Monday, 1 September 2014

To Kyushu and Beyond!

This week has been jam packed with stuff. It's had ups and downs but mainly ups so there are no worries. Because this week was so packed, you'd had best grab a coffee and sit down for this one, it might be a bit long.

It started off on a Monday with an early get up and school. Nothing special really. I walked around with my chest puffed out telling my friends that from tomorrow I would be going to Kyushu! Everyone told me to try the special ramen that is unique to Nagasaki so I made a mental note to eat all the ramen I could find because I forgot the name of the special stuff.

Whilst we left on Tuesday, the fun started on Monday night. Myself and another exchange student stayed at the boss's house and had some of the best steak of I've ever had. I well and truly over ate. It was amazing.

We went and relaxed in the onsen and came back home to stay up late talking about God knows what. Late night talks don't go so well with early get ups so when my alarm went off at four in the morning, I wasn't too keen to move.

No choice though so I got up and zombie'd my way about.

After a long and sleepy car drive, we were at the airport.
I'm pretty excited for this
We were slowly making our way to board the plane when the Boss looked at his watched and realised that we should be running. So off we jogged!

Some of us slept on the plane, others read and others talked. There was pokemon playing on those wee TV's that come down from the roof. Only in Japan eh.

Instead of getting the regular apple juice or coffee for my drink, I asked the air hostess what her recommendation was and I got a real choice cup of soup. I felt pretty damn cool with my soup and the smile the air lady gave me.

We arrived in Nagaski and man, it was stinking hot. It was ridiculous! We walked off towards this mini bus that was to take us about the island.

Our first stop was the Nagasaki atomic bomb museum. Spirits were high and it was smiles all around in the sunny weather. This would soon change as we saw the horrors of the museum.

But first, we had to get a cool photo in front of the statue.
It was a pretty cool statue

That lovely finger belongs to our pro photographer, Amelia
If you didn't know, Nagasaki was the second city to have an nuclear bomb dropped on it. It was also the last. It is estimated that 60,000-80,000 humans died instantly as the bomb detonated. The final death toll is 135,000. 

We all knew this as we walked in to the museum. Still laughing and smiling because we were having a good time. 

I'm not going to show the more graphic photos that were taken because they are pretty chilling. But as we saw the real destruction our moods changed dramatically. 
Paper cranes represent good luck and they were strung up all through the lobby

I didn't realise the bomb itself was as massive as it was. It was bigger than me

There is a hand in this concrete
 I found it difficult to look at the hand and think that someone who was living and breathing, thinking and talking like I am now, used to use that hand. But now they don't even exist.
A touching testimony of a boy and his brother
It's probably hard/impossible to read the text on the picture but to sum it up: The kid's mother was seriously injured (she most likely died) and their father had disappeared so the older boy carried his brother (who was also hurt) to the nearest aid centre to find that it was empty. So he carried him around until he found help.

When we left the museum nobody really wanted to speak. We didn't know how to deal with what we had just seen. We can look and read about the suffering of the victims but after seeing what we saw, I feel I have a better understanding. But I cannot begin to comprehend how the victims must have felt.

We solemnly made our way towards the peace park. A park in memorial of peace, if the name wasn't clear enough.
More cool statues
There was this real big statue at the park. We couldn't not do this pose. Needless to say, the mood gradually picked back up. We wandered about looking at all of the sculptures donated in the name of peace. And then we had ice cream. It was so damn hot.

We had Chinese food for lunch! And it was amazing before we even got inside the restaurant!
We're eating here today! 
Dragons everywhere!

The boss approves

Chanpon, the stuff I was recommended! 
 (And that beer is actually belonging to the Rotarian who sat beside me. I had coke instead!)
Crunched up noodles and a big slop of delicious something on top!
We had a great time while eating lunch. We learnt a bit about the city and its history and laughed at each other's stories. I even stood up and did a 'kata' from my karate because everyone was egging me on. It was a pretty fun time.

From the restaurant.we made our way to this place where the first foreigners came and made home. There was a huge western influence and it was quite odd to see so many old British-esque buildings. We also saw the first catholic church that was built in Japan.
Up this old street we went, aiming for the church at the top

We thought these two ladies could do with some white guys in their photo
They didn't seem to mind!
It was definitely a church!
If it wasn't for the koi pond in front of the house, I wouldn't have believed it was Japan!
This is more Japanese-y

This was probably a really old tree. Deserves a hug.
Team photo overlooking Nagasaki
Can't get over this heat! (or those classy sweat stains)

These buildings just felt out of place!
But nonetheless, they were beautiful!
 We stopped for a rest outside one of the houses and there was this long strip of grass. So a few of us started doing cartwheels! It was great fun! One of the girls took of her skirt (no worries, she had shorts on!) for the purpose of doing cartwheels but the reactions from the Japanese onlookers was priceless! They were shocked at first but then they just giggled and pointed. A big group of white kids doing gymnastics at a tourist venue is pretty unheard of, it seems.

We found this big bear. I kind of wanted to buy it and stick it to my Rotary blazer...

Fish having a mean feed on my dirty feet!
It felt pretty good!
 I put my feet in this pool and all of these wee fish came and swarmed over me! It was like my foot was vibrating! It tickled and felt real odd for a start, but it got better and it was quite relaxing! They got right in between my toes too!

We skipped on the very first paved footpath in Japan!
It's cool to think about how many people before me have walked on this footpath. I wonder what they were thinking, or where they were going? There must have been hundreds of feet that have passed over this asphalt and now mine have too! 

We went back to the bus and went on our way to the next destination! Hakata in the Fukuoka province.

We arrived after a rather long bus ride and came to this mall. Apparently the boss forgets where the hotel is every year; this time was no exception! We wandered around this mall for a wee while until we eventually found this really big, hard to miss building. We were given our separate room keys and after some questioning, the wifi passwords.

One of the newbies (I wont mention her name) locked her key inside of her hotel room and we had to ring up the lobby. It was pretty funny, for us who were watching at least.

But we had free time for an hour and a half! So off we exchange students went, off into this big Japanese mall complex without a guide or purpose. Just off exploring and it was awesome.

It was a pretty cool place

Jake got into a fight with a big guy

I found this gold mine in the sports shop
I was so happy
Jake and I went and found a subway where I mucked up all of my Japanese and got a tad embarrassed. I ate my food quickly and quietly. 

After wandering around for a pretty long time we found a game centre and had a go on the traditional drum game. We soon had to make our way back to the hotel so we could meet up with the bosses and get dinner.

We were having pizza! YES!

All ready for a big feed!
We ate a lot but I think I must of had at least half of my own weight in pizza. I was pretty full. No worries, I could probably have persevered and eaten a bit more...

After the pizza we all walked off in search of somewhere to do karaoke.
A regular looking frog

Just some lights
 After wandering around and asking a bunch of strangers for where we can go and do karaoke, we found a man holding a sign advertising one. We walked up and asked him if he's got a room for ten people.

He apologised and said no, there aren't any open rooms big enough for ten people. But our merry boss wouldn't take no for an answer and whilst he didn't rough this poor guy up, he definitely pressured him and it was actually quite funny.

He made this man call the karaoke shop and ask which rooms were open and sure enough there was one for us. Good thing we kept asking!
The boss spitting a mean rhyme
It's good fun but apparently I'm not very good
Our lovely boss kept commenting on my singing voice and pleaded that I should never sing again. I just sang louder!

We were singing for ages! It was 11 at night when we decided to call it a day. 

We went back to our hotel rooms but of course we wanted to keep exploring the big mall!

Don't know what to do seeing as everything's closed...
So exploring the mall achieved nothing because nothing was open. We went back to the hotel and played cards instead. It was a pretty massive day so we all went to sleep rather early at around one or two in the morning.

Ready for a big day tomorrow!

We were to get up at around seven so we could make the buffet breakfast. There was no way I was gonna miss a big brekkie so I made sure to get up. One of the newbies slept through her alarm and simply missed out on a pretty decent feed.

Noodles, fried chicken, some greens and it was all good.
We handed in our hotel cards and set off for another big day. (I've got a thing for 'borrowing' the hotel pens and putting them in my blazer pocket so I made sure to nab one.)

Today's adventure started off with a walk around the water front and it was still odd to see a few western buildings around. We also got a small tour on an old fashioned train and it was quite a relaxing morning.
Where am I?

It was a good morning!

Damn! Black banana didn't do the pose!
Old fashioned!
It had open windows and I high-fived all of the staff on the platforms as we rolled by
We also waved and hooted at every single person we passed, it was a good laugh
I wonder what goes on in there...

We enter this tunnel and the lights are replaced with black lights and we got a lesson on the local sea life
We loaded back onto our bus and went off for lunch. We were going to kaiten-zushi! Kaiten-zushi are those places where the sushi comes around on a conveyor belt. I really love these places.

We passed a few fish markets on the way there and as you can imagine, walking on a port with the sea on one side and fish markets on the other, we were assaulted by quite an offensive stink. Yuck. 

We passe a group of Japanese youths, probably in their 20's and I heard them talking amongst themselves about how to say something in English. So of course I said hi in Japanese and they were a little surprised but nonetheless friendly. They were a cool bunch of people that we would later run into again a few times.

But for now it was time to eat. Because we were such a bug group we couldn't all sit in one booth together so we split up. I was with a bunch of kaitenzushi first timers so I told em what was up.

"You grab the sushi of the moving thing. Sweet as, lets eat!"

I think I gave a pretty good tutorial. And I certainly ate well!
Jake looking sly in the next booth

Eating well

We had the most plates eaten! (compared to the other students and the Rotary boss's table)
I made the new kids try "natto" which is Japanese fermented soy beans and they stink! I like them and often eat them for breakfast but foreigners rarely like them. I fully knew this and had a great time watching the scrunched up faces of the newbies.

We left with bellies full of raw fish and rice on our way to the next stage of the adventure. There was a monkey with a trainer doing some tricks outside or something so we had a look. The boss told me about this monkey and I asked if it was a Japanese performer and got told off. Good laugh though.

We ran into those guys again on the way back to the bus so this time I took a photo with one of them.
It looks as though my neck has disappeared
I said to Jake: "What a cool group of people, we will probably never see them in our lives again though." Just a passing comment.

We boarded the bus and got moving. Jake and I were playing the classic "spotty" game, where if you see a yellow car you yell out spotty and punch the other. It was cool but there weren't many yellow cars so we expanded the rules a bit and now I have a big bruise on my shoulder.

It was a great way to pass the time though.

We stopped off at this shop in the middle of nowhere where we were going to go over a big bridge and look at a light house. We pulled into the car park at this shop and this other car pulls in too. It was none other than our buddies from the fish markets! 

We were all pretty bewildered because we had been driving for a good hour away from the markets. Sadly though we parted ways before going over the bridge. I wonder if we'll run into each other again at all.

Over the bridge we went, in search of this light house.
Supposed to be a lighthouse over there somewhere
We found it!

A big impressive thing

Apparently Georgia said something that got all of our atentions

The Japan sea. 
From there we were off again but this time to the Ryokan where we would be staying the night. A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn. Except this was a bit more jazzed up.

It was more of a flash hotel than a traditional inn. But no arguments from me!

We get to this place which is located in some old village that was ripe with Japanese history (although we never found out what was so special) and we are ushered into the lobby by the ridiculously over the top Japanese staff that we are so used to now.

Off to our rooms and straight back out to go to the onsen! Man I love onsens.

After our baths which happened to be amazing, we all gathered in this room for dinner. We were all wearing 'yukata's which are like dressing gowns but more samurai-ish. Very cool.

We had a feast for dinner and had many laughs while we ate. I had fish eye for the first time and was quite surprised by the slimy outside and the chewy pupil. It was interesting.

Our dinner consisted of "shabu-shabu" which a dish where you boil some veggies and then chuck some meat into the broth and finally take that out and dip it in some choice sauce. Yum.

There was a whole myriad of raw fish and the like. Plenty of rice too.

Then out came the red snapper head. Just the head. That's where I had the fish eye. It was a pretty difficult to eat dish due to the fact that it was a head.

Next came the most delicious cooked fish I've had in Japan so far. It had a tartar sauce that reminded me of home.

Last was a dish that came out and was devoured so fast that I forgot what it was. Woops.

And of course a desert which was destroyed in seconds.
Yea, Samurai!

Rotarians are always mucking me around
 So I was in the lobby with the boss and he comes up to me and it seems as though he's gonna adjust my yukata. He grabs the lapels and adjusted them a little before he completely opened it up. And with perfect timing, all of the girls came out of the elevator to see me half naked in the lobby. I had to give the obligatory "It's not what it looks like!" comment but I think it fell on deaf ears.
I've got my eye on you!

Classy as can be!
(Proof that I actually ate it, I guess!)

Dinner was awesome. The boss asked as all a bunch of questions about our thoughts on Japan and it branched off into a conversation between him and I. And I was quite moved by what he had to say.

He started off with the regular: "What surprised you the most when you got here?" and "What's the weirdest thing you've eaten so far?"

But he also asked something that I didn't fully understand but I answered it with something I wanted to say anyway. I forget his question but I made a point as to how uncomfortable it is when you don't understand what someone says and then they talk to their group and laugh. Because it is something that always got me.

Not being able to understand what people are saying when they are definitely talking about you is rough.

But he had an answer that surprised me. 

The boss is always mucking me around and has always been quite strict on me. I've always thought it was the cold shoulder or him just simply mocking me.

He said:

"Oh, that's understandable but don't even worry, Brennan. Whenever I talk about you, I have nothing but great things to say."

The rest of what he said was lost in translation because I'm still not fluent-fluent in Japanese. But one of the other bosses translated for me and she said:

"He just has so much affection for you that he's always joking with you. The reality is, he thinks your great."

I was quite touched. And then he promptly said:

"But honestly, you are a terrible singer. Please don't do karaoke again."

And we had a good laugh. Soon after our feast, the girls were all given new yukatas, this time they were all unique with all sorts of pretty designs. Us guys had to leave while they got changed but we had a few more interesting conversations with the Rotarians downstairs.

I tried to look cool, like Jake did, but I just ended up looking as dumb as

So looking cool didn't work, let's try for cute this time
Before we went to bed it was back to the onsen. I'm gonna say it every time; I love onsens.

Good bit of leg there !
We stayed up late abusing the free wi-fi in the lobby and I think I was the last to bed. It was pretty late and we had an early get up. Apparently all of the girls got up at around five or at least they planned on doing so to get back in the onsen. 

Jake and I slept through a few alarms but managed to wake up remembering that there was a time limit on the buffet breakfast. So we had a large breakfast and sure enough, went back to the onsen. 

We looked up at the clock during the bath and realised we had little under ten minutes to be out the front of the ryokan to catch the bus. Shiiiiiiiit.

So we ran naked through the onsen getting the oddest looks from all the old men who were quietly relaxing. We ran through the corriders with yukatas billowing behind us on our way to our room. There was no sign of the girls though. 

We packed our bags at lightening speed, checked to see if we forgot anything, stole another pen and ran back to the lobby. Sweating and panting, we made it. But no sign of the girls!!

The boss ordered us to go back and look for them because today's schedule was quite tight.

We found them enjoying breakfast,completely oblivious to the time schedule. No worries! I helped finish off some of their breakfast and off we went.

From the bus we went to and old-new temple. It was only 150 years young.

Pretty cool stuff
 I learn't something new about temples during this visit! It turns out that you are not supposed to walk directly in the middle of the walkway. Like the fella above is doing. This is because the gods walk this path. I love that I've been here for so long that I think I'm used to Japan and know all about but I can still learn something new.
One of those old-new buildings. This was a classroom back in the day.
The weather was starting to pack it but we all had umbrellas so we weren't too phased. I was wearing my jandals though so I got wet feet which wasn't too cool.

Next on the list was "glass accessory making." I had no clue of what to expect.

We get to this little shop which was selling (surprise surprise) glass. We were taken out back to where we would make these "accessories." We were going to make these tear shaped glass things which actually turned out real cool.

We sat down in front of these heavy duty Bunsen burners after picking out a stick of coloured glass and a different colour to add detail to our creations. I chose red (which turned out to be pink-ish) and black. 

We sat, holding this glass while the shop attendants showed us how to work the magic. They showed us how to melt the glass, how to shape it, how to add the detail and yea, they did it for us. It was quite amazing to see the glass go from a rigid stick into this ball which was manipulated into a pretty shape but I really wanted to do it myself.

We held the sticks while the staff turned them and did all the work. I actually let go of the sticks at one point and moved my arms away from the whole thing and my 'helper' didn't even notice!

Aside from not being able to do it myself, I was pretty pleased with the final result. I probably would have made a right mess if I was left to my own devices.
A tad disappointed but it was still cool to watch glass melt!

Mine's the one with the black and white cord.
Without light, it takes on a maroony colour but if there is light shining through it then it glows a nice pinkish red. It's quite cool.

We had a look around the glass shop but nothing really interested us after we had made our own unique things. Back in the bus! We had a stop for snacks at this place that was offering free samples. It felt pretty kiwi, walking around this shop having two of every free sample for morning tea.

But soon enough we were off and away again!

Off and away to my most favourite thing ever! Yaki-niku! One of thos DIY restaurants! We each got a big plate of meat and it was up to us to grill it. There is nothing better than this.
Aw yessss

It's great but I still don't know why we are paying money to cook for ourselves

I finished my meat early so I came over here looking for leftovers.
That's pretty sad really, but I shamelessly at all the extra meat. So good
With bellies full, we were back in the bus. 
Lucky Bus!
Jake and I were too sore to play the spotty game. It was fun while it lasted but now it was pretty painful. This time the Lucky Bus took us to a massive limestone cave. This one was different to last limestone cave I went to in the sense that there was no big penis at the end. I was a tad disappointed!

But this cave was actually massive. It was thousands of years old and there were even mini lakes inside it!

Shrines are everywhere!
 I couldn't take a decent photo of the inside because it was so dark. But I found it amazing at how we can stand outside and feel big, but when a roof is put above us (albeit a big roof) we feel tiny. I stood in this massive cavern and couldn't help but feel like an ant but when I got outside, where there is no roof and the sky is so unimaginably far above us, I felt big again. It's kind of backwards.
A damn cool transition

looking back
We made our way at a slightly rushed pace down this really nice street on our way back to our favourite bus. We met this one guy who made grasshoppers out of grass. Confused the shit out of me. First of all, here is a Japanese man, speaking English to me with what looks like a real grasshopper stuck in his hat.

He then proceeded to give me a pretty decent sales pitch on the grassgrasshoppers. I told him that we had no time (in Japanese) and he looked at me just as confused as I was.

And with that, it was back in the bus.

This time it was back to the train station. After a long drive, a short nap and maybe one or two punches in the arm, we arrived. 

We got our tickets for the bullet train hung around for a wee bit while we waited for the ride to come. I saw some chick that we had seen back at the cave so I pulled a silly face at her and she looked back, petrified, I thought it was great!

On the train back to Nagoya we had a small feed, a nap and then recounted the journey we had just been on. 

It was an awesome trip. I loved pretty much every moment of it except for the bomb museum, which whilst I didn't not enjoy, I wouldn't classify it as fun. That was a totally different experience. But it was awesome to get to bond with the newbies. 

It's like we are a family already! 

From Nagoya there were a few more train rides here and there and then one final car ride back home. We didn't die in the car with my favourite boss's 'impeccable' driving. 

But seriously, almost had a heart attack, as per usual.

I found aside from bonding with the new guys, translating was the funnest part of the trip. I was essentially the designated translator (we had a back up in case I mucked up) for the trip. Everywhere we went the bosses would tell the staff to talk to me because "That kid's fluent." And it was the coolest thing.

I had so much fun just talking. I did have a small bit of trouble trying to recall some English words though. This is getting to be a serious problem.

I got home and was absolutely shattered. I went to bed after recounting the expedition to my host Mum.

And then it was up at 6 am for school! Oh yay.

Before I went to sleep I had to check over my emails because I'm a tech addict like just about everyone nowadays. 

I had an email form someone that we'll call "John Smith."

Last year I was always stoked to get an email form Mr. Smith because he was the Rotary travel man. An email meant details on my exchange. I can still remember the elation of looking at my tickets with the departure date on them. 

It was like my dream was materializing before my eyes. 

But when I sat down that night after I had just gotten back from one of the best three days, I saw the name: "John Smith" and my heart dropped. I got a lump in my throat and I could barely click on the link.

Of course I did, I clicked on the email and I simply broke down into tears. I couldn't hold myself together. There were my tickets. This time for the way home. Even now I think about it and my eyes fill up.

I couldn't believe it. I still don't believe it. I don't want to believe it.

I'll be leaving home on the 9th of January, Friday, at eight in the morning, There will be some waiting around in airports but I'll be back in New Zealand at six am the next day. 

I'd give anything to see my friends and family again, don't get me wrong. But I don't want to leave here at all. No way. 

I had to get up at six for school later that morning.

I'm not going to lie. I slept through most of Friday. I couldn't even keep my eyes open. The whole day zipped past and that was that.

Saturday saw me back at the airport to see off the last of the Japanese girls who were going overseas. We said goodbye to Ayano, who would have been my next host sister if it wasn't for the fact that she is currently living it up in the States.

It was a good day and I got to know my next host family and I'm pretty pleased to say that I'm already good mates with the whole tribe.
Eel for brekkie!

Ayano is the one with black hair

Today the airport was pokemon themed.
Because of how long it takes to get to and from the airport, most of my day was spent in a car. So when I got home it was already dark.

But lo and behold, there was a local festival to go to! Japan is just the best, really. We drove up the hill to this small gathering (it wasn't truly a festival, but everyone was pretty festive.) My host family were staffing the event with a bunch of other locals so we got free food!

I sat down with a group of strangers at the start of the night and said goodbye to some awesome new friends at the end of it. The night's shenanigans included: eating, traditional dancing, eating, talking to the coolest bunch of people, eating, spontaneous English lesson to a bunch of kids, eating and little bit more eating. It was a merry night.

We got home at around midnight. But the next day was going to be spent in Takayama!

I was going to hang out with Victoria and her host family. We planned to do a bit of hiking.
Off we go! Hiking in the woods!

Looking cool

I bet there's a cool mountain back there somewhere

I was keen for a swim but no one else was

Japanese hiking is pretty watered down but the natives take it pretty seriously.
We walked into the woods where it started to rain pretty hard. So we hurried back to the shelter of the shops. We saw so many Japanese walking past, geared up to the teeth. They had walking poles, big backpacks, tights and everything. But it was just a 3km track and it was pretty flat. It was cool to see everyone out and about though.

Because of the rain we couldn't do much so we went back, had some cake and made our way back to Takayama. I had to catch an early train home because there were none in the evening that would have gotten me home at a reasonable time. 

Overall it was a fun day but a shame about the weather.

While I was away, I got a message from the boss asking me to write a speech for a meeting. Which was tomorrow.

So I wrote a speech whilst I rode the train home. I got home and got to writing up all that rubbish so I can actually go to university when I go home. Once I had finished that it had just ticked past ten. I finished off my speech and got some practice in.

I then wrote a small bit on the blog and realised it was one in the morning. Six o clock get up for school. Hmmm. I need a better sleep pattern.

Monday was a pretty chill day at school though. Tuesday was going to be the school festival so we spent the whole day prepping. I of course had a meeting to go to.

I went to the meeting and gave me short speech and had a pretty decent lunch. After the meeting the boss shouted me a coffee and we had a good talk about the Kyushu trip.

Back to school and back work. I am truly amazed at the work ethic of the students here. The school has been preparing for this festival for at least a month now and they have been giving it their all everyday right from the beginning. It was quite inspiring to see such enthusiasm and team work.
Our class theme was "local festivals", mainly looking at the Gero festival with its dragons.

My class hand made this beauty

It had to have been the coolest thing in the whole festival.
Monday zipped by and before we knew it, it was time to pack up and wait for the festivities to start the next day.

I got home and told my family about my departure and the mood dropped slightly. I had to talk about it because it was starting to make me quite sad. I guess I'm having a mini mid life crisis. They helped me out and soon enough we were laughing again. I've got some much family here, it's actually incredible.

School started on Tuesday with a bang. The banging of those taiko drums that I love so much. There was an awesome opening ceremony with all sorts of hilarious videos that had been made by students and teachers alike. There was a bazaar being opened up outside and the third years had all been making plays for us to watch on the stage throughout the day.

I had a whole bunch of great food and watched a few of the plays. There was some actually good humour in them and more often than not I was laughing my head off at the ridiculousness of the third year boys all dressed up in drag as they danced about on the stage.

I looked around all of the class displays with my mates. We were biased and thought that our class had the best (it most definitely did have the best display) but there were still some really cool things that other classes had done too.
Nagoya castle's famous phoenix recreated with beer cans!

I met a ninja

Yea! That's my class! 2 C !!

Buddies and I got a photo in the bullet train

That dude in the yellow wig is a good mate of mine

Damn impossible to see but we managed to get a bunch of people in a selfie.
What a day! There was an open stage at the end of it all where students could get up and do some acts. My home room teacher even got up and sung a song. There was some good singers and some not so good singers (Brennan-karaoke level) but the best had to be a group of guys who got up and did the last song and turned the whole school into a giant mosh pit. 

It was pretty cool experience.

School finished early but I had karate so I took the train back to Gero station and walked back to my previous host families house. I stayed there for a few hours before I went back to karate. It was awesome to see the Nunome's again. I've made pretty strong bonds with all of my host families so far.

It was like I just slotted back into everyday life with them. Host Mum wanted to know all the gossip from the Kyushu trip and the like. It was just like old times. I can talk about anything with all of my Host Mums and I think that's awesome. Just like my real Mum.

Off I went to karate with Fuyuki where you can bet we smashed each other. It was pretty even tonight. A good few bruises later, I was back at home.

There was one more day of festival to have at school. Today was special because the new exchange student in my area was going to come to school for the first time. She had a whole heap of problems with travel agencies and wasn't able to make it to the Kyushu trip which is a bit shit.

But she's here now so there are plenty of fun times to be had!
Emma and I, trying on the pregnancy simulator suits. It was a hilarious!
We found the new ALT and wandered the school as an English speaking trio. It was pretty fun and everyone was very impressed by how good our English was!
I had a bunch more festival food and it was good day! We all gathered in the hall for the closing ceremony. There was dancing, music and more funny videos to see.

But there were also awards to be given out. The drum roll started in anticipation for the "best class display" and my class got it! We were stoked! What a great day it was! 
2C, proud winners. I think it was well deserved, the whole class teamed up like nothing I've ever seen before.
Also, none of the teachers played a hand in anything. It was all student made.
We had to clean up though and it was a little sad to see the dragon come down.
I was never not going to do this

My buddy has my back though

I think this thing is just the coolest
After the clean up, school was finished/

Then for the first time in a long time I went back to kendo. I took a break over summer holiday so I was a bit anxious.

It wasn't terrible! I was sweating like a pig by the end of it and I had a lot of new blisters and very sore hands. My head hurt and I had no energy. A feeling I have come to love. Well, I don't love the blisters.
I had forgotten about the dreadful blue hands of kendo...

I got home, had dinner, went back to writing shit for uni, got onto another speech which had to be given next Monday and I even got a little bit of blog done. But once again, it was one in the morning.

I closed my eyes and it was six in the morning. I had breakfast and waddled down the stairs as I tried to adjust to my new blisters.

It was Thursday. School was pretty regular.

I went to town with Rotary and our new student, Emma, to get her signed in as a citizen of Gero and to do some shopping. I was the translator! It was a pretty fun day. I had to go back to school but that's not too bad, really.

 I did some kendo again. But this time I fell over twice and got quite embarrassed. That good teacher of ours pulled me aside and told me I got fat over the holidays. I laughed with him but knew he wasn't really joking. 

After kendo finished, my class was all going out for yaki-niku! 

That definitely lifted my spirits. We all got on the train and rode it to the nearby restaurant. 42 of us filled the shop. And we ate so much. It was amazing!

Plenty of food

I made sure to get a photo with the girls
The guys had a more interesting photo however
I have an awesome class!
I'll finish this post on the Friday. I finally got my results back from the JLPT test I took in July. And they were pretty decent!
I'm quite stoked!
I spent most of Friday fixing up next week's speech and practicing it. I got a good amount of study done and I even got to teach Emma some Japanese. It was a cool day.

Kendo hurt. My feet are getting quite munted and my head's starting to feel it again. It's a good feeling to sweat though, it feels like progress.

This has been so late because I've been busy with school here  and prep for uni back home. By the time I get home, eat dinner and have a shower it's around 10:30 pm. So that leaves little time for writing. It also leaves little time for socialising with my host family which I feel is most important.

I'm pretty disappointed in not being able to get a blog out last week, I was hoping to do one for every week I was in Japan but we'll just have to leave one out. 

It's been a great few weeks albeit tiring. I was seriously stumped as to what to do with myself when I saw my tickets home. I skyped my family back home and almost broke down as I tried to explain it to Mum. I almost lost it just now as I write about it. 

I don't want to go home.

And that's all for now! It's 2:00 Am and I've got to get up in four hours for school. 

Cheers for reading it to the end if you've made it this far! By far my biggest (and latest) blog.

Until next time!

I don't think I'd ever like to be pregnant.

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