Monday, 26 May 2014

All over the place!

Well this week was huuuuuuuuuge! As they all seem to be! I have had such an odd week in terms of emotions. I spent the first half in almost denial as I had to leave my host family and then moving day finally came; it was tough. But then I had so much fun over the weekend and couldn't be in higher spirits. I never really know what to expect but that's cool, I will just move with the flow!

So I was writing on Tuesday last week because I was just so busy but I will start from Monday's activities today. You might remember that I was in all sorts of pain from the day's training last Sunday and had a fair bit of trouble when it came to simply moving. I made it clear to my hosts that I wasn't really looking forward to school the next day and they kindly said that they will sort it out for me.

~I forgot to mention last week~ On Sunday morning, an ill omen predicted a day of pain. In all my time here in Japan, I've been careful when traveling up and down the stairs at home. I thought I would be able to do the whole stay without falling down them but of course, on one of my last days here I slipped. I had socks on and I was rushing down for breakfast when I lost it. I slid around the corner and next thing I know, I'm on my ass, sliding down a good ten steps. And what a noise it made. Thankfully, only my dignity was hurt but it was hurt bad. Later that day I got beat up so bad that when I got home, I had to crawl up those same stairs.

So on Monday morning when I slept through the alarm and my host Dad came to my room to wake me up, (more of a formality than anything else) he said: "How are you feeling today, Brennan? Oh, a headache? Better stay home."

I didn't even say anything, I just slept until noon and healed up not too bad. Basically I could hobble without the aid of the wall or anything else, I was still pretty battered. I got up and got a few small jobs done but spent most of my time relaxing. It was quite nice.

A while ago I received some mail from home. It had a ton of good stuff in it but it also had a recipe from Mum. I had said earlier that I could really go for some of Mum's lasagna (it's the best.) So you can bet that that recipe was for just that. So my host Mum and I made it for dinner and although I was nervous cooking it for the first time, it came out just like home's. It was great!

Had to cut the top off cos I burnt it real good.
But it still tasted fine, just like home!
 So we had a huge feed that night because the recipe was set for a family of four Kiwi's and here we were feeding a few Japanese. We certainly ate well! And of course we talked late into the night because that's what we do. I don't even need to say that it was great fun because it always is!

As time went by, I slipped into a state of denial. I ignored the fact the I was going to be leaving on Thursday night. It didn't feel right to even think that I was going to be gone later this week. Every time it was brought up I got a shaky lip and lost the ability to speak. I couldn't believe it.

I went to my room and wrote some of last week's blog but I was just too tired to get it all done so I went to sleep instead.

Tuesday was a tough day. I got up with stiff legs and hobbled down the stairs. I made sure not to slip again. It was test week at school so I went and chilled out in the library. I read more comics than I did study but that's not so bad. School finished early because of the tests so I went home early and wrote some more of my blog before going to karate later that evening.

And man, was it rough. I've often said in the dojo back at home that "Tonight we should just fight for the whole hour!" I never really meant it because bugger that. Fighting for an hour, I'm not that crazy.

Well tonight's karate plan was fighting. Fighting for the whole two hours. What?! I didn't believe Sensei when he said we will be fighting all night but we sure did fight all night.

It started off well with proper effort and form but at the end, Fuyuki and I were literally jumping up and down, moving about in a circle whilst taking turns at smashing each other in the shoulder. We were literally just letting each other hit ourselves. It was brutal but hilarious. At the end of class we were laughing whilst nursing useless arms. I could barely move it!
It was pretty rough
On the way home in the car I was trying to take in all the surroundings because I knew I wouldn't be here for much longer and it seems my host Dad picked up on this because as we entered the tunnel that leads to the area where we live he said: "Well Brennan, how many times have we been through this tunnel I wonder." I couldn't really reply because I was scared I would cry.

We got home and I managed to eat dinner with one arm. It's no problem with chopsticks! It was about 11:00 pm when I stopped yarning with my hosts and realised that my blog was still waiting so I promptly went upstairs and got to work.

As soon as I had published the piece I went straight to sleep.

Wednesday was when the roller coaster really started.

I got up knowing that this was going to be my last full day with this family and it had me tearing up from the start. I was still absolutely shattered from the previous night's ridiculous endeavour so when I got to school I was pretty keen to slip back into that horrible habit of snoring on the desk.

But it was still test week so I went to the library to "study." Now normally, I would snooze a little, read a little and study a little but this time I wasn't down for anything really. I pulled some chairs together to make a couch and I lay down and slept for a good three hours. I'm not even exaggerating.

After my nap, I took the train home and got to packing. It felt wrong, I didn't want to do it at all. I got as much done as I could that day before dinner. The rest would have to wait for the next day.

I made my way down the stairs with heavy feet. Host Grandma was the first to say how quick the time's been and how much we've all done together. I couldn't even speak! We had DIY sushi for dinner and it was delicious, as always. I managed to keep it together for most of the night which I was pretty pleased about.

But they had me sign their door frame, where past foreigners who stayed have signed. I wrote my message: "Thank you, from the bottom of my heart."
Kokoro kara, arigatou
When I finished my scribble, I was trying to hide my tears when I turned to my host Mum who had the same expression as me. We both just burst. From then on it was a pretty teary evening. But it was still a great night. We talked about all the things we had done together and it was quite the line up. As I'm sure you've read through my blog, there are almost too many to list.

I'm actually getting a bit emotional now as I write this. 

I hugged my Mum and said good night. We became pretty close over the two months. She even said it was like I was her own son. I'm going to really miss the whole family. Of course I will meet them again whilst I'm here in Japan; We've already half organised another BBQ in the summer. But whilst I can see them, it's not the same.

I have this weird feeling that I don't really know how to describe. It's the same feeling I had when I left home in NZ.

I went into my room and it was pretty bare. I still managed to sleep like a baby though.

Thursday was the day. School was the same as the previous day but with less sleeping. I got some study done before I went home to finish packing. But as I was getting off the train I didn't realise I had left my lunch box on my seat. It wasn't until I was in the car, watching the train depart that I figured out what I had done. I felt like a right dick. No worries, a few phone calls later and it was found at the next stop. When I got home I managed to fit everything into my luggage but shit it was a tight squeeze.
Doesn't look like much but it's all pretty heavy
 I left my room as clean as I could, it was odd to look over the place where I had just spent so much time in as though I had never been there.
Not quite the same as it was when I got here but I tried my best!
I even luxed under the bed!
 We all went outside for photos. It was hard trying to hold my tears back but I didn't cry (until later) all the effort resulted in some pretty unconvincing smiles but that's no problem, I was beaming on the inside.
Yukiko, Mum

Hisashi, Dad

Ryo, Bro

Mayuko, Sis, she's going to NZ later on!
+Yuuki, successful photo bomb

Saori, Sis
Her husband, Yuuki in the background
Kaneyama and Ishimaru families.
My family
Shit I could go on forever about these guys. But I'm already writing a heap here so I will refrain from that.

We went out for dinner and had a mean feed of udon noodles. We ate and talked about all sorts of things, just as we always do and it was nice.
What a meal! I was stuffed after all this
It's sad, but I can still smile. It was the best time.
 We were driving to the next family's house but we stopped off at a convenience store first to get some supplies. It just so happened to be the same shop my host dad and I stop at after every karate training session. "Haha, how many times have we stopped here aye?" Countless times. Countless bruises and countless laughs.

We got in the car and I spaced out again. We were literally moving towards the end of my stay. When we arrived outside the Nunome family's house I burst into tears again, soon followed by Mum and Saori. Some hugs and good deal of effort later, I managed to pull it together. We went inside and talked over some tea.

Mum said told my new hosts how great our time was and I sat there yet again with tears in my eyes. I did my best and got through without too much water works. We said goodbye, thank you and see you again, shook hands with my Dad and that was that.

I had the best time with those guys and I certainly wont forget a minute of them. I can't wait to see them again! Everyday my Japanese is improving so one day I will be able to properly thank them for the love they showed me. I look forward to doing that.

I moved from the Kaneyama family to the Nunome family. It's sad but I'm excited as ever to be where I am now. My host brother is only one year younger than me and we're already great mates because we are in the same class at school! My host Mum is lovely and host Dad is a real cool guy.

Traditional bedding from here on!
I talked with my new family for a bit and went of the do's and dont's of everyday life here in the Nunome house. I soon went to bed. I get an extra hours sleep here because we are quite a bit closer to school than I was before. I will enjoy this!

The next day was a regular day at school. It wasn't too bad of a day but it picked up later when I got to do kendo for the first time in a wee while. It was good to scream again.

I got home and gave gifts to my host family which were well received. It talked with them for a while before I went to bed early. I was traveling tomorrow.

So I got up at 5:00 am ready for a 5:30 am start. I was going to Fukushima prefecture! There was some Rotary thing and four students from our district were going. That's literally all I knew.

Fukushima is better known lately for it's colossol nuclear muck up. That was a result of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that is still causing strife here.

We were taking the bullet train! It was a pretty long day of traveling but we started early so it was only like, 1:00 pm or something when we got to our final destination. On the way there we stopped for a transfer at Tokyo station. There were some foreigners walking about who looked about our age. There was this suspicious feeling that they were doing something similar to us.

So I yelled out "ROTARY?" to them and just like that, instant friends. They were going to the same place as us! We would meet them later in the day.

The district 2630 expedition!
Repping Japan, France and New Zealand!
We get to this big hotel and figure out that it was a big meeting. And a long day ensued. I didn't understand much of the Japanese speakers but there was a of talk about the earthquake and movements conducted by Rotary aimed at giving aid.

The fun started that night when we were given free leash to interact with each other. Lot's of foreign students, Japanese students, students who were going over seas and students who had been and returned.

It was an amazing night of great company, great food, music, dance and so much more.
The meeting
Straight into the food
So I've got chopsticks, but no food?
Mayu showing Jake how it's done!
Piece of cake
Cute poses

So many good people! 

Group photo 

Another version

Japanese students here to give their ideas to the recovery of affected areas

 After our splurge of free time and food, we went back to work. Everyone split up into separate groups and brainstormed ideas for a presentation to be given the next day regarding aid for Fukushima and other suffering areas.

Hard at work!
Some groups finished early (early being 11:00 pm) and went off to relax in the onsen or party. My group worked a bit longer though. We finished up at 10 past 12 which was quite unfortunate. The onsen closed at 12. Damn. I thought I had it bad, finishing so late but one of the girls from my district finished at 2:00 am!!!

Of course after the meetings broke up it was weakly "advised" that we should go to bed. But that was more of a formality.

More good times ensued!
Not so hard at work!

It's so cool when a bunch of exchange students get together because there is always something to talk about! Everyone has their own story that's so different to my own and it's great. There are so many accents and everyone can speak at least two languages but the odd few can do even better than that! I still can't get used to be told I have an accent.

I met so many awesome people and I was actually blown away at how close we all became in such a short time. Friends set for life, really. I can't wait

Earlier, my district's head man got us #2630 kids together and told us of tomorrow's real plans.

We wouldn't be attending the meeting from 9:00 am, we wouldn't give presentations or hang about until mid afternoon with everyone else but instead we would straight up bunk the whole thing and hang out in Tokyo for the day.

I felt a bit guilty leaving early but you can't really say no to the boss, right?

So I went to bed at around four in the morning and got up at six. It took half an hour in the shower to wake me up before breakfast at seven. 

I'm not normally one to complain about food but breakfast didn't do it for me. It was probably because I wasn't all there but I had a small bit to eat. 

We went back to the station, got back on the bullet train and went into one of the busiest places on earth. And shit was it busy.

Arrival in Tokyo
Almost got split up and lost in the station. It was an actual nightmare
Map of the subway.
Good luck
Not too crowded

Managed to find a seat and time for a photo!
Must be foreigners, taking photos of people walking.
But with good reason.
Shibuya crossing. It's pretty damn crowded

Japan in a nutshell?

More of these restaurants where you pay money to cook your own food

It looks like you've already eaten it but it's pretty delicious!
Monja-yaki ~ a mess of all sorts of nice things
 We wandered about Tokyo for quite some time and it was quite interesting. The city is loud, moving and it smells bad. You'd be walking around and every now and then you'd catch a whiff of something totally rank. It was awesome to see the big smoke but you wouldn't want to breathe it for very long.

I had a great time in the fashion shops. I didn't end up buying anything nor did I plan on doing so but I had a great time informing shop assistants about the weird Engrish on their shirts. The funniest was one lady who's shirt simply said "BRAIN" and she had no clue. So I told her and she fully freaked out. It was hilarious.

Juliette, the French girl and I went and had a long conversation with one shop clerk about all kinds of stuff. Japanese people's reactions to foreigners speaking Japanese is priceless.

After a very long day, we got back on the trains to go back to the main station. We ended up missing ours stop and had to bunny hop between trains before we finally made it back.

We got our tickets sorted and had literally six minutes to get from the entrance of the station to the bullet train area. We almost became bullets ourselves as we shot through the station at break neck speeds.

I had foolishly played the gentleman card before we knew about the departure time and offered to take some of the girl's heavier luggage. Of course I'm going to show off a little bit in front of pretty girls but once I had offered to take the bags and realised how heavy they were, we were running and it's not so gentleman-like to return the heavy luggage.

I brought it upon my self really.

We made it to the train with seconds to spare. We got in our seats and pretty much all fell asleep.

I should probably mention how cool the bullet train is: it moves at 320 kmph. It feels as though you're gliding as opposed to rattling about like the school train.

Soon enough we were back in Nagoya. We had dinner in the station and then got back in the car for the final leg home.

It was a long day but it was so fun. I'm keen to have another look through Tokyo in the future but I don't think I could live there. It's just too noisey.

I got home and pretty much went straight to bed. It was a good sleep. I quite like futons.

Well that's all for now. Sorry for another late/long update but there wasn't time to write about all this time.

Until next time!!
Japanese technology

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