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

Saturday, August 21, 2010


As of now I am in the plane.
About a trillion miles off the ground to be exact.
Thing have winded down for a while now. The shades have been shut and everyone around me is sleeping.
Figures I wouldn’t be sleeping when it’s 12:48AM.
I’ve been sleeping in positions that would make most people cringe. Mostly just doubling over and sleeping with my head on my knees.
I had taken a window seat, but a mom and he 2 year old twins had been seperated so I, being the good samaritan I am, moved around and am now sitting in an aisle seat.
Which I guess is better because I am constantly up and down.
Now I’m listening to some j-pop. I plugged my headphones into the seat to listen to the movie... but got this. I decided I was just going to sleep anyways, so I havn’t gone the extra mile to press the “movie audio” button.
I couldn’t even tell you how far into the flight we are. We probably left around 4... central time. Now it’s 1am eastern time. 10 hours maybe?
It’s a fourteen hour flight or so. 4 more hours. Yippee.
I’ve met a few other Rotary exchange students a long the way.
Hadley and Christian arrived first and conveniently sat next to me at the airport.
Speaking of, the Minneapolis airport is absolutely huge and has delicious food. 
I ordered something vegetarian, but got some chicken pesto tasty thing. So though their service may be lacking, the food quality compensated for it quite nicely.
Anyways, they were from Illinois and we just wandered for a bit. There was a Starbucks there which always makes everything a bit easier.
I should start working on my writing skills.
Maybe if I just write for the next four hours that could accomplish some sort of improvement.

Day Ichi (1)

I’m glad for your sake that I’ve decided to write this blog post much later.
The first part of my day started off well, but one small foreigner move sent me spiraling into a less then elated mood. 
Basically my host family, host councelor, and club president took me out for dinner. It was at an Udon Noodle restuarant. It was old style japanese. We took off our shoes. Climbed into this large wooden box and the men sat at one table and the girls at the other. 
All that happened was that when Mama beckoned me up to the counter with plates and food (just the girls went) Nodoka and her grabbed a plate. Everyone else grabbed a plate, so I did too. This seemed pretty logical. When I got back to the table with my plate equally as filled with food as there’s, Mama set hers on the mens table and that left us with Nodoka’s and my plate and my table.
Ohhh... yeah then it dawns on me. It’s one plate per table. And we all eat off of it. (Yeah, germaphobia doesn’t exist here.) So that made me slightly self concious. Then, you know you slurp noodles, I couldn’t manage this with out the noodle letting drops of liquid fly everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It was like Alexa’s own little water park. Lastly, I couldn’t finish mine.
Let me tell you, a young skinny Japanese girl could out eat any American man. And in half the time it takes him to finish.
I’ve only had two meals with them and they eat so fast and so much my stomach aches thinking about it.
So now Im writing again a little bit later... watch as my writing skills slowly deteriorate as I get sleepier. Grammar as of this point, is a little bit sketchy.
Dinner was much better then lunch. 
It was at the home and Mama made a huge dinner. It consisted of these square pieces of sea weed and you’d spread rice on them. Then you could put a piece of raw fish on them. However they also had nato (didn’t even try it. Gag me.), sea urchins (apparently most love it. It’s sort of a delicacy.), and salmon eggs you could spread on it over the rice. Dip it in soy sauce and pop the whole thing in your mouth. Sea urchins had a really strange texture. There were also chips, beans, and Miso soup.
It was all really delicious at first... except the sea urchins and fish eggs... and some fish.
I still ate a lot. Again.
As Derek’s host father said (the one who guided me and a fellow host student around Tokyo airport) I will get fat.
I could make a separate blog post on everything. Such as how the commercials were all extremely... cute. In a way where I mean they obviously have this as a way of advertising everything. 
Cute japanese girl + small kid + giggling + cartoon animal = perfect car commercial.
More small things like the shower was different. You sat down and held the shower head. And it was basically in a small room with a bench and a drain in the floor.tly about other things. I’ll probably go more in depth on everything later to come. 

I'm e

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Going.. going.. gone.

Kind of.

I leave in 4 hours for Cleveland Hopkins Airport.
In 7 hours I get on a plane and fly to Minneapolis.
In 12 I get on a plane and then fly to Tokyo.

You have no idea how unbelievably exciting that is.
It's kind of like getting a puppy... and a ticket to Tokyo.

But I'm all packed.
Two suitcases. Both under 50lbs.

See, tonight we weighed them.. and they both came in at 60lbs.
...this obviously was a problem.
So all my winter clothing is being shipped to me.

It's over 100*F in Japan right now so I'm pretty sure 6 pairs of jeans and my red peacoat won't be needed immediately upon arrival.

I also have my carryon and purse. Everything, and I mean everything is decked out in pink and black.
I'm proud that I could make my black monster luggage a bit more.. girly.

I'm tired but there is too much to do before I go to sleep.
I'll update more later. This is just a quickie incase I can't update for a long long time.
I have wifi on the plane so I think we'll be good.

17 hours miles above the ground.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Healthy Japan

It's 15 days until I leave.

So, you may think I'm preparing via packing, studying Japanese, and figuring out why some of the pictures on my blog are not showing up (which I'll fix tonight.).
Au contraire, I'm... running. And basically over all getting in shape.

I just got back from a 40 minute run. The fact that I was about to die 3 minutes into the run probably is not a good sign.
See I already knew I was out of shape. I havn't done volleyball conditioning since last Fall.

I've been told that Japanese schools have a lot more intense gym/extracurricular activities conditioning then our schools. Yippee.

And as one who strongly believes you should only run when being chased this did not sit well with me.

Now I'm going to educate you:

Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world! Women live on average to be about 85 years old. IN the States it's 78 years old.
This is due to Japanese diet. The eat so much good stuff that they have extremely low cholesterol.

And obesity is definitely not as much as a problem there as it is here in the US. This can be contributed a lot in part to have physically active the kids are.

At my high school in the US, it is only required for us to have two years of gym. And when I say gym, I mean 5 times a week we'd have 40 minutes where we would sit on the floor and gossip with each other and "stretch."
In Japanese schools, gym is required through all of school (high schools only have 3 grades) and when I say they have gym, the actually have gym. Gym in Japan is intense!
And as I said, Japanese schools have things such as races and homeroom relays.
Not to mention the 20 minute to and from school biking trip probably helps.
(That's specific for me. Some of the students take trains.)

But anyways, I'm figuring the more I write in this thing the better I'll get at it. The whole more experience making you better philosophy. That way once I get to Japan my writing skills won't be all out of wack from the long summer break.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I just took a trip to the wonderful store of TJ Max and bought my first piece of luggage. You could probably fit a small country in this thing. Actually, I have tried and both my dog and cat can fit in it... at the same time (they weren't as fond of this discovery as I was). I wonder if my host family would mind. Just kidding... ;]

Sarah Jean <3

Actually they have an adorable dog already.

Meet Chocola. Mr. Fujimura says she is "part of the family" and she's 11 years old.

Aw <3

Fujimura house.

Big? Yes. 

I'll be getting a single room. Which I'm so happy for, not that I would mind having to share it. 

And here... is the uniform.

As you can see, the uniform is extremely attractive. I've never worn one before... and at least now I won't be ten+ minutes late for class trying to figure out what to wear.

But for now, I really am overwhelmed.
Still so extremely excited though.

Til later.