makeup and such, looking like ravens and peacocks with their blue eyeliner and mascara and all that crap. (okay, I'll save that rant for later...) but yeah. They're all shy and such. They oftentimes waved to me from afar and broke out laughing when I waved back. Also, these "groups" of girls would oftentimes shove one girl towards me and dare her to talk to me... etc. Lots of the boys also wanted pictures with me and had their friends take lots on their cell phones.

During lunch break, a group of older boys came up to me and asked me if I liked "esu ii ekusu"... S, E, X. yeah. I told them I wasn't going to answer that. About 2 minutes later, the same group came back and showed me a VIDEO OF IT ON THEIR PHONE. I walked away and facepalmed, but also laughed at the same time...... Oh God. I have so many stories already...

Anyways, the day went very well, though I was kind of bored and confused during some of the classes. For example, 家庭科 (kateika, home economics) was extremely confusing and I understood literally NONE of the kanji on the board. The teacher was basically giving a monologe about drycleaning symbols.

In Japanese schools, much more respect is given to the teachers. For example, after school I was waiting for my host mother to pick me up and next to me was a group of about 20 girls. Whenever a teacher walked by, every single one would bow and say 「じゃ」 (jya) or 「さようなら」 (sayounara), both meaning goodbye (the latter more formal). Even a girl running through the hall who was late to her club came to a complete stop and bowed for the passing teacher. And one more large difference in Japanese schools vs. American schools: we sit in one room all day and teachers come to our class, which for me is 1-5... >_> fun, huh. :P

Tomorrow is supposed to be humid and hot, unlike today during which it rained. My "uniform" is long sleeves and long pants, a belt and sometimes a tie, so it will be very hot... but I'm sure I will eventually get used to it. :) ...Just like most everything. Adaptability is necessary when being introduced to an entirely different (and wonderful) culture.

Oh, and one more thing (hmm, that last sentence would have been a good ending). In Japan, the hospital/doctors is MUCH different. I had to go because my host brother's leg got hurt during his Track & Field Club. When you walk in, you take off your shoes and put on their slippers, as you do at school too. You then write your name on a list, and in a few minutes you are called in to a room. After handing them your medical insurance card (or at least that's what I think it was), you visit a variety of different rooms in which you are examined, get X-Rays, etc. Finally, you lay down on a bed and a few doctors give you a massage... and then you magically feel all better or something. pretty cool. I'm sure if one got a more serious injury the process would have been different, but it was still interesting. :)

So yeah. Today was a good day. YAY!

はい、おわり。 じゃ! (Okay, done. Bye!)