My life, stories and shenanigans from Japan

Every Thursday, I have lunch during a free period with the exchange student organizer at my school. 

Today, we began a conversation on a farewell speech I’ll have to give in December. (Sad)

He then went on to say that because my Japanese has improved so immensely, that I should give it to the entire school during our semester closing ceremony.

I was surprised by this, considering other exchange students have has a tendency of just doing it to their classes, but it didn’t compare to what happened next.

Assuming the speech would have to be short, like my 2 minute introduction speech at the beginning of the year, I asked how long of a speech would be good.

"Hmm.  Anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes would be good.”


I can speak Japanese alrighty, but I sure as heck cannot give an interesting speech, in Japanese, for 20 to 30 minutes.



After a small discussion, though, the time got pushed down to tidy 5 minutes. 


Time for an update

Well, it’s been over a month since my last blog post.  I feel I’ve failed you all at posting regularly.  It’s just been so refreshing not having to post on my blog all the time.

I’m doing quite fine.  I recently had a lot of stress built up from school (long story short, Japan isn’t always open to things that are different, that including foreigners.  I wrote a huge blog post but removed it within about 10 minutes.) I’m better now, though, and have gotten to spend a lot of time with friends of recent which makes me happy.  I’m sad to have to leave them in 2 months.

Well, to make this blog post the least bit interesting, I’m going to share one more thing I’ve tended to over-blog about: Japanese cell phones.  But this is a bit different.   Japanese phones are all about expressing yourself, and Japanese female phones can get pretty crazy at times.   My host mom wanted to make her phone cuter, and thus bought all these small little fake gems and glue and stuff.   I took on the task of painstakingly gluing all the tiny little gems onto her phone, as a sort of gift because she said she didn’t like doing those sort of things.

Phone before:




As goes without mentioning, I’m thankful it’s not my phone. 

It took me a freakin 2 and a half hours to place all the gems.

I’ve begun to update my twitter a lot.  You can follow a better feed of what I’m doing from here (click) (or look at the sidebar of this website).  I can update it from my phone, which is nice.


So, with the recent outbreak of H1N1 virus as well as a coming typhoon, my school was randomly cancelled out of the blue this week.  Which is really annoying, considering we had some random holiday last week as well as it was a week of holidays the week before and thus I’ve had very little school. And then I have the school festival this weekend so part of next week is cancelled.

I haven’t  been to school on a Thursday in over a month.

I like school in Japan.  So it sucks when all I have is holidays.  I seriously got angry when they announced they were cancelling school because of the H1N1 virus.  Psh.  My friends thought I was crazy.

Lament for the Giraffe

There’s something I hate about myself in Japan.

To just about everybody here, it’s extremely handsome, stylish, and amazing, but to me it’s an absolute burden, both physically and mentally.

And that thing I hate is the fact I’m 6’3” (195? cm).

First off, let’s start with the (somewhat minor) physical encumbrances .  Let’s face it: Japan is not a tall country.  The average is 5ft6or7 or something.  Well, it’s metric over here so its 170-something centimeters.  My desk (and chair) at school have “this chair/desk is intended for people between these heights:” stickers on them, whose limits start at about 5 foot and end at about 5 foot 7 (all you metric people, get your calculators out.  I’m on a rant and am tired of having to go back to my calculator every few seconds.) I’m 6’3” (195cm.  I know that by heart so I don’t need to convert).  I cannot physically enter my desk.  I have to manually lift the desk up and place it on my lap.  Besides that, I frequently hit my head on doors as well as signposts, chandeliers, advertisements, the bars to hold onto in the train, and so on.  Also, when it rains, and you’re on a crowded road where everyone has umbrellas, you get stabbed in the face with numerous umbrellas, as well as get all the drips from the tops of other people’s umbrellas.  So, when I’m on those roads, the most wet part of my person is the part right under the umbrella.

Now, onto the mental strain it’s causing me.

My goal in coming to Japan for this year was to, for one year, feel like a Japanese kid.  Sounds weird, but it’s something I’ve always wanted. 

Now I, towering over all the other kids, never get that feeling like I fit in.

If this were the animal kingdom, I’m the giraffe in the herd of zebras. 

Seriously, it’s the worst feeling.  Not being able to talk face-to-face with friends or to stand with them and just feel like the complete outcast.

It destroys me inside when I see a friend run up to another friend and put his arm around his shoulder, as friends do (How merry. Sounds old-fashioned, though this is Japan).  They never do it to me.  How could they? They can’t even reach.

When you can’t speak in normal Japanese with friends, you rely on those little physical gestures, the friend’s arm around your shoulder, friends running up and jokingly half-tackling you from behind, to feel accepted. 

I get approached by model scouts all the time as well as random people on the streets, all praising my height.  Though to me, I’d give my height just to fit in. 


I drew this picture (on the back of my French homework, I might add), to try and illustrate my point.  It does a terrible job illustrating it, though it does an OK job illustrating what Zebras and Giraffes might look like if they were to walk on two legs. Not that that’s at all related. 

Update before I go to Korea

Well, I’m leaving for Korea for a few days tomorrow.  I just thought I’d do a brief update on what I’ve been up to.

I had my sports festival the other day.  I participated in dodge ball.  Japanese rules are different from(or maybe they’re the same as?) the United States, and thus I found myself just getting hit by the ball (not plural) a bunch because nobody explained it.  Was still fun. I went to Shinjuku afterwards, and took some pictures. Because i could. And because it was free.


Stupid cell phone camera focused on the tail of the dragonfly.

CA3C0278 CA3C0284

Egg building and using the free content they provide people wirelessly to use on their Nintendo DS.


Inside of some building.

I went to a friend’s brother’s school festival the other day.  It was pretty fun, I guess.  A lot of people came, though what was fun was just hanging out with my friends.

Yesterday, I went to the Onsen (hot spring) resort thingy near my house.  For some reason, I feel like explaining the process of the hot spring resort because it’s all pretty high tech and cool.

So, you enter, and take off your shoes in the entrance hall.   You put them in these small locker things, which you can lock.  Then, you proceed to the entrance, where a smiling lady hands you a waterproof bracelet with a barcode on it.  You then proceed to another counter, where a man scans your barcode and hands you a small satchel with these loose garments and an assortment of towels.

You then proceed to a changing room, where you take your clothes off and put them in a locker.

You then, you know, go to the bath. 

Mid-way through the bath, if you like, you can take a break and wear the loose garments and go to the lounge.  In the lounge, there are many chairs, which are nice recliners with swivel-out flat screen TVs with special audio so only your seat can hear.  Which are free to use.  I usually sit there with one of the blankets that are free and watch TV for an hour or so between baths and e-mail friends on my phone.

Then you return to the bathes (or not. if you prefer).

There are also a variety of restaurants, vending machines, and special bathes, which cost extra, all of which can be attended in the garment things and the bill is put on your barcode bracelet.

When you’re all done, you change into your clothes, return the satchel, and go to the counter, where they scan your bracelet and you pay the amount that’s collected.

It usually costs about 12-13 USD (1200 yen), depending on whether i buy anything.  Though you can go for as long as you like (I usually go anywhere from 2-4 hours), so it’s well worth it.

And that’s about it.

It looks something like this:


That’s part of the changing room as well as partial view of the bathes.  I burgled it from Google. 


And yeah. That’s a bout it.  Going to Seoul tomorrow for three days, will perhaps update when I get back.

Well, I started Biology today

We started cell-division today in Biology.  I was given a somewhat long text explaining it, and I did my best to translate it with my electric dictionary because I couldn’t understand the teacher’s explanation.

Of course, it was written in Kanji, so I had to use the small touch-screen in order to use the Kanji-recognition program.  It went down a good something like this:

Me: Huh.  I wonder what that first word is. (Writes into Electro-Dict)

Me: Hmm.  It’s not working

(Spends a good few minutes trying to get it right)

Me: Plant.  The first word is, plant.  Now the second word…

As you can imagine, with the fact it was the first Kanji of a few dozen I didn’t recognize on the sheet, my morning in Biology went by quite slowly.

I also had Lacrosse today.  We did some crazy leg-swingy exercises, which I failed miserably at, and thus my legs are dead.

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