Saturday, January 08, 2011

An echo from the Land of the Rising Sun

The time has finally come. In a blink of an eye, January has come.
I only have three days left in Akita, four in Japan and I tell you the 4th is going to be a tough one - alone in a hotel room somewhere around Narita airport. It is as you can imagine a melancholic time for me.
But that doesn't mean that I'm not enjoying my last days here!
 I'm going out with my family to onsens, tea times and just drives and talking with everyone in a much smoother way compared to when I first got here. The so called 'knot' talks. Tying things up. : )
 I really have two families in this world now. I'm just amazed why/how people put prices on this sort of things. I absolutely can't measure this experience in such a small piece of paper called 'money'. It's beyond measure for all individuals involved, including the usual passers-by. Just seeing them has an effect on me. I had absolutely no idea that an exchange year can become something this large. And I think the more words I try to make for it, the more worthless the words spoken become so I'll stop here. It's personal. : )
 So I'll talk about my doings up until now during the time I was away.
December had many official endings in school and with YFU. As promised, I went to a buffet with my kendokas and some teachers, which was a blast with many weird experiments on ice cream and sprinkles on staple foods and many funny pictures, silly talks and some ponderings on Christianity and Buddhism in Europe (?!).
Also I had my final speeches in front of my whole school and later on before my classmates, with whom I had a bit of a 'Ask me Anything' time. Everyone had quite some laughs and I received many encouraging words and best wishes which made me really happy, but still it hasn't arrived yet in my head that I'm actually leaving. And it's almost a half a month later that I started thinking about it again. I think it will hit me hard whilst in flight or alone in a hotel room.
But there's more talk my lovelies! About my Japanese New Year!
 Before the much feared day, the 31st actually dawned, I was busy writing/drawing/printing nengajo 年賀状 (New Year cards) and sending them over Japan - to Akita, Fukui and tadadam Tokyo! But during the end of the year we want to our family's grandparents' houses in the south where we also had our hatsumoude 初詣 (the first prayer in a shrine or a temple, the busiest time of the year) and Yamagata. Most of our time we spent in the latter, going to shrines, Uesugi Kenshin's (!) and his relatives grave site/shrine, a beautiful onsen, chatting warmly with people we didn't even know (that might just be my favourite part of the Japanese and their culture - they're so warm in a indescribably 'flowing' (?) way) and had gorgeous feasts the entire time. It was magic. Why do I have to leave AGAIN?
At least I have the comfort of knowing that I'll also come back AGAIN, but the time I spent here will not. It will be a totally different then. And in a totally different place. Well. Most of the time. ; ) A trip down the memory lane.

 Further on, yesterday on 7th I went to school for the last time to say goodbye. And without me knowing first hand, we had tests. xD What a way to end a school, nice and proper. I also got my wished Japanese history books that I used during the year. I'm a forever history nerd and proud of it. :3
Afterwards I had my last bento with my closest friends in class, asked everyone to bare with me to take the last photo of us all and then bid farewell with promises of seeing again soon. Then I went to the kendojo to say goodbye to my fellows over there. Also as a sort of a thank you note, I made everyone a friendship bracelet in my country's colours and tied it up in a symbol of our school. I was really happy to see that they liked those things because if not, then my neck would have fallen off with pain. Honestly, braiding those 6-string things for a week takes a toll on an amateur. :D Overall, I made 15 of them. Yahoo!
And in the end of the end we all chitchatted friendly about our time together and exchanged promises and wishes to see again soon like with my classmates. Hugs, flapping hands and kicks to my rear end pursued. 'A memento' as the person in mind said.

 On a bit different theme, we have a lot of snow here. It's wonderful! But bloody cold. Japan is having a cold wave just like Europe. Hurrah for twins! I can't imagine what will become of me when I return home. I just might pass off the first moment I get out of the plane because of the FREEZE.
Anywho, if you want to see what I'm seeing here go to my album on FB. The photos I've uploaded today will be the last I put up in Japan. The last remains might come when I'm already back home.

 And also this journal will be the last. About the travels of a girl in a beautiful place called the Land of the Rising Sun.
Thank you all who have sticked to my ramblings and find them interesting or even sweet. :)
It has been fun, unforgettable.

So then, my lovelies, thanks for enjoying and goodbye.
And for the last time, sails hoy.

Friday, December 31, 2010


Because it's already halfway through,

Merry holiday season and a really wonderful New Year!!!

I'm off to my grandparents' house to give the new one a big welcome before all of you. Haha!
Nothing bad intended.
Just that I'm writing from the future.

Anyways, enjoy the leap and make it one of the best!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Some shortening...

Hiya my faithful readers!
I hope the winter chills aren't gnawing you too much.
Unfortunately, so is the case with me... or so I thought.
I've been locked up in my home for 3 days straight, tried to go to school on Thursday, but that didn't end up so well and now I'm yet again packed up in here, on Friday. Feverish. All I can say that it's mental in many ways. Been singing Sweeney Todd for all this time and reading Japanese magazines. 'What a life.'

...aaand the Christmas holidays will start from the 22nd! Yay hooray for special family trips! I also have many things in store because of my returning home soon, for example a final 'feast' with my kendo club and before that (before the holidays) some speeches in front of my school, my class, my teachers, farewells with my friends. Final guitar lesson.
As I said - mental. Can't imagine what my tear canals be like after all this is over.
But I don't want to think of it as of yet.
Currently have quite some stuff to do and finish. (sigh at finish) On with the postcards!

That was that! Just wanted to get more snug with you over there!
Sails hoy! (a lunatic in a snow storm)

PS We finally have some decent snow here! Hiphiphooray for White Christmas!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A morsel of fluff

Long jump since my last post again, but who cares! There are hardly any people who read this crap anyway! :D So I'm just writing it for myself so that I wouldn't forget the details of my PERFECT year in Japan (you just wait... I'LL BI BAK TU SKUUL).

So it's been almost a month. I've done a lot. Most of the 'a lot' will be put up as photos in the Book of Face. But to say it short in words, I've had a weird long running struck of luck.
First, I got to see kyogen (an interval play between Noh performances = the oldest Japanese stage comedy) FOR FREE, which is unbelievable considering and also it was through my own school. They organised a culture lesson of sorts - we all went to the city hall where the kyogen/Noh introductory session took place. We got to see 2 performances and learn about many rules and mannerisms of the art. It really 'brightened' my day. After leaving the hall I also saw a double rainbow perhaps for the first time ever and ever so clearly.
Also school life is going smoothly like creamed.
In other words - dreamy.

That was quite some time ago.

As for recent events, I got to go for a short family trip to Iwate and Miyagi pref due to my host dad's friend meeting. Hail all you coppers! I got to enjoy such a feast because of you! By feast I mean table full of delicacies all for myself in a traditional ryokan. (Refer to the Book of Face for pictures.) And afterwards all hour onsen hot water baths. It was heaven to say the least. We stayed there for a night and in the morning we had yet another delight for our tummies, but fortunately not as big as the night before.
The meal finished we head to Miyagi's and also Tohoku district's capital - Sendai. My mum and sister had some businesses to attend to so me and dad had quite some spare time in our hands. So we wandered around the city. Because my dad is a policeman he has had to travel around Tohoku quite a lot so he has lived here and there separate from his family. And of course he had stayed in Sendai too, quite near the city centre. He also took me there and we talked about some nostalgic stuff and wandered back to the station area. And wandered. And wandered. Wandered for about 4 hours (it was anything but boring) until the female part of the family finished their doings. We were quite starving by then so we all went to eat some famous dishes of Sendai. Which meant beef tongue and cream custard in roll cake pasty. Separate of course. It was all (unbelievingly) delicious! Says a person who dislikes eating something that has been in the mouths of others. Maybe I just didn't think about that at the time. Heh.

Then we drove home for another 4 hours. In other words I went on a tour as big as my home country in 2 days. Lilliputians we are, yes.

And this will sadly be my last entry as a child, because tomorrow I'll turn 18 and fly out of my nest. In a way. And also go to a concert of a band I recently found. They're uber awesome so I'm quite giddy right now. It might also be because I'll be having my Japanese exam on Sunday, for which I'll be going to Iwate again. This time to its capital Morioka.

Stating these things really makes me feel the END of things. Sighing ensues.
But that doesn't mean I'm sad. Just (overly) thoughtful maybe.

Anyway, merry tidings to you who have accidentally find your way here and may the coming holidays be white and fluffy!
Mine will be vivid. For years to come. :)
Soon I'll be making New Year postcard's for all my friends here and there (nengasho in Japanese, a traditional thing) so look forward to it, if you care.

Sails hoy! Kachin!

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Sandwich Witch (me)


I thought I'll create a little Ham Sandwich effect (which means stuff something between something) to lighten my usual all out emotions about my Japanese experience blabberings and talk about some small fluffy stuff. Snickering ensues.

First off, I finally got myself to watch the 2008 Oscar winning film 'Okuribito' and I'll say it straight - if you haven't seen it, then DO IT NOW. Really, it's beyond words and redefines the human drama genre with it's calm and soft yet deep, dramatical yet sometimes comical touch on human relationship and also it is unbelievable eye opening in many ways... I can't find a better word for it. Makes you respect everything around you more and care for even the smallest things you do. One of the little things - 'Think before you say.' A saying I have thought of quite a lot recently due to the Japanese culture of 'undertsanding what is left unsaid' I'm living in.
Damn it, yet again went the old 'emotional experience' way! Sorry!
But the film is awesome and no wonder why it snatched the prize. A piece worth watching.

To make things up, on a lighter note, I'll talk about my hobby - getting off my usual bus at a different from usual stop. Then wonder about. That way I have discovered many small but hugely peculiar things around my seemingly usual hometown.
My latest find is an apartment complex near the elementary school my sister goes to. The building is called 'Gryffindor'. How cool is that?! You can actually live the life of magic in this muggle world! Haha!
Other things are for instance buildings of odd shape or style, for example a Japanese sweetshop covered entirely with moss making it look like a huge green stuffed toy, unbelievable narrow snake like winding alleys and small parks in the most cramped of spaces. You know, for the kids to play in. To keep them of the streets. ;)
Also, just last week I got off the bus about 5 stops before my usual place and took a little walk home. On the way I suddenly noticed that there was a small group of elementary school students running after me shouting 'Konnichiwa! Hallo! Hallo!' After I turned around they caught up with me looked at me from every angle (of course commenting on my eyes, round and huge xD) and followed me home while asking various questions about where I'm from and why I'm here. I had some questions for them too so we had a small friendly chittery chat until we parted ways. They were all my neighbourhood children, some living right next to me.
Needless to say that this kind of thing is unusual in here. Why? Firstly, it's more of a countryside here, but moreover isn't it well known that the Japanese are more on the timid side? They usually might just nod to you when your eyes meet in the street then scatter away, but when the girl who seemed to be the leader of the bunch started talking to me, I really sensed that Japan is changing. In every sense. Also the old generation being replaced by the next. Japan really is in the middle of the biggest change it has ever faced. Bigger than Meiji. It may seem small from the outside, but the biggest changes always happen on the inside, where it isn't easily seen. Only when you're part of it. But every change has it's ups and downs so I'll be looking forward to see what will happen to Japan and overall world as I keep living on this ball of mud and imagination.

That is all of my little foundings. I hope you found them entertaining even though I still ended up being too serious. Gomen ne! :)

Until next time!
Hails hoy!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Crimson blazed spirit in a crimson blazed wind

Oh, hello again! It has been a while.
So on to the blogpoint and first things first!

I'm fresh out of my now over kendo tournament and HYPED to the unbelievable max!!! Still!!! And it's already 7 hours since my match. (I show no signs of cooling down and I have school tomorrow... whaaat?!)
All the feelings I experienced these last two days were like sum ups of everything through my life through a veil of a Japanese spirit. Yesterday were the team matches, which our girls won, but there were some mishaps, dissatisfaction and other more personal (team) emotions piled up, which made it almost 'magically' human. And it was my first time experiencing such atmosphere, also being part of that sphere. I can't really put it into words (the counter for this saying is running high). It was just so. Human. Without all the negative. Just that.

And so today was my first kendo match! During the singles.
I lost! :D And I'm proud of it. Why? Because I didn't lose in the first couple of seconds or even minutes! One match lasts for 4, just so you know. And I can tell that my opponent didn't have it easy with me either, though our experiences were 5 months against at least 5 years (probably more, but for literary reasons, let's keep it that way). Anyway, I feel greatly awesomely magnificently hyperly human! Just almost exploding! But the part I'm most proud of is that I really gave it my all. Whilst dueling I experienced the real kiai spirit, the Real, real thing. I couldn't stay put after the face-off until the end of the day about 5 o'clock. (I got a banana cake from the mother gang, or the usual cheerleaders of Japan after that :) )
I was and still am and will be really touched by everyone's almost feverish support they showed my during my match. I didn't see anyone besides my opponent, but everyone's voice and advice reached me like a stainless steel filet cutter. Only focus on what you need, let your body do the thinking and just 'dance' with your opponent, eyes and senses wide open. That's kiai for you. I definitely have a new addiction now, so all of you beware! Adrenaline kiai rush, woohoo!
Even our usually extremely harsh teacher looked proud after my duel, even though I didn't make it out of the first rounds. And he's the type of person who doesn't tolerate losing. I'm really grateful for his kind words and understanding before and after that too. :)
Also my host mum and sister with her friends came to watch too. I tried to search for them in the balconies, but with no result. But they said that they saw me, so I'm happy. Having got home we had a little feast to celebrate my memorable day. :) Just so, so sweet of a life! Everything seems so simple and clear and possible now for some reason. Maybe it's KIAI!!! :D

So tomorrow, I'm going to the dojo to return my tournament gear and give everyone some 'thank you' doughnuts (sounds... strange. Simply put). Then I'm on 1 month vacation to study in depth for my Japanese exam in December. After that I'm going back to kendo till the end of my exchange year. You can't believe how painful it is to write these two words.
And speaking of endings, my friends today were in a near panic and some asking with tears welling up 'You aren't leaving for good, are you?!' When I succeeded explaining them my situation the next thing was 'After returning you must come everyday until you're too tired to go home (country).' What a persistent bunch. But that's the reason why I love them to death. And the reason I'm not feeling like going home. Where I 'belong', because I feel currently that I must have belonged here all the time. There are many upsides and downsides in leading double lives (which necessarily doesn't mean a spy. Every exchange student would know what I'm talking about. The meaning of the feeling changes with the time spent in your destination country. Been there, still doing that.)

But besides kendo, over the past blog apsent month I've been slowly but steadily preparing for my exam, going to school diligently, also traveling around Akita pref with my mum and sister (as you might have seen in my photos on FB) and enjoyed the changing seasons. Autumn really is the best. One whiff of that cool earthern damp air made me feel like I was reborn, literally. Just one day, PUFF!, a different person. Just cleared up the clouds in my head. Not to mention the Japanese shun (seasonal) cuisine. Currently chestnuts, potatoes, fresh rice, delicious fish and fruits. I'm living in a treasure chest! :D

So how's autumn over there? Still curious about the outside world, because believe it or not Japan still is quite a closed society outside the metropolis. :)

For now, toodles! I'm going to sing my lungs out before bed, so I could sleep soundly tonight. Even when just for an hour. Anyone care to share some really efficient ways to cure temporary hyper activity? (shivers)

Hails hoy!
Love you all :)

PS If anyone wants to see my kendo match, send me an e-mail and I'll post you the video.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jab of Autumn

Hello, hello, hello one and all!

First off, a little musing for you.

Since about June, as I'm diligently walking to school early in the morning, I've noticed a single Japanese maple tree. It was bright red in midsummer.
When I pass it now, it has turned green, bright as spring. Have I found the fountain of opposite aging? Born elderly and dying as a newborn?
I have no clue, but it feels like a damn movie to me.

On a lighter note, I also saw my first pomegranate tree right next to that. Well, I always saw it, but without the fruit I didn't know what I was actually looking at. What a fine example of human ignorance. :)

So, onwards!
About the 'Jab of Autumn' - summer is now completely (and FINALLY I must say) over. There are chilly winds and flowing leaves and as of tomorrow all of us Kitako students are going to change into our winter uniforms, also we have finished our mid-term school exams (I made great effort with maths and Japanese mind you) and now has begun my final 3 months in the land of the rising sun.

I mustn't think like that! Snap out of it! Good. :)

And now 'my Jab' - I decided to take the 1st level JapaneseLanguageProficiencyTest. Oh my dear lord. I'm actually going to do it! In two months! And kendo tournament in a month!
YAY!!! :D
I must admit that I'm definitely a northern person - the chill of autumn and the smell of leaves has brought me my energy back and I feel like my 'old boney self again'. (Just a quote, nothing to do with my figure really. Come on, it's hallowe'en soon!)
I feel like I can do anything! Wahoo! Wish me luck and backbone to keep it up! (everything)

So I'll set sails to sleepland before I blow the computer up with my chakra happiness.
Hey hoyhoy!

PS Does anybody like Ranma? Or at least has heard of it?

Lots of hugs fo yuu!