Wednesday, 28 December 2011

An Amazing Date

[May 26th 2011]

It was a Sunday the day after karaoke and Wes and I had decided on going on a date to the aquarium in Osaka because neither of us had been but everyone else had been ranting and raving about it! It’s the famous one with the large tank in the middle that spans 3 floors (although I still think the Aquarium in Beppu was more impressive).

Anyway, the weather was shite but that didn’t stop us going ^^ We got there and the aquarium was full of school kids. I’m guessing every school across Japan was sending their kids their for educating. We mostly ignored them apart from the kindergarteners who were SO CUTE! They were all so short holding each others hands and all had matching mats and macs! Speaking of cute things the aquarium was FULL of these signs with the adorable…blobs…I don’t actually know what they were, but they were cute ^-^

The first thing we came to were the otters, which were SHO CUTE! I really wish I had had my other lens because all my 50mm photos kept coming out blurry >< Thinking about it the aquarium was full of cute things. I’d warned Wes before that Japanese people in aquariums say “oishi sou!” which means “looks good/tasty!” What? Their diat is mostly fish, of course most of the things in here are gonna make you hungry. But what was really cute was when we came across a small child who said it! One little girl with her mum was SHO CUTE! I just couldn’t not take a pic of them. She was so fascinated with the BIG fish in the tank XD

As we worked our way through we found another adorable family with the dolphins. Dolphins are cute anyway, and are amazing fun to watch. Spend aaaages staring through the glass trying to get a good picture.

As we got to the main tank, the famous one in the middle, which wasn’t as impressive as people made out because it had no plant life at all indie, looked really bare. Anyway, I found one tank opposite the main one and I DID NOT believe my eyes. It was CRAB FISH! Allan from AnimeSoc in Kent had, the previous year, found a fish that had crab legs and no one believed him, so he brought in a video he took of the bugger walking. Not only that but the Japanese crab fish FLEW through the water with BLUE WINGS! Most awesome-est fish ever.

We carried on through the aquarium and got a drink at the café and saw more cute kids and lobsters. I think the best part was the last bit with the JELLYFISH! So cute! It may have also been because I’d recently seen Kuragehime, an anime about a girl obsessed with jellyfish.

As we were leaving the aquarium I got a text from the Japanese girls I’d recently made friends with asking if I were free for lunch. Had to explain I was at the aquarium…they guessed it was on a date with Wes >< FFS HOW DO THEY KNOW THESE THINGS!? Anyway, we stopped off at the gift shop and I had to decide whether to buy an octopus toy or a seal…I went for the tako, the octopus ^^ It wasn’t as cute as the seal but I could get a seal anywhere. And it was a super cute Japanese tako tako octopus~ (Octopus is tako in Japanese)

After the aquarium Wes and I went to the centre of Osaka and to Shinsaibashi to the cinema and watched the latest Pirates of the Caribbean in 3D. It was all in English with Japanese subtitles, and was quite good apart from the fact that the ending was a tad random :/ After that Wes took me to Cold Stones, an American icecream company that sold AMAZING icecream!!! It was soo good, and the shop assistant was super friendly. She was asking us about America and was talking to me about the recent Royal wedding ^-^

After our icecream we headed over to Umeda to meet Gabe because we had planned to go to the Pokemon Centre because NONE of us had ever been before. So we met up with Gabe and wandered through Umeda (saw the apparently famous homeless guy) and headed up to the Pokemon centre which was on something like the 7th floor of this department building. On the way though we saw an awesome clock water fountain that told the time through well timed water. It was pretty impressive.

The Pokemon centre was not as impressive as I’d imagined it to be. It was quite small and REALLY expensive. And there just seems to be nothing that really interested me. Wes got a Lapras toy and bought me a pokemon phone charm ^^ I got some pokemon shaped pasta for Leo and Fred back home because I knew there were going to be giving me a lift when I got home. Nothing says thanks like Pokemon Pasta.

Gabe left us after the Pokemon Centre but not without showing us Osaka tower and suggested we go up. So we eventually found the place and got the lift aaaaaall the way to the top. It was something like one of the tallest buildings in Osaka and people could go up there. So many couples O_O It wasn’t that busy but still quite a few people. I was a bit apprehensive about how tall the observation point was. There were 3 levels, one with restaurants and shops and then an escalator (which was terrifying as it went across the gap between the building) onto the observation point which was inside, then the top floor which was outside. Weather was still miserable but it was awesome being able to see the whole of Osaka at night. And we had each other to keep warm ^^

After getting absolutely soaked in the rain we back inside and hung around a bit wondering what to do about food. Going down to the floor bellow we found a Chinese restaurant. It felt way too posh for our attire. I felt really embarrassed partially because I couldn’t understand some of the menu, and my Japanese had gone completely out of the window. I felt like a stupid gaijin -_- But it was a nice meal and a really nice way to end the day. Least to say we were knackered on the train back home. But it had been a really, really good day ^__^

Friday, 23 December 2011

Quietness, The Flea Market Last Time, Final Aya Goodbyes

[Mid-end May 2011]

The dorms became increasingly lonely without Brittany and Sarah visited less with her gone too. So if Wes wasn’t visiting I tended to venture out to hang out with the other dorm people more. Which was good ^^ I got to know Alena, Stef and Jessie more, a trio of Supernatural loving trouble makers XD They were really cool, and really nice. It’s weird that I didn’t get to know them better sooner, which I kind of regret considering they were in my Japanese class and the same dorm, and had been present the previous term.

Now it might not be that obvious but the last month or so in Japan was incredibly quiet and uneventful. This may be because a large portion of our friends had been forced to leave Japan, or that we’d already been to all the exciting places in Japan, or because everyone had essays and exams to prepare for. Or a mixture of everything. Our get together were reduced mostly to meetings in the CIE and Wes and I spent more time together either studying or watching films. Large adventures in a group became few and far between.

(My amazing Kanji class with Jess, Stef and Wes)

We still hung out at Uni of course! In fact that was around the time I found out more interesting information about couples in Japan. The first incident was when I found out that Gabe’s friend Ya-chan had a boyfriend, who she’s been seeing for almost 2 years but they NEVER talked! He had his own friends and she has hers. He had his own interests and she has hers. It’s as if they were dating because it was expected of them, and they were likely to get married after university. WHAT!? WHY would you date someone because it was expected of you? The same with marriage! If you never hang out or talk with the guy, except maybe once a week on a ritual date/shopping trip, then what is the point? Gabe had never even heard her talk much about this guy. Blows my mind.

SECOND incident, which I think blew my mind even more involved 3 first year girls. They were gaijin catching and came up to us outside and we were joking and playing around. Their couples radar goes off and they can tell instantly that Wes and I were dating (HOW THE HELL!?). But that wasn’t what blew my mind (yes, it’s creepy they can detect this stuff but still…) What was weird was their reaction when, knowing that Wes and I were a couple, I hugged Gabe. Ok, no big deal over here. In Japan though when people are a couple they DO NOT TALK TO THE OPPOSITE SEX. Not even a LITTLE bit because their other half would get jealous. They couldn’t understand why Wes wouldn’t get jealous, and we couldn’t understand why he should! It just…GAH! I had heard a similar story later in the week where the American teacher had made a deal with his Japanese wife not to talk to other Japanese women, but he was allowed to talk to other foreign women. Another incident was that friends who had Japanese friends and took them out to clubs, had to hold the boys back when their girls began to talk to other men. Men and women BOTH got very jealous of the other if they were in a relationship and talking to the opposite sex! I know Japan is pretty segregated when it comes to gender, infact this partially explains why guys and girls rarely hang out as just friends like over here. It’s a whole other culture. New place, new rules.

Mind being blown and just hanging out at uni aside, we did go on a trip to the flea market one last time because Wes had never been! Blasphemy! So Ariel, Nadezhda, K, Wes and I took our final trip to the market. With my camera only taking close up shots I didn’t get much of what happened on the day. I do remember Wes trying to meet up with us and we got separated and lost trying to find him, and then find the others >_< It was hot, and busy, and I don’t think I bought much that time. Although did sneak off from the others at one point to look at the new exhibition they had in the temple. They have different ones each month and although I’m normally able to sneak a picture or two (which you’re not allowed to do), I couldn’t this time thanks to the lens, so I can’t remember what it was an exhibit of :P

(Ariel and Wes looking sharp at the flea market)

A few days later on 25th May we were graced with a final visit from Aya! She was able to make it to the CIE one late afternoon after she’s finished work. It was good to see her again, although since she’d left Uni it had felt like she had become more and more distant from us :( So it was really good to see her again. We decided to go to karaoke (as you do) and on the way found a restaurant that wasn’t packed and had a really nice meal together. Aya had to leave before karaoke though because she had work the next day. But despite Aya’s absence (and Wes and Gabe Rick Rolling everyone, the #@£*$&”) Karaoke was awesome fun!

(My final picture of Aya)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Broken Lens and Birthday Adventures

[May 12th and 14th 2011]

Shortly following the trip to the beach my camera lens broke. I don’t know how, I don’t know when but it broke and I had to buy a 50mm lens because the normal lens to replace it cost a lot. I was most annoyed .
Before my lens broke, however, we did a trip to karaoke again! YAY! Only this time I dragged Yuka and Shizuka along together. I knew they’d get along and they did! They were so cute! (Yuka being the girl who took me to Kyoto for the first time, and who I took to her first castle, and Shizuka being the girl with amazingly good English and a British accent who loves British artists). So the pictures from that evening were good (as good as pictures in the dark karaoke rooms could get), but the rest around early May were sparce and close-ups.

(My birthday melons)

Well, I shouldn’t be ranting about my photos, and although I did have a grudge all the time I couldn’t zoom the photos that did come out with the 50mm were really good (I need to use that lens more). And I was grateful that I even had a lens considering it was my birthday soon after!
The 12th May itself wasn’t too exciting. My friends are AMAZING and put their moneys together to buy me an expensive figurine, while others got me cake and two melons…Yes, MELONS. Lil, Alex and Chris had joked saying they saw the melons and thought of me, so Lily suggested they got them for me. I loved them ^-^ Sad to say I never ate them and they went off (I forgot to!) but I loved the perverted thought that went behind it. After Uni a small group of us did go to Kappu Zushi and I saw the ugliest baby ever! I’m not even joking…

(Ugly Baby! I was pretending to take a pic of poor Lily)

Now, I am a huge fan of 20th Century Boys, both the manga and the films, so I just HAD to go to the Expo Centre for my birthday. But what’s a birthday without some birthday shopping in Denden Town? So once again I dragged people out to my favourite shopping route of DenDen Town and Mandarake over at AmeMura. I tried my very first Krispy Kream doughnuts! They were gooooog. We went to the store in Osaka which normally had a 40min queue outside it, but there was no queue and we snuck in and om nomnom. So sugary!

In the late afternoon we went to the Expo Park (squeee) had a picnic and played frisby (only one small casualty of Theo running over a small child >< He got told off by the park warden). And then we had a stroll around the park, getting lost because WE COULDN’T FIND….errr….I was going to say exit, but we couldn’t find something else, and when we did it had closed because the park was closing in 20mins. I can’t remember what it was we were trying to see though. Oh well.

(Picnic in the park)

We left the park as it was closing and headed back into Osaka to have ALL YOU CAN EAT PIZZA!! Yuka joined us then. It was awesome! THEY HAD PUDDING PIZZA with custard sauce, marshmallows and chocolate ontop.

(All you can eat pizzaaaaa)

I was sooo tired but that wasn’t the end! Oh no! It was Izakaya time! Shizuka was able to join us and we had drinks and kitty ears and cuteness and I just wanted to sleep on the table >< ZZZzzz…
(Lily, Gabe and Ariel chilling in the Izakaya)

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

For the Beach!

[Early May 2011]

We had been wanting to go to the beach since the beginning of the semester and it was FINALLY happening! With Golden Week at the start of May we had almost a whole week off to run amok in Japan (although I spent most of it recovering from all the homework we had!). As I said, discussions of going to the beach had been going on for a while about where would be suitable to go to as a large group and it was finally decided that going to the actually sea side would be expensive and near impossible considering the nearest beach by the sea we could get to would likely involve the need to stay overnight, and because the weather was getting good all the cheap places were booked out. So where did we go if not the sea? Only the largest lake in Japan! Lake Biwa!

(Gaggle of Gaijin at Hirakata station)

I’d been to Lake Biwa before in the winter with Hannah when we were coming back from Tokyo, but this was different. It was in a different place with different people and warmer weather instead of snow, rain and winds.

So we all got up very early, swimming gear ready and met up at Hirakata station and preceded to take the almost 2hour train ride up through Kyoto and onto a rickety countryside train out to the middle of no where. It was awesome! Who doesn’t love a huge gaggle of gaijin on a train? Well probably the Japanese, but there was almost no one on the country side train.

When we had begun to get into the mountains we had arrived. The beach itself was a gritty sandy beach on the shore of the lake with pine trees lining the edge. There were quite a few other people there, mostly with barbeques. The sun was shining, but it was still early May so it was still really cold. Lily dipped her feet in but soon found it to be way too cold! Chris was the first stupid one to try jumping in for a swim, followed by more of the guys who all quickly jumped back out again. No surprises non of the Japanese locals were taking a dip.

(Lily decides the water's too cold so Chris jumps right in)

We mostly hung around, chatting and lying down. Wes tried to find a toilet but instead found a Golgothan lurking in the depths of some shack O_O A while later and people began to get hungry…no one had been smart enough to bring much food so a large group gathered together to go find the nearest konbini, which are everywhere, how hard could it be? HA! We were in the countryside remember, and the nearest one was at least over a mile away. It took them a while to get back in the mean time leaving me, Wes, Taylia and Lily to our own devices. Taylia went exploring and I eventually went with her to look at the mountains and the lake, when we got back Wes and Lily had made friends with the drunken Japanese guys at the BBQ next to us. They were nice but a bit pushy with the alcohol. What was really funny was one of the girls began to flirt with Wes until her friend pointed me out and she stepped right back XD Strange thing is Wes and I hadn’t been doing anything couply! Japanese women have this scary sixth sense when it comes to couples O_O

(Badminton with Elizabeth, Alex and the random Japanese guy from the BBQ over)

The others eventually came back and we were able to excuse ourselves from the drunken badminton and hung out more with the others. Many hours of scuffles, teasing, joking, a poor attempt at building a sandcastle (Alex) and the rest of us jumping on it (mostly Me) and it was time to go. So walking back we picked blossoms and put them in our hair, talked about random stuff and got the train home. Wes and I played eye spy on the last train before almost falling asleep. A few of us then decided a trip to our favourite restaurant Kappa Zushi was in order, so me, Wes, Gabe, my RA, Nadezhda, Chris, and Alex went and filled ourselves of nommy nommy sushi before heading home. Twas a good day ^-^

(Wes, Gabe and Alex drool while we wait for Kappa Zushi)

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Oh yeah....that blog thing I was doing in Japan

Now, I always warn people...and myself, when I do something like a diary or where I have to commit to writing something regularly, that I am terrible at doing so! I would LOVE to be able to keep ontop of these things but to sum it up: I SUCK at it!

But despite that I AT LEAST want to finish this story of Japan off. Not for anyone else, but for myself. So I have a record of what I did. From now on it'll be in the past tense and I will try and remember as much as possible what I've done.

THIS STORY SHALL GET FINISHED >_< Now, let's get cracking!