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海距離 (An Ocean Away)

Life in 日本 as far as I know it.
Mar 21 '13

UPDATE!! Finally…

Well it has been two months since I last updated this thing. I apologize in advance, but I just haven’t been able to until now. So since a lot has been going on in 日本, I figured that I would break down what has been happening in bullets. Yes you can thank me later for saving your eyes…maybe

January

  • Nothing much happened at the end of the month so…

February

  • Participated and experienced the Japanese High School Graduation Ceremony (高校卒業式)
  • Practice for this ceremony was long and unbearable. Didn’t really understand why I had to deal with hours of teachers treating me like a 5 year old. Bowing, Clapping, Standing, Sitting. It all had to be perfect.
  • Realized the next day the actual reason why I was put through angonizing hours of practice. 高校卒業式 is a beautiful ceremony and all the practicing for making it look that way had to happen.
  • Comforted my friend Sakurako during that ceremony. She had to see all her friends graduate and move on without her because she went on exchange :(
  • Valentines Day in 日本… cray-cray!! because:
  1. Women or Girls are the only ones that give gifts on this day.
  2. The men are only on the receiving end of this day.
  3. Wait Lupita?? You go to an all girls school. What happened??
  4. Everyone, and I mean Everyone, still went ballistic and gave this 外人 (foreigner) everything. I received 115 little bags of cookies, candies, brownies, cakes, you name it I got it.
  5. Get this, all the young male teachers at my school were also abhorred with goodie bags of stuff. (yeah don’t ask)
  6. Girls acted insane, were all jacked up on sugar, yeah I think I will hate Valentines Day for forever.
  7. Since in Japanese Culture people always exchange gifts, there is this thing called White Day which happens on March 14th.
  8. White Day is the day in which all the men usually return the favor of the gift that was given to them. (again, dont ask…i have no clue)

Anyways!!!

  • Had a Rotary Orientation in 岡山 (Okayama)
  • Orientation was pretty awesome because I was finally able to engage with other exchange students. よかった!
  • Switched host families which made me sad because I didn’t want to leave Shikichan :(
  • Really loving my new host family though. Family Members include:
  1. お父さん:名前はー正生  Host Dad
  2. お母さん:名前はー幸子 Host Mom
  3. お兄さん:名前はー文冴 Older Host Brother
  4. お姉さん:名前はー 一乃 Older Host Sister
  5. 犬:名前はーシャオちゃん Toy Poodle named Shao
  6. 犬:名前はーテディくん Toy Poodle named Teddy
  • Host family are pretty heavy drinkers…actually everyone who comes from Kochi is lol (not lying)

March

  • Took my end of the year finals…I passed!!
  • Wait the school year ends in March??
  • Yes it does and the new School Year begins in April so I will be a Senior!! lol it doesn’t make a difference I still have to go to school :P
  • Finally chose the college I will be attending…Cal Poly SLO here I come!
  • The cherry blossoms are finally out and 日本 looks so beautiful. They came a little early this year though because it has been relatively cold.
  • So….I’m on SPRING BREAK!!! and I have nothing to do. :(
  • Maybe I’ll get to take a trip somewhere who knows??

So there is your update in a nutshell. I’ve been doing well and I honestly can’t believe my exchange is coming to a close. It is going by way too fast :(. Hopefully I will keep up with this thing guys. Fingers Crossed!! Well tata for now and remember I’m only an ocean away.

Mar 21 '13

nature in 日本 at its finest 

Mar 21 '13

pictures of my second host family… as you can see Shikibu is the star :)

Jan 24 '13

5ヶ月間ぐらい…oh lord!

Well peoples its been well the “title”, I’m going to let you figure that one out for yourself :) I honestly seriously can’t believe it’s gone by so fast. I’m honestly know starting to settle into this new life, and sometimes it kinda stinks knowing that I do have to go back. Whatever I’m not going to think about it, I’m just gonna live this experience to the fullest because its worth it. Well the last thing I talked about was the uber amazing 神戸牛 experience. So what’s been going with me lately? How did I spend my New Years? Well let me answer sheesh, lol :)

So New Years in Japan was definitely a completely different experience. I found the whole thing to be really cool actually because it was full of customs and traditions that I didn’t even know existed. So lets rewind back to two weeks before the big holiday because that was when the traditions began. You see the Japanese create 年賀状 (New Years Day Cards) for all their families and friends as a sign of respect. They also do this because they want to wish others well for the upcoming year. So because people know people, they make a lot of these cards weeks in advance so that they can be delivered on New Years Day. I actually made some myself by hand and it was really cool because I did it with traditional stamps and pens.

Now let’s talk about New Years Eve. So on this day there are a lot of preparations that need to be done before the big day. For instance it’s is customary to do a general cleaning of the house as well as the family cemetery. I did both. But the more interesting one was cleaning the family cemetery. So my host families’ family site was up on a mountain close to our house. It was cool because we hiked through a bamboo forest up to the site which had a beautiful view of the valley below us. When we got there it was a wreck but we put all of our hands together and made it look beautiful again. When we finished we faced the cemetery, clapped our hands together and asked for blessings from the ancestors. I enjoyed this experience a lot because the whole thing seemed really beautiful to me. So by the time we finished cleaning, it was dinner time. So for New Year’s Eve dinner there is a special meal that everyone in 日本 eats. It’s called 年越しそば (soba noodles eaten on New Year’s Eve), and it was super delicious. Not as bomb as 神戸牛, but still good nonetheless. So during dinner and up until 11:50 PM we watched 紅白歌合戦 (The Red and White Song Festival). This festival is a competition in which various Japanese musicians are separated into two teams (red and white). I didn’t understand the point of this festival,but whatever I went along with it. So after this music festival ended the midnight New Year festivities began. Now at midnight all the Buddhist temples in 日本 ring their bells 108 times. They do this to summon in the New Year. This summoning is broadcasted but they only show the most famous temples because that is where the most people are. Once this bell ringing finished I went to bed and woke up a few hours later and began the New Years Day festivities

So as soon as I woke up, I got ready, ate breakfast, and then my host family and I went together to a Buddhist temple in 高知市. Wait let me rewind a bit and talk about breakfast. So for breakfast there is a traditional soup that you eat called 御雑煮 (soup with mochi rice cake. Each 県 (region or state) has different versions of making this soup but in 高知県 it is a traditional miso soup with mochi inside. Now where was I oh yeah, this temple was packed with people because everyone in 高知 goes to it. So we had to wait in a long line because we had to go up to the altar at the temple. On New Years Day it is a tradition in the Japanese culture to go to a temple. When you get to the altar you give an offering by throwing money into a box. Next you ring the bells by pulling on a rope and then clap your hands together and say a prayer. After that you pay a small fee in order to get a fortune from a box. Once you have finished reading your fortune, you tie it to a tree branch or rope depending on where you are. So I did that whole altar and fortune business, bought some charms and an arrow to add to my Rotary Blazer and then my family and I returned home to eat lunch. So for lunch and dinner on New Years Day we ate the traditional 御節料理 literally translated into little set meal. So there are various different dishes that are put into this beautifully lacquered box. Now the food looks amazingly delicious, but my eyes deceived me. This food is pretty much all dry and sour and has little flavor so in other words it was nasty. But like a good little exchange student I had the food regardless. Besides the nasty food, there was one up side to this day. I got MONEY!!! Yes on New Years Day it is a tradition to give kids under the age of 20 some お金!!. This whole money giving process is known as お年玉, and this money is given in small little decorated envelopes. So I got rich, ate some interesting food and said a prayer. You know this “New Year process” was really a great insight into the Japanese culture so I was really glad that I had the opportunity to experience it.

As soon as New Years was over, things started to die down a bit. Although I had to say goodbye to a Rotary friend. The Australian exchange student in my district went back home. I’m glad I got to see her one more time before she left, but it was kinda nerve racking seeing her leave. It just reminded me of the fact that all great things do come to an end and that only a few months from now I’m gonna be that person at the airport saying goodbye to the new world that became my home. Gosh I don’t even want to think about, so now I’m just doing as much as I can when it comes to the relationships I have made so far. I joined the 書道 クラブ (Calligraphy Club) at my school which is really cool because I get to write with ink properly. My Kanji is still weak but whatever I’m learning more and more everyday. So it’s been 5 months already and so far this roller coaster ride has been pretty enjoyable. Let’s just hope it stays that way. So I’m going to say さよなら for now and remember I’m only an ocean away.

Dec 31 '12

神戸牛…the best thing i ever ate in my life

         

so i went on a trip with my host family to 神戸市 (Kobe City) and we had an amazing time there…of course when you go to 神戸 you have to eat some delicious 神戸牛 (Kobe Beef)…lucky me i got to go eat some and OMG i died and came back…this piece of meat was so delicious that i wish i could eat it all day…of course i couldn’t because it is super expensive but it was worth the price for such a small piece of meat…so the way this meat was cooked was 鉄板焼き (teppanyaki style) which is the way they do it at Benihana…haha lol…and so i had vegetables and rice that went along with the meat and omg they were also super delicious…so the vegetables were cooked in the 神戸牛 fat and it was AMAZING!…so this is what my plate looked like :)

         

and on the plate are assorted salts, pepper, mustard, and garlic chips that you could add to the beef and vegetables to only enhance the flavor combo on your pallet…yeah the food was soooooo awesome and i just thought i should let you know about my super awesome 神戸牛 experience :D

Dec 26 '12

”____________”

well i have finally found the time to update this thing….so what’s been going on with lupita? where is she now? how were her holidays?…yes i’m sorry i haven’t been updating this thing as i should have but i have just been so busy lately that i just haven’t had the time…well until now….so lets begin this crazy long update 

i currently live in 春野町 (Haruno Town) which is far away from 高知市 (Kochi City) but i love it because i am out in the countryside surrounded by 竹 (bamboo trees) and it is just so peaceful…i love my new family because they are really nice and kind and well i love the house i’m in because it’s an old school japanese house…when i mean old school i mean like the whole house is 畳 (tatami matted) and i sleep on the floor on a futon…it has been interesting getting used to but i have adapted and yeah im becoming japanese more and more everyday haha :)….so my house is far away from my school and i have to take a 30min bus ride everyday to school which so far so good i haven’t missed the bus…yet :P…keep your fingers crossed for me…i have a little host sister who is super cute and sweet…her name is しきぶ (Shikibu) and she is just this huge ball of energy that keeps me up almost every night…my host mom is a super good cook and we get along really well…my host dad is really cool and he is into a lot of things that are american like movies, fashion, cars etc….yeah i like my new family a lot and we get a long great…we’re even going on a trip to Kobe which i am so stoked for because im gonna go eat some Kobe beef!! yummy :P…

so what have i been up to…i’ve finished doing the whole college application bit THANK GOD!! so now i’m doing all my FAFSA work and scholarships…ugh i hate having to do this all over again…its just a drag…now here is some insight that i have recently just learned:

日本大学 (Japanese College) vs. American College

  • 日本大学 is a lot cheaper than American College
  • it is harder to enter a 日本大学 because in order to get in you have to take this ridiculously hard test that not even Einstein could pass
  • there is no super long application to get into 日本大学….just a really hard test
  • American College is a bit easier to get into, however it is harder to graduate from
  • 日本大学 is like one big huge party and once you get in you don’t have to do much unless you decide to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer

yeah that was just a little side bar note that i thought some of you guys would like to know…and when i first heard all of this i was pretty shocked

now let’s talk about school…school has been the same old thing everyday…wear uniform…sit and listen to boring lectures…yadayadayada…but i’m finally now on break which is amazing because i can finally sleep in for a few days and just relax from the boring old place…im getting closer with my friends at school everyday and tomorrow i will be going to a really cool band concert called けいおんさい (Keionsai)…my friend is playing the drums in her band and she asked me to go support her so i am…so im looking forward to tomorrow and my friends at school are pretty cool and great

now lets talk about holidays…well i had a japanese dinner for thanksgiving day…やさい vegetables),すし (sushi), and すき焼き (sukiyaki)…it was really delicious…but it definitely was no turkey or other things…i gotta be honest i did cry alone in my room because i was missing my family and friends a lot on this day…yes lupita was homesick around thanksgiving…all my friends were back home from college…my family was all together…and me well i was 5481 miles away to be exact eating an everyday japanese normal dinner…i was sad…but i did get over it and well i’m okay now that christmas has passed and all…i actually wasn’t that homesick on christmas…i called and skyped my family back home…received some amazing gifts…baked cookies with my little sister for Santa…and had a really good dinner as well with my new family…all in all christmas was a good day and i’m not homesick anymore

i think i’ve finally overcome the homesickness bit every exchange student experiences…yes i love and miss my CA…but i’m really loving my new life here in japan…i can communicate pretty well with everyone…i have a little host sister who preoccupies me…i have really good friends…you know life is good here and i feel like i have really established myself here…日本 has really been treating me well and I am honestly just super looking forward to what else it will bring me…so it’s been awhile and i’m going to try to update this as much as i can…but i can’t make any promises…whoah i said a lot and well i’m going to stop here to save your eyes haha :) so tata for now and remember i’m only an ocean away :)

Nov 8 '12

its been awhile…long post

So I have been in Japan now for almost three months. Ahhhh!! Its crazy how time flies. Well after I came back home from my school trip things started to just cool down a bit. I’ve been pretty much just going to school everyday, learning more and more 日本語 (Japanese). Yeah same schedule almost everyday…boring :P. However things picked up when I went on a Rotary trip with the other inbounds in my district. There is a total of 4 of us: 2 from the U.S. (Stephanie & Jahnahn) and 1 from Australia (Amy). Were all girls so it was cool that we got to bond a little bit over the trip. Well where did I go you may ask? I went to the beautiful cities of 京都市 (Kyoto) and 大阪市 (Osaka). I was especially excited to go to Kyoto because it was my second time going there. When I arrived at the train station, I couldn’t help but remember the time when David Sayas lost his bag with everything in it. Yeah he was really lucky he got it back haha :). As we were visiting the temples and shrines, nostalgia hit as I was remembering everything I had done on my middle school trip to Kyoto. It was really cool being at the 金閣寺 (Kinkaku-ji aka Golden Temple) for the second time. Lol I even saw the spot where we took that picture after we were all dead tired from walking the entire city. We all were super pissed off in that picture in front of the temple haha :).

So after the tour we got to our hotel and realized that next to the hotel was a 24HR Round One. Now for those of you who don’t know what that is, it is basically and arcade but on steroids and like 100X better. Yeah there was プリクラ (Purikura aka photo booth on steroids), games, bowling, カラオケ(Karaoke) yeah just 8 stories of fun! We did プリクラ and we were gonna do bowling and カラオケ but the other girls weren’t 18 yet and since it was a 24HR arcade they ask for ID. LAME :P Whatever it was still fun walking around the city at night. Now I’m going to back track a little bit. Before we did Round One, we obviously had to have dinner. Now where did Lupita have dinner that night hmmm? You know, just at the most coolest restaurant that I have ever been too in my entire life. The restaurant was called Ninja Kyoto Restaurant & Labyrinth. OMG it was unforgettable. First of all this restaurant is a themed restaurant. Now when I say theme restaurant, the Japanese go all out. The people who worked at the restaurant were all dressed in Ninja outfits. So when you go to the restaurant you are greeted by Ninjas and they lead you through tunnels and labryinths in order to get to your cave. Now the cave is where you eat your meal haha lol it was soooooo cool. When you needed to call the waiter, you had to find a secret ninja button and press it, awesome!! Not only was the food delicious but at the end of your meal a Master Ninja comes to your cave and does super cool tricks to entertain you. Yeah it was awesome. But wait there was more ;). The Labryinth part of the restaurant is a maze. This maze was dark and creepy but the object of the maze in order to get out was that you needed to find the various kanji scrolls hidden throughout the maze and get a bingo. Now you are given a bingo card and a little lamp in order to make your way around. Lol it was freaky because there were Ninjas who came out of nowhere and they freaked you out by making noises or dangling from above. But it was awesome all at the same time! Yeah best restaurant ever :D Oh and dessert was even better because we had crepes. But these weren’t just any crepes, they were made out of charcoal because Ninjas got to be healthy duh! haha. Lol the first night was great :)

Well this trip got even better because the following day we went to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka (USJ)!! Yeah it was really fun and the rides were really cool for the most part. My favorite one was the Hollywood Dream Ride which was a roller coaster that plays music while you ride it. Lol super cool and best ride at USJ! Lol sections of the park were California themed which made me a little homesick, but on the other hand USJ California looks nothing like the real one haha :P. But the best part came at night because we went to USJ during halloween time. Lol it was Horror Night in certain sections of the park and there were zombies walking around scaring everyone. Keep in mind Japanese girls get scared really easily so yeah there were tons of screams coming from left and right. Yeah lol i freaked out only a couple times because at time I didn’t realize there was a zombie like right next to me. The best zombie though was the one who had a mad-dog stare down with Stephanie and spoke to her in English. It was a cool and fun day :).

The next day I went to the Osaka Aquarium. It featured a section about the animals that came from the Monterey Bay and yeah when I saw it I really got homesick :(. When I traveled back home I couldn’t get to 高知市 (Kochi) directly from the train station because there was a train accident, so I had to go to 観音寺市 (Kanonji City) and my host dad picked me up from the train station there and I went back to 高知市 (Kochi) by car. So that was my trip and I had loads of fun with the other girls. Were planning on getting together again soon because we had lots of fun together. So my current situation now has been my regular boring schedule of going to school everyday and then coming back home because no one can hang out because all they do is study in Japan. LAME :P But on the up side I will be switching host families soon which will be interesting. My second host family lives far away from my school so I have to wake up even earlier and take the city bus to school everyday :P. I’m not attached to my current host family, however I am attached to the location of where they live because it is super close to everything which is convenient. Too bad I’m going to have to say さよなら (goodbye) to that soon :(. So my exchange so far has been pretty awesome and I can really communicate with almost everyone now which is great. Well this was a long post haha and I’ll be posting pictures soon of my Rotary Trip, but for now all I have to say is that remember I’m only an ocean away.

Oct 16 '12

種学旅行 (School Trip) The Scenery (cont.) :))

Oct 16 '12

種学旅行 (School Trip) The Scenery (cont.) :))

Oct 16 '12

種学旅行 (School Trip) The Scenery (cont.) :))