Life in Japan hasnft been all that exciting lately. Two months has passed since I arrived here and everything I experience slowly turns from strange and exciting to the normal and comfortable. I almost wish that I feel the same as I did that first night I was here, when everything was fascinating. When all I could do was stop and absorb the change and appreciate it for was it was. I really liked the way I used to look at things. I fear now that in the homework and friends and all things normal to the average student Ifll not take the time to realize the amazing things that make up this country. Although a year sometimes feels like a lifetime I know the time I have here is short and I strive to get the most out of it. Ifve really taken the last couple weeks to stop think about me. About where I think I am in life and where I want to go both academically as well as emotionally. Examining yourself is a hard thing to do but that is why I came here, to figure things out and I think Ifm doing a good job at it. For the first time I truly know that Ifm myself happy and it feels good. Ifve never felt so driven.
Life as a the host daughter of two wonderful host parents couldnft be any more enjoyable. Every time I sit and talk to the other students about their host families I wonder how I got so lucky. I definitely got the good ones. Things were going so badly with my friend Aliciafs host family that she had to move into the Pink House (the international apartment) and share a room with Scarlet. The apartments are a good size but not for two people. This is the second case this semester where an RJ student has had to move due to difficulties with their host families. I find it quiet strange. I feel so at home here that I wouldnft even dream of leaving. Everyone asks me if I want to move to the Pink house next semester and I tell them that the thought has never even crossed my mind. I think that living with a host family has given me greater insight into the Japanese culture. The Pink house would be fun for the simple reason that there are no rules. If I lived there I could do what ever I wanted but with that comes the temptation to live a more western life. Living with a host family you have no choice but to be Japanese and I like that. The dinner on the table thing doesnft suck either. Itfs always nice to have a mom. In other host family news, my host sister Yuki had her baby this week. My new little host nephew, ( I think his name is Daiki but Ifm not sure. No official word yet.) was born on Friday night. The house was definitely full of excitement but I felt really bad for Naoki who couldnft rush down to Kyushu to be with her due to work. I canft wait to see the baby. Japanese children are so precious; I want ten of my own. Itfs going to be so much fun being an aunt (unless corey starts pumping them out soon, I canft see this happening for some time) but in away Ifm a little concerned because my room just happens to be located right next to the babies and I might keep me up at night. Naoki came home tonight from visiting his new son and we sat and all watched the videos. Hefs one cute little kid. I think Ifll find comfort in knowing that Ifm not the only one in the house who doesnft understand much of whatfs going on. We can learn together.
Ifm feeling a little bit better about my schoolwork now. They split my level one class into two smaller classes. You see, half of my class came to Japan with some Japanese classes behind them and the other half didnft. Myself being in the second group. So the speed of the class was very awkward, too fast for some and too slow for others. It wasnft like I couldnft handle it, itfs just that before anything had really sunk in we were moving on to something else. As long as I stayed one step ahead of the game, I was all right and did fine on the tests but never really felt like anything was concrete in my mind. Now things are slower, wefre starting from the beginning again and doing a little review. What I like most about this change is that we moved from being in classroom to being a large office. Itfs nice and cozy, just a table three chairs and a white board. It feels a lot more comfortable, our teacher even makes us tea and coffee. I donft think Ifll ever get this kind of treatment again.
I didnft get to see much of Melinda last week. Both her mother and her boyfriend came to visit and that took up most of her time. She kept telling me that she wanted me to hang out with them but I thought it might me better for her to have some good alone time. Especially with Howie, her boyfriend. I did go with them to Yokohama one day. It was fun, we went to a nice park, ate ramen (my new favorite food, I could eat the stuff 3 time a day and not get sick of it) for dinner and then we got very lost on the train and somehow ended up at the Tokyo station. Look these places up on a map and youfll see that they are pretty far apart. Melinda kept getting all annoyed because she wanted to show them a good time and riding the trains during rush hours isnft much fun. But I had to remind her of how we felt the first time we did it. Being pushed into a train and being so close to a perfect stranger that you can feel them breath is an experience in itself. The train system is a big part of Japanese life and one they wonft soon forget. The only thing I really hate about being cramped noise to noise into a train is getting off when youfve been slowly pushed to the other side. When you get to your station some people get out to let people off but most stay on the train. You have to throw your weight around a little bit to make it to the other side before the doors close and you miss your station. I feel bad pushing people around because most of the time Ifm a lot bigger then them. Melindafs guests left today and after my tutoring I went over to the Pink House to make sure that she wasnft sad. Although we have less than a month to go before going home for Christmas itfs always hard to say good-bye. When I got to her room she was more interested in what was going on in my life than telling me about their visit. We talked for 3 hours straight and ate dinner at matsuya (remind me to tell you about that place one day) a lot had happened in the last week and we needed to catch up on everything. Ifm sad that they left but in a way I missed having a bestest Japan friend. Japan isnft going to be the same without her.
On Saturday I got my first taste of being an English teacher in Japan. I know what youfre thinking, g Do you really think that Kim should be teaching English?h Kim of all people should be banned from any sort of activity. I thought the same thing to but then I realized that there are a lot of things this year that Ifm doing for the sole purpose of to prove to myself that I could do. So why not teach English. I think I can handle it. So on Saturday night I taught an English conversation class in a little English style Tea House in Sagamihara. They market the English lessons as part of their business and must make a lot of money doing. I think things have slowed down a bit due to the coming holidays but I still had enough students. We did a reading about Wales and practiced the pronunciation and sentence structure and then talked about it. I was awesome; I really hope they ask for me back. I know that one day Ifll come back to Japan and do this full time.
Sunday was the big kimono day. The day that I took part in my first tea ceremony. But the day of the kimono really started on my way to the pink house to meet Scarlet and Daniel. I often walk the long way to the pink house because I find it more interesting to walk through the shrine then to walk on the street. This time I noticed I young couple taking picture of there daughter who had dressed up in kimono for her fifth birthday. I politely asked if I could take a pictures too and they more than happy to accommodate the stupid gaijin (foreigner). Her father even offered to talk a picture of myself and the girl. I thought that was quite nice. She was beautiful. I think youfll understand by my pictures. Next came the ceremony. A little explanation as to how it happened: Daniel teaches English to a women who runs a tea shop and teaches the tea ceremony out of her home. She thought that a good way to boost business would be to invite foreigners to be the guests served by her students. Daniel, Scarlet and I got to be the lucky foreigners. It was cool experience because not only did we get to be a part of it but we also learned a lot about how and why things were done the way they are. We even got to make and serve the tea ourselves which I donft think would have happened in any other case. I thought my kimono was beautiful but I really loved Scaretfs. I liked the deep red and the design but I looked way better on her than it did on me. I suited her more than me. I always thought wearing a kimono would be uncomfortable but the opposite was true. I enjoyed wearing it and was sad when it was finally time to take it off. I hope they ask me to come again so I can pick out and wear a different one. It was culturally a big experience for my and one that I will always remember.
Well there is more to say but I think my parents will kill me if I donft send more pictures soon, so I better let this be the end. Today I receive a care package from my mom full of Christmas stuff and totally put me in the Christmas spirit! Although Christmas isnft widely celebrated here, there are large Christmas displays on the streets and in the department stores. I used to get upset when people celebrated Christmas before December but this year Ifm going to break rule! To me itfs officially the Christmas season! I included some pictures of my room decorated with stuff sent by my parents!
Love you all and I canft to see you,
This time I thought I might write a little summary for each photo because they werenft all taken at the same time.
1. My Host Family! I love them!
2. My Host Father ( who hugged me yesterday, it was kinda cool)
3. My Host Mother
4. My Friend Craig playing the piano
5. I bike shop in Hashimoto
6. I found a Clairfs in Hashimoto Station! Remiko and I went crazy!
7. We dragged Craig kicking a screaming into it!
8. Melinda and Howie at the Sushi place we always go to
9. Howie eating sushi
10. My friends at the sushi place
11. The owner of the Sushi place ( also Justinefs host father)
12. My friend Remiko ( a good friend of all the rj students. She works in the international centre and lives just up the street from me! Everyone loves remiko!)
13. Sensei Ichikawa pretending to be a chicken (note: part of the black board says growaoshiri ga akai desh, which translated means g red butth! How this is going to help me with daily living I donft know but then again it is Ichikawa!
14. Sensei Ichikawa pretending to be a lotus stuck on wall
15. My old level one class ( missing: Scarlet)
16. Melinda, her mom and her boyfriend
17. There is a huge coffee company called UCC! I thought this sign was cool so I told a picture!
18. An entrance to china town in yokohama
19. Howie taking picture ( I think he slept with that thing)
20. The cute girl in the park ( See story above)
21. Me and cute girl in park
23 & 24. These pictures of me wearing a kimono are my favourite! I love the sunglasses
25. Scarlet and Daniel
26. Daniel and I
27. Scarlet and I
28. Me being shown how to make tea
29. A bad picture of scarlet
30. Scarlet making tea
31. Scarlet making tea
32. Scarlet making tea
33. Scarlet making tea
34. Daniel making tea
35. Close up of instrument used in tea ceremony
36. Scarlet and I
37. Scarlet and I
38. The three of Us
39. Danielfs student
40. My new Christmas Decorations (my room)
41. My new Christmas Decorations (random door)
42. My new Christmas Decorations (random door) 43. My new Christmas Decorations (my host parentfs room)