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?