Friday, April 30, 2010

Well, a lot of things have been happening lately (Sakura, sightseeing, joining a club, and a whole bunch of little adventures)

But to start, now that the Sakura (cherry blossoms) have come, it's undoubtedly spring time here in Niigata. Its no longer freezing, people are working in their gardens, and the rice fields are beginning to fill up with water.

Luckily, while the Sakura was blooming, I was able to go with both my friends and family to see the Sakura (The Japanese word for this is Hanami, or basically, flower veiwing).

Just a warning, Sakura is so incredibly beautiful, that no picture could do justice :) There are so many Sakura trees, that in just a few days, Japan has turned pink. And everyone goes to see the Sakura, (which is great for the vendors).

Although incredibly amazing, I felt sad looking at the Sakura. The whole time, I couldn't help thinking "What if this was the last time I would see it?"

Following the cherry blossom, is golden week. What is golden week? Well, it's a whole bunch of holidays put into one week (such as the emperor's birthday and children's day). This also means a week of no school :p

Yesterday, my family and I went to visit Tsurugajo Castle (that's it in the first picture with Sakura surrounding it, the castle is located in the Fukushima Prefecture).

People are able to go into the castle, which has been turned into a museum. Unfortunately, Cameras weren't allowed. But the museum had a collection of swords, saddles, Samurai clothing, and a whole bunch of other treasures. (Unfortunately, only a few of the displays had descriptions that were in English, and of those few that did, a lot had spelling errors.)

We also visited an old marketplace where you can buy mountain stream cold soda for a 100 yen!

The bridge leads to a shrine where once again, no cameras were allowed. And on the bridge, Otoosan had this bright idea of jumping on it so that it swayed; freaked. me. out.

At the top of the castle. Kirei? I think so :)

The drive back home was a few hours. On the way back from visiting the shiro (castle), while I was sleeping comfortably, a window shattered.
Fortunately, no one was sitting next to the window, but let me tell you, that is not something you want to wake up to everyday. But, after taping cardboard to the space where the glass use to be, everything returned to normal and today the car was fixed.

Speaking of today, it was my second day of track and field. Since a lot of people on the team haven't talked to me yet, I was once again surrounded and they started to touch my hair. And today, I taught them "Rock, Paper, Scissors" Not many of them knew what they were saying, but one of my friends speaks a little English and I had trouble trying to explain what "shoot" was.

(Just a quick note, there is a Japanese version of rock, paper, scissors, but it's called Janken Pon and it's slightly different.)

I want to thank everyone for being so encouraging! I'll try to update more often! Arigato gozaimasu!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Last time I wrote, I forgot to mention another thing about the school that completely shocked me.
The girls and boys change together in the classroom for PE.

For my first day of PE, I went and changed in the bathroom because I was afraid the boys would see me. However, (after getting stared at in the bathroom for being the odd one changing there) I found out a way to change my shirt and skirt without showing anything.
Still, I think it's odd how the school, being so strict on having long skirts, lets boys and girls change together.

Just the other day, I went to my first Japanese soccer game. (This picture is before the professional soccer game. In it, two high school girl teams are playing against each other). I had a couple videos of the soccer game but most of the videos were of the crowd, which were extremely devoted to their team. Their cheering included chanting endlessly (trying to be louder than the opposing side's fans) and jumping up and down constantly in rhythm to their chants. They also waved huge flags to encourage their team.

Unfortunately, I was unable to upload these videos.

In addition of my first soccer game, I also went to a Japanese restaurant with my Okaasan, Otoosan, Obaachan, Ojiichan. Arriving at the restaurant we took our shoes off and put them into lockers. Although a Japanese restaurant, the meat there was from America (Otoosan excitedly pointed this out to me.) In the middle of the table there was a grill. And we cooked our own food with chopsticks.

On Saturday I am going to see the Sakura with some friends, I have been really looking forward to this.

Ja ne!

Friday, April 9, 2010

School Life

I wake up at 6 in the morning everyday, which isn`t much of a difference than my normal time back in the US. However, the way of getting to school is totally different. At 6:55 (after eating breakfast with the family) I walk for about 10 minutes to get to the train station. On the train I meet up with one of my schoolmates and we travel for maybe 30 or 35 minutes on this incredibly crowded train.

I heard in the US that the trains in Japan were crowded, but I didn`t even fathom that they would be THIS crowded. We`re pressed together so tightly that we can barely move. And if you lose your balance, don`t worry about falling, because there`s no room to fall.

After a long ride we arrive at Niigata Station and have to switch trains there before we finally arrive near the school and walk the rest of the way.

(Oh, and school here starts at 8:35, though I don`t get home until 5:35)

Arriving at school, we have to take off our shoes and put on indoor ones.
We then go to our classrooms and when the teacher enters we all bow.

The first day of school was a half day (just a welcome ceremony)and I had to make an introduction speech which ended up being in half Japanese and half English.

Each class at school is an hour long, and to be honest, I only understand math and English (on the English tests it has a lot of Japanese, so I can`t complete all of it).

Surprisingly, the students here take a small test each morning...

the test has answers on the back
the students check the answers by themselves
and there is no teacher in the room.
Yet I haven`t seen one of them cheating.

(oh, and another surprising thing, the boys and girls barely talk to each other because they`re shy)

Lunch time is at 12 30 (I eat an obento okaasan makes, although you can buy lunch).

After school we clean the building ourselves(though luckily, most days I get out of that because of my long train ride).

I don`t really know how to say this, but yesterday I had a random kid scream at me "Do you like sushi?" and a lot of people stare at me. Today a random guy ran up to me and said "HEY, HELLO!" and walked away.

Well, I guess that`s it for now :)
p.s. Japanese keyboards are hard to type on


This was in my house, it`s from the Hinamatsuri Festival. The Koinobori is for the boys, and the Hinamatsuri is for the girls; both are children`s events.

Fish for an upcoming festival (Koinobori) on May 5.