Saturday, 30 April 2011

March Times

March times

March started off with an excursion with my home visit sister. The home visit program is like the speaking partner program but the family agree to meet you and let you go to their house at the weekends so you can see how Japanese families live. My home visit sister was actually doing an experience Japan program but no one had signed up for it so she recruited me to go along and take some friends, which I didn’t mind at all. In the end Brittany and (New York) Sarah came along. We met up with my partner and her two friends and went to Kyoto to make yatsuhashi. Yatsuhashi are Japanese sweets made from rice flour with something sweet like anko, sakura, black beans, green tea or chocolate soft stuff in the middle. It was interesting learning how to make them, and the best bit is you get to eat them afterwards! After that we went to Nijo-jo, or Nijo-castle, which I’d describe more as a palace because that’s what it is. It was SO COOL! The best place I’ve been to so far because it was so old and really had that aged feel to it because they hadn’t restored it too much, and it has a Nightingale Floor which is when all the floorboards are made to squeak so you can hear if intruders are coming. After that we went to another temple which wasn’t that impressive and there was a moody guy at the goshuuin-shya (where they do the temple signatures).

The others went back after that and I went with my partner to her house. It was…awkward. The house was small but they had a HUGE TV which they had on all the time (seems to happen a lot in Japanese houses). She has two brothers neither of whom addressed me at all while I was there. If they wanted to ask me something they asked her to ask me (which I thought was rude). We had shabu-shabu which was really good but it seemed like I was the only one really eating and the brothers didn’t seem to care at all. Her mum was nice and asked me questions, and her dad made old man jokes (because all dads are like that). We went to an onsen and then I fell straight asleep I was so tired.

The next day we got up and in the morning ate lots of bread (I was trying to diet too) and cycled over to Arashi Yama. We wandered around for a bit but I felt bad for her because it felt like she was responsible for me rather then actually wanted to take me around. So we went through it pretty quickly although I did insist we went out of our way to see this really nice Buddhist temple up one the side of the mountain. It was small and old and where an old Buddhist monk/scholar lived. It had a nice atmosphere. Her brother then took me to the station when we got back and the look on his face when I thanked him was funny. Yes, I can speak Japanese, it’s not I’d been doing that the night before XD My home visit sister is nice but the atmosphere in the house felt weird and we don’t have much in common. I’m also really busy now so I don’t think I’ll be meeting up with her again. Still, it was a nice experience.

The next big event was Pancake day on Tuesday 8th March. I invited everyone over and cooked them pancakes (proper British ones which look like crepes and cover them in lemon and sugar). Guests aren’t allowed in the seminar house so Brittany came in to take photos to show the mountains of people in my room. I got a little carried away and while trying to show off my pancake flipping skills to the camera managed to horribly burn my finger, HAHAHAHAHA! I’m such an idiot XD I managed to get all the mix cooked in eventually, even some wheat free ones for Brit and a ghost shaped one for Katie (because she’s special hehehe). I’d also had my mum send over a HUGE box of Cadbury chocolate bars for because they don’t have them in other countries. So many pancakes covered in sugar, syrups to cover the pancakes in and chocolate bars = a very, very, very, very hyper sugar filled night for everyone. It was like they were all drunk they were so hyper XD It was hilarious! Must do that again some time.

Then it was Friday 11th March. I was sitting in the room with Brittany and suddenly felt really dizzy. I looked up and Brittany said she was too. Then I realised the cupboard doors were swinging for no reason. It wasn’t us it was the room which was moving! And you could really feel it. There were a couple of shouts from the hallway that it was an earthquake and we ran out to see what it was about. The building was still moving though and Brittany had to sit down she was getting so dizzy. When it finally settled down we ran to the kitchen and stuck on the TV and it was full of reports of the Earthquake just from the news room and maps of Japan on every channel flashing tsunami warnings around the coast. As the hour passed the maps showed more pressing tsunami warnings and the news reporters had hard hats on. Despite another Earthquake would happen they had to stay in the news room to report what was going on. It was like someone said “The news must go on so we’ve chosen you. He’s a hard hat…it might help”. I know that’s not really true but it was funny to think so. And that was it really. No one had any idea the real gravity of the situation because it wasn’t much where we were and the TV didn’t have any information yet. So the weekend rolled on.

That night a huge group of us went to karaoke, I think there was about 15 of us…maybe…throughout the evening though people began to disappear and those that stays didn’t leave until about 3am. It was great ^^ We had a wide range of Chinese, German (well one German song you probably know which one), Japanese anime and pop songs, some musicals, some Disney (Brad and Wesley doing “A Brand New World” was ear-bleedinly-hilarious), at one point all the guys in the room got up and sung “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” hehehehehe. Needless to say I was very tired with a horribly soar throat the next day, but it was well worth it ^_______________________^

Now remember, long long ago now I tried to go see the Macross Frontier movie on the opening day and that didn’t turn out that great. So March 12 we had rescheduled to go see it. And OMG was it worth seeing in the cinema. Although it was 2 weeks later we didn’t have great seats and was right at the front, but it was still great. I think I got a little too into the film towards the end as I was gasping and laughing and squeeing a lot. Which is ok in England but in Japan people just don’t react in the cinema (it’s weird). Well the film was loud so no one could hear me. I can’t wait til the film comes out on DVD I want to get it! ^^

After the film we did our normal Denden town trip. Which was awesome! Although it was mostly Aya and I dragging the boys around shopping. I felt bad for them because I felt like we were boring them :( But they insisted it was fine. Well, we went to the arcade and Areal introduced me to Juubeats and I finally went on the DDR machine! Shame I’d taken my boots which were slippery so I couldn’t do anything awesome. I did try to teach Aya how to DDR though (which was funny).

Then the next day on 13th March Gilli, Areal, Gabe, Wesley, Brittany, Erinni (?) and I went to TAKARAUKA! We’d arranged it a while before because they were showing “Bara no kuni no ooshi” The Prince of the Kingdom of Roses, aka Beauty and the Beast. And. It. Was. AWESOME!

The first half was Beauty and the Beast which was a mix of the fairy tale version and Takarazuka true love story surrounded the main male character. It was so well done. The second half was a dance performance that Takarazuka had made called ONE…it was…weird but hilarious. They had a very strange “one for all all for one” message mixed in with American themed…stuff. They had a part based in Las Vagas with the “Americans” drinking tacila and then they all got killed by someone with a tommy gun. Hahahaa. So that’s what Japanese people think Americans act like. Then there was a really random dance about a unicorn with a remix of The Never Ending Story theme. Very strange. But all in all Takarazuka is awesome and win!

The following week, just before spring break, was when the effects of Earthquake really hit us.