“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good.” –Muse, ‘Feeling Good’
I believe I can deem my first weekend in Japan (without jet lag) a success!
On Sunday I met my friend Shoko at a central train station and we went to Nishinomiya Gardens, the largest shopping center in the Kansai region. It was more like a small town than a mall, but eh, details. It has a full grocery store, department store, drug store, food court, movie theater, and dozens and dozens (if not hundreds) of specialty shops. We shopped around for some school supplies, and I even ran into an acquaintance from my exchange program! What were the chances? Shoko and I caught up and had lunch at a little restaurant that specialized in rice omelets (I take back ever saying I disliked them), and after stopping by a bookstore, we parted ways at my station and promised to meet up again soon.
Monday was slightly different. It was a national holiday, so I brought my host brother Akihiro to an American football game about a half-hour train ride away. He walked quickly and didn’t seem to want to be associated with me, but I don’t really blame him. After all, what thirteen-year-old Japanese boy would want to be seen with a 変な外人 (strange foreigner) girl? He read his manga book on the train, but once we got to the stadium he seemed to loosen up a little bit. I managed to ask in Japanese for tickets that had been reserved under my name, and we took a seat on the bleachers. After attempting to explain the meaning of “ironic” to him (アイロニック, or aironikku, apparently not a concept common in Japanese culture), we bought some sodas and braced ourselves for the bad weather the gloomy sky seemed to promise. Luckily it only drizzled, and the Asahi Challengers won 16-0. I have to admit, even though I’m not a fan of football, the game was immensely interesting, and differed from football in America more than I imagined it would. Each team’s cheerleaders were actively involved with the audience, and even with the teams when they made their entrances onto the field (and they were entrances all right, complete with bowing). Throughout the entire game the cheerleaders led the crowd in chants, which were all in English. Still, I was the only non-Japanese person there, so that should give you an idea about how dramatic the minority demographics are here. After the game I found Noriko, an acquaintance of mine who I met back in the United States through my kyūdō instructor, who plays women’s football for the Sacramento Sirens. She works as a coach for the Challengers during the off-season, and introduced me to one of her friends who has connections with women’s football teams in Japan. I’m starting to think I really should have just been a football player….
After the game, Akihiro took me into a video rental store (no Netflix in Japan yet). It was so interesting to see all the movies I love with different titles and alternate covers. For instance, Tangled is translated to “On Rapunzel’s Tower” in Japanese. We walked around the shops on the street for a while as he looked for a specific magazine, but we eventually gave up the search and made our way back to the station. We stopped by the shopping center near our house on the way back, and Akihiro showed me a music/DVD/game store, and we talked about what kinds of media we like and the prices of game systems in America versus Japan. It turns out that one of his favorite movies is Howl’s Moving Castle (one of my all-time favorites), and we’ve both played a lot of the same video games. I tried to win him a Nintendo 3DS out of a prize machine, but no such luck. It’s the thought that counts, right…? We also went to the bookstore next door where we talked about comics, and he showed me the series that are popular in Japan. Overall I think we bonded as much as we could have with my limited knowledge of Japanese. Today he even said “konnichiwa” to me when I came home (happy sobs)! I am so pathetic.
I find it strange that the more I get used to my host family, the more I want to speak in English. Has anyone else who has studied/is studying abroad experienced this? Perhaps it’s because as I become more able to communicate with them, I become more relaxed and revert back to what’s normal for me. I’m not sure.
So more recently, I just found out that there is a typhoon headed our way! I’ve never been in a typhoon/hurricane. When it hits it’s only supposed to be a category 1, but that’s still 74-95mph winds. So exciting! And if a storm warning is issued, classes will be cancelled. I don’t really want class to be cancelled, as I like going to school (today was my first day and it was great), and I really want to delve into learning the language. I know I’ll eat these words in a couple of weeks, but I’m just ready to start studying! Anyway, I promise to update soon with information on classes and such–if I survive!!