Monday, October 27, 2008

Skit Videos

These are videos taken of skits meant to teach some useful lessons about living with a host family. Performers are our Waseda helpers. Momoko, Asuka, Shouhei, and Yutaka (the lovely "girl"). Anyway, they're in Japanese, but still it's fairly obvious what's going on.

First skit: Sorry it starts in the middle, but I didn't think to take a video at first. What you missed: Yutaka was given natto (Japanese food that smells bad and looks like snot... most foreigners hate it and some Japanese people too) and said "she" liked it even though "she" really didn't... What will happen the next day?

Second skit.

Third skit.

Fourth skit.

Fifth skit. Probably my favorite.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Studio Ghibli Museum

Sorry, photos inside the museum are forbidden. Thought I'd get that out there before I get shot or something. I do have a couple of photos from outside though...

Anyway, I'll actually start before the museum with Friday. Friday it rained. Really really rained. As in I had an umbrella and still managed to get my legs and arms soaking wet. Not pleasant. However, it stopped raining in the evening which was good. That night Jeff, Rachel, and I went to a nomikai which is (adults close your eyes) a drinking party basically. There was food too. Delicious food. I had a lot of fun and met a bunch of really nice people including two Japanese boys that sat accross from us. One was Take (who was about my height and actually knew what area of the US New Mexico is in) and Shogu (who was adorably short as in about 5'2" and one ore two of those inches was his hair). In the picture is myself and Rachel. In Rachel's glass is this really yummy creamy stuff. There was also a delicious green apple drink and lots of beer. And soda and water if you wanted... Sorry we're all sweaty. It was really hot since we had little stoves going on the tables to cook our food. (Basically we dumped meat and veggies in sauces to cook then fished them out piece by piece with our chopsticks.)

So then yesterday was Studio Ghilbli museum day. As I said, no photos from the inside so I'll just have to tell you about it. They have several rooms that you go through and explore with stuff from different movies and there's always fun tunnels or tiny doors or spiral staircases to get places. There was also a big stuffed cat bus, but it was only for little kids so I could not play in it :( Anyway, there was lots of cool stuff so if anyone ever comes to Japan, try to get tickets (they have to be purchased in advance but they're only 1,000en). The only downside to the experience was getting the Ponyo song stuck in my head (Ponyo, Ponyo...those are the only words I know!)And in the above picture is Laura posing on the roof of the museum with the robot from one of the Ghibli movies I actually have not seen. Sorry.

Melissa, you can thank Kate for this photo as she is better at remembering food pictures than me. This was my lunch from the day at the museum. It's a "fish set" with fish, spinach, sweet potatoes and rice. They also served tea. Rachel was more successful eating her fish than me (or at least hers was prettier at the end). Stupid bones.

Also, in random news, birthdays in general are following my usual pattern (as in I always know people who share birthdays). Sarah (who was in the karaoke photos) has the same birthday as Mom, Su-chan's birthday is the same as Kathy's (which means it's also the day before Vammy's), and to top it all off, my host dad's birthday IS THE SAME AS MINE! Finally I've met another August 8th birthday! Though mine's still cooler being 8/8/88 and all (though it's less cool in Japan year as it's 8/8/Showa 63...silly emperors).

And that's what I've got for you today!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Japanese Festival!

Hon-Kawagoe festival! I went with Kate and her host mom on Saturday. It's a ways a way (it took me an hour and a half to get there), but it was lots of fun. Plus, it was a true cultural experience.

In the video you'll see a dashi (Jessa knows the kanji, mountain + car). They're really cool. The festival had at least 10 of them moving around, each with different stuff going on. The only downside of the festival was how crowded it could be, but you could put up with a lot because it was so fun.

This is a picture of sweet potato swirled with vanilla flavored soft cream (we know it as frozen custard). It's really really good. Seriously, very awesome. There was food everywhere at the festival. Chocolate covered bananas, lots of stuff on kabobs (including really yummy cucumbers), cotton candy, dumplings, and so much that I don't even know.

Next is a picture of a little stage that they had every block or so with musicians and the dancer. Very cool. When a dashi would come by, the dancers on each would often react to each other which was fun to watch.

This is for Mom. This sign was at a yakisoba booth (yakisoba is one of the tastiest things in the world by the way). Soba is buckwheat noodles.

Finally, this is a picture from a haunted house at the festival. I didn't go in (it was kind of expensive and that's no really my thing), but I thought it was interesting. The woman in the well rises up and down from it.

Anyway, today I'm off to Jimbocho to check out the used book store area there. Later!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Finally, what you've all been waiting for........

Su-chan! It's kind of obvious which person he is in this picture. On the left is Tomo-san, Mami's younger sister. And the man is Tomo's husband Hiroshi (called Hiro). Mami as you've probably figured out, is behind the camera. I tried to get a picture with her in it, but when I picked up my camera, it told me the battery was dead. And we all wanted to eat that delicious looking food on the table too much for me to run get new batteries. Notice that this is also a picture of food! On Tomo and my plates is pizza which sounds very American, but on portion of the pizza I was eating was tuna and corn. They have the weirdest topping here, but it's sooo good! The dish in the middle closest to the camera is salad on top of katsu (meat cutlets). The other dish is a cheese tomato thing, not really traditionally Japanese but very yummy. In my glass is plum wine (tastes kind of like Port though a bit less sweet). Tomo-san is drinking ocha (at least I think it's green tea). She's very pregnant so no alcohol for her. Hiro-san is drinking beer, if you couldn't tell.

Here's the karaoke video. I hope it decides to work this time... In this video: Jeff, Sarah, Rachel, Kate, and Laura.

Wednesday, I went to Harajuku with a bunch of people. I love that place. It's so unlike a lot of the rest of Tokyo. It's way more laid back (until you get into the posh area where all the designer stores are). I could easily shop there a lot. Kathy will be interested to know taht there were multiple little shops devoted entirely to socks and stockings. Actually, knee high and thigh high socks are very much the fashion here (though often paired with incredibly short skirts) as are leggings and tights (again usually worn under really short skirts or shorts). I bought two dresses while there.

Also in Harajuku, we went to a character store where I bought a new wallet and a day planner. Mom will like this. They had half of an entire floor of the shop devoted to Hello Kitty. The other half of that floor was Studio Ghibli. Totoro and Hello Kitty: two things that I've now been overexposed too...

Anyway, that's it for now!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Of Karaoke and Mt. Fuji

Nice blog title, yes? Very Japan-esque.

So it's been a week since I updated this thing! Wow! A lot has happened really. Last Wednesday we had our karaoke outing for Evil's birthday (and Mos Burger for lunch). Lots of fun. I had a video I wanted to stick up here, but Blogger hates my videos :( That's really not nice to all the people that read this blog! Oh well. I have some normal pictures. The first picture is Jeff, our token guy. This is actually the least creepy picture of him I think anyone has managed to take...usually he makes strange faces... And with Jeff is the star of the day, Laura. Next is Sarah grooving to the music in our underwater themed karaoke room. And the last picture is Rachel singing very dramatically. She was really actually very good at playing everything up. Incredibly entertaining.

Thursday was class. Apparently nothing else that day as I can't remember anything happening then. Friday, we had a program meeting at which we signed cards. One of our number had an abscess in her spine that had to be operated on: she's fine now. So there was that get well card. And more seriously even than that, Michiyo, our go to person who basically runs the Japan Study show here on the Tokyo side had a huge tragedy befall her. Her husband, a famous mountain climber here in Japan, died in a accident while climbing Mt. Everest. So there was a card for that. Not a happy meeting really.

Later Friday, I went to Shibuya with Laura, Jeff, Rachel, another Rachel, and another Laura (the other Rachel and Laura are not from our program, we met them in various classes at Waseda). There we bought cds, ate burgers and crepes, and tried to find someplace to play DDR.

And then there was the weekend. Yesterday was a national holiday here (Health-Sports day) so there was no class. Mami took me to her older sister's house in a town whose name I do not remember (something Atami, maybe?), but it was not Tokyo :P We took the Shinkansen which was pretty awesome (yes, they are insanely fast). And from the balcony at Mami's sister's one can see Mt. Fuji on a clear day (not well, but it's definitely there!). We did lots of going to playgrounds with the kids (Su-chan, Michi, and Ko-chan, all boys). Ko-chan was super adorable (Mom would love him, big, fat cheeks), but he cried if I looked at him too much. Must be my weird green eyes :P

We also ate TONS of sushi at this place with the conveyor belts. It was really cheap too (so we went twice). Seriously, us three adults and the three kids all ate for under 3,000en each time (3,000en is about $30). Here in Tokyo, sushi is really expensive so it was awesome to be able to eat like a pig.

And now you are all wondering where the pictures are. Sorry, I overslept Saturday morning and had to rush to get ready, so what did I forget? My camera. Mami took some pictures though so I'm going to see if she'll email them to me when she gets them on her computer. It might take a while though. Sorry guys.

The last big news is that I finally met my host dad last night. He was here when Mami, Su-chan, and I got back from Mami's sister's. We all went to curry together for dinner (Mami still doesn't quite believe me when I tell her that spicy foods are just fine with me, really). Anyway, my host dad is actually really tall, a few inches taller than me (about your height Dad). So I suppose I should qualify that with "for a Japanese man". Seriously, I feel tall almost constantly here.

Anyway, that's the news. There's probably more, but this post is incredibly long already so I'll leave it there.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Wow a lot has happened. In one of those life happens sort of ways.

Friday, I did just as I promised myself. Nothing. This did wonders for my cold which is now long gone. Yay! This weekend was really fun. Saturday morning Su-chan's nursery school had an undokai. Sorry, there is no real English translation; roughly it means "exercise party". Basically there's dancing and running and stretching and obstacle courses. Mostly it was just the kids that did these things but sometimes the audience got to join in. I had a pretty good time. And Su-chan is totally the fastest two-year-old of the bunch. He's going to be a jock when he gets older. After, we went to a park so that Su-chan could play. There we met a French family (French father, Japanese mother, two little boys). They all spoke English so I actually got to use three different languages which was pretty cool.

Saturday afternoon I just hung out in Shinjuku with Kate, Jeff, and Rachel. There was much wandering and an experience with severely overpriced cheesecake. We also had a long discussion about Japanese gestures that we thought was hilarious though I'm sure passers-by just thought we were nuts. Silly gaijin.

Yesterday was class and Laura's birthday. Rachel, Kate, and I had dinner at her host families which was super delicious. We had a good time just hanging out there and chatting. Her family must be rich though as their house is HUGE (by Japanese standards) plus they have a gigantic tv.

In the picture from left to right is Kate, Laura, me, and Rachel since this picture doesn't have a bajillion people in it, I can actually name them for you! All it needs are Sarah and Jeff, and you'd have my main friend group here all together. Sadly, Jeff had practice and Sarah had a prior engagement so they couldn't come. I promise to take pictures at karaoke and stuff tomorrow though, and they'll be there.

It was last night when I got home though, that things got...too exciting. Mami hurt her shoulder really bad somehow yesterday (she hasn't told me how...) so I got to call an ambulance and take care of Su-chan while she got brought in. Do you know what? It was the first time I'd ever actually ridden in an ambulance. I've been in one before, but it didn't actually go anywhere while I was in it. So I didn't get much sleep last night. Mom will sympathize as Mami now has a sling apparatus that she has to keep on for four weeks.

Today was not so fun at school due to the lack of sleep and the fact that I got told that there is no way I am allowed to move up a Japanese level despite the fact that everything is sooooo easy. The reason? The class above mine is full. Argh! So I just have to sit through a class that's frustrating for me because it's too simple. I'm here to learn Japanese, not review! I feel like this is middle school math all over again. Stupid placement tests seem to be out to get me. I did my best to move up though. I went all the way to the Japanese language coordinator for Waseda before I resigned myself to my fate. So annoying. At least I know there's a couple other people in my class that feel the same way I do. We've sort of created ouselves a little "this is too easy" support group for each other so we have people to complain to.

So anyway, that's what's happening. Last night and today were a bit hard, but I'm sure everything will be okay if not superb. At least I have karaoke tomorrow to look forward to...

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Hello everyone! It's been a few days! Life has gotten busier since classes started Monday. So far everything is mostly okay, but I really need to move up a level in Japanese. Way too easy! So hopefully soon though I'm starting to get frustrated as I keep getting a "wait one more class and see". I don't want to wait! I KNOW this class is too easy!

I also dropped linguistics and picked up an Asian religions class instead. The linguistics professor was rather boring. Plus, Watt-sensei (our resident director) teaches the religions class so that's cool. I really like him.

Also, ketai picture! I know my mom wants to see this... See? Bright pink! I actually think this is the best color that was offered because it's interesting. Plus, it seems like all Japanese girls have pink phones to the point that any other color seems incredibly masculine. The phone charm has a little bell in it so it rings :D

Also, this phone is way smarter than me. I haven't figured everything out yet (as everything's in Japanese), but this phone can do some amazing things.

Also, some of you may know that I went to Studio Ghibli (or rather, I walked by it since you can't go inside) because of Facebook. But for those of you that didn't know, here's proof! Cool, eh? This plaque isn't really very big (maybe two feet across) and it's the only sign saying what the building is. And since the studio is in this suburbian, residential setting, it's very quiet and out of the way. It's over by where my friend Kate lives with her host family. I'm actually a little jealous of where she lives because there's more space. She has three parks within walking distance. I live among office buildings right near the center of Tokyo. Not that I'm complaining since I really like my host family, but it's a bit of an adjustment for this small town girl to suddenly be in the big city.

So, on a downside, I have a cold. Luckily not a bad one, but it's still annoying because I'm all sniffly. Thankfully, I have no class Fridays so I can just laze around and feel better. Unless Mami and I go to Tokyo Tower (Mami is my host mom, cute yes?)

So one more picture because I want to make sure you can see the entire Japan Study group. There's a bunch of us so I won't be naming everyone, sorry. However, here we are in front of the Daibutsu in Kamakura. We ended up getting some random Japanese tourists to take this picture so we could all be in it. We actually got quite a crowd to gather to see the giant group of gaijin. Actually, I think it might just have been that we were blocking the stairs...

So that's all. I'm sorry I have yet to put up any pictures of food. I always forget as I'm usually way more interested in eating the food than pausing to take a picture. Someday I will remember though. I promise! Eventually the novelty of being able to find udon everywhere will wear off so I'll be able to snap a picture first, slurp up the noodles later. For now though, I just dig in. I might actually have to learn to cook here or I'll come back with no way to eat all the delicious things I'll have gotten used to here. I'm sure Mami will help me with that...

Well, then. Ja ne!