I can’t believe that I have been in Japan for about a month and a half. I’ve met so many people and experienced so many things that it is all hard to grasp. Luckily I have many pictures, tickets, and gifts to remind me!


In terms of school, this month has been a bit wonky because of the fact that I basically have not gone to school for a majority of the days! It’s the time of year when Japanese students take their midterm exams, which I was excused from, leaving me with about two weeks of free time. In that time I went to Tokyo Disneyland (which was my first time at any Disney park), my town festival, Mt. Fuji, a sake factory, and Tokyo.


Disneyland was incredibly fun! I can’t compare Tokyo Disneyland to Disneyland in California, but I think it is safe to assume that Tokyo Disneyland is much more fun. Many of the park-goers were dressed up like Disney characters and so many of the foods were cute. It sounds odd to say that food was cute, but in Japan this is a very common phenomenon, partly due to the large “kawaii” culture that exists here. I was able to go with two graduates of my high school who were introduced to me by my international relations teacher at school. I was a bit nervous meeting up with them, because it was my first time to meet them, but I was so glad that I got to spend the day with them. They even invited me to attend some of their university events with college exchange students.


Mt. Fuji was so unbelievably beautiful! I was able to go with my host mother and her old high school classmates. It was definitely a trek, and by trek I mean six hour bus ride, to get there. I was getting quite impatient at first and constantly kept spotting peaks thinking “okay well that has to be Mt. Fuji”, but once I actually laid eyes of Mt. Fuji I almost laughed at myself for thinking the other puny peaks were even comparable to the greatness that is Mt. Fuji. The view from the bus was quite breathtaking, but once we had arrived to the summit it was too cloudy to see anything. I’m hoping I get another chance to go on a clearer day, so I can get some quality pictures!


My most recent venture has been back to Tokyo. I met two of my district Rotex at one of the train stations just outside of Tokyo for a day of winter shopping and general fun. On a side note, I had just gotten my train pass a couple days prior and was very excited to simply swipe my card like a true Japanese person at the turnstyle and waltz through without having to worry about buying a ticket like a tourist. We first started out in Shibuya because there are many western stores there where I can find clothes that actually fit. Japanese clothing and shoes are so tiny and short, which isn’t ideal for a 5’10 girl with size 10 feet. After getting many sweaters, we went to Ginza to see Hello Kitty World. We did not spend too much time there because one of the Rotex was a boy, and I didn’t want to make him wait for 182081047 hours while I meticulously browse each and every nook and cranny of the store. I will be going back though! Also in Ginza, I was able to purchase a much-coveted makeup brush. I am a huge beauty addict, so living in Japan is very bad for my wallet! I have purchased many beauty products, even my host mother has noticed and has asked me to be the “makeup artist” for the dancers in the next town festival. Anyways, after Ginza we strolled around Harajuku and had Thai food. I got home around 10:30PM, and was already dreading my 6:30AM alarm for school the next day.


Although I was able to experience various things this month, my most unforgettable memory would probably have to be going to my town festival. It was so incredible to be in the middle of Japanese culture in such a traditional way. My day started out at my local “ginger”, or shrine, then lead me all the way to the beach. Basically, many shrines from my area all have a team of people who carry a symbol of their shrine all the way to the beach where each symbol is carried through a “tori”, or gate, in a parade-style. It is truly hard to describe, but I’m sure the pictures will help! Sadly, my Japanese was too poor to understand exactly why the festival was happening, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying it! I was able to snap some beautiful pictures and get some souvenirs for my jacket. Actually, the souvenirs that I purchased for my jacket raised quite the controversy with my host mother. At this time in my exchange I cannot read kanji, which are the Chinese symbol used in Japanese, which was what was printed on the souvenirs that I purchased. I showed my host mother my souvenirs and she immediately grabbed one of them and gave me a concerned look. She kept rubbing her stomach, then proceeded to gesture her hand as if she was pregnant. I immediately knew what my souvenir meant, and explained to her that I did not understand what it meant when I bought it, and we had a good laugh afterwards.


Speaking of my Japanese skills, they are very lackluster. I had been in all English classes in school, which held my Japanese back. Since I did not use Japanese in school, and my host mother is not very talkative I wasn’t learning much Japanese other than the basics. Luckily, I talked to my international relations teacher and resolved the issue. I am now enrolled in Japanese history, math, government, fine arts, music, and cooking. I am most excited for my music class because I will be learning the koto (I will add a picture). Also, we have certain days where we have an extended homeroom class with our other homeroom classmates. During that time we have a chance to play sports or other activities. I volunteered to bring American snacks and other things, which they were very excited about. Other excited school news is that I will be traveling to Kyoto in about a week for four days with my classmates! I will be staying in a traditional Japanese hotel and taking the bullet train. I can’t wait to let you guys know how everything went!


Well, I just want to reiterate how thankful I am for having been able to experience all of these things! It would not have been possible without all of your help. Talk to you next month!