Tuesday, July 27, 2010

#36 Goodbye

The last day was horrible.

The night before I left I had to say goodbye to Iri and Otosan. Otosan I just awkwardly bowed to and said my thanks in very bad Japanese unfortunately, but I tried my hardest to convey the gratitude I felt.

Iri, was another story. We both were bawling our eyes out. She had to take off her cute little glasses because she couldn’t see. That’s how hard she was crying. She hugged me, which I didn’t expect because she has an aversion to hugs, and I said goodbye. She had band practice in the morning so I excused myself so she could get some sleep.

At the train station, it was just me and Okasan. We got through all the tunnels and the traffic and eventually got to the right place at the right time. We waited with other YFU kids and their host families. The atmosphere was tense, thick with the anticipation for the train and also with the dread that came with knowing what the train will take away. When our train got there.. All we could say was goodbye.

I turned to Okasan. Who, at this point, really was like a mother to me. She ran to get me medicine when and I was sick, and packed my lunches for school, and laughed with me when I pointed out how starkly different our cultures were. And now, after 6 weeks, I have to say goodbye. It was just enough time for you to let someone into your heart and I did. It hurt so badly when I looked at her and saw the tears in her eyes.

I was crying. I was saying bye and how much I’ll miss her, putting off until the last possible moment to get on the train. She hugged me and, after what felt like just a few seconds, she let me go. I walked onto the train and sat down in my chair, clutching to the little bento bag she had pushed into my hands moments before.

Everyone in that compartment was wiping their eyes. Guys, girls, everyone. It was horrible.

Later, after everything got settled I opened my bento box. At the very bottom, just under my hot dogs was little note. It read “We love you forever. Love, Katos”

Monday, July 26, 2010

#35 Last Trip

For my last trip I went to a traditional Japanese Hotel.

Let me tell you, it was traditional too. We slept on futons, ate raw fish (to my distaste, unfortunately), and even bathed in P-U-B-L-I-C.

Yeah, that’s right I said it…

Futons! Those things are comfy… Much comfier then my little cot. Its like sleeping on a feather bed with absorbency of a Temour-Pedic. Heaven.

The raw fish, was really hard to avoid, but I did try some stuff..

And yes, public bath, I used one. If you know me. You would know that I am extremely self-conscious. I wouldn’t even think about being naked in front of anyone but perhaps a mirror. But, I did it.

Thankfully, it is more hygienic then it sounds. Everyone washes and SCRUBS their bodies before going in the baths and the water is being continuously cycled in and out of filters.

And I wasn’t that self-conscious because it was just Okasan, Iri, and I out there. Two other women drifted through while we were there but that was it. The part that really made it amazing was that the bath is on the top floor of the hotel so you get an incredible view of the (very few) stars and if you look over the rail you could even see out over the ocean.

After our baths we went and saw fireworks and saw the Red-Snap Fish being painted for the festival that was to be held the next day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

#34 Kosuke

This is totally girly and immature but...

I actually met a Japanese Guy that I was attracted to today. He was tall, muscular, had a Disney shirt on, and played basketball, plus his mother is an English teacher so he spoke the language pretty well.

Anyways, my host family and I went to a BBQ. Where I met Kosuke. He had the original Japanese Guy shyness at first, but he came around. His mother was practically shoving him at me and Okasan was basically doing the same to me. So we talked.

He recognized me from basketball! Oh my gawd! He saw me play in that crazy hot and humid torture of a gym where I looked nothing less then horrendous. I was mortified at first. But, I got over it, with time..

It was really cool to talk to someone who was the same ACTUAL age as me. In high school, I was in a class with the maturity level equivalent with that of an 8th grader. This conversation was so much better.

I had a great evening. Teenage summers are supposed to be filled with lots of flirtation and adventure. I had the adventure and it only took 5 weeks to get the flirtation part.

Friday, July 23, 2010

#33 Taco Party


Lets just say I made flour tortillas for everyone…

It was pure comedy watching them try to figure out how to eat the dang things. None of them had ever had one before nor seen one for that matter.

Most of them like it I think. It turned out all right.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

#32 Bowling with a side of Nachos

Definitely went bowling today!! Its more expensive here so its not as popular, but I pointed it out when we went to the mall one day so Okasan immediately planned our trip to the alley.

They were going to use the bumpers! You know the little rails they put up on the side of lanes to make sure you cant get a gutter ball? The ones for children??? I put my foot down on that one.

All I’ve been hearing is “Try This” “Challenge That” etc. etc. So I said “Here’s YOUR challenge. No Bumpers!!”

They were good too! Well, Tomoko and Mayuko were pretty good but the Katos were failing, a lot..

I kind of kicked their butts, but hey, I’m American, we have bowling classes… It was to be expected.

We took some Pirikura afterwards..

And even went to an American restaurant! I made them try nachos and root beer. My host sister was convinced that it was actually alcohol so she wouldn’t try it but my host mom did. She didn’t like it..

The Nachos were bomb though. I even got the name of the store they go to, to buy their beans so I could get some for when I make Tacos.

Monday, July 19, 2010

#31 7th Inning Stretch

Monday rolled around and I got to go see a Japanese professional baseball game! I absolutely love baseball. My father and I used to get season tickets to the Giants game. We would sit in the bleacher seats, eating our garlic fries and singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” at the top of our lungs. Those are all the things I remember the most vividly.

It is not the same in Japan.

First of all, the stadium is in a dome.

Something I’m not used to, with the California weather and all. You wont find any bleacher seats here.

Next, there is definitely no garlic fries. Even if there were, I don’t think it would have been the same, having to eat them with chopsticks and all. Lastly, there was no “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”. I know its an American thing, but somehow, I still expected it to happen.

All in all though, what the Japanese lacked in the traditional area, they made up for with all of their incredible enthusiasm. Everyone, and I mean, EVERYONE, was banging their sticks and shouting out loud. Participating in every little support cheer that flashed on the billboard thingy. It was really cool.

I was also amazed by all the younger people, ages 15-28, dressing up in their yukatas. I asked my host dad about and he said it was the “cool” thing to do. Who knew?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

#30 Nagashima Spa Land

I’ve been wanting to finish this blog forever. But alas, I have not, for fear that if I actually sit down and complete my story, I’ll admit that I’ve come home and that the adventure is actually over.

I’m going to do it though. So, here it goes..

The last thing I wrote about was leaving high school. I won’t play in the hot and humid gym anymore and I also won’t get to hang out with my Handa Buddies, but I do get to see my fellow YFU exchangers!

Sunday, we went to Nagashima Spa Land! It was a ginormous theme park. Waterworld and Six Flags combined. It was soooo much fun. Well worth the 5000 yen it took to pay for the ticket and transportation let me tell you. (AKA $50)

First of all, you weren’t even supposed to go in the park if you had tattoos. Tattoos! Very conservative. Three quarters of the population in America probably wouldn’t have been able to get in at that rate. No bentos allowed in either. Which sucked because my Okasan made hot dogs!

I hung around with the same people all day. We went on a huge ferris wheel.

Sunburned like the white people we are!

On top of that we conquered the monstrosity known as the Steel Dragon. It was crazy and also the obvious main attraction since the line for that ride was super long. Disneyland long…

We were singing Katy Perry’s California Girls to pass the time and getting gawked at like we were foreigners or something..

It was super awesome. Great day..