Friday, December 14, 2012

Last Day in Tokyo

Today marks the end of a short chapter in my life.  I am currently trying to figure out how I am going to fit everything that I have purchased these past 3 months into one suitcase.  We'll see how that goes.

I am very grateful to have this experience.  Last night at the goodbye party, it was hard to say goodbye to everyone, even though some of them I will see again.  But we will never meet under these same circumstances again, as study abroad students.  Many are going home for good, some are happy about that, others not so much.  I and a few others will return as year-long students, but I am the only one switching schools and city.  I am looking forward to moving to Nagoya, a whole new experience awaits me there!

But for now I am just super happy to go home and see my family and friends - 3 months without them has been the hardest thing I had to overcome.  But I have no regrets.

See everyone soon!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The End is Neigh

It's hard to believe that I only have one week left here in Tokyo.  So this weekend I finally went to a place I have always wanted to go to, Harajuku! The fashion heaven where the clothes are amazing and the prices don't kill your wallet so badly (unless you shop like me and buy like....15 things.. XP)

At first I wasn't fond of Harajuku - it was crowded, a creepy guy kept pinching my arm, telling to sell me something while I was on the phone; I had to run away to get away from him.  Then there are the big scary African guys who will also call you out to try and sell you something.  They're are a bit intimidating  but usually if you walk quickly and don't respond you can get by them without harassment   Now if you are a foreigner (not of Asian decent)  like my friends and I, you also run the risk of random Japanese people talking to you.  Which can be fun, or creepy, depends on the situation. As we are girls, Japanese guys wanted to take pictures of us.  It didn't bother me really, but for others that can be really creepy.  I just accepted the fact that I am a novelty here in Japan, and thus something exciting for those guys to talk about to their friends.

But the shopping is great.  If you want something interesting and unique  Harajuku is the place to go.  Mainly Takeshi Dori (I think that's how it's spelled - something along those lines) street.  It's one street with a huge sign in front of it (hard to miss).  It's narrow and crowded, but there's enough stores packed into that one street to easily spend a whole day there alone.  I went to this Lolita shop and got a very cute Victorian style blouse for my steam-punk costume that I'm currently working on - and two tiny top-hats and a tie.  At Forever 21 I bought a lot of cute sweaters.  There are Forever 21s in America too, but the Japanese ones carry different things.

After shopping till I was dropping.  I met up with some friends of mine to go karaoke.  This was my first time going karaoke, and it was so much fun! I highly recommend it.

All in all it was a great day.  Now time to spend my last week here finishing school and saying goodbye to all of the friends I have made.  Thank goodness they're all on Facebook.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


So for my school's last field trip we went to Nikko; a town north of Tokyo that is famous for its temples and waterfalls.

Our first destination was the Toshogu shrine and temple.  This area was the home of the once powerful Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan for many years.  This place is unique as it has both a Shinto shrine and a Buddhist temple right next to each other.

The shrine is breathtaking.  The intricate carvings and woodworking is astounding.  How these people built such complicated structures before any modern technology baffles my mind.

This place is a must see for any architecture or wood carving enthusiasts.  Or anyone who just likes pretty things. I took nearly a 100 pictures there alone.

For that night we stayed at a really nice hotel that had a natural onsen (hot spring).  At first getting naked in front of a bunch of other people can feel daunting  but since everyone else is naked, it doesn't really feel so strange after a while.  Of course the men and women onsen are separate.  The water feels greats and they put special bath salts in some of them to make your skin feel really soft.  I really like onsen.  Though I don't know if I can convince my family to go to one, lol

The following day we went to a natural ravine.  It had a beautiful waterfall, but boy it was a climb! My legs were pretty sore after that trip.

Then we went to a wood-carving studio where we each got to carve a design into our own little wooden mirrors   I did the monkey design, though I gave him a scar to look more cool. Because scars are always cool, lol

And an earthquake just happened while typing this blog.  It was the strongest one yet!  Rather scary, but nothing fell off my shelves so it wasn't too terrible.

Anyway, today I went to Asakusa to paint my own lantern! It turned out alright I think, though not nearly as pretty as some other people's.  I just wrote my kanji name and painted the sides red.  A very traditional look.

Only three weeks left here in Japan, before I go home for Christmas break.  But I'll be back here in the spring.

Time flies by so quickly!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Maid Cafe

So yesterday my friend and I went to a maid cafe in Akihabara.  A maid cafe is where young girls dress up in maid outfits and serve really cute food and drinks and often talk in a very cutesy way to their customers.

Maid cafes are popular among the male crowd, but females and families can be found in them as well.

So my friend and I decided to go to on and see what it's like.

Of course it's rather expensive (around $26), but it's worth going to at least once.

We got the parfait set where we got a delicious (and adorable) chocolate bear shaped parfait ice cream, a photo taken with one of the maids, and a souvenir key chain.

Oftentimes the maids would come to your table and ask you to do cutesy things with them, like "make a heart with your hands with me! YAY!!!!"

it was a fun and worthwhile experience.  I know that there are butler cafes as well where it's geared toward the female audience, with handsome men dressed as butlers.  But I haven't yet found one.

I heard they are in Shinjuku, but I haven't gone yet.

We shall see....

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera and Tokyo Tower

Yesterday I met my friend Masumi at Hamamotsucho station for a day of fun.

She had ordered tickets to see the musical "The Phantom of Opera" for that day so we decided to go out before the show started.  We were going to go to the Pokemon Center, which was right next to the station, but it was PACKED! Literally the wait just to get in the store was 1 hour.  Since there's a Pokemon Center in Nagoya as well, it wasn't a top priority for me that day.  So instead we went to Tokyo Tower, which used to be the tallest building in Tokyo, until the new Skytree was built.

On our way we passed through a Buddhist temple, which was really beautiful and was full of activity because today was a special holiday, 3,5,7 Day.  This is a day were children ages 3, 5, ad 7 are celebrated and usually dress up in traditional Japanese clothes and head to the local shrine or temple.  I didn't really see any children, but a service was going on inside the shrine.  Also there was an area that was FILLED with cute god statues.  Each god had a name, and Masumi told me that they were individual families' gods.  They all wore hats, but some had other accessories and toys placed there by their family.  There was also a monkey handler having his monkey do tricks outside the temple, very cool to see.

When we made it to Tokyo Tower, it was still morning, which was a great time to go; it wasn't crowded and we were able to just hop into the elevator and head straight up.

It was a gorgeous day so the view was BEAUTIFUL!  We got our picture taken together there.

When we were done, we went back down, where a small carnival like area was set up with all sorts of games and small rides for children.  I saw an old lady riding an electronic panda.  Funniest thing I've seen in awhile.

After we got back inside, we went shopping.  I had no intention of visiting Tokyo Tower when I first came here, but after shopping there I highly recommend it for people wanting souvenirs   There were tons of stuff, and all relatively cheap.  And I was able to nearly finish out all of my souvenir shopping for everyone back home.

Then we went to the musical, which was... AMAZING! I never had a chance to see the show in America, and I always wanted to.  I love the movie and know the story and music very well, so despite being in Japanese I had no trouble understanding.  The music still sounded great in Japanese, but I'm definitely biased for the English versions of the songs.  The characters' acting was superb, they acted and sounded just like they did in the English version, and the Phantom's voice was still sexy in Japanese. <3

It was a great day and I thank Masumi so much for taking me, she's such a sweetheart!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ghibli Museum and Aladdin

So this past week has been rather busy for me.

First my class performed a skit of "Aladdin" for the Meikai School Festival yesterday. So this whole week was devoted to rehearsing, which I didn't complain about because the teachers gave us little homework all week.

On Thursday, I finally fulfilled my otaku dream of going to the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka.  I went with my friend Thuong, and it was AMAZING!

The museum itself is not very big, just 4 floors, but each floor is packed with stuff to look at and narrow hallways and doors of all different shapes and sizes, which makes navigating an interesting task.

The stain glass windows everywhere were beautiful, each depicting a different Ghibli movie, I was able to take a few pictures of them, but photography was not allowed inside the museum.

Basically the 1st floor of the museum covers the history of animation and a timeline of the Ghibli movies produced.  The 2nd floor had a replica of a Studio Ghibli animation room, where frames are drawn and how they are colored.  It was nifty to see the process.  Of course all the explanations were in Japanese, so I couldn't read much as I know only a few kanji characters.

The 3rd and 4th floors kind of mix together, I cant really remember what was on each, but I know that there was a giant cat bus for children to play on (I wanted to play in it soooo badly).  And of course there was a gift shop on the 4th floor, which was PACKED! even more crowded than the galleries! XP

I bought more things than I should have, of course. But I regret nothing.  My favorite item I purchased was a Howl's Moving Castle calender.  It is a statue of Howl's castle, where dice with the date, month, and day of the week are displayed on various parts of the castle. It's really cool and can be used indefinably.

In the museum's garden there is a cafe, the Straw Hat Cafe, that has all organic foods. The food there was DELICIOUS! and not terribly expensive.  My friend and I shared a chocolate parfait, which was like a foot tall with layers of fruits, cake, and ice cream. It was sooo good.

Then we both had "here come the sun" cream soda.  It starts out as purple on the bottom and yellow on the top, with blood orange ice cream on top.  But once you mix the colors, they turn pink! and it was really sweet and wonderful.

Then on Saturday was the Aladdin skit, which went pretty well I thought.  The crowd was small, but I didn't mind a small crowd (I'm sure we made tons of mistakes in our Japanese XP)  I was villain #2, not really Iago, not Jafar, just some evil guy in a witch's hat and sparkling red cape.

If there's one thing I learned, I learned that  Japanese people love taking pictures. After the play, I swear we had like a 30 minute photo session where people just crowded around and took our picture.  I mean our costumes were nothing spectacular, just a random hodgepodge of various items that one can find at home relatively easy.  But still they wanted our pictures anyway, with little girls crowding around Jasmine and Aladdin.  It was really cute.

Tomorrow I'll be going to Tokyo Disneyland with two friends of mine. I'm really looking forward to it!

I guess I better squeeze in some school into my busy XD

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tokyo Disney Sea!

So yesterday I went to Tokyo Disney Sea for the first time, and it was great!!

Tokyo Disney Sea doesn't have many big rides (and only one of them was actually a coaster) but they're so many shows and shopping to do that you could easily spend a whole day there without riding a single ride.  Tokyo Disneyland is the place you wanna go if you're looking for rides.

And I've never been to Disneyland in California, but I have gone to DisneyWorld several times, and I can say that the Tokyo version is basically a smaller version of it.  The main differences are language (but all announcements are made in both Japanese and English, plus English maps, so the language wasn't an issue at all) and the many more Japanese people (I only saw like 3 other white people, lol).

The Disney characters are all there, Mickey, Minnie, the Princesses, etc; and really their voices in Japanese are very similar to their English counterparts.

The food is amazing there. I have Italian gelato and a Mexican dish for lunch and it was delicious. They also had very fun and interesting Halloween specials (like sweet potato sticks and skull candy and such).

One thing I found interesting was the many popcorn stands they had. You could buy a souvenir bucket and keep refilling them for $5 at any popcorn stand.

But a warning, they DO NOT have normal popcorn.  Indeed you will not find simple butter popcorn.  They had caramel corn, black pepper, sea salt, curry, and strawberry popcorn.  I had caramel corn myself, but if I had more time I would've been more adventurous to try the strawberry popcorn.

Another fun fact: Japanese people find the American flag to be very cool looking, so I often see it on clothes and accessories.  I find this quite humorous as I can find more American flag goods here than I would in America (I think). So I bought a hat with Mickey ears in the American flag colors of stars and stripes.

Coming to Japan has certainly given me a new found appreciation for my country. Of course we have heaps of flaws, but so does everyone else.  Not even Japan is perfect.

But I feel like I had to leave my country first to really appreciate it and see it from an outside perspective.  I know that I'm really growing as an open-minded person here.

I plan on going to Tokyo Disnyland here soon, so then I can make some more comparisons. And I really want Bambi ears, I saw someone wearing them but I couldn't find them. Maybe they are in Tokyo Disneyland. I'll be on the hunt.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kanazawa Trip

So for four days and three nights the Tokyo IES students took a long field trip to Kanazawa, the "marshes of gold" - a historical city on the opposite side of the big island from Tokyo famous for its gold leaf production and ancient buildings.

The first place on our list was the Ninja-Temple. No, this temple was not for Ninja, but it received that name due to its many traps and secret staircases   The temple was actually the home of a lord Daiymo, who worked under the shogunate.  There is a secret tunnel under the floorboards behind the main shrine that allows one to escape to the nearby castle.  There are stairs with white paper on the backboards, concealing square holes that guards in a room underneath the stairs, when shadows of intruders are spotted on the white paper, can thrust their spears through the paper to stab the enemy's feet.  There is also a room with 4 tatami mats (the number 4 has the same sound as the word for death "shi") and a door that locks automatically when you close it.  This room was for seppuku, or ritual suicide   There are 29 rooms and 23 staircases, when one really thinks about it, that is a ton a staircases!!  Many rooms have many openings and secret doors to allow those living in the castle to move freely and quickly in times of invasion, meanwhile confusing the intruders.  I wish I had pictures to show, but because it is a place of worship picture taking was not allowed.  Have to respect the shrine.

Next we went to a beautiful Japanese garden.  Inside the garden we went to a tea-house and watched Sado, or tea ceremony.  The tea was super gross (I dislike tea of any kind - it all just tastes like leafy water to me), but I drank it all out of respect.  The anko dessert served with the tea was really sweet and helped me finish the tea.

Next we went to a Gold Leaf studio, and created our very own gold leaf chopsticks! I chose a simple design   of a simple gold spiral, mainly because I could actually execute it relatively well.  A lot of students tried complicated design that usually failed because of their inability to properly execute them.  I learned that the hard way many years ago during ceramics.  Sometimes simple is always better.

The next day I ate at a sushi-go-round for the first time.  I never ate sushi back home, but here I really love it! Although I do still worry about contracting a parasite, but I feel like the Japanese know their fish so I trust their judgment and preparations.  Though I don't think I'll ever have the balls to try fugu (poisonous blowfish).

At the ryokan (Japanese style inn) I went to the public bath for the first time.  I was a bit nervous getting naked in front of people, but since it was just the female students (no Japanese were using it at the time) it wasn't so bad.  Actually the bath was very relaxing!!

It was a very tiring, but awesome trip!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Akihabara: Anime Paradise

So I went to Akihabara for the first time last night. and I was in heaven.

The beautiful city lights flashing anime on giant TV screens, stores packed with anything anime my little heart could desire.

And the coffee I had at the cafe was also very good.

I actually got into a bit of trouble in the anime store I was shopping in.

You see the store is 7 stories tall, and each floor had its own cashier station.

I merely thought this was for the convenience of the costumer to pay on any floor they wanted.

But as I got to the top floor, carrying everything I picked up from all the previous floors, a man pointed a sign to me saying that you must pay for any goods you pick up on the respective floor you got it from.

This doesn't make any sense to me! if I did that I would have to carry so many annoying little bags instead of the nice big one I got at the end!  Also, WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME SOONER?

I love Japan, but man it can be frustrating at times.

But I had a great time. and now I know the rules. They really need to make that sign bigger. Why would I look at it amongst all of the beautiful anime goods before me??

Friday, October 5, 2012

First Sickness..bleh

So finally a week of little sleep has caught up to me. I think I caught a very mild cold. I had a slight fever yesterday, and my throat is sore.

But they fever is gone now, and my throat doesnt hurt, but it still feels dry and uncomfortable.

Hopefully a weekend filled with sleep will help.

Though I cant relax too much, I have a take-home exam to do...sigh XP

I wish I had less homework so that I could explore Japan more, but I guess school was the main point in coming here. :P

Anyway back to work!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tough Week

So this week has been pretty tough for me.

Just dealing with the stress of my first test in addition to my friend Emiko visiting.  Which was really fun, but because of that I couldn't study much.

But thankfully the test was really easy! I was pleasantly surprised!

Getting ready for the weekend, I really need sleep.

But Sunday I'm going to Shibuya with a friend, which should be fun and I'm really looking forward to it!

So far my favorite store in Japan is Book Off. This place sells used games and books at very cheap prices. I can get all the Japanese games that I wanted but couldn't get back home! I love this place!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Well, I must be adjusting well to say not not much has happened lately.

Just the normal school and stuff.

Though at my field placement I was a model for a special photo-shoot session, which was really fun!

This weekend I plan on doing homework, eating and sleeping.

And meeting my conversation partner for some conversing.

Even in Japan I'm a homebody.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Most Badass Cat in the World

Let me just say that today I experienced my first earthquake! it woke me up at 3 AM this morning and it was a 5.2 magnitude, so it wasn't dangerous but the shaking was annoying, lol

And today I walked my host family's dog, Choco, and apparently their cat Marie, walks with Choco.

So the cat tagged along, and she was lagging behind....when another dog approached her. I was pretty far away from her at that time, but all of a sudden I hear a loud cry and a dog running and whining with its tail between its legs. And Marie was attacking it!

She launched into the air and smacked that dog's face! The dog owner had to shoo her away!

Many spectators watched and laughed, while I quietly kept walking like I wasn't associated with that cat.

But then she caught back up with us later, and we all walked home.

An interesting day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Good Day at Work

Today was a pretty good day.

First I was riding the train. Then it stopped and I was getting excited that everyone was getting off. I was like "Yeah I can snatch a seat!", but then a woman motioned to me to come to her. I got off the train, and she spoke to me in English saying "This train is stopped, it wont go any farther. Wait for the next train." and sure enough the train's sign changed to "Out of Service". I thanked the woman and told her I needed to go to Omote-Sando, she assured me the next train would go there, and sure enough it did. As I got off the train, I bowed slightly to her and she smiled in return.

Her kindness was very much appreciated. And her English was really good!

Today at work I sliced up cardboard with a knife, I felt like a badass. ;D

Then they asked me to translate a whole letter from Japanese to English, I was quite surprised as they are a Japanese company with no English speaking audience, at least that's what I thought.

But I translated the letter anyway, it took quite a long time as there was a ton of kanji I didn't know, but thankfully my co-worker wrote all of the kanji in hiragana for me to make my life easier.

But even then translating was difficult, getting the same connotation in a different language is challenging. To be honest I don't know why they would trust my translation, cause I'm sure it's horrible! But thankfully it was a description of the artist autographing event that I worked at, so I could draw upon my memory of the event to adequately describe it in English.

After I finished that, they began discussing my cosplaying. On the 26th, they plan to dress me in my maid's dress with fox ears and tail, do my make-up and my hair.

I didn't really know what all they were saying, but it sounds fun!

Though I have no idea why they're cosplaying me... guess I'll find out then!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

First day

Well today was the first day of class. It was alot different than my Japanese class back in the states. We dont do grammar at all really. We just talk, and talk....and talk. Which is hard right now but it's also really good for me cause that's where I need to improve on.

Today on the train home I saw a girl with tons of Tales keychains and was reading the Tales magazine. I wanted to talk to her so badly, but she had her headphones in.  I hope she's on my train again, I WANNA TALK ABOUT TALES GAMES!!!!!!!!! XD

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

So I may be in love with this country.

I bought three video games today. All PSP RPGs. Tales of Phantasia X, Tales of Versus, and .Hack//Link.

I IS SO EXCITED!! They will be my motivation to learn more kanji, besides class.

Also, there are Pokemon goods in every store.

I just wanna buy it all! But I will show restraint. For now. ;D

Going karaoking for the first time this saturday. That'll be interesting, and hopefully fun!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I feel rather frustrated as of late.  The excitement is fading off and now I'm just feeling really lonely and isolated. My Japanese is very poor, despite all of my study.  I really hope I can improve rapidly once classes actually begin. Because the language barrier is really lonesome.

Sigh...maybe I'm going through some culture shock, lol

Though my host brother let me play his Monster Hunter game, course it was in Japanese so I didnt get far, but I was happy with the gesture. I'm hoping I can play more with him soon.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Host family part 3

My host family is really wonderful.

The father is a doctor who doesn't speak any English.  He's a little strict but I think he's kind.

The mother is super nice and friendly. She is a translator and English teacher so she speaks English very well.  Although she speaks Japanese to me as much as possible, it's nice how she can communicate in English if I don't understand.

The grandmother is blind, and only speaks Japanese.  I haven't been able to say much to her, but I think she liked the gift I brought her.

The son can't speak English, but he loves American music and video games. With these two things in common, I think we will get along great.

I field placement is an anime art gallery in Harajuku, downtown Tokyo. I have the interview on Monday.
I'm both excited and nervous!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Host family part 2

Today I meet my host family.

They've had many students before, so they are experienced.

Which is both good and bad in my opinion.  I'm worried that they'll compare me to all of the other students they've had before. I feel like my Japanese is not good at all!! XP

But hopefully I'll be getting better soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm Here!!!

I made it to Japan!

The 13.5 hour plane ride was the longest I ever want to be in a plane.

But overall everything went smoothly and I got all my luggage just fine.
My body feels like I got hit by a bus, thank god for Ibuprofen!

The jet lag hasnt been too bad...but we'll see.

Lots of new sights and things to take in.

So excited! :D

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Leaving Tomorrow

Well today is my last day in the US.

I am full of mixed emotions; mostly excited and nervousness.

Also sadness at leaving my friends and family behind...

But I think overall I'm ready.

I've been waiting for this for a long time now! :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One week left.

So I have only a week left here in the states.

I have no idea how to start packing...

This is going to be interesting...

I fly out August 27th!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Host family

I just recently found out who my host family will be.  I will be living with the Sakakibara family.

I hope they are nice people, I'm sure they will be. :3

Now I really must start packing............*le sigh*

Monday, July 30, 2012

I made this blog

Hello everyone,

I have never done a blog before (not sure if I'm doing this right... ^_^")

but I feel it is important to document my upcoming adventure in Japan to let all of my friends know how I am doing and what I discover.

Hopefully you enjoy it!