Friday, February 11, 2011

Only for the brave and true...

When someone tells you you:re going to get naked in front of a front of old Japanese ladies and enter boiling water so that you can relax, it often throws you for a loop.

Luckily I wasn`t thrown for this loop, mostly because after the gym in the locker room my host mom said
"Alexa, want to go to the spa," and when I turned around to answer her she was completely nude and I was left with out a choice.

Now, onsens are very  popular in Japan, for the young and old. They are /usually/ seperated by girls and guys. Elementary children go to them on school trips as do college students with theyre friends.
They are basically large hot springs were everyone bathes, naked.
To be honest, they are extremely relaxing, and besides never figuring out how to place the towel so it covers both my upper body and my tooshy, it was all and all an enjoyable experience.

The day started off with me having my once monthly break from rhythmic gymnastics which I spend 40 hours a week at. So, logically, Id spend my day at the gym.
We (me and my host mother) went to four classes. All of which proved on an extreme level how utterly uncoordinated I really am.
The first class, a street jazz class, was all just a blur a limbs going every where. The next class was more easy, just a lot of sexy dancing, which all, except for the 21 year old teacher, failed at.
I finally got control of my legs and arms in the last class, Zumba. It was latin dancing, and as the whitest girl in the class, I managed to actually not run into anyone.
I smiled the whole time as confusing as it was. This can be attributed to the fact that we all looked like day old fouls told to samba and that there was another foreigner in the class.
And I wanted to be the fun foreigner.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentines Day

Today I was at the top of a hill that looks over the school when I saw my friends at the bottom talking about something with the kind of intensity most people reserve for talking about serious topics like global warming and Twilight.
I of course began running down the hill (in loafers and a skirt) which is not a good idea for anyone. It would have been less scary riding a toboggan down a mountain made of concrete then running down this hill. In two steps I had managed to fly head first down which to my complete and utter surprise turned into a round off, back hand spring, doubled axel, landing me perfectly in front of my friends.

"What are you guys talking about"

Ths should come of no surprise considering Valentines day is Monday and everyone has one plan for the weekend. Make chocolate.
In Japan, it is not for the boy you like or say you boyfriend. Girls give to girls.
Which I think is great because not many guys appreciate dark chocolate the way I do.

Weve spent the last week of lunch time on "Cook Note" reviewing chocolate recipes and telling people to make chocolate for us, which I feel is a lot like telling someone to get a Birthday present for you.

All the girls make chocolate, except one girl at my table who said it was "troublesome." Which got her unceremoniously kicked out of the group at least until she said shed make cake.

This is me updating my blog...

There will be limited punctuation since in the 6 months Ive been here Ive yet to work out how to find the comma or semicolon on here.
Im sitting in the school library, the only place that has a computer, typing on a computer Im pretty sure is a collectors item now with a keyboard that likes to switch into Hirgana, Japanese text, at any random たのし。

If you were not aware, I joined volley ball back in September or so.
If you were also not aware I quit volleyball back in December or so.
Then I joined rhythmic gymnastics, because Ive always wanted to be able to touch my forehead to my middle back.

Rhythmic gymnastics is basically summed up as me getting into the splits
Teacher: Good job. Now touch foot to nose.

However, Im on the team with four other girls who are all fun in there own way, which is why I continue to push through over 30 hours of practice a week.
The coach is a character. She is all about the feeling. If I could find the qoutes on this keyboard Id put the word feeling in qoutes, mostly because I have no idea what the feeling is and neither does anyone else.
She will give us long lectures on being in synch. The only reason I even slightly understand her lectures is  because the girls translate them into sketchy english.
Teacher: *Five minute lecture* Make english.
Girls: ....
       Open your mind.

This is the point where I nod while trying not to laugh. Ive been told on multiple occasions that the feeling is not a laughing matter.

As I said, the team has five girls.
The first girl is Asoka. Shes five feet tall and all muscle. Shes been doing Rhythmic since she was 8 and has the ability I spoke of before of touching her forehead to her back. Except she can also point her toes at the same time. She is the only one who adores Rythmic gymnastics.
The other girl, Mizuki, is also five feet tall. However, while Asoka manages to pass for Id say the age of 14, Mizuki literally looks about 12 years old. She can also contort herself into crazy poses but she prefers to make stupid faces at the coach when her back is turned and complain about how much she hates this club.
Akane is in my class and also Rhythmic Gymnastics. She eats a brownie every day before practice and then tells the coach how well her diet is going. She is of non-midget height and the loudest girl who has ever tackled me in the hallway on a day to day basis. It would be weird if this wasnt normal Japanese girl behavior.
Lastly there Ayane. She is a manager, or so she calls herself, mostly because half the time she doesnt want to stretch. She tries very hard to traanslate everything into english for me, which more often then not results in us both being more confused then when we started talking.

Ill be going out with the girls to make chocolate this weekend for Valentines day. These will definantly be some of the people Ill miss when I come home (July 1st!)

So, Ill leave you with some inspirational advice Ayane just mailed me:

I boloster you as long as I can do.

^I have no idea what it means either.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I just got back from volleyball, which currently owns my life.
I am so happy to have a break I turned down plans to socialize. I need a nap.

But the other day, Tuesday actually, was Old People's Day. Basically, we get off school so we can celebrate old people. Which I am all for.
So me and my host sister/class mate, Hikari decided to go shopping that day. But the highlight of the day was PuriKura.

PuriKura is essentially a jazzed up photoboth.
They are extremely popular in Japan and when you go into the mall, a dollar store, and grocery store, you always see a PuriKura booth. (Pronounce Pure-E-Cure-a.)
We went to Takamatsu mall which happened to have about 20 purikura booths. And this things arn't small. That's because for one, you stand in them. They can fit up to 10 people standing. And then there is also a part of the booth you use to decorate the puri kura. You'll see in the pictures below.

So you walk in and it is basically a small white room. And in front of you is a touch screen you use to select your background and stuff.

It takes about 6 pictures and once you are done you go around to the part where it gives you 2 minutes, (timed which creates hectic, last minute disasterous designs) to decorate all of them. You and the person your with each have a screen and you basically you add a bunch of little pictures and writing to it. You can add onto the other person's design too.

Once you are done. You wait outside the booth. In the one booth, we played a game that was like that game you play when you're little and have cards laying on the floor picture side down and can pick up two at a time to see which ones match. The memory game. That was this. With other people's purikura. On a touch screen.

I, being a memory game champ, rocked this. For my effort I receieved some false eyelashes.
Just because Japan would have it's machines give you false eyelashes.

My favorite part about the machines was how it beautifies you... asian style.
It makes your eyes bigger and dark and more wide set (which makes me look extremely creepy in a select few) and it also whitens your skin. Because in Japan being the color of paper is actually enviable.

So, I'll update again soon. Here's some pictures for everyone.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shopping Trip

So I have been hesitant to leave the safety of the house for the past week.
But with the help of my handy dandy iphone and it's walking map application I made it to the mall (or anywhere for that matter) for the first time.

I have to hand it to any Japanese person who got around on a bike as a kid if they actually live to drive a car.
Riding a bike is dangerous. Between the oblivious motorists, the fact you are usually biking in an area of 1 foot wide, on one side a car and the other a 3 foot ditch, and the fact that most corners you can not see around besides the often mirrors which are of no help at all, I can't tell you how many times I have almost been hit.
That was an extremely awful run on sentence.

So, I went and realized that everything in Japan is extremely expensive.

I went into a store and found that all the notebooks were seven dollars. Luckily, I ran into another Westerner, from Massachusetts.
He asked me if I was a teacher and I said no. He was an ALT and it was really nice to spend a half an hour talking to someone in non-broken english.
He referred me to a 100 yen (a little over a dollar) store where I bought two note books and some pencils.

However, I searched high and low in the mall for a school bag.
And I probably circled each of the two levels about 10 times. Around the 11th time I figured people were starting to get suspicious of the foreign girl milling around.

I had a choice between buying a too big, 20 dollar bag I didn't want... and a perfect size adorable slightly more expensive bag.
Slightly as in quite a bit.
So I finally went into the foreign designer imports shop and after a conversation I understood nothing of with the lady, I bought it.
At the counter they explained something to me at which point I said "I don't understand Japanese."
They smiled and said "Cute." as if this covered everything they just said and handed me the bag, in a bag that could've housed a family of homeless people.
No, seriously, the bag was so big I think it made people stare even more.
After a quick stop for a Coke which would replenish me on the long walk around the outside of the mall (You Me Town) to my bike which I had, as a true idiotic foreigner, parked in the mall workers section.

It took me about ten minutes to, unlock my bike, realize my phone had deleted the map to get home as I was unlocking my bike, and also realize the bag my bag was in was twice the size of my bike.

So I used my smarts, left the giant bag in the parking lot, and decided to rely on my sense of direction to get home and then maybe practice unlocking and locking my bike.

I did get home somehow, as I have been using the McDonalds lately as a means of knowing where I am. Because as expected, the golden arches tower over everything else.

I got home and it immediately down poured.

The thing about Japan is you never know when it will rain.
Clouds are not necessary. The rain just simply appears out of no where.

Besides this I had cold udon noodles today. My new favorite food.
Fujimura Mama either brings lunch home every day or we go out. It's been delicious, mostly.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Welcome Party

So sorry I havn't been posting much.
Yet again.

But I just had my Welcome party and couldn't feel more welcomed... really. I couldn't.

40 students called me 'cute.'
35 students took pictures with me.
20 students called me beautiful.
7 guys said I am now their reason for getting up in the morning.
1 said he will never wash his hand again after I shook it.

All in all, besides the slight feeling of being creeped out, everyone was so sweet.
I was, once again, asked to join every club at Kaniichi and once again I'd say 'maybe' to everyone.

All though I felt loved, I think the star of the party was the chocolate fountain.
Chocolate in architectural form.

Anyways, Ill be more constant soon. Maybe.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sorry I have not been updating often.
Things are a little hectic.
I'm a little jet-lagged.
And my host family is very into keeping me busy.

This picture is from Ritsurin