こんにちは 日本 ♥

Hello Japan~

Reflection December 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — anje @ 3:18 pm

Well my home-for-one-year-anniversary has come and gone. Sometimes Japan seems like it was just a dream. I think about my experiences often – almost daily. Every now and then I get a message on Facebook from Amy, “I miss Japan!”. I do, too.

Things I Miss (AKA Things Which You Should Not Take For Granted)
* Purikura
* Karaoke
* Schoolmate comradery
* Taking the train to school
* Being able to go anywhere via train or bus
* Having that invaluable bond with other exchange students (Sehee & Amy)
* Convenience stores and vending machines
* Bakeries
* Japanese drinks and candy
* Real ramen
* Food in general
* Onsen
* The tiny city streets and majestic castles
* Wearing a school uniform
* Shopping arcades
* The weird, random things that can only be Japanese
* Japanese TV
* Sleeping on a futon
* Hearing the sounds of the danjiri at night
* The sense of pride and accomplishment at finally feeling that sense of belonging

I know that I want to go back one day. I would like to live there again, this time on my own terms, and experience Japan outside of a teenager’s point of view. Perhaps I would teach English there for a little while. It would be nice to go back and be able to leave again on better terms.

 

Being Home September 13, 2008

Filed under: airplanes,canada,detroit,los angeles,returning — anje @ 10:25 pm

Okay, so here’s the deal with my return home.

I arrived in LA with under 2 hours in which I had to disembark the plane, go through immigration, get my luggage, go through customs, find the bus, ride the bus from terminal 6 until terminal 2, find the northwest counter, check in, go through security, and get to the gate.

Obviously, this didn’t happen. I had about 35 minutes until the plane left when I got to the Northwest counter. The lady there told me that if I’m not there 45 minutes before, they give away the seats! So I didn’t even have a seat anymore.

The best she could do was get me on the next flight to Detroit at 5pm and then I would have a 10 hour layover in Detroit and have to take the plane to Ottawa the next day at 10:30am.

So I had a lot of layover time, but after all it wasn’t so bad. I wandered around the airport in Detroit at 2am, ate candy, slept a little bit….

So finally, after like 30-something hours of travel, I arrived in Ottawa at 12:30 in the afternoon, September 11th.

I breezed through customs and my bags were off to the side waiting for me, so I was out of there in no time. I met my mum in the arrivals area and we went off to the car.

Next, we took a short shopping trip to Walmart and Globo, because I needed some stuff for my room at home, and I needed to buy some new shoes.

By the time we got home, it was 2:40pm, just in time to meet Asumi, my host sister! She’s really cute, and so sweet. We get along well 🙂

Also at home, there is Justine, a girl from France who is working with my mum on an experiment.

Being home is really strange; everything is sooooo different. I can’t stop pointing out differences. It’s weird to re-adjust, almost like I am an exchange student to Canada.

Anje, Asumi, and Justine

Me and my two host sisters, Asumi (Japan) and Justine (France)

Yesterday night we all went over to Helen & Paul’s for a “Welcome Home Anje” party. Asumi and I made a cake and Helen made pizza. Yum! 🙂

And today Mum, Asumi, Justine, and I all drove to Ottawa to explore the city a little bit. That was fun. Tomorrow we will go to the Spencerville Fair.

I am really enjoying being home, it feels like a 1000 pounds of stress, expectations, etc. has been lifted from my shoulders. I feel like I can finally be myself again! No more lieing!
Of course, I do miss a few things about Japan, but its mainly just Amy and Sehee. And public transportation. And yummy candy.

 

Stranded September 10, 2008

Filed under: airplanes,los angeles,returning — anje @ 3:27 pm

Yes, yes I am stuck in America.
I didn’t make my flight from LAX to Detroit…
So now I get a 10 hour layover in Detroit…from 1am until 10am.

YESSS.

More on my craptastic life later.

 

Saying Goodbye September 5, 2008

Filed under: returning,school — anje @ 9:14 am

So after lunch, I went with Sehee to Korean class.
The teacher then informed me that I was supposed to go to a party during 6th period instead of taking the 2nd hour of Korean…I hadn’t heard of this plan, so I was like, “ok, then…”
So Sehee and I went upstairs. Sure enough, Mai was directing the class on how to arrange their desks. Wondering if we should be there (was it supposed to be a surprise?), Sehee and I took a short walk around the halls before returning.
We got back, and I was directed to my seat between Sehee and Oka-Sensei. Then, Uno did a short speech saying, “Good job; good luck!” or something along those lines. Then Kento went up and was like “Arrarghsjdnsddsns……LETS EAT!”

Sehee, Anje, and Mai

Me and Sehee (Korea) and my friend Mai

We passed around food and drink and meanwhile I talked to Oka-Sensei. Then Daisuke, Uno, and Kento came over and did a little interview with me. That was cute. Love the boys 🙂
After that, when the food was finished, we took some class pictures. I’m glad I finally have a picture of everyone!

Oh, so earlier in the day, I went to 1-C for Home Economics. And Shota, who’s really cute, turns around and asks if I’m really leaving. I was like, yeah, I am. Then he asked about what I would do when I got home.
Anje: Well, finish school; go to university…
Shota: EH!?!!! UNIVERSITY!?!! HOW OLD ARE YOU
Anje: Uh…18.
Shota: EEEEEEEEHHHHHHHH!?!?! I AM 15!!!
Me: Haha….oh my.
Shota: Are you…..going to marriage?
Me: Uh…WHA?!?!
Shota: Get married? When you go back to Canada.
Me: EHHHH?!?! WTF NO NO NO NO!!!
Shota’s Friend: Isn’t that a bit early?
Me: YES!
Shota: Yeah, I guess…haha.
Me: WTF!

Anyway, tomorrow will be my last day of school. I’m a little sad, just because I will miss my classmates a bit. We’re not good friends, but they’re cute and happy and I did have some good times with them. Still….I can’t wait to be home.

1-B Class Photo

Me and my class, 1-B

I am leaving September 10th. I will take the Shinkansen to Tokyo Narita, and from there take the plane to LA. From LA I have to take the plane to Detroit and finally, from Detroit to Ottawa. My plane leaves Narita at 4:45pm and I arrive in Ottawa at 10:30pm or so.

 

Going Home September 2, 2008

Filed under: host family,returning,school — anje @ 3:44 am

I hope that I don’t disappoint anyone here.

But I have made the decision to cut my exchange in half.
Well, tecniqually, it will be nearly 6 months in Japan.

There are a lot of reasons, both personal and program related.
In short, I have found that after getting over the “honeymoon stage”, Japan isn’t the country I thought it was. Unfortunately, I just can’t cope with the negative aspects of life here. It’s not something I can ignore. People are so two-faced.
Additionally, I am unhappy and school and I am being charted around from host family to host family every few months. I tried to fix these problems, but nothing much came of that.
Lastly, I think that 5 months is enough for me, like this. Perhaps, in a few years, I’ll come back to visit. I find that there are more important things for me to be spending my time on, rather than being unhappy here.

Please don’t judge me for this.
I thought about this decision for over a month.
I feel some regrets, but mostly relief and happiness to be returning home.
I will miss my best friends, Amy and Sehee, SO SO much.
I almost considered staying just for them.
But I know that we’ll meet again because we are too close not to.

I’ll be leaving sometime next week.
I don’t know when yet, but I will keep posting and I will write about what life is like back home.

Quite honestly, I’m a little scared.
I don’t know how to live in Canada anymore.
Japan is just so….natural.

 

Tennoji August 27, 2008

Filed under: art,shopping,tennoji,train — anje @ 4:53 am

This afternoon, I met Amy at Nakamozu, and we took the subway together to Tennoji Station.
Our plan was to find and visit Shitennoji temple…Only, Tennoji station is MASSIVE and the temple was a 15 minute walk from the station.
So we wandered around for a little while, and eventually I started examining the bus maps. All of a sudden, this Japanese guy comes up and goes, “So! Where are you guys headed?!”
Me and Amy were like “AHH WTF!” and I was like, “Ummm….Shitennoji….,” not sure if I should reply in Japanese or English.
He goes, “Oh, can you speak Japanese?”
“Yes, a little,” I reply.
“Ok, I’ll go ask the man,” he says, and walks over to talk to one of the traffic managers.
He comes back and tells us to go right and then straight and that we’d see it.
Me and Amy thanked him profusely, and as we walked away, Amy said, “That guy is SO at the top of my favourite people list.”
So we followed the directions and eventually found the temple. We paid 200 yen to get in, and took some time walking around and taking photos. Apparently Shitennoji is the oldest officially administered temple in Japan. It was the first temple built by the state.

Shitennoji

Shitennoji

After that, we walked back to the station to find lunch. We ended up eating at MOS Burger, but found the tacos to be lacking.
We walked around, exploring the underground for a little while before deciding to hit up the Osaka Municipal Art Museum. We paid another 200 yen to get in, and spent a while looking at vases, cups, paintings, tapestries, and statues.

Tennoji Park

Tennoji Park (With the reflection of the art museum)

After the museum, we checked out a bit of Tennoji Park. We walked around a small pond, where there were many loose cats roaming around!
Then we went back to the underground and went home.
It was a good day in Tennoji! I am glad to explore more of Japan.

 

4 Days in Okinawa August 22, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — anje @ 9:43 am

August 18th, 2008

This morning, Akiko and Moe took me to Kintestu station so that I could catch the Airport Limousine to Kansai Airport. Kansai is a really neat airport, because Japan basically built an artificial island so house the airport! The busride was about an hour long, and when I got to the airport, I went to the JAL counter to meet Mama and Papa. I eventually found them, and soon after Amy arrived too.
We checked in and then went through security, which was pretty lax since we were taking a domestic flight. We didn’t have long to wait in the waiting area before they started boarding our plane to Okinawa!

Airplane to Okinawa

Airplane to Okinawa

The flight itself was only about an hour and 40 minutes long. It went by like nothing. We landed, collected our bags, and then went to the car rental place to pick up our navy blue Mazda. After getting the rental car, Papa drove us to our hotel, the Loisir. It was a pretty fancy place, I felt so spoiled with the doormen opening t he doors for us, carrying our luggage, escorting us to our rooms on the 8th floor. Amy and I settled into our room and Mama and Papa went to the room next door.

Kokusaidori

Kokusaidori (International Street)

After settling in a bit, Amy and I went on an adventure to find Kokusaidori, or International Street. It’s basically a massively long street filled with restaurants and souvenir shops. It took a little trouble, but we eventually found the place. We explored a little bit and then went back to the hotel by 9pm.

August 19th, 2008

Me and Amy went down to the lobby of the hotel to eat breakfast with Mama and Papa. It ended up being not very delicious, and pretty expensive, unfortunately. By 9:30, me and Amy boarded a Naha city bus, bound for Shurijo. Shurijo is the castle of Naha city. It’s the seat of the Ryukyu kinds. It was very beautiful, I really am fond of the vermillion red the Japanese use in their architecture.

Shuri Castle

Me at Shuri Castle

After exploring the castle, we attempted to find a bus stop. We didn’t have any luck, so instead we walked maybe 3 kilometers back to Kokusaidori. There, we found a small restaurant in which we had a traditional Okinawan meal – taco rice! It’s exactly what it sounds like, taco fixings on top of Japanese rice. So delicious!
After lunch we walked around Kokusaidori some more before making our way back to the hotel. From there, we packed our beach things and tried to find Naminoue Beach. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find it, so we had to hire a taxi to bring us. Me and Amy spent a few hours at the beach, suntanning and swimming in the lovely algae water.

Taco Rice

Taco Rice

For dinner, Mama and Papa brought us to a Japanese steakhouse restaurant. There, a chef cooked for us personally, right on our table. We had a huge meal, including some crazy shrimp crackers, beef, tofu, and salad.

August 20,2008

Today, Amy and I got on a tour bus at Naha Terminal at 9am. We took a tour bus to explore northern Okinawa Island. Our first stop was Ryukyu Mura, or Ryukyu Village. We walked around a traditional Okinawan-style village and even got to see a really neat farming dance performed! It was really awesome!
The next stop was a very beautiful cliff overlooking the sea, called Manza-mo. The Okinawan sea is sooo beautiful and blue and the cliffs were so grassy and lush. It was a really pretty area.

Manza-Mo

Manza-Mo (Field Large Enough for 10,000 Men to Sit)

Next was lunch, which was at an Okinawan sweets shop. Amy and I had taco rice again – yum! In Okinawa, the traditional foods are pineapple, purple sweet potatoe, and goya (a type of bitter cucumber maybe?). The purple potatoe is actually really good! They even make soft serve purple potatoe icecream!
After lunch, we continued on to the Okinawa Aquarium. We spent 2 hours there, looking and fish and whale sharks, watching a dolphin show, seeing manatees and sea turtles, and wading in Emerald Beach.

Emerald Beach

Me at Emerald Beach

The last stop was Fruitsland, which was basically a giant garden of tropical fruit plants, but the guide pretty much ran us through there, so I didn’t have time to see anything! There were some pretty birds and butterflies too, in their respective sections.
By that time, the tour was over, which was great because Amy and I were SOOOO tired from all the walking we did!!

August 21, 2008

Unfortunately, today was our last day in Okinawa!
Amy and I met Mama and Papa in the hotel lobby at 9 and we checked out. We drove to breakfast, where we had toast and yogurt and feasted on the juice bar.
Then we continued the drive to Okinawa World. The first thing we saw there were the caves. We took something like 230 stairs while exploring the deep, wet caves beneath the park. It was really neat, and a really nice temperature too!

Habu Alcohol

Poisonous Snakes to make Habu Alcohol

The cave walk took maybe 30 minutes, and after that we explored Okinawa World. We saw pottery and glass and some fruit plants. We explored some traditional style Okinawan houses and watched a traditional dance being performed. Amy got her picture taken with a python and we tried drinking a sample of habu alcohol, which is brewed from snakes. Yes, snakes. It actually tasted kind of like wine mixed with cinnamon and had a bit of a burn. It’s VERY expensive stuff and is supposed to make you healthy and energetic.
On the way back to the car rental place, we stopped at A&W for lunch. Since there is a bunch of military bases on the island, Okinawa is actually a little bit Americanized. I’ve never seen an A&W in Japan before.

Okinawa Purikura

Me and Amy in Okinawa Purikura

Anyway, we brought back the car and then made our way back to the airport. We had a few hours to kill before our plane left, so we looked in some shops, did some purikura, and then went to sit in the waiting room.
Our plane left at 4:20pm, and the flight home seemed short. I took the airport limousine back to Kintetsu Station, and from there I flagged a cab and kind of fumbled my way home.

 

Obon August 13, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — anje @ 9:36 am

Japan-wide, today is a special day, where the Japanese people go to graveyards and temples to honour their ancestors. As Akiko put it, there are people hanging on her shoulders. I think it’s a feeling of guilt if you don’t go.

Osaka Temple

Osaka Temple I went to for Obon

Akiko, Moe, and I biked maybe 3 minutes to the nearby temple to attend the morning service there. We signed in at the front gate (where Moe received a bag of sweets) and then we entered the main temple building, taking our shoes off first at the foot of the steps. We were a bit late, so we had to sit on the side rather than on the actual tatami mats. Akiko gave me a set of prayer beads and a prayer book, and I held the beads and followed along with the monks’ chanting. It’s actually really difficult to follow!
At one point, we got up from our seats and went down the main aisle. We approached the three gently steaming bowls at the front of the room. I had to sit in seiza, hold my prayer beads in my left hand, and throw a pinch of scented wood chips or something into the large metal pot with the other hand. Next, I put my hands together and prayed. Everyone who came to the service had to do this.
After, there was more chanting. Then the head priest did a sort of sermon and then the monks played some music and sang a song.
At one point, one of the helpers was taking photos, and she definitely took photos of me! I suppose it’s unique for them to have a gaijin at their temple! It was just a small little place. Anyway, the priests were adorable and thanked me for coming when I left.

This evening I went to dinner with Obaachan, Ojiichan, Akiko, and Moe. We biked maybe 5 minutes to this cute little restaurant. Japanese restaurants are so different. Instead of getting just a one-plate meal, instead we had gyoza, fried cheese, fried chicken, chicken legs, pork, onigiri, squid fries, etc. etc. After dinner, we biked to a bakery and ate dessert. I had some fruity parfait thing. It was pretty delicious.

 

Nodahanshin August 10, 2008

Filed under: host family,shopping — anje @ 1:43 am

Yesterday, I took the subway to Nodahanshin, which is the nearest station to Sehee`s house. I met her at the station, and we walked back to her apartment together. It`s kind of small, and a little dirty (her host parents both smoke and drink a lot), but still kind of cozy altogether.

Her host mom came home from work, and I only had time to say my name and good evening before she told me to sit down and started doing my hair. After my hair was done, Sehee`s host grandmother helped me into my yukata, which is a summer version of the kimono. I wore a tanktop and a sheer white cotton underskirt that tied around the waste. Then I put on my yukata, which was then tied twice with a white cotton cord. Lastly, She wrapped me up in my obi, which is kind of like a belt, or corset and kind of keeps everything all together. The way the back is tied is very important.

Once Sehee was all finished up, we slipped into geta, or wooden sandals, and proceeded to head back to the station area to do purikura! However, a little over halfway there, it started pouring rain! The two of us took shelter under the roof of a small tabacco shop. By the door was a canister that had a few umbrellas in it. We contemplated borrowing one (without asking) but in the end Sehee got up the nerve to ask the nice ojichan who ran the store if he could lend us an umbrella. So he comes out with this nice, new umbrella and tells us we can keep it! It was pretty sweet of him, but we had already been standing there for 10 minutes!!

With the umbrella, we made our way to the purikura machines. It was really busy, and many other people wearing yukata were taking purikura. On the way home from the purikura extravaganza, we were able to see some of the fireworks lighting up the sky. Unfortunately, by the time we had walked home, we missed all the fireworks. They were only on for about half an hour.

After getting home, we changed out of our wet, hot yukata and back into normal clothes. We ate dinner with Sehee`s host parents and a bunch of their friends. Afterward, we took our bathes.

While I was in the bath, Sehee knocks on the door and says, `Uh, Anje someone needs to use the toilet. It`s a girl.` So I was like, okay, that`s fine. So the girl came and left. But then, I hear a man`s voice saying, `Sorry, just using the toilet!` and I`m kind of like AHHHHH!!!!! That was slightly uncomfortable. I was just about to get out of the shower too! So then I had to sit there and wait for him to finish before I could leave.

The next morning, we went with Sehee`s host parents to this really cheap mall near Namba. From there we walked the whole of Shinsaibashi back to Namba station and then I went home.

When I got home, everyone was gone. The front door was locked. I do not have a key for the front door. I went over to the grandparents house to see if they could help. No one home there either. I checked all the windows and finally found that the ones to the living room were open….They are also slightly small. I found a wooden bench and brought it around to the window. It was too short and I couldn`t reach. I looked around for a while before finding a ladder. I took the ladder around to the side of the house, and somehow I dropped into the window, sliding sideways and landing feet first!

My host family will get a kick out of that story!

 

Next Family August 7, 2008

Filed under: host family — anje @ 4:02 am

Today I got the new information on my next host family.

I`ll still be in Osaka city, a bit closer to Namba I think.

I`ll be living with the Onishi family, which included a dad (pharmacist), mom (nurse), sister (17), host brother (15), and grandma (71). They also have  2 dogs.

They sound pretty nice, except for that I`m only with them for 1 month! I am only with my current family for a month too.

Life kind of sucks.