Thursday, April 9, 2009

My first taste of hiking and updates!!!

Last night with the Brits and other Japanese students.

We were at this really important Shrine in Nagoya, but it was under construction.

Me playing in the woods.

Mame and I on a bridge in Tokyo!

More playing in the woods.

This was in Kamakura...it`s a really cool tree. :D

Ahh, the woods of Japan...we were actually outside of Sapporo.

More...

Look at these shoes!!

PEANUT BUTTER! It`s almost gone...

Soba ocha! The best tea here...

A bridge and mountains by school.

Me on my bike!!!

More woods...that is Kato-san.

Me! I saw this log, and I had to have a picture with it. :D

Kato-san going down our first hill.

Me messing around as we climbed back up!


Hello everyone! I have been terribly busy with school, friends, riding my bike and walking around Sapporo, and spending time with my host family. That is definitely a good thing, though! I finally have time to update this, and I am doing it for my sake and for yours! I have a lot to say, so here goes!

The pictures are from Thursday, mainly. Kate and I went for a bike ride that day in the afternoon, because I finally had a bike! We rode the Shiroishi bike path for about 20 minutes, and then we saw tons of hiking trails!! We decided to go out for a mini-hike. Lol. We weren`t really dressed for it, but decided to explore anyway. It was too gorgeous not to! The weather here has been great; we have had tons of sunshine ever since returning from Honshu!! I love the sun, and it makes any good day a better one...sorry, off topic...let`s see. We spent about 30 minutes playing around in the woods, but it was getting late, and we had to go back to our houses for dinner. I was so happy to be riding a bike. Honestly, there were so many simple things about Thursday that just made me smile. I am not hard to please, so I guess just the beauty of the woods, mixed with the excitement of finally getting a bike was overwhelming in the best way possible. I am so glad that I was able to feel these great emotions away from home.

I eat breakfast and dinner with my host family, and I typically eat lunch here at Hokusei. We`ve had ramen: one of my favorite meals ever, fish twice: delicious in Japan, oyakodon: chicken, eggs, and onion over rice, udon: not my favorite, but still very tasty, and curry: another one of my favorites; it`s generally spicy, which I love! Some other foods that we`ve had are apple and mayo salad, potato salad, miso soup, grapefruit, banana, dried fruit, daikon: Japanese radish that is very delicious, raw and fried tofu: fried tofu may be my favorite taste here, hard-boiled eggs: I didn`t think I liked those, but apparently I do, cheese, nori: dried seafood-I generally have this and rice for breakfast. I`ve had cereal a couple times, but again, I have really grown to LOVE plain rice. I have had it at every meal for at least 3 days now. It`s so good. And unless you`ve had it, you don`t understand. :) Kate is able to pack her lunch, and she often brings onigiri, which she calls the Japanese version of peanut butter and jelly. Sometimes it`s plain, but other times it has spicy salmon or cheese in it. Very good! She`s so nice that she lets me try every version! Kato-san ga daisuki desu! Anyway, I am definitely enjoying the food here. I love it. I didn`t think I would like it this much, but I am so glad that I was wrong about the food. I already know that I am going to miss it. I asked my okaasan if I could help her make dinner tonight, because I want to learn how to cook Japanese food, and she said, "ok!" Yaya!! Daijobu. :D

Speaking of my host family, I really like them. They teach me so much about the culture, and I love practicing my Japanese every night when I go home. My okaasan-mother-knows a lot more English than my otousan-father-so we communicate better. It`s good that she only speaks a little though, so I can practice my Japanese. The last few days have been especially busy, so I haven`t seen them as much as I like, but hopefully I will have more time this week. On Tuesday of last week, we went bike shopping after dinner, lol. I felt so special that they were taking me out so late. They never cease to make me feel special or wanted in the home. Oh yea! I have chores too!! Normally, I would think that people would just get frustrated with having chores, but the more I think about it, I like doing them. It makes me feel like I am a part of the family, which is the whole point of homestay!!! Yay! Right now, I primarily take out the trash every day, but I know I will have to sweep soon too. Once I learn how to use the washing machine-lol-I will be doing my own laundry, which I prefer to do anyway...Umm, and I clean the shower every so often too. Oh yea, in Japan, people shower at night. Yes, that`s right. I have never ever showered at night, so I was a little weary about it, and I had no idea how I would do my hair and stuff after sleeping on it...Needless to say, I over-thought the situation a little...But it is fine. I actually like showering at night. Typically, we talk for a couple hours after dinner, and then around 9 pm, I get in the shower, and I am ready for bed by 9:30. Of course, I still do a little studying and writing in my journal before I actually go to bed, but they can use the shower if they need to at that time. So yea, I like that routine. :)

I have a nice story about my first shower at my host family`s house. They have a thermostat that you adjust for water temperature every time you take a shower, so I set it on what I like...and then I got in, and tried it out. Well, I didn`t have very much hot water. In fact, it only lasted for about 2 minutes, and even then, it wasn`t that hot...CRAP!! How can I take cold showers all semester??? Lol, I freaked out about that too. I could only bear to wash my hair, and then I had to get out. I was too cold and being cold it a pet peeve of mine, so you can imagine how I was feeling. For that to happen on the first night worried me a little, but ever since then, I have had wonderfully hot showers, and it has been great! I think the first night, I didn`t have one of the dials completely on, so that`s why the water wasn`t getting so hot. Anyway...that is just something for you to giggle about.

The first couple days, I rode with my otousan-father-to the bus station called Oyachi, because it is very close to school. I lucked out that he normally goes there anyway for work, so we were able to ride together. I would ride the bus in the morning, and then walk home in the afternoon. The walk took me about an hour, which isn`t bad, I guess. I knew a couple weeks ago that I primarily wanted to use a bike for transportation, so I looked around for a cheap one. Well, I couldn`t find one, but there was a bike sale at school and Tada! I found one! Yayayay! It was pretty cheap too, only 4800 yen, which is roughly 50 bucks. I was given a certain amount for transportation to and from school, and all you need to know is that it was more than the 50 bucks I used to pay for the bike....:D It takes me about 25 minutes to get to school by bike, which is just a tad bit less time than it takes when I ride the bus. So, I get to leave on my own schedule, get exercise, and get there sooner! That`s a no-brainer...

Classes are really easy here. I mean, REALLY easy. Japanese class will get harder-hopefully-but the others may or may not. In the morning, we have Japanese class every day, except Wednesday, for 3 hours, and then on Thursday I will have an Impressionist class with Jason for an hour or so. Fridays, however, are a little bit more busy than I am used to. I had class until about 6 pm yesterday, pretty much straight through with a break only at lunch. Yuck!!! Oh yea! Jason normally offers Christian and Shinto Traditions in the fall, but not in the spring. However, Kate asked him if he would offer an independent study for her, and I had been interested in the class too before I came. A couple days ago, he agreed to let me do it as well, so I will also be in that class! Yay!! I would say that I am most excited about that one. Lol, I am just thinking about all the hours I have this semester, and I swore I would never do this again. I am technically signed up for 22 hours. That sounds like a lot, and if anyone knows exactly how awful it is to have that many hours, it is me, but in Japan, everything is different. And having classes with Jason, the director here, will make things a little bit easier as well. At this point, I am not worried at all. I still feel like I will have plenty of time to explore Japan and do what I want to do, all the while learning what I want to learn. :D

I have Japanese class with 6 other BCA students, and we are all in Level 1 Japanese...I have mixed feelings about that, but I don`t want to make a big deal about it, so I am taking the high road! Lol. So far, homework has consisted of hiragana practice worksheets...they take me and Kate about 5 minutes....lol.

What else should I tell you about??? Oh yea! We don`t have classes on Wednesday, so Kevin, Elias, Kate, and I-we call ourselves the Vegetable club-ventured out to Shin Sapporo and Odori for some shopping. I may have already written about this; I don`t remember. Anyway, I bought a scarf!! It is brown and turquoise, and it is very fashionable. :D I really like wearing it, and I am definitely glad that I bought it. Oh yea, I found a Costco the other day...I was out running, and I stumbled-not literally, although that is definitely a possibility with me-upon a Costco. Woo!! Kate and I love that place...in Hawaii, we bought a 4 lb. bag of trail mix, and just finished it last week. It was our security snack. Lol.

Oh, I have a funny story about this morning. Okaasan said today is laundry day, so I went upstairs and got my laundry. We put it in, and she showed me how to turn it on and everything. I went upstairs to get dressed, and she continued making breakfast. After about 20 minutes, I realized that I left my "With You" card in my pants pocket, and they were in the washer. OH NO!!!!! I freaked out, because I just spent 10000 yen, or about 100 bucks on it, and I had only used it once. It is basically an all-access pass to the bus and subway, and it is pre-paid, so I would have just wasted so much money if I had ruined it. I went down and told okaasan, and I wish I had recorded her reaction. It was in a very high-pitched voice, "AAAAHHH! Ichiman en!!! OHHH NO!!!" Now, I was really freaked out. Crap! She stopped the machine, and we looked through the clothes. We couldn`t find it. Then we carefully looked through all of them again, once they were all out of the washer and dripping on the floor, and then I found it. Few!! And she said that it would still work, so thank God!! I just dodged a huge bullet there. Oh man. I was so nervous about it, and afterwards, I felt terrible because she was right in the middle of making pancakes for breakfast-man were they good! It was my fault that the last one was a little burnt. And it`s not like it was just one tiny pancake. No, the Japanese pancakes we had this morning were about an inch thick and the size of a regular frying pan. Ginormous if you ask me. We did cut them into four pieces though. I felt so badly, but she kept saying, "yokatta desu" and "daijobu". The only thing I could say was "gomen nasai!" Sorry!!! Anyway, I thought I would end with a funny story from this morning. Lol.

Kate and I are off for a picnic in the woods this afternoon, eating onigiri, bagels with peanut butter, and strawberries!!! Oishi!! Delicious. Man, you guys are learning so man Japanese words...hahaha. Tomorrow for Easter, we will be going to a church-surprise!-and then to a Jazz concert in the evening. I will also get to meet Kate`s host family, so I am very excited!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

First few days at the Ito House!

Inside the Sapporo Dome
Home run, home run, Inaba!!
Inside again.
Outside...
And from a ways away!
My beautiful room!!


video
This is the video from my room!!