This month has been a pretty crazy month. It started off slow, but the last 2 weeks were very busy. I had my school trip, I went to Sapporo with my host family, and even got to see a famous Japanese pianist at my school! However, this month also went by a little quickly. I’m always worried about my time here going too fast. I love it here and can’t thank the Sister Cities enough for this opportunity.
The first week wasn’t super exciting, besides going to the Sea of Japan to fish with my host family. It was a regular school week. I studied Japanese quite a bit that week. When we went to the Sea of Japan, we had to wake up super early. We woke up around 3 am and set out to the ocean. We didn’t catch anything, unfortunately, but I almost caught a salmon fish, but it jumped off the line before I could bring it in. The Sea of Japan is located between main land Asia and Japan, so it isn’t very nice to look out at. It was a great experience and one that I will always remember. That week in music class, we started listening to a band called T-Square, which is a pretty popular Jazz Fusion band from the 80’s. It is really good music and I would recommend it to anybody who likes that kind of music. Those periods in music class were kind of all leading up to the pianist of T-Square coming to my school to perform in front of us. That whole week I was pretty excited. Unfortunately, I was put all the way in the back, so I couldn’t really see anything, but it was still very entertaining.
The weekend of the 14th, my friend Taisei’s school had their school festival. It was pretty interesting to see other schools and to see where the previous exchange student goes to school. It was a pretty big school with a lot of different buildings and rooms for different uses. It was a high school that is also mixed with a college, so you go there for about 6 years, as well as a technical school. I was there for about 2 hours and then went to lunch with Taisei and his mom, and then after that, I hung out with Taisei in downtown Asahikawa. My mom sent me some American Mountain Dew, so Taisei and I just sat and drank that. The whole time, Taisei was reminded of Bloomington-Normal, and we even listened to WBNQ. We also drove around Asahikawa in an imported 1978 Satellite, which is a pretty rare car, and there’s only 1 in Japan. So, of course, I was pretty excited about that. It was weird to be in an American car since I’ve become so used to Japan’s cars and stuff, but it was still super cool to be in a car that’s so old.
The next week wasn’t really that exciting until the weekend. We had 3 regular school days and then on Thursday, we only had 2 periods because we were getting ready for the school trip, which was the following week. That week’s Friday was the School’s Anniversary, so we didn’t have school, but I had kendo practice. However, that week, I was given the kendo uniform to borrow for awhile. It’s a little big for me, but I still appreciate it. That weekend, I went to Sapporo with my host family. I have never really been to Sapporo so I was pretty excited to go. We went to the Sapporo TV tower, which was pretty cool, and sorta just walked around the city. I really wanted to eat tacos because there aren’t any taco places in Asahikawa, so we went to a Mexican place for dinner. The hotel that we stayed at was really big. It had 6 beds and 4 of which were bunk beds. It was a lot bigger than I expected. The second day, we went to the biggest electronics store in Hokkaido, and then to a Pokemon center, which is a Pokemon store. The electronics store was huge. We were only there an hour and I didn’t even get a quarter of the way through the shop. The Pokemon store was pretty cool. They had a lot of Pokemon Plushies and Pokemon card related things. I bought a shirt that was for the Hokkaido Ham Fighters, that has a Pokemon on it. The Hokkaido Ham Fighters are a famous baseball team that is in Sapporo. I’ve wanted to go see them for awhile, but have’t gotten the chance to yet. For lunch, we met up with my host-dad’s aunt at a sushi restaurant. It was pretty good sushi. After that, me and my host siblings went to an arcade with my dad’s host aunt while my host parents went to Costco. My host parents brought me a hotdog from Costco. I had a lot of fun in Sapporo and can’t wait to go back.
After I got home, I didn’t really have time to relax because I had to get ready for my school trip. I was a little worried about getting ready because I didn’t want to forget anything and I was worried that the laundry wouldn’t be done in time, but everything went smoothly. I had to wake up very early that next day, because I had to finish packing and had to be at school around 7. The weather that day was pretty crazy. It was windy and it started snowing so it was pretty cold. We took a bus to Chitose airport near Sapporo and from there, we flew to Haneda airport in Tokyo and from Tokyo to Osaka. When we landed in Osaka, we took a bus to this area that has a lot of restaurants and the TV tower. My friends wanted to take pictures with foreigners, so throughout the whole week, I was kind of a translator between my friends and foreigners. The entire school trip went to one place to eat. It was kind of a big place, and the school trip was only for second year students, so we were all able to fit. The food there was really good, especially the takoyaki, which is pretty much fried octopus. Osaka is famous for its Takoyaki, so it was better than what I’ve had in Asahikawa. After dinner, we all went to the hotel. On the way to the hotel, I saw Nintendo’s Headquarters. I was really excited to see it and it was a little weird to see a place where people I’ve looked up to have worked and been to countless times. We only passed by it, so the next day I wanted to go see it up close, but we didn’t end up going. I was very tired that day from all of the traveling, but I went to bed kind of late.
The next day, we had all day to go where ever we wanted to in Kyoto or neighboring cities. My group went back to Osaka and just kind of walked around the city a little bit. For lunch, I saw a Taco Bell so of course I wanted to go there for lunch. I had possibly one of the best burritos I’ve ever had. Even my friends agreed with me that it was really good. There are only Taco Bells around the big cities in mainland Japan, so I won’t find any in Hokkaido. After that, we went around Osaka a little more, but then went back to Kyoto. We actually were around the area that I went to when I went to Kyoto in August, so it was a little weird to see it again. We also went to Kiyomizu Temple, which is another place that I’ve already been to. When we got there, we all just kinda chilled out for about 2 hours. For dinner, everybody met up at Kiyomizu Temple and then walked to a restaurant. We had Sukiyaki, which is basically Japanese barbecue. It’s one of my favorite Japanese foods so I was looking forward to it. After that, we all went back to the hotel, and I had another somewhat late night. I had to pack everything up and get ready to go to Tokyo the next day.
I had a lot of fun in Tokyo and got to see a lot of places that I’ve never seen. Wednesday the 25th, was half traveling and the other half at Disney Sea. We went to Tokyo via bullet train, and again it was an amazing ride. I have nothing but positive things to say about the bullet train. It took us pretty much all morning to get to Tokyo and arrived at Disney around 11:30. From there, we spent the entire rest of the day at Disney until around 8:30. I was expecting to go to Disney Land, but Disney Sea was still really cool, However it rained pretty much the entire day. I have never heard of Disney Sea until the school trip. It’s pretty much a smaller version of Disney Land and The entire park is pretty much just a place to take pictures it seemed like. There weren’t very many things to ride or really do, so we just walked around the park, and I took a lot of pictures. This blog might have the most pictures of all of them. I wanted to buy some souvenirs, but everything was just so expensive and I couldn’t find anything that I really wanted to buy. They had this Medieval era part of the park, which was probably my favorite part. I was hoping that they would have some Star Wars things, but unfortunately there wasn’t. We got to the hotel around 9 and it was a super nice hotel. I was a little surprised that we got that hotel, but also, I’m sure it’s much cheaper than Disney’s hotel. The rooms there were also really big. We had 4 beds in one room, plus a lot of room for all of our things. Thursday, we got to spend the whole day in Tokyo to do whatever we wanted. My group went to Shinjuku and Shibuya. I’ve never been to those parts of Tokyo so it was a lot of fun. I took a lot of pictures there too. My group was all soccer players except me, so we went to several sports stores. We also went to a couple clothing stores. We didn’t really have any specific place that we wanted to go to so we mostly just walked around those 2 areas. Needless to say, the whole day was super exhausting, and I think that day might have been the most exhausting day. For dinner, we went to a Yakiniku shop. Yakiniku is another grill it yourself BBQ. It was really good. Before dinner, I went to a Wendy’s nearby and got Chili fries and chicken nuggets. The chicken nuggets tasted exactly like they do in America, so I’m pretty sure they are imported. I stayed up super late that night, so when I had to wake up, it took me a little bit and had to rush to get ready and pack up, because the next day we were going to go back home. Before we left Tokyo, we went to Asakusa Temple, another temple that I’ve been to. Next, we went to a tempura place for lunch. I’m not a huge fan of tempura, but this tempura was really good. After lunch, We went to the Tokyo Sky Tree. Tokyo Sky Tree is a really tall tower in Tokyo where tourists can go to the top and look out at the City. There’s a Cafe and a Restaurant on the higher levels of the tower. We weren’t there for very long before we had to get to the airport. We flew directly from Haneda to Asahikawa, so it was relatively quick. When we were landing, my ears had a lot of pressure and it hurt a little bit. Also, I got a little sick for the second time that month, after my school trip. Thankfully, it only took a week to get over. I was so exhausted the night that I came home, I fell asleep somewhat early that day, but didn’t wake up till about 9, which was great for me. The 2nd year students had a 3 day weekend because of the school trip. So I pretty much just relaxed those days except for Monday, because I had kendo practice that afternoon.
This week has been really relaxed and I’ve really enjoyed just relaxing from my long week last week. I hope I can have more experiences like that in my future. I still haven’t heard back from my JPLT application, so I’m getting a little worried that I won’t get it. It’s a month away and I’m really wanting to take the quiz. Also, I would like to thank the Sister Cities Committee again for this amazing experience. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would do something like this. Thank you.