Friday, August 25, 2017

Flashback Friday: Japan Part 1

**This post is part of a Flashback Friday series. I will be posting photos from the trips I took as a kid accompanied by the journal entries I kept while traveling**




Monday, April 16th, 2007/Tuesday April 17th, 2007

Well I’m on the plane at the moment and the seat belt thing just  beeped as we are heading through turbulence.  Though it is sort of hard to write, I enjoy turbulence as its like a roller coaster ride.  It has been a pretty eventful day already.  We left home this morning and reached the cities sometime around the noon hour.  Katie and I spent the whole time on the bus talking and played MASH.  After we dropped our luggage off, we went through the baggage check.  Pretty much everyone had went through security except Alysa.  She ended up having a ticket with my brothers name on it.  Sam already had his though, so she got a new one.  Katie and I had Burger King for lunch.  We are about to have dinner though so I need to take a journal break. 

Okay, I’m done eating now.  After we boarded the plane we sat for awhile.  We backed up quite a bit and eventually took off.  Andrew freaked out! It was truly the funniest thing ever!!­  I laughed so hard.  After we were finally able to move around about 8 years later, Andrew and Katie switched spots so we were seated: Emma, me, Katie, and in front of us was Jordan, Andrew, and Ryan.  We had pretzels for snacks and my dinner consisted of chicken sukiyaki with carrots, mushrooms, and sticky rice,  Also, salad, shrimp, and lemon cookies.  I gave Ryan my shrimp though.  We are now above Canada and it is an okay view, but I know that we are on our way to better sights.  There are quite a few clouds however, and they look pretty sweet.  There is also frost on the windows.  

It is 7 something at home, and I finally used the “lavatory.”  It was, well, different.  It was very tiny and when you pressed the flush button it would wait like 5 seconds and then scare you when it finally flushed loud enough for probably the whole plane to hear! I couldn’t figure out how to open the door.  Also, we are watching “Night at the Museum,” which is rather lame if you ask me.  The shades are all closed and when we opened them to get pictures of the beautiful once-in-a-life-time scenery, everyone got mad.  How rude.  I mean this scenery is amazing and not many people get to see it in their lives, this is most likely our only chance and they are being party poopers.  We’re flying over Alaska and the view is spectacular!  I got some more photos which are great, but even through those, you can not see the true beauty I can see out my window (when I sneak a peak every now and then that is).  


 






We just ate our half-way snack.  We’ve been flying for nearly 5 ½ hours, but I can’t tell if it really seems that way.  It’s about 10 to 9 or so back home, and we just ate ham sandwiches.  They are really good about bringing food on here.  I’m not too crazy about airplane food, but every time I get hungry they seem to be delivering another meal or snack to us!  I’m not quite tired yet, which is strange as I only got about 3 hours of sleep last night I was so excited!  

It is about  midnight back home.  I still haven’t slept.  I’m not tired.  I am reading “Life Expectancy” by Dean Koontz.  It is a very good book and it has pulled me in form the beginning.  “Happy Feet”  is now playing and they played “Dreamgirls.”  I really don’t know when to switch from Monday to Tuesday in my journal because the time is all messed up.  I’ll just start with Wednesday tomorrow.  There is a little less than three hours left until we get there!  I can’t wait I am so excited!  We are going to be a bit late however as we hit a lot of turbulence on this flight. 

We arrived in Tokyo at about 5:20 Tokyo time on Tuesday night, which would have been about 4:20 AM back home.  Andrew panicked about “free falling” again as we were landing.  We saw someone just as we were landing and Andrew goes, “Hey! The first person we saw is a Japanese person!”  We were all like, “Umm, Andrew, we are in Japan.”  The landing was very smooth and the airport was very empty.  




After we exchanged money, we took a bus to the hotel where we were staying for the night and we ate a rather large meal.  The food was pretty good.  For the main plate we had Salisbury steak, colored noodles, shrimp, chicken, and mushrooms.  Also included in the meal was sticky rice, a cabbage kind of soup, salad, and a cream puff desert thing that was super, amazingly good!  It was all very good but very filling and I couldn’t manage to eat it all.  




We ended up going to bed around 9:30 after a very long day.  I had already been up for over 24 hours as I had not slept at all on the plane.  The beds were close to the ground and the pillows were made of rice or corn husks or something so it was different, but I still managed to get a very nice sleep.  The TV was interesting ad I love Japanese game shows! I have no idea what they’re saying but the people on it still make me laugh!  There was a sign on the door that told us to shut the bathroom door when we were bathing/showering otherwise the steam would set the fire alarm off.  Yikes!

Wednesday, April 28th, 2007
I woke up this morning at quarter to 5 thinking that if I was back home, I would just be getting done with school.  Katie and I talked about how good a butter braid sounded and we dreamed about the sweetness of American food, although we were very excited to have our first Japanese breakfast.  We talked to Mat and Johann at about 6 and they’d been up for awhile as well.  At 6:30 we went down for breakfast.  They had a western style breakfast with some Japanese stuff.  They had cake!  It was the first time I got to use chop sticks in Japan!  




After breakfast we went to our rooms and got everything ready to go.  The doors closed on Johann while he was still in the elevator which made us laugh, especially after he went up a floor and then came back down with an older couple who were very confused!  

We left the hotel at about 7:30 and headed back to the airport.  We got on a train and headed to Tokyo.  


 






After many more trains, we arrived at a Japanese history museum.  It was very intriguing and revolved a lot around mostly Tokyo, but all of Japan as well and included WWII and earthquakes.  We also saw some Japanese school kids who took a lot of pictures and we gave them our business cards.  









Afterwards, we went on some more trains and to the Diet.  There, we saw protesters who were against North Korea exporting things to Japan.  There was also a lady in the front of the building who was belting out a song.  The Diet was beautiful both inside and out.  I got a drink called Thorpedo which pretty much everyone tried and it tasted like lemon-lime Gatorade.  




After the Diet, we went on another bullet train to Tokyo Station,  There, I got these chocolate covered pretzel like things called Pocky at a store.  When our train got to the station, a group of Japanese students going to the Diet got off the train.  One guy took a picture of me and Katie because of our beautiful blonde hair!  





We got on the train which goes to Misato town at our next destination, which is where I am now.  They gave us cutlet sandwiches and orange juice for lunch.  The bathrooms on the train were weird.  There was a sensor that you had to put your hand by to flush.  The sinks were super sweet!  You had to put your hand under the soap dispenser and it would squirt our soap at you.  Then, you  put your hands by a sensor in the sink where air would shoot out to dry your hands.  

When getting off the train, we had about 30 seconds and we had to rush everyone off.  Then, there were some people from Misato there to great us.  Mr. Kamata was so funny because he’d just be like “follow me” and it made us all laugh.We went to the city hall for a ceremony where we got bags of food, blue jacket vests, some information on Misato, and a pin.  Also, there we saw girls in kimonos plating musical instruments.  They were very good.  There were many speeches made and even more photographs taken.  







After the ceremony, we took two buses out to Matsushia which was on the ocean and stayed there at a hotel.  It was beautiful!  Katie and I were in room 223.  They even had computers there! We got to go on for 10 minutes for 100 yen.  I did it like 3 times at least.  Our room was small but very comfortable.  The toilet there had a bidet and shower and so many of us had a lot of fun with those!  There was a huge fountain thing in the hotel and it was very pretty.  


 













On the bus heading out there, I was laying with my hand over my eye to block the light as I was very tired.  My hand was shaped like a telescope though and I told Katie I felt like a pirate, she said “arr.”  Then about 3 minutes later Mr. Sackett goes “arr.”  Then we made pirate jokes up and they were very lame.  My favorite one was Mr. Sackett’s “What’s a pirates favorite article of clothing?” Can you guess what it is? An arr-gyle sweater! Hahaha. 

Back to Matsashuma- we ate a rather large meal there.
                First Course: raw salmon, broccoli, white fish (two kinds), shrimp, cauliflower
                Second Course: cream corn soup with croutons
                Third Course: potatoes, steak stuff, fish with red sauce, miscellaneous stuff under fish
                Fourth Course: ice cream, honey dew, pineapple, moussey cake, strawberries

I do love the ice cream here!  Samantha and I had a very good time at that dinner and did a lot of laughing.  They played music there and we clapped along.  The music man was very good and playing and singing.  When the meal finally ended, we all went our separate ways.  Some went to the hot springs, but not me and Katie.  We bummed around a bit.  Katie and I both showered then Megan and I played cards down by the lobby.  It was hysterical because when Katie and I played with Megan she was being super competitive and me and Katie were laughing so hard at the stupidest things! I guess you just had to be there…  We then went to our room and chatted a bit before quickly falling asleep.  It had been a very long day.




Thursday, May 19th, 2007

When we woke up this morning we did it with a laugh- literally.  I had been awake for awhile and kept moving around.  When Katie woke up she was laughing at me.  Then she made funny noises which made us both laugh super hard.  After our fit of giggles sort of ended we both got ready .  We walked around the hotel for awhile and we saw Caer and Mrs. S walking about.  After a bit, we got bored of walking around, so at the rooms of Ryan & Naeh, Joe & Jonathan, Sam & Allie, and Johann & Mathew, we left a note inviting them to our room for a little party.  Ryan came and he made fun of us.  Sam and Allie played ding-dong ditch on us as I knew someone would.  Johann and Mat also came with my brother.  We chilled and chatted for a bit, then finally went to breakfast at 7:30.  

For breakfast there was both Japanese and western food.  I ate orange slices, very healthy! I wasn’t quite hungry as I was still full from the night before.  Hayley was the bravest, she tried almost everything!  There were these sweet butter/syrup packets and to use them you had to fold them in half.  Well some people *cough cough* Ryan *cough cough* weren’t smart enough to figure that out so when he opened it it squirted all over him.  Most people ended up wearing theirs rather than eating it.  Mat and I hung out and we went to the hotel shop where I bought 2 soccer hello kitty key chains, a set of best friend key chains, and a tennis hello kitty keychain.  They have the cutest key chains ever here!  I also got a set of 20 postcards for only 400 Yen!

We left the hotel around 9 and took a boat trip around Matsashuma Bay in the ocean and saw many many islands.  We got to feed the seagulls shrimp fries.  That was fun but scary because it looked like they were going to eat your finger but they really didn’t.  Each island had there own name, some where named after Gods and Goddesses.  In one rock there was a hole and if you were to climb through it the myth was you would only live to see three more years.  






After the boat tour, we went to the Godida temple which was the smaller of the two temples we went to.  There, we got to bow and make a wish as well as ring a bell. There were 12 animals around the top of the temple, one of which you would be depending on the year you were born.  We weren’t there for too long though because next we headed off for about a 3 minute walk to the Zuiygano temple which was very large as there was more than just one building to see.  We walked around there as there were many shrines, caves, and other things to look at.  Lastly there, we went to the temple building itself.  We had to take off our shoes to go inside where there were two levels of flooring.  The higher level was for emperors, nobles, and other high-ranking people.  The lower level was for all the other people.  Some boards were placed in the floor so that they would squeak which would serve as a warning when people were trying to sneak up.  The doors that opened and didn’t slide were Chinese and were 400 years old!  One emperor had died there, so everyone else had to kill themselves too because their belief was that if their leader committed suicide they had to do the same.  The first words out of Mr. B’s mouth were, “I’m not dying for George Bush!” It was funny. 






There were mercy statues of people which represented different things such as good luck for travelers, health for the sick, etc.  After the temple we went to a restaurant and ate.  There we got to sit on the floor!  There were holes under the table to put our legs in though.  We were served cold noodles, batter fried fish and other batter fried foods, soup, rice, fish patties, and some other stuff.  Once we finished eating, we did a little shopping, but made sure to be back to the hotel at one.  From there, we took two buses to Kagota Norin High School.  



When we first arrived Mana introduced us to Chizuru, our homestay girl, but she goes by Chi.  She is very nice and fun and we communicate pretty good.  I wish she could have been able to come to America.  We all went up to the library and had a little meeting where the student council was introduced and we ate some snacks.  Then, we went on a little tour throughout the school.  When Katie and I would walk into the room the boys would say, “ohh pretty girl.” They loved our blonde hair!  Then we wandered over to the gym where they had an assembly.  We had to introduce ourselves with our name and what we liked to do.  Daiki and Mrs. S both did a speech and then they gave us these bamboo cups that they made.  They’re beautiful.  




After the assembly we went to watch Judo.  Judo is where they do something like karate/wrestling and flip each other onto the ground.  It was really cool.  It looked painful though but they were very good at it!  




Next we watched Kendo which was where the people yelled really loud and scarily and hit each other over the head with sticks as hard as you could.  Well it was a little more sophisticated than that.  They did yell a lot but it sounded cool and the point was to hit each other in different spots which came with a different amount of points.  




After Judo came Sumo.  All of the people were different sizes.  Some were short, tall, fat, and skinny.  The sport is really all about strategy rather than size.  My brother tried it and it was really funny!  He even got to wear the diaper!  I caught some of it on video.  He won but I believe his opponent let him win both times.  Once he tried to distract his opponent  by trying to make him look at something non-existent.  It didn’t work.  It was very funny.  I would have loved to have tried it but we didn’t have enough time. 




After the visit to the school, we hopped on a bus and headed to the community center for a gathering and dinner.  Before we went to change we planted a Cherry Blossom tree in front of the city hall.  In front of the tree was a sign dedicating it to B.V.  It was very sad and it makes me happy that they were so thoughtful as to do that.  I cried a lot, as did most people.  Caer and Jonathan got to help shovel it in to plant it.  They are very strong people.  Some of the Japanese people made a speech.  It was very touching.  

Next, we went into the community center to change for the ceremony as we needed to wear nice clothes and most of us were wearing jeans.  I ended up wearing my white dress and green sweater.  At first we all went on stage and were introduced with a few speeches and did a toast.  Then we all mingled and ate.  They had cotton candy and I was excited.  There were different performances on the stage as well.  First, there were school kids playing music on band instruments.  Eric also played a song on the trumpet, which he only found out a few days before that he had to do.  Mr. C played a Jack Johnson song on his guitar.  He is a very good singer!  There were these drummers that were very good and fun to listen to.  One of them was only five years old and he was amazing and adorable!  He had already been playing for a year.  About six of the Japanese Junior High School girls did a dance with costumes and fans and everything.  It was very elaborate and I was amazed with their talent.  I wish I could do the things they could do.  




We met Chi’s parents and they are very nice..  Her father is very funny and very perky.  He makes me laugh I can tell he enjoyed taking pictures!  We all took many pictures that night.  At the end of the party, all of the MN ambassadors went back on stage.  While there, we received presents- a beautiful wooden doll and a small package with origami stuff and other stuff in it.  We made a small book about beads and friendship.  We all strung our beads onto a string and from now on every time a group from home goes to Japan, more beads will be brought by each ambassador and will be put on the string.  Then, we all got off stage and were introduced to our homestay families in front of everyone.  After many good-byes we eventually left to go to the house of our homestay.  

Chi lives in Farukuwa which is about an hour drive from Misato.  Her mom’s name is Hisako and her fathers name is Toshikazu.  She also has a sister who is named Chihiro but she is 19 and goes to college so she doesn’t live in the house.  Once we got to her house, we were given slippers and hauled our luggage upstairs which was a very hard task to do as we had a lot of it.  We ended up sleeping on mats on the floor with many blankets which was perfect for me!  It was very comfortable and very warm.  Chi’s friend Miyaki was staying with us too!  It was a party!  After we unloaded our luggage, we went down to the sitting room which is called that for a reason.  We all put our legs under a table, and it was a heated room which was nice because the rest of the house was pretty cold.  In there, we ate chocolate covered potato chips and drank strawberry juice which was very good.  Then me and Katie headed off to bathe.  After bathing we went up to the room to journal but we were very tired and fell quickly asleep.      





Previous Flashback Friday posts:
West Coast

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