Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lots of recent events! All of equal importance!

Hey guys! It’s been a while. I’m a liiiitle drunk right now so if things seem off, blame it on the al-al-al-al-alal-cohol. ‘kay? By the way, me posting drunk is not going to become a “thing,” it is just a coincidence.

Juuuuust a coincidence. Though typing is real hard right now I’ll do my best. (Editor's note: The editor is me. Editor;'s note: Actually did real good typing in the end, editor should get paid half as much as she is receiving now. Author's note: Confirmed, editor should receive no money as she is the same person as the author)

I haven’t posted in a while because a lot has been going on lately. There was Christmas, and now there’s so much preparation for New Years that I barely have a minute to myself, and have hardly seen the internet in the last week. Which makes me sad. I miss you all.

First things first. On Christmas, I switched host families, because the Yoshimura family could only support me for one semester. This is fairly common and I knew from the beginning that I would have to switch families, but nonetheless it was sad to have to say goodbye.

Cake made especially for Christmas at the Yoshimura house the day before I left, and me freaking excited to eat said cake.


But I do have some good news; my new host family is amazing.

For that last three days I’ve been adjusting to the new rules of the house, the new customs. Like how I have to keep my room clean, and wake up at nine (NINE? There’s an AM of those?!) everyday even though I have a holiday. The order of bathing is different (in Japan, you take a shower and clean yourself and wash your hair etc first, and then afterwards you lay in the bathtub solely for relaxing and warming purposes. I used to always bathe first, but now I bathe second or third. I think five months ago it would’ve been gross to see the occasional hair floating past, but now I’m like, “Eh, it’s clean,” so it’s definitely not a big deal to not be first in the tub anymore), and of course the family is different.

First of all, in my first host family, there wasn’t really a father presence. He was a dentist so he left for work before I got up, and he came home from work shortly before I would go to bed (by the way, going to a bar with coworkers is considered, "part of the job," which is why most Japanese fathers don't come home until after nine or ten on work nights). We only really ever saw each other Sunday nights. But now, especially because it’s a holiday (New Years) and everyone has off, I’ve been seeing my new host dad very often. He’s great, easy to joke with, and although he’s a bit strict at time and teaches me a lot of words I don’t know (which can be frustrating when I get the pronunciation wrong), he seems like a great host dad.

Also, I have a host mom and a host BABY SISTER. Emphasis on the BABY because she’s only 15 months old. Before I didn’t have any siblings in the house at all, so I knew from the beginning this would be an amazing experience.

She does cute things on her own naturally. It's a gift.

The host sister’s name is Yukie, and she is so far the most well behaved baby I know. Sure, she gets grumpy when she can’t eat or sleep, but so do I, so that’s fair. The minute she saw me, she smiled and clapped her hands and not long after called me, “Ne ne,” which is short for, “Oneesan,” or “big sister,” in Japanese. When I have free time (which lately I haven’t, I’ll get on that in a minute), I play with her as often as I can.

The first few days were difficult to adjust to with my host parents, and my host mom is an actual mom (that is, she has a baby), so she spends almost all of her time with Yukie. Usually she works at a hair salon, and my host dad works at the family business, but since she has Yukie, the baby, she spends all of her time at home as of late. That’s pretty typical in Japan, I think; It’s not uncommon for a woman to quit or take a break from her job to spend time with her child. The mother-child bond is VERY important in Japanese culture. The dad works, the mom stays home with the kid. It’s not a sexist thing; it’s just the way it is. Women that want to work, do, and they figure out a way around becoming a housewife/full-time mom. Women that can and want to, stay home with the kid.

Host mom and Yukie smiling as big as they can!

Anyway, it took a few days of adjusting but I think I’m finally getting into the swing of things with this new family (and the bath buttons. Bathrooms here often have an intercom system, so that when I was trying to heat up the somewhat cool water, I accidentally called attention to my host mom like four times. Oops. It would help if I actually read Japanese before pushing buttons).

Picture into the living room from my bedroom across the hall. Funny story, I was going to post pictures of my new host family house and then my camera battery died. Whoops. So, you know, here's a photo. (Editor's note: Originally written as poto. Then phooto. So close.)

So, I’ll talk about what I’ve done lately!

On Christmas, I moved out of the Yoshimura residence and into the Yanase residence. Before unpacking my bags, we sat around and talked for about an hour and then we went over to my host father’s sister’s house. She has two kids; a daughter around 8 and a son around 6, and there was a Christmas tree and a lot of food and other relatives (host grandma and host grandpa, host uncle too), along with Christmas cake (!!!!) and a Wii (I played on the Wii with the youngest son for a while. I still got it!) and it was VERY Christmas-esque. I was glad. I had been worried that Christmas would pass uneventfully, but eating Christmas cake TWICE plus being in a family-environment was simply fantastic.

Amazing Christmas Cake with Hikaru, host-cousin, in the background.

On the 26th I didn’t do much of anything; I got up at nine (NINE, THOUGH) and ate breakfast, played with Yukie for an alarming four hours (without realizing it), helped host mom around the house with cleaning and dishes and such, nothing super eventful.

Great view of the city from the balcony, however. This was the morning it snowed (on the 29th of December. The snow was all gone within a few hours, however).

On the 27th, I went to the ward office to do official ward office things, like telling people I changed my address. Big stuff! Then I went to the grocery store with my host mom and I also went to Starbucks afterwards, because I wanted to use their wi-fi to get started on my new kindle (I WANT TO USE YOU, NEW KINDLE), because I need to use wi-fi but ONCE to be able to use it forever without wi-fi, but I couldn’t figure out the wi-fi system and it was all so very tiring. So I still can’t use my Kindle, is the short of it. I need to get that done so I can READ, DAMMIT.

Here's an unrelated picture taken near my old host family house, on the bike path that I took everyday, but on this particular occasion, took to get to the train station when I went to Ohsu Temple with the French and company.

On the 28th, yesterday, the cleaning began. New Years’ in Japan is equivalent to Christmas in America, only it’s BIGGR. The last days before the new year, lots of cleaning is done to enter the new year with a clean slate. There are certain customs, certain decorations, et cetera, that are placed, and everyone takes part. As previously mentioned host dad has off of work, because New Years’ is coming up. This goes for everyone. They usually have about a week off to prepare for the holiday (and they clean their workplace, too.)

Cleaning's getting started; host mom left, Valerie right.

And when I say “clean,” I mean CLEAN. From roof to floor. Wall to wall. NOTHING is left uncleaned. It’s like what America’s spring-cleaning is supposed to be, but times ten because everything is actually cleaned.

Me and Valerie ready for some cleaning! (Editor's note: Those things are just props, we used buckets and rags)

So Valerie, my French friend and also the exchange student that was staying with the Yanase family last semester, came over yesterday and we and my host mom cleaned while Yukie ran around being cute. I cleaned an entire table set (include Yukie’s chair, mind you), plus all the doors and doorframes in the house. Then we ate and hung out and I forget the rest but nothing eventful.

And TODAY, after waking up at 7:40 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) me, host mom, host dad, and Yukie went to meet Valerie at a cafĂ© and we ate toast and drank coffee (I love you, coffee.) before heading over to host dad’s mom’s house, where Valerie and I got on our hands and knees and washed two flights of stairs, wall-to-wall, roof to floor, and then some. We ate some noodles and then went to a mall, WHERE I BOUGHT THE CUTEST SHOES EVERRRR, LET ME SHOW YOU:

If woman and shoes could marry, these would be the ones. That's why I'm posting this picture three times larger than it needs to be.

Actually for those of you who noticed (nobody, I’m talking to myself), yes they DO look like Kairi’s shoes in Kingdom Hearts 2! (Editor's note: I think? Picture for reference) :


That was part of (read: 40%) the incentive to buy them! But actually I love them and they’re comfortable and they will go with anything (I wanted to get pink ones but nothing actually matches pink, beige was DEFINITELY the better option, right? Right, totally). The kids played in the playroom, afterwards kids, Valerie, host dad, and I got some Starbucks and then we got home to eat Kushikatsu, otherwise known as pork cutlet on a stick. LOOOOOOOOOVE PORK CUTLET.

And then I took pictures and now I’m here!

Will definitely keep you updated on the upcoming events to be had for New Years; I’m so excited to be participating in such an important Japanese event!

Thanks for reading, see you soon!

P.S., in getting the internet cord so that I could post this (because host dad “forgot” the password to the wi-fi, which I think is a conspiracy to make me leave my room), I woke up Yukie and officially feel like a terrible person. Buuuuut maybe it’ll encourage host mom to tell host dad to “remember” the damn password.

Ohhh, she’s screaming now. I suck.

P.S.S., we also had a goodbye party for people that left Japan at the end of first semester over a week ago, and went to a bar/pub over a month ago, here's the pictures because what?

 I started this when I challenged Valerie to an arm-wrestling match, all hell broke loose.
There are more, but I am le tired.

P.S.S.S., here's pictures from when I went to the Aquarium with Yoshimura-host mom like two months ago and never posted pictures about it, too much fun! By the way, the whole time we were looking at fish and squid and jellyfish and whatever, Keiko was like, "Oh, that looks good. Yeah, we eat that. Oh, we should have that for dinner tomorrow!" etc. It was basically like being in a walk-in menu.

Japan does pretty sunsets often.

Dolphin show:

This adorable guy above was staring at me for a solid minute before I finally took out my camera to take a picture, only it was still on video mode so it took a video, and then he finally looked away. 
Dolphins being dolphins.

Beluga above, at first really ugly, but they're smart! Like, dolphin-smart!

Dolphin show clip! Ohhh, ahhh.

The dolphin bowed with the trainers, which for some reason blew my mind.

This is a beluga. It is at first hideous but it grows on you.

TEENY-TINY seahorses

TEENY-TINY jellyfish.

An eel, just chillin'.



Pretty! I think this was where I let a tiny crab or crawfish or SOMETHING crawl on me, which involved me going, "OkayokayokayokayokayokayoOKAYOKAYOKAYI'MDONENOW." It tickled for the first half second, and then it creeped me out. The guy standing nearby laughed.

These pictures actually turned out really well.

Lol. That face.

So far, no dancing penguins. Happy Feet has misled me.

Just a really cute mailbox outside of the aquarium, holding my fin-hand.

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