Today marks my fourth day in Japan. So many things have happened in the short period of time since I wrote my last post including meeting my host family, attending orientations, and taking the train to and from school by myself. Since there’s so much to talk about I am just going to do this post in list form of the things I can remember.
- I met my host family on the 27th and they are really kind! My host family has a mom, dad, son (7), and daughter (4). They live in an apartment complex or as they are called here “マンション” or “Mansions” (not be be confused with a large house as we might think in America). Their apartment is really small with a narrow hall way that leads to my room, a storage room, the bathroom, shower room, the parent’s room, a kitchen, living room, and the kids’ room. Both the kids’ room and the parents’ room are tatami rooms. My room has both a bed and a window which leads onto a balcony. Considering how small the rest of the house is, I am lucky that they decided to share their house with a host student.
- I realized that the sounds of the cicadas or “せみ” or “semi” is no joke. It’s crazy loud. It feels like you’re surrounding by a million crickets all going at once. This is definitely a real Japanese summer experience.
- People really do “すいかわり” (“suikawari”) at festivals here. “Suikawari” is the game where you are blindfolded, spun around a few times, then sent off to go and try to whack a watermelon with a bat. At the apartment complex’s summer festival that my host mom took me and her children to, they had this game. I wasn’t going to try it but the son dragged me over so I had to try it. In this version they used a plastic bat instead of a real bat so the watermelon wasn’t broken up, but it was still really fun to watch.
- At this little festival they had the game where you use the rice paper net to try and scoop something up before the paper breaks. Usually you try to catch goldfish but I think it is also common to use little round bouncy balls. They also had the game where you use a little hook that is attached to a small piece of paper. You have to try and use the hook to grab the looped end of the yoyo ball, but without breaking the paper. They also had a game where you get a little piece of chalk-like candy that has a shape on it. The goal is to break up the piece of candy so that the design stays intact. If you break the design then you lose but if you are able to cleanly break off the candy to show the design you win.
- For food, at the festival they had “wataame” or cotton candy, yakisoba, popcorn, “kakigoori” or shave ice, udon, karaage, and hot dogs on a stick. My host mom gave me some tickets to use so I got popcorn and the hot dog on a stick. Originally I was going to get the karaage but I thought I would try something new.
- We actually stayed from the beginning to the very end so I also got to watch a taiko performance. It really made me miss playing taiko. They had a piece played by younger children and then they did two pieces with older teens and adults.
- At the very end of the festival they did a prize drawing. The prizes were things like dish soap, tissues, and bags of vegetables. The grand prizes were bags of rice. I really wish that I won one of those rice to give to my host mom but unfortunately my bad drawing luck followed me to Japan.
- My host mom was nice enough to take me to a nearby shopping mall to get the planner and notebooks that I wanted to buy, but unfortunately the migraine that was plaguing me the whole day became unbearable and I was forced to say something. Especially since it didn’t help even after I ate, drank, and took medicine twice. I knew that if I said something then my host mom would go out of her way to do things and I didn’t want that but after trying for 8 hours I didn’t think I could last another 2-3 to make it home for dinner and pretending that I was okay. I felt really bad because when we got home I just asked if I could shower and go to sleep without dinner, and while I was showering the dad even went out to a nearby convenience store to buy me a bottle of water and Green Dakara which is like a sports drink to keep in my room and drink. This is not really the impression that I want to leave on my host family but I couldn’t really help it.
- The next day I had to go to school for more orientations on my own. To get to school I need to take about a 15-20 minute walk to “ふじみ野駅” or Fujimino Station, then I need to catch a train that will take me to “霞ヶ関駅 （埼玉）” or Kasumigaseki (Saitama). Actually, I wasn’t sure what train to take. I downloaded an app but I don’t know how to tell which train number to take. I ended up taking a train that ended at “川越市” or Kawagoeshi, which was the station before the one I needed to be at. Since that was the end of the line I wasn’t sure which train I had to take to get to the next station so I asked the train station attendant. Turns out I just had to walk to the other side of the platform but I didn’t know that. So, after getting on the right train I got off at Kasumigaseki and used Google Maps to find my way to the school.
- After a few orientations on how to set up our computer accounts, print, etc. We got a short campus tour which confused me even more with my terrible sense of direction, and then we ate lunch at the school cafeteria. I ordered katsu curry which I think was pretty good! After that the tour was pretty much over and our schedule was done for the day so we were free to leave.
- Now I really realized that even if I can handle going somewhere, going backwards is really difficult. While trying to get back to the train station from the school, I went in a circle about two times. It was also really hot and I was sweating so I stopped to take a break but people kept staring at me so I kept going. I mapped the location again but I couldn’t figure out how to read my map (figures). I decided to try to go left instead of right (which would take me in my third circle), and then asked a police officer where the station was. It was just down the street and I completely missed it. Right when I got to the station I met up with a student who was still at the school when I left so I was busted. I now had a witness to my confusion. But it was okay because that person helped me figure out which train I needed to get on to get back to my home station.
- When I got back to Fujimino station I walked around a little bit to see what stores there were and then decided to go home. About one block into it I realized that I was going the wrong way. I went back to the train station and took the correct exit and then walked home, stopping at the nearby mall called Soyoca just to check out what they had and to try and search for a coffee shop that could become my new study spot. I didn’t find it and my host mom messaged to ask if I knew the way home since I was probably a couple hours later than expected so I headed home, making a stop at the closest 7-11 to my house to buy toiletries and a coffee.
- Once I made it home my host mom showed me a couple of things around the house and then she left to go to her son’s after school activities, taking her daughter too. I had the house to myself for a couple of hours so I just tried to cool down and look over my school schedule things.
- Tomorrow there is actually supposed to be a typhoon coming so my day’s activities might be cancelled, including a welcome event for JSP which would be too bad. As much as I’m curious as to what a typhoon in Japan is like, I really really don’t want it to hit! I heard once it does it will only get more hot and I don’t think I can handle that.
- Well, my host family is home now so I should probably leave my room. I think I wrote a lot of not very interesting stuff but I’ll post it anyways so I can update you, my family, and remind myself of how my study abroad started off when I try to look back once this semester is over.
If you read all of this thank you! Hopefully the next post will be more interesting! I am planning on labelling my posts with either “日記” which is more diary type and “記事” which would be a little more clean as if I was trying to advertise for that place or activity that I did.
Hope you have a great day!