Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Yikes!!! And I thought Pittsburgh could be bad! Though the weather temperature here is around the same as Pittsburgh, I have never felt so cold as in Niigata. I've come up with a few theories to why. The first theory is that it seems so cold here because of the constant winds and how Niigata is stuck right between the sea and the mountains.

The second reasoning is, in America I also had central heating. I always wake up in the morning and I can see my breath and I don't feel my nose. When I brush my teeth and place the toothbrush back on the stand, I can see steam coming off the brush.
Only the living room is the warm room out of the whole house.

When I go to school, I have to walk about ten minutes to the station. If I forget my tights and just go in normal socks, my legs turn blue.

I've really come to enjoy the train ride, it's warm, compared to my school.

There's no heat in the hallways but each classroom as a stove. During break, between classes, everyone huddles around the stove, trying to get warm.

Being in Japan, I discovered something very peculiar on the road. I noticed it when I first came. On the roads are little silver plates. I did not really understand their purpose but now I do. The little silver plates spurt out water to melt the snow.

Now you might be thinking "woah woah woah, doesn't melting snow with water just cause ice?" Yep, but the water is from an underground river, Japan was made up of volcanoes, so the water is warm and therefore keeps the ice away too. Though sometimes I do slip on the way to school or get sprayed by one of the silver plates.


Okay, okay, it's almost a month past Christmas, but I still think I should write down a few things about Christmas in Japan(before I forget).

I went to school during Christmas Eve. I'm pretty sure this never happens in the USA. I also overheard people talking to each other on the train. A few of them got into arguments over what day Christmas was, the 26th or the 27th... I guess you can figure out that Christmas isn't too big in Japan.

But, still there was the Christmas decorations, the carols (Though in one store the only song playing on the loudspeakers was "All I want for Christmas is you" It repeated about 5 times before I started to want to get out of the store), and Christmas spirit was still apparent with people walking around saying "Merry Christmas!" to each other.

And, of course, there was also Christmas cake.

I was surprised to hear of the tradition of eating Christmas cake. But I think it was even more of a surprise to my friends and family that Americans hardly (if ever) eat cake around Christmas time. Most of them assumed that the tradition of the Christmas cake had come from America.

I'm not sure where the tradition came from, but the cake was very yummy :)

Nothing too exciting goes on during Christmas. No Christmas movies programed on the TV, there were hardly any houses with lights(though there were a few, but not in my city), and life goes on rather normally.

My host parents realized and understood that the Christmas holiday had always been a very important part of my life. So when Christmas did come around, we all made the best of it :)

Skipping to New Years.

I had heard from a lot of people that New Years was the most important time of the year in Japan. I asked my host parents what they would do on New Years, to which they replied "Nothing much. We'll drink, visit the shrine, and sleep. But on the 3rd we see the rest of the family."

I was expecting something more festive, but New Years passed without much excitement. Food was different. Most families (and mine too) ate a osechi, or traditional Japanese New Year food.

Oh! Also around New Years everyone sends cards to everyone they know. My parents must have sent and recieved at least a hundred cards. The cards are called "年賀状”"nengajou" or simply, a new year card.