Monday, January 16, 2012


Today my rotary club had a new years party. I got to wear a kimono!!! yay!!! I got my hair and makeup professionally done in a traditional japanese style and I got to wear a beautiful kimono. I found out that kimono's are supposed to lie perfectly flat on your body, so they wrap towels and put cotton padding down everywhere to get rid of any curves. I asked why and they said that its because kimono's are supposed to be formal and elegant. You have to walk carefully in a kimono because its so tight you can barely move your feet so you have to shuffle along quickly. It looks really stupid which is why I suppose, you are supposed to move slowly and gracefully.

On the hair front. I just pulled three stuffed animals, two flowers, bells, (I jingled whenever I moved) about 4 pounds of hairspray, twenty hair pins, and two nerf ball sized pieces of foam, out of my hair. It was impressive. But everyone at the party told me I looked beautiful. :)

After the party I asked my hostmother how much a Kimono cost because I wanted to buy one to take back home. She laughed hysterically at me and I didn't understand why until she explained that a kimono like the one I wore cost about 20,000,000 yen. Or two million dollars......I think I'll just get a yukata. A less formal summer dress.

I talked to almost everybody in Japanese at the party and I understood most of what was said. My counselors both told me that my Japanese is getting a lot better and that they were impressed. I talked about winter vacation, my family, what I've been doing, school, etc. YAY!!!!!

My first host mother finally found a school that will teach a beginner foreigner karate or judo. I've wanted to try a martial art my whole time here because, I'm in Japan, I can't not even try it. So tomorrow my first host mother and I are going to this school to just watch for the day and then I can decide if I want to do it!!!!! Yes!!!!!

My friend and I are going to Kyoto in a few weeks which is a huge temple and tourist district. We are going to this store that does you're hair and makeup like a Maiko (a geisha in training) I'll get to wear a kimono again and we'll get to take pictures around Kyoto. I'm super excited!!!!! I have really wanted to see Kyoto and especially the golden temple!!!!

I'm also starting Japanese speaking classes this week, doing Sado club, going to the movies with friends, and at some point I may even consider sleeping.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sports Festival/ Christmas

The last two days at school have been a ton of fun. End of term testing just finished last week so this week on Monday and Tuesday we had a sports festival. The girls had Volleyball and Basketball tournaments and the boys had Soccer and Basketball tournaments. I played Volleyball for as long as my knees could stand (not long) and cheered the rest of the time. Everyone in the school participated unless they had a doctor forbidding them to play (my friend was just in a car accident a little over a month ago so she wasn't allowed to participate). Everyone had fun as far as I could tell and it was just a great two days and a really good way to blow off steam from the testing I think. Everyone asked me if we have this sports festival day in the U.S. and I said no but tried to explain pep rallies. I would LOVE to hear peoples outraged reactions to kids in the U.S. taking two whole days off from class to play sports in a mandatory tournament. I really like how no one freaks out about stuff like that over here. Not everyone is super athletic in Japan but everyone put in some effort and just had a good time. I loved it. I also loved the opening ceremony for the sports days, we all went down to the track and sat on the ground and then stood and bowed for different speakers talking about the tournaments and the rules. Then we all did the gym warm up that everyone does before every gym class (I can now do it all with out messing up, I'm so proud) The teachers did it too as just a nice opening to the day. The only thing I did not like was that it was cold this morning!!! And students are not allowed to wear hats or mittens or scarves, even on the way to school technically. Students hide them all in their bags and the second they get out of sight of the school they put them on. Theres no heat in the school so students in the back rows bring blankets to put over their legs during class and everyone brings in those little carbon heat packs that we put in shoes and mittens in NY.

There was a full lunar eclipse the other night that I guess could only be seen from Asia. I watched part of it but then I was so tired and cold I went inside and went to sleep. The beginning of it was still cool though.

I'm finding that my favourite parts of the day are sunrise and sunset. In the morning for the past few days I have been able to look out my east window and see the sky just beginning to lighten and look out the southern window to see the moon set. Its really cool but also kinda weird. And yeah I know you can probably see that happen any where in the world but I get to see it over Japanese mountains. So there.

I went to Kobe on Saturday for a Christmas party and got to see the "Illuminarie" or the Illumination. Every year for about a week Kobe sets up this absolutely incredible light presentation in memory of those who died in the great Kobe earthquake. To me it seemed like a simply wonderful way to remember people. The light show is incredible, words really can't describe it, there are castles and all sorts of patterns and designs and a long walkway, the whole time the most beautiful and haunting music is playing over speakers. Lights are set up in the mountains and the designs can be seen from miles away from the city sky scrapers. If it weren't for the music you would think it was a celebration, which it kind of is. It's difficult to explain, but I thought it was a wonderful way to remember people who had passed on. I also realized that songs of mourning sound the same in most cultures. I thought the music was in latin at first because it sounded so much like the songs you hear in churches on Good Friday or that choirs in the U.S. sing to mourn for victims of one tragedy or another. It was just something to think about.

On Sunday I went to Osaka with some friends and we found a place that sold this fried Pizza type of thing. It tasted nothing like NY pizza but it was the closest thing I've had in months so I was glad to take it. The rest of the day was spent wandering around Osaka and just hanging out with the other Exchange students. I lived the farthest away so I had to leave early. When I got home I wrote on my facebook wall "I just got home...." A lot of people from the U.S. "liked" this because they thought I had come home for Christmas. I didn't even think about it when I wrote this, because as I realized after the confusion, Himeji is my home now, I don't know exactly when this happened but I am just so glad that it did.

Wow I didn't realize how busy I'm getting. No wonder I'm exhausted. Oh well, its worth it. :D

Monday, December 5, 2011


So excited! I went shopping today and had almost no problems with my Japanese!!!! I went to four different shops, explained what I wanted when I couldn't find it, talked about color and price and size with out issues, and I got everything I wanted!!!!! YAY!!!!! The only time I had no idea what someone was saying was when the saleswoman was explaining some fashion characteristics and I have a feeling I would have been lost in English there. STILL!!! I had fun.

My new host family is awesome, I love playing with my little host brother. He is constantly running around and singing and dancing and just being 3. He loves saying my name, or the closest he can get to it, "Obibi" now the whole family calls me "Obibi" because its just easier than trying to say my name. Luckily I had two younger siblings who could not say my name for a long time as well so I answer to pretty much anything with an "O" sound in it.

I am having such a great time, I love my life. How insanely lucky am I to get to be here?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

New House

I changed houses yesterday and I am now two train stations west from where I was. My new host family consists of my host parents, their 23 year old daughter, and her 3 year old son. I am speaking a lot more Japanese in this house (and using a translator a lot more) but thats a good thing because it should help my language more. My little host brother is really cute and just learning how to talk so we talked about Micky mouse this morning. I get stuck sometimes when he uses words I don't know but he is always quick to help out; I think he loves being able to talk better than someone. lol. My new house is GORGEOUS!!!!!! OMG!!! and I really like my family. All in all I'm having a fantastic time here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Someone asked me for directions today! And more importantly I could give them!!!! Granted they wanted to know how to get to the castle and its on top of a hill in the center of the city and the road we were on led right up to the castle but STILL!!!! I understood what was going on and helped them out.

about 30 seconds later I was stopped by an elderly woman on the street and asked what country I was from.

Yesterday some friends and I went to Kobe to the aquarium and the beach. It was awesome!!! Its still in the 70's here  but no one in Japan goes swimming at the beach after August. Once the temperature is below 95 its WWWWAAAAAYYY too cold to go swimming. I, being from New York, went in the water anyway and it was wonderful. I'm currently driving my host mother crazy by wearing t-shirts around the house and outside. "It's winter" she says. "You must wear long shirts and wool sweaters". "Its 68 degrees and sunny" I say, "T-shirt weather". I was asked today if I wear t-shirts in winter in New York. Truthful answer is yes. She said that New Yorkers are crazy. Fair enough. Tomorrow I'm going to buy "winter clothes" so she wont worry so much, I don't want to drive her crazy I just only brought t-shirts thinking it would be warm here. I forgot that people have different ideas of warm. While I was rolling up my jeans and splashing around in the ocean most people were wearing turtle neck sweaters and wool socks. I feel bad for the kids from my area who are in NY and Washington. They must be dying.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thank You Notes:

So I almost caused a traffic accident the other day, and I wasn't even driving! While walking home from school and waiting for the light to change some guy driving his car down a busy highway thought it would be a great idea to stick his head out the window and turn around while driving to do a double take at me, comment that I'm white, and drive away. The other cars behind him did not appreciate this. I thought it was kinda funny. Thank you driver, for reminding me for the 8000th time that I'm a pale outsider here, I might have forgotten if you hadn't informed me thus.
On the same day, I was on the train with a group of 7-8 year old boys who looked like they were coming home from soccer practice. The were all running around and goofing off and being adorable. When we all got off the train at the same spot one of them spotted me. The following conversation with his friend was in Japanese but I understood enough to get the drift.
           "Look! Theres a foreigner behind you!"
            "No there isn't"
          "No really! Look behind you" (friend turns and looks at me, I pretend to not know whats going on, all of the kids do their best to not look like their staring at me.)

The kids all crowd together and whisper at this point. Thank you soccer boys, for putting me on the same level as spiders, bears, monsters, and snakes. Also, thanks for making me laugh.
Thank you Animae, for totally confusing me even with english subtitles, Japanese TV is very different and the cultural differences confuse me, there are huge differences in humor so even though I understand something is supposed to be funny based on the tone, I don't get the joke. Also, thank you for teaching me how to insult people.
Thank you Japanese language for not really having swear words, things are insulting based on the context their in but there aren't any words that are insulting by nature or forbidden on TV or anything. This makes it so I don't have to worry about accidentally using a terrible word that I didn't know was terrible.
Finally, Thank you Jimmy Fallon for writing your book of thank you notes and making me laugh.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Old rule: Eat first ask questions later. New rule: Don't ask questions

Twice today I have put food into my mouth that I had no idea what it was (this happens a lot) the first time it was a rice ball (a kind of sweet) the second time it turned out to be stomach.....I'm done asking questions. 

Today my city had an international festival. Stands representing countries from all over the world were set up in the part with food and costumes and all sorts of cultural events. Unfourtunatly I didn't get to see much of the festival because I was in a group with my school doing a sort of work shop. We listened to over 30 people give speeches about their travels around the world (I of course was asked to give a speech without notice) It was nice to hear all of the experiences but I would have liked to go around to the other stands to see what they were doing.