Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Normal Stuff

There's nothing super interesting to report at the moment, but I will report nonetheless!

A few days ago, a package came in the mail with the pottery that my host family made oer Golden Week while we were in Atami. If you recall, I also made a piece of pottery while I was in Minakami. I got that one sort of recently too so I thought to put up pictures of the finished products.

The one one the left is the one I made in Minakami, and the one on the right is the one I made in Atami.

Event-wise, things have been pretty quiet. This is partly because of some trouble with my cell phone over the weekend. Seeing as my friends live scattered about Tokyo, a cell phone is an absolute necessity if you want to have a social life. But mine wasn't working (I got it all worked out yesterday though so yay to that). Unfortunately, my weekend was rather boring because of that.

Yesterday was the one kind of cool thing. My Japanese class had another field trip (you may remember that last semester we went to a traditional Japanese sweet shop). This time we went to Shibuya to visit NHK Studio Park. NHK is the big public owned broadcasting company here in Japan (when I say public, think more like BBC and less like PBS). It was pretty fun though not super amazing. However, the tickets were paid for by our tuition so we didn't have to worry about money (except for transportation as I actually have to pay to go to Shibuya since it isn't on my commuter pass).

This is Bobby from my Japanese class pretending to be a newscaster on NHK's Ohayoo Nippon (morning news program, the title tranlates as "Good Morning Japan").

And just for fun, last night Mami and I were teaching Su-chan how to do the peace sign for photos.

He is one cool kid isn't he?

Monday, May 18, 2009

I can't seem to catch up with this blogging thing anymore...

Okay, sumo.

My program emailed us a couple weeks before the tournament saying they would buy us tickets to see sumo if we wanted to pitch in 1000yen. Since the tickets were 4900yen this was a super good deal. I decided to go since, hey, I'm in Japan and sumo is a very Japanese sort of experience.

It's a rather interesting sport though like baseball you get a few moments of motion and excitement followed by waiting for something to happen for a while. This is because they do their sumo stomp thing, look at each other, walk to the side of the ring so they can throw salt on it, look at each other, throw more salt, stomp, throw salt, stare at each other, then finally they actually wrestle. It's a very slow process. So I actually left a bit early since I got bored... I have some pictures for you though.

These are the top-ranking wrestlers I think. Sorry it's a bad picture. I was at the top of the stadium...

Here's an actual match. If you step outside that ring you can kind of see, you lose. You also lose if you fall down.

Following sumo was a week of school, normal hanging out, and babysitting. Nothing to report there. Then the weekend happened and it was pretty busy. Saturday I hung out with my friend Caitlin in the Baba area (the are near Takadanobaba station for those who don't know my Tokyo slang). And guess what? We got haircuts! Not a great picture I know, but I'm not very good at taking pictures of myself. Caitlin and I tried to get one of us together but it was so windy that day that you couldn't actually see what our hair looked like.

Sunday is the really exciting bit though. We went to DISNEYLAND! By "we" I mean Lydia, Rachel, Sacchan (he did karaoke with me, see the Golden Week post if you don't remember), and Hide (don't worry, I haven't mentioned him before since I didn't know him).

Sadly, the weather was not ideal, but it managed to not rain (probably because we all brought our umbrellas) so that was good. We went on the Star Wars ride, drove little cars and little space shuttles, went on Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Snow White ride, the Buzz Lightyear ride (where I totally sucked at shooting stuff), and probably a couple other things that aren't surfacing at the moment. We wanted to do Space Mountain, but it was closed! For renovations or something like that. Sad.

Here we have a photo of our group in front of the Mickey statue. From left to right is Sacchan (his actual name is Satoru), Hide, Rachel, and Lydia. Look like we're having fun, don't we?

Here we have Belle and her prince on one of the parade floats. Now let me tell you how Japan and America are way different. This picture was taken from a sitting position. Seriously. About three meters deep was apparently the "sitting section" to watch the parade. People just sat on the ground (or more commonly on sheets of newspaper so they could take their shoes off...go with it). Then behind this "sitting section" was the "standing section". Lydia, Rachel, and I discussed how in America everyone would be standing and trying to get the best vantage point, but everyone at this parade was super polite. I love that about this country.

Also, Belle appears to be a foreigner. I wonder if it's a fun job? Because I would do it. That or drive one of the giraffes that were in the Lion King section of the parade.

And here we have Sully waving at us. I like it when I get good pictures like this. A lot of my photos from the parade are a tad blurry due to the whole moving thing. I took several videos too since that was easier, but they take forever to upload so they aren't all going in here. Sorry, I'm an impatient person.

And finally we have a lovely picture taken at night. It actually came out a lot better than I thought it would. I was worried the castle wouldn't show up. As it is, it looks rather pretty and fairytale-esque I think.

Sadly the wind was super crazy and it got rather cold. We were going to watch the light parade, but with the wind like it was, we figured it would be canceled (they almost canceled the other one earlier and things had only gotten worse). Instead we left a bit earlier than we had planned. However, lot of fun was still had.

My favorite ride was Splash Mountain. I really like the steep drops so even though it was a bit cold to be splashed, it was still super fun. I actually didn't get very wet though Hide, who was sitting next to me got splashed pretty good.

So, there. I am now caught up with my blogging! No more! Until something else interesting happens I guess.

I am going to give you one video that I took during the parade. The floats and stuff were so cool!

video

Ja ne!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Golden Week

First I'll apologize that this took me so long to write since Golden Week was May 2-6 (though for me it was April 30-May 6). I've found that when I have a lot to blog about, I don't want to actually sit down and blog because it takes too long.

Golden Week is a series of national holidays in Japan resulting in almost a week of vacation. For me it was an entire week since I got the Thursday and Friday previous off as well (yay for Waseda).

My vacation began Wednesday night (April 29) with all night karaoke. Karaoke places are generally open 24hours and from 11pm-5am you can get really cheap prices (less than 1000yen per person for the whole six hours and that was including the mandatory drink). There were six of us: Lydia, Cory, Chinami, Erika, Sacchan, and myself. We had a really good time though by the end we were all pretty wiped (especially Cory who actually spent the last couple of hours sleeping). This threw my sleep schedule temporarily out of whack but I managed to get back to normal pretty quickly since I had no class Thursday or Friday. Here we have a video of Chinami and Cory singing some High School Musical. They were good, especially Chinami.

video

Friday, I was up and out of the house early since I was meeting some friends in Yokohama before heading out to Enoshima for some beach time. Sadly I could not spend long at the beach since I had to be back by four in order to babysit. I did get a good couple of hours in the sun wading in the water and flying a kite. It was lots of fun.

Saturday was all about relaxing for me. The only real thing I did was pack for my trip with my host family to Atami.

We left on Sunday morning and met up with Tomo and Ryo-chan at Omote-Sando station where we boarded the Romance Car (name of the train, I am not kidding). Jeremy joined us on the Romance Car at Machida. After another transfer, we got to Atami Station where Hiromi's (Mami and Tomo's older sister) husband picked us up. This visit we stayed with some friends of Hiromi's because her house is not quite big enough for that many guests though Tomo and Ryo-chan stayed with her. Hiromi's friend Izumi and her husband Kei have a wonderful house and an adorable daughter named Lilia (four years old). We had a great time.

That first day, we had a barbecue for lunch and tempura for dinner. After the children went to bed, the adults stayed up and did some home karaoke in the basement. It was a bit hard because the only English songs were older ones that I didn't really know.

The rest of the time we spent going to parks and other cool place and generally playing a lot. Since we had four small children, there were a lot of parks and other fun stuff like that. We also made pottery, visited a castle (Odawara-jo), and ate at a kaiten sushi place (conveyor belt sushi). When at Kei-san and Izumi-san's house, we amused ourselves by playing with their dog, and jamming with the various instruments available (my favorite was the drum set, I kinda want to learn to play drums now...) then after the children were in bed, the adults would stay up until way too late playing cards so that even though I was on vacation, I didn't get enough sleep (because no matter how much you want to sleep in, two-year-olds will wake you up at 8 if not before).

Here we all are getting ready to make some pottery (Back row: Kei-san, Izumi-san, Hiromi-san holding Ko-chan, my host dad, Bottom row: Mi-kun, me, Lilia-chan, Jeremy, Su-chan). Mami must have been taking this photo.

One of the parks we went to. Here we have Mi-kun and Su-chan on a bridge. Su-chan really loves his cousin and Mi-kun was very good about playing with Su-chan.

This was during our little jam session. Mami was singing, Kei-san on the guitar, and my host dad (or I guess I should call him Goro, which I believe is his nickname) with the rain stick.

So there is a bit of a story behind this photo. Jeremy has tattooed lines on his fingers that when he puts them to his face looks like a mustache. Mami, Hiromi-san, and Izumi-san all thought this was hilarious so they took a sharpie and drew on their own fingers. Here is the result (you can tell Mami and Hiromi-san are sisters can't you?)