This time it starts off with a BBQ and a great time. It was a rainy Sunday and we didn't know what to do. We sat around in the lounge over breakfast thinking about what to do with this not so great weather.
My host family has a bach which is about 10 minutes away and up in the mountains somewhere so we went there for a BBQ! We set up the grill under shelter on the balcony and then went out looking for stuff to cook.
Host Dad and Asahi stayed back to set up the BBQ some more and I went out with host Mum and Kumi in search of nice meats to grill. We got a whole bunch of stuff and returned to find that most of the beer had been drunk in our absence. No worries, a feast lay ahead of us!
|Kumi on the grill|
|Aw man, I'm hungry again!|
|Not cooking with gas today|
|Taking a break from all the food|
|Host Mum and I. Chopsticks vs knife and fork|
But the weather let us down. There is a word in Japan; Ame-Otoko. It translates to "Rain Man/Boy." Basically, bad weather always follows the AmeOtoko and poor Asahi seems to be one.
When he would go inside, the rain would let up. Then he'd come out and it'd start up again. He even went outside at one point when it was clear and yelled out "I am Rain Man!" and it literally started up and soaked him. It was hilarious and uncanny.
We went inside after our feed and ended up arm wrestling. I don't know why. The stakes were the loser had to snort a line of black pepper. I won over Asahi and he did the thing. It looked painful.
Then I versed the host Dad and I swear I was going to win. I was so confident that I stopped just above the table to prolong his suffering but the cheater grabbed my arm with both hands and overpowered me. No one filmed the battle so he denied cheating and I had to snort a line of pepper.
It was like fire had rushed through my nose and ignited half of my face. My eye was watering and it was horrible. I don't know how many times I blew my nose but every time I did, a whole bunch of pepper would come out. I was like a pepper shaker.
Aside from hurting like hell, it was hilarious. What an awesome day it was.
The next day, Monday was pretty standard. Host Mum and Dad had work and I slept in. I pretty much relaxed all day. I didn't take any pictures at all but I can promise that it was a pretty chill day.
Tuesday brought with it both pain and excitement.
It started off as a standard day with a nice sleep in but the I was brimming with excitement because it was Tuesday. Tuesday means karate. After so long I was able to fight again. (It was like, a whole week!)
I got to training and changed into my gi. What a good feeling! Fuyuki turned up and he was rearing to go as well.
We started off with the regular warm up fights and then it got more serious. We were an hour into the session and we were sweating like anything. We were hoping for a break but Sensei ordered us all to do a 10 minute round.
Fuyuki and I were full up with adrenaline so I knew straight away it was gonna be one of those fights where only one person walks away unscathed. If they're lucky. I think we both knew that neither of us would be able to walk after the fight.
I was hoping that he would pace it out because of the fact that it was 10 minute round but he started off with all guns blazing. It was about two minutes in when he landed his killer punch. Whilst it put me out of the fight for a good 30 seconds (to Fuyuki's cheers) I finally figured out how he does it.
He pushes of his back foot into a literal lung position, punching with his reverse hand. Because of the height change, he is at the perfect level to hit me in the sternum. Combined with the height is the forward momentum and the power of a the reverse punch. With that, I was out.
But now I knew and I got him with it as soon as I had my breath back.
At about seven minutes in, I landed a half power front kick to his guts. I was kind of surprised at how easily it just sunk in. So I skipped stance and got him with a bit more power and he hit the deck. He rolled away and then ran off and out of the dojo for fear of throwing up.
I got a much needed break and my pride swelled a bit. He came back soon enough, a little bit paler than before. We got straight back into it and had what I think was our most vicious punching bout yet.
We were both gunning it with energy from our small break. We were both aiming to kill. We were both landing punches. It was starting to take its toll on me and I felt my breath leaving me. But I pushed forwards and found an open spot in Fuyuki's guard and abused it. I had the upper hand now, he was moving back and I was landing hits.
Then out of literally nowhere came a front kick (quite similar to the one I got him with earlier) and it put me way out. I stopped and lay down (actually I fell down in pain.) Fuyuki also fell over and we just laughed. There was about a minute left and we literally just tapped each other for the 60 seconds. It was an amazing fight but we were done.
After a big break and some stretching, we were all ready for the last part of the session. Tournament style fighting. Fuyuki and I had two fights. These fights were conducted as if it was a tournament, with judges and all.
I won the first fight but it was close. Our second fight was tough.
Fuyuki pushed me around and dealt to me in the first half but I managed to get a sneaky back step head kick in. That got me a point and time to collect myself. For the next thirty seconds I layed into him and I reckon it was pretty good. I felt the hits land and I even put a mean roundhouse kick across his ribs.
This is great! I remembered the success of my front kick earlier and put all of my power into another one. In slow motion I saw my leg come up, followed by my foot. I had invested all of my power into this kick. It was rising at high speed when I saw Fuyuki's elbow come down. All of the momentum and force of my kick was exerted through my little toe as it collided with his elbow.
Now this is simple physics. "Every action will have an equal and opposite reaction." Newton said it himself. And we know that my little toe is not going to move Fuyuki's elbow so that means all of the force my foot was moving with is going to me rebounded backwards. Into my little toe.
I thought it broke. I'm still limping now, a week later.
|Doesn't look so bad!|
|It got worse|
|Poor little thing|
I got home and had a shower and a feed. I went back to the lounge to find my host Mum had captured a beetle. Standard stuff. She was planning on giving it to her mate who collects bugs.
I don't think I like bugs.
|It ate a whole grape that host Mum had given it.|
|"Oh shit!" I thought, "It's gonna eat me!"|
|Host Mum wasn't phased in the slightest|
Wednesday was another one of those days where nothing happened. I got a small shock though when I was having a shower. I was standing there thinking about how creepy it would be if someone could see through the big frosted window to my left. (Dunno why I thought this.)
But of course I turned and looked at the window. And sure enough, I was being watched.
There was a frog sitting on the window (what is gravity, anyway?) just chilling out like he lived here. It was a bit bigger than my thumb but I reckon it would've eaten me if I gave it a chance. So I got out of the shower quicker than Usain Bolt runs a hundred metres.
Thursday was yet again pretty relaxed. I limped to karate and did my best. It was a hard session. Whenever I fought I would pretty much stand still or walk very slowly towards my opponent. I relied mainly on punches because whenever I kicked it felt as though I was breaking my toe.
I got home pretty exhausted and went to bed.
I just remembered a story I wanted to tell last week but forgot. When Jake and I were in Nagoya the day before the roller coasters, we were waling about the city as per usual.
We were speaking English because it's a nice change and it's good to be able to completely understand each other. As we were walking and talking, we got stuck behind a big group of high school girls who were of course speaking Japanese.
Because Jake and I are bilingual, we could hear and understand what these girls were saying. Jake and I were just talking about pizza but these girls were saying something like this:
"I wonder what they are saying! I wish we could speak English, foreigners are so cool. It's too bad they can't speak Japanese and are just tourists."
I heard this and thought that this was just too good. So I said to Jake in Japanese with an extra loud voice as we overtook the slow girls:
"Yea aye! But if we speak Japanese they get so surprised!"
And they all just about got whiplash as they turned to look at us and their faces were absolutely priceless. We were in hysterics for the next few minutes because these girls pulled the best faces. It was a moment of magic and I still smile now as I remember it. I really wish I had photos of it.
Anyways. Friday was back to school. My alarm was set for six in the morning but I woke up at 4:30 am and I panicked. "Awww man, I don't wanna get up!" But then I saw the clock and went back to sleep.
I repeated the above mistake another two times at half hour intervals until finally it was six. I got up and had a huge breakfast. I got to school and it was pretty hot. I had forgotten to wear an under shirt so every drip of sweat could be seen through my white shirt. It wasn't even nine o clock yet but my shirt was transparent and I was embarrassed.
We had a big opening ceremony and then got straight into tests. Luckily, I'm exempt from tests because I'm foreign. But I studied in the library all day and I was pretty pleased with my work. It made me want to get more done instead of sleep. I'm actually looking forward to school on Monday a wee bit!7
We had lunch and as per usual, it was delicious!
The leaves are "hoba-zushi." It is sushi rice with things like fish or vegies in it. Hoba means leaf. The rice is served on the leaf and it gets some flavour from it or something. It's delicious! It's also unique to this area so I feel quite special being able to eat it.
|It's pretty satisfying to see this and understand it|
|I probably have the cutest lunch in class with all this pink and all these hearts|
It was a good day.
But Saturday was the highlight of the week.
Finally, after the sadness of our seniors leaving. After the excitement of the thought of us becoming seniors ourselves. After all these things, it was time for us to meet the new kids!
We went to the regular meeting as always, speeches ready and a little nervous. We arrived at the big hotel and sure enough, there were the chairs and tables all lined up as they always are. Of course we didn't see our seniors as we had gotten used to but in their place were four new kids. (Minus one who has had some travel agency problems.)
It was oddly nostalgic as we listened to the rules of the exchange and watched the new kids do their introductions with shaky voices. I watched them as they spoke and couldn't help but remember how nervous I was.
I was literally shaking when I gave my first intro. I couldn't eat the meal that was put in front of me and I couldn't even speak English properly.
But now I sat back, relaxed. I knew my speech. I knew the audience. I wasn't nervous at all! But seeing the new guys begin the journey that I started only six or so months ago was something quite moving.
I got up and gave my speech and I think it went well. I told the Rotarians about my tournament and how I got 2nd place. They clapped for me.
After the speech, they asked us big kids to give the newbies some advice.
I told them to always smile. Wherever you go, whenever it is and whoever you are with, smile. It makes everything better. People always want to talk to someone who is smiling.
I had to translate some of their English speeches into Japanese for the Rotarians and I really felt like a senior. It was cool. The Rotarians asked us big kids if we could act as translators on the upcoming trip we are going on. "Of course!" I was pretty stoked.
|Of course we pulled funny faces and did poses, as is the tradition. The newbies didn't hear the call and it is pretty similar to our first photo.|
|Here we are, plain-faced and badgeless, as nervous as all hell.|
But then there are the seniors, confident with heavy blazers. I hope I can be like they were.
Well for a start, it motivated me to study harder. It's not a competition but I still (as vain as, I know,) want to be the best. So I will study as hard as I can!
But the jealousy soon faded as we got to meet the newbies and talk to them. They are all awesome people and I feel that we are going to be a pretty tight knit group. I'm not jealous at all now, even if this newbie has awesome Japanese.
Next week from Tuesday we are all going to Nagasaki on a trip with Rotary. It's going to be awesome.Three days on Japan's southernmost island with the newbies. I can't wait!
There was one part of the meeting that disappointed both Jake and I. We had painstakingly brought along our jandals to the meeting. We smuggled them inside our blazers and swapped them for our shoes under the tables. It took a fair bit of stealth.
It was great though, we had the most comfortable footwear and we looked pretty cool at the same time. We walked around during the break times for no other reason than to show off our casual shoes. Everyone loved it too, it was great.
But the real reason for the jandals was to take a funny photo. We had our pose sorted! We would sit down all dressed up in our blazers with everyone else in their suits and shiny shoes. We would be sitting there with our funny faces and way out of place feet. It was going to be awesome!
But unfortunately, there was a lack of chairs and we had to stand. We were gutted. It sucked. We managed to recycle a pose we did way back in February but it wasn't the same. Bugger.
I got home from the meeting, carrying my black shoes and wearing my jandals. I had dinner and recounted the day to my host parents and ranted on about how cool the new kids were. It was a late night but no worries, tomorrow was Sunday.
I got up at lunch time and had breakfast. What are we going to do today? It was raining again but we decided to go to this limestone cave near Takayama. Apparently there was a great big stone penis in there.
I'm not even making that up.
We drove off in search of this cave and soon enough arrived at this big tourist attraction. It seems a whole heap of people wanna see this dick.
|A whole bunch of shops selling phallic goods|
|Host Mum and I in front of this big pot|
They used to cook miso soup in it, back in the day
|Sometimes I pretend I don't speak Japanese...|
|Apparently made of ivory|
|All of the above is either elephant tusk or made from it|
I was a little embarrassed but replied back with a loud affirmative. Japanese society is quite shy so when we talked so openly about giant penis, everyone else got more embarrassed than I did.
It was pretty funny.
|Host Dad leading the way.|
|Caves are pretty interesting|
|They make me pretty claustrophobic though|
|But it was pretty cool walking around inside of some mountain|
|And there it is. A great big stone dick.|
There was a gong and shrine in front of the dick where people were praying. It was pretty odd.
We had a feed of ramen and then went back home.
It was a pretty long day. We got home and watched Japan lose the final of the female volleyball world cup. Brasil smashed them pretty good. There was a little bit of yelling at the TV as there always is when your team is playing.
|I think I am in love with noodles|
And now here I am, writing this. From this weekend it has been like the official start of phase two. From here on out there will be a new gang of foreigners roaming about Japan, taking photos of everything and laughing loudly everywhere we go.
It's gonna be good.
And that's all I have for now!