Saturday, November 18, 2006
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Last friday my host family and I went to Matsue city, visited its 400year old castle and things. Was a great day with host family. Speaking of host family, I now answer the phone, everyone in the area knows I am a member of the family. In Japan on new years everyone makes their own individual post card things and they send them to friends. My name is going on ours this year!
Have been really enjoying having Ashley around too, my schools ALT. A few weeks ago we encountered a "snack" bar. A one roomed small bar where you can drink, do karaoke etc the only difference is these bars are almost always owned by middle aged ladies and they sit there with you and socialise, you pay for their company too, reaally expensive. Anyway It`s great how even in Japan they have those ladies with the overdyed dry frizzy hair and raspy voices due to too much smoking, all tacky like and slightly scary. The world goes on.
Another very fun adventure in the last month was Climbing Mt. Daisen. This mountain is in the Tottori prefecture and was roughly 2km high. I really enjoyed climbing a mountain. The few days following the climb I felt very accomplished. Climbing a big mountain is a simple but satisfying endeavor. " I climbed a mountain on the weekend" Good. Next.
Also helped out with hosting a Halloween party for around 40 primary school kids. This was a fun filled day! I mainly worked in the "obakeyashiki" - ghost house. I enjoyed the creativity involved in thinking up ways to scare the kids.
Sometime last month I also travelled to Izumo Taisha (a Temple.. Shrine?). Historical place where gods come. This trip was arranged by the teachers of my sunday Japanese classes. A Nice day, I enjoyed being a tourist on that day, with the camera, backpack and the hat thing going on. We had a tour bus and everything. As a foreign tourist I recieve many less bemused glances as opposed to when I am in my school uniform. I even got stopped by the police in my school uniform once. They wanted to know who I was and why I was here.
Photos are not loading, I will try another time.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Hiroshima trip no. something
Went back to Hiroshima for the last few days while tests were happening at school. Had a nice time with Louise, a fellow exchange student. Did some shopping, bought a really cool red suitcase, and a shirt that says "think big philosophy" on it. I think this shirt is going in my good pile along with other favourites like a blue shirt I have which says "fabulously" on the front.
My host brothers apartment was TINY, and a mess as you can see in the picture. This kind of lifestyle is so different to Australia it was enough for me to at one point stop and laugh quietly to myself. A great trip though, loving Hiroshima more and more.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Back in the swing.
Lately have had various adventures with ALT buddies. Few weeks ago went to Hiroshima overnight to celebrate Ashleys 24th. Lots of foreigners in Hiroshima. Heard a song in one bar done over with Australian lyrics including the words "VB" "tallie" "bogan" and "yobbo". I also have to mention I am fairly in love with Lenas little red mini Cooper S: with its two toned leather steering wheel.... Honestly though, speeding around the countrside of a foreign land in a turbo cooper S is something of a fantasy.. fantasy no more! Also enjoyed titias party. Great times Titia great times.
Everything is pretty peachy actually, the weather is cooling down, school is, the fun lighthearted play it has always been to me. My host family are still amazing. I never expected my parents here to become like real parents. In the fact that I feel I would jump infront of a bus to save them just as I would my real mum or dad. Is that example too extreme..? Anyway I never dreamed of a relationship this strong. Something wonderful and unexpected on this exchange.
I regret not yet having photos from interesting and colourful events of the past few weeks. I intend to steal party photos from Ashleys camera sometime in the near future. Here are some mobile picies from the last few weeks.
Last Friday: My watch of six years breaks.. in two places.. random. upsetting. my wrist feels naked
Last friday: From a vending machine I order what I think is a KitKat chocolate milk drink.. However it ended up being a Jar with kitkats in it.
Blogger is not letting me load a photo but an observation I made yesterday: all the kids get out their mobiles to take a photo of the blackboard when it has important information, schedules, exam times written on it. The cameras are that good. Once taken they then have the information to view at home. Much faster than writing it all down. So so handy.
Monday, September 04, 2006
I was amazed at the way everyone was so involved. We built, the teachers and students, we built the stands that seated 400 of us. We made giant artworks for each team - the four seasons. We had in the afternoon each team perform a dance, they were amazing. The students also made the clothes worn in the dance. I couldnt be in it because I was in Osaka and the practice was everyday for the last two weeks after school until 7pm. Like I have said, they do things properly. We would be lucky back in my highschool in Brisbane if even half the school turned up to the Athletics day, letalone build the freakin venue.
Woo I have photos. Some of the festival. One with two friends Hideki and Ai! Also one of me with my host dad one of the greatest guys on this planet.
A bit of a rant:
One night Noz and I were on our way to a friends place and we passed an area full of benches where people were lying. What you would think of as a city park. Lots of people one on each bench, and I thought wow whats this. They all looked decently dressed, but walking past them all they were really dirty. I asked Noz, and as I suspected they were homeless. People unable to keep up with the well oiled machine which is Japanese society. School, Uni, Company, family work consume.
Another thing I see alot is young families. Japanese get married reaally young, and I see families with two kids and the parents could have been no older than 25. I ask Japanese friends why, well they have nothing better to do, the male has graduated uni, is now in a respectable company, ok whats next, right family. Everything is prepared here, It would be so easy to float through life in Japan if you were prepared to just shutup and blend in. School primary schools junior high, traditions, uniforms, sports days, clubs its all the same. It reminds me of the book Brave New World. Things to be admired about the Japanese is their strive for perfection, they get things done and dont bullshit around with individual egos and opinions, they are team players. I suppose they need order like this though because there are so many people.
Those homeless people Noz and I saw might have been pushed out of the game, unable to re-enter the speeding society. I see the same thing in Gotsu, the young group of guys that don't go to school anymore. With their bleached hair and their big boots you see them zooming around Gotsu on their scooters. At the trainstation they sit there and go ok what should we do today. They came to our schools Culture festival, but were ignored. These are the guys that are being left behind.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Jess and Miranda dancing under Mt. Fugi. This was at 4am during Global Village. Paint made the photo weird but I like this photo.
here is a great photo of Koren, Miss you Koren and ok I will try and find some crazy Japanese things in Osaka. This photo is great.
Friday, August 11, 2006
I just got home last night from my half way camp "Global village". The camp was organised my my exchange company and was half way up Mt Fugi. Wow I had such a great time! I really really really loved seeing all the other exchange students! There were also students from England, Ireland and Spain that came, plus a whole heap of Japanese students. The camp was nice, it was great learning about other countries and we did the, as expected, "leadership" building activities.
The reason I enjoyed the camp so much was mainly because I could meet up with the other Aust exchange students. It's the half way point, we all really enjoyed, comparing notes, you could say, we all had so much to talk about. It was a nice kind of support we all gave eachother. Now here we are all back home ready for the final 5 months of our Journey. It was also a great opportunity to speak lots of english, which has been rare for some of us. I did find it really funny though how at times Japanese would unintentionally slip into our conversations or english and Japanese would be combined together.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Now in Osaka
Ok so I'm on my way to the camp in Shizuoka, my half way camp where I get to meet up with all the other australian 10 month exchange students. I caught a bus to Hiroshima then a bullet train to Osaka. Staying here the night with Nozomi who's a friend who was an exchange student at State High 2 years back. Tomorrow I'll reach Shizuoka for my 4 day camp. Had a great night with Noz goin around all the crazy shops and stuff. It's made me really excited about my week here at the end of the month, for a proper stay. Osaka seems great!
Just got back from the fireworks festival! It's so crazy that we are in suuch country here yet they had bigger fireworks than a new years show in Sydney. Some, the bang was so big you could feel it, like a gust. I had a net behind me, although a bit of the roof from above fell on me. Hehe is everyone imagining like a chunk of tiled roof falling on me? No no, not that much.
Anyway! It was great, met a whole heap of new ALTs, the bunch of us foreigners also being found by a live TV show and their crazy host! Also Ashley my schools new ALT came with me and my host family. She is awesome Koren! The kids at school are gonna love her, honestly!
Ah back to Tokyo the big bustling city. After being in the country for 5 months Tokyo was a bit intimidating I must say, everyone was walking and talking so fast I was like whoaa guys calm down. City folk, pshh. Anyway had a great three days, with former host families cousins and people.
From the airport, riding on the highway which was elevated amongst the many apartments and office buildings was a bit depressing. Just seeing soo many people working at desks, building after building, for like 2 hours of traffic on this highway. Got over it!
One thing I notice about Tokyo which I didnt notice before is that eeveryone is learning english, the Japanese are amazing at applying themselves. In tokyo restaurant and hotel staff would automatically and even some enthusiastically use english when speaking to me, which was at first a surprise. Its not everyone but recently to enter into the hospitality industry in Japan you must be able to speak english. On the trains they have small TV screens which not only show adverts but also give simple english vocabulary lessons, so Japanese can study on the train. A non japanese speaking foreigner can get by fine in Tokyo, every sign has english, every voice is repeated in english. Everywhere I went.
Day two went to Disney Land, It was fun. The money that that place rakes in is amazing. You can see half of it too in the rides they offer, most made for young children. Disney Land is a well oiled machine though. From the rides to the people working there. I really think It would be interesting to work there though. There would be so many stories. Heres a pic of me on splash mountain, a fun ride!
I also met up with some friends from when I went to school here 3 years ago. I met up with a friend ayaka and we chatted for half the night, then said goodbye again for another two years or so until I return. It was so great, we think exactly the same and had so much to talk about, Japan and its people. I was so happy to have been able to meet up again!
Anyway last day enjoyed some more time with former host families relatives!
Going to the airport experienced a rare sight. On the highway there was heavy stop go traffic. We were next to a truck and the driver was asleep, the traffic started again and it took him a few seconds to wake up again and catch up, then traffic would stop, he would once again fall asleep, then traffic would go, he would wake up late and have to catch up. This happened literally about 8 times. It was just ridiculous honestly, later on we had to merge and do all sorts of things. So dangerous, what an idiot.
Monday, July 31, 2006
After exploding the bomb created basically a small sun over Hiroshima, taking the area upto 4000degrees centigrade. This was followed by a shockwave which just destroyed everything.
They had some stone where a man was sitting, and the flash from the blast was so strong it lightened the stone and you can see the shape of where the man sat, burt into the stone making it darker. One image that stood out to me was of kids having a school lesson, outdoors as there were no buildings. These kids sitting there in the middle of nothing.
It is just hard to imagine such a strength, why do we make things like this. This bomb is something from a nightmare, just wicked. I couldn't even get my head around it. Just to look up and imagine if one of these things went off in the sky above you.
A group of us country folk went down to the big city of Hiroshima on saturday night!Some ALT friends had a gig at this bar so I tagged along as their number one fan.
So how was it? It was a great overnight stay! Firstly we found an overnight carpark for the car.. one where theres a little hole in the wall and the car goes into the hole and then gets carried away to god knows where by machines... Its something from a science fiction movie.
The band were great! Didn't have a name but then it suddenly became Mr Sparkle... ? Anyway lots of atmosphere, great venue, nice people, good songs! Had a great night.
Hiroshima nightlife is.. lively. There were so many places to go in Hiroshima.. just streets and alleys of buildings with different snack bars and clubs on each level.. Their unique names printed on old signs that would just ascend up into the sky. Walking down the old alleys at 3am still packed with people. Two, one million dollar Bentleys roll past, ok fair enough. Guys walking around in suits and sunglasses. Half the males look like they from the Japanese mafia. Females dressed up, some so over the top. Honestly this is a place for a documentary. You see so many interesting stuff go down and people that you just go wow, I really wonder who they are, what lives they lead.
Had a little 4am meal at a tiny snack bar run by a really nice filipino couple. Went outside and 5 fire trucks appear from the surrounding alleyways, firemen run into one of the many buildings, as something has gone down in one of them. There are just so many interesting people to meet, so many experiences to be had and stories to be told in places like this. Havent even scratched the surface. I am so coming back here when i`m at uni. Everything is new and intriguing. The atmosphere is like something from a movie.
The whole sci-fi theme is strong too. From arriving there, there are plenty of mechanics we dont have in Austalia. To start with, seeing plenty of those mechanic carparks and giant moving disks on the ground. Then to finish off the taxis have automatic doors. After getting out of the taxi at 5am and the door isnt shutting properly.. It just kept bouncing back open. The taxi looked like it was trying to fly as the two back doors continually try to slam shut on their own.. can everyone get that picture? Its was just amusing and weird. That just added to the whole foreign atmosphere of the night. Just standing there with that taxi and its automatic doors..
Stayed the night at some guys apartment. 7 people in a Japanese apartment. Let me lay it out for you. I was half under the dining table, the kitchen was behind my head, I could reach over and turn the shower on with my left hand, the toilet was on the left too but behind a door which they managed to add. Ontop of that extreme summer humidity.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Come back Koren!
Last sunday my Japanese class had a big day of cooking all foreign foods, I didnt really know how to make a meat pie so I just helped out with the Malaysian ladies curry. What is Australian food anyway? Anyway it was a really nice feist! We had this great russian soup, with all these crazy things I saw being added into it, one of which being a purple powder? It was REALLY good though! We also had lots of chinese dishes and then some great Malaysian curry. In Japan they love their curry but its very sweet! Besides wasabi, I'm finding Japanese dont really have much of a tolerance for spicy food, chilli etc.
I have added a pic of me and Ma-chan, a friend of mine. Japanese people seem to be really loving but casual with their kids. Like I'll meet a lady with a small baby and like 2 minutes later she has to do something so she just hands me the baby.. Is that normal?
Friday, July 21, 2006
Summer Holidays? Poor students.
Anyway her speech was just saying how we need to study more, and she just kept going on telling these kids that study was the most important thing in their life. This is textbook study. If you do bad in a test, you must study more and more and more! If you want to rest you must say no and study more and more! She did say to read books, which I kind of agree is a good thing.
Following the closing ceremony my 2nd grade year stayed back and had another lecture because the 2nd years(grade 11) are doing the poorest. The speech was about how they are doing terrible, the 3rd years are doing so wonderfully, teh 1st years too. The teacher read numerous test scores and stats and was saying they will let the school down at the end of the year when all the schools in the prefecture are compared. Our school will look bad etc etc. Im sitting there going whoa, they're serious about this hey. Then he talks about how during their summer classes they must work REALLY hard to improve their standards.
Summer classes, so summer holidays, the students have classes now from 830am until 1230pm instead of 330pm. Ontop of this they recieved summer holiday homework books for each subjet. And towards the end of the summer holidays they have examinations.. ? Holidays my ass. How ridiculous!
The reason for all this stress is because everyone got their grades back today. On their reports, everyone is ranked within their class from who was the best to who was the worst. Everyone is constantly being ranked, future schools, which class you are put in, its all decided by your test scores, from as early as Primary school. Teachers already decide which universities you can enter, which are above you etc. These kids lives are planned out, It's harsh!
This is the Japanese way of life though, It's only one of many differences over here. I mean I should do more "textbook" study but it's not the only thing in this world! Japanese students need more freedom, they need more opportunities to show initiative, in areas other than studying.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Here is a photo of a train in Matsue. The train looks exactly the same as the train I catch every morning!
Speaking of crashes, just the other day I was riding my train home from school thinking, "Man it'd be so crap if this thing tipped over. Mmm there aren't that many pointy things around, I could just roll onto the roof, yeah Id be fine if it did." I dont want to find out.
Here I have also added a photo I took from my bedroom window this morning, can you see the harbour in the distance?
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
On monday we had a public holiday, the day for swimming? Japan has lots of public holidays, there is one for respecting the elderly and some others I forget. Everyone in Japan works so hard and they didnt have many public holidays to begin with like other countries, so they decided to make some.
So we went to Hiroshima! I have been a few times now and I really enjoy it. So many clothing stores its crazy, all filled with cheap shirts, so many shirts, all colour coded and everything! I also found, at the combini(convenience store) a new drink called "office diet" they like their sports drinks over here and alot have "diet" in the title. Maybe this new drink is targeted towards people who work in offices that are on diets?
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Today I went to Hagi with Miura sensei, the nurse at my school hehehe and her friend Shiho, whos an english teacher at Korens special needs school and a Friend of Miura, everyone knows everyone in the country you know how it is.
It was SO blooody hot today oh man im gonna die.. if I live through this summer ill be super happy. Lucky we had Miuras sweet Audi car, she loves her european art, travel and toys. It was a long drive, so we stopped for a break. I went to the toilet and there was like an old man in one of the toilets making the weeirest sounds, he was becoming really angry and I swear he said "shiit!" but ... thats english? I dunno, I was scared though, enough to bolt out of there quick fast! Moving along,
When we got to Hagi, we went to an art gallery first, the art was great, it was very quiet though, a nice orderly fashion to move around and look at the artworks, had arrows and everything.. After we had lunch at this amazing restaurant! They turned a tradition japanese home into a restaurant, had the most wonderful atmosphere, twinkly music in the background and everything, I felt like I was in a movie. (photos at restuarant above)
From there we went around and had a look at traditional Japanese houses from about 200years ago, between the meishi and edo periods, and the style of architecture they used back then. I REALLY enjoyed this, It was the same style house my former host families grandfather had. Where it's all tatami mats, big sliding doors so you can open the whole place up and see all the way from one end of the house to the other, I love it. Also except for the doorways (which I naturally had to duck under) parts of the house like the kitchen had these amazingly beautiful high ceilings, with a web of pillars and big slabs of wood. So beautiful! I was jumping around taking pictures left right and centre. I am so building a house like this in the future in Australia. Or using some of the designs.