Don't Litter! Love, Kappa


By the end of Saturday the 12th, I was completely toasted, despite skipping badminton. At school, I belong to this group of girls, and we're always together during break time and such. Originally, when I joined,. I remember specifically writing to my parents 'send me American snacks that can be shared, my group is 7 girls so enough for each!'

Well, after Winter break, it took me about 2 days to notice, but our group had become 6- A girl called Saori was missing.

She did not come to school in January.

She did not answer our texts or phone calls.

The only way we knew she was alive was that she was active on an online art website. Saturday the 12th of February 2011, Aiko, Minami, Kuriyama and I launched our assault on Saori's home. The goal? Convince her to come back to school. We informed her we were coming, painted intimidating symbols on our faces with Seaweed Jam, and fashioned makeshift battering rams to our bicycle baskets. OK, not really, but with a warriors spirit we marched into her house. We were greeted warmly by all of Saori's family except for Saori, and was promptly served tea and cookies. Then Saori came out, and she had dyed her hair and and and..~ And well, at that, her little brother was also ushered into the room, and proceeded to steal the the spotlight by running around in circles and shouting "WOWWWW 4 PEOPLE CAME I'M SO HAPPPPYYYY!!"

Talk about a conversation derailer.

It was awkward at first, but that slowly faded to a more normal atmosphere, with the rest of

the party eventually ragging on her and making jokes about her new abundance of free time. And then there was the conversation about Oyama sensei, Lady Gaga, and P-P-P-Poker Face. That mental image isn't leaving anytime soon.

We left on good terms, saying 'Jaa, mata, getsuyobi ne' which means 'Bye, I'll see you again Monday!" Come Monday, Saori didn't come, and I can't say any of us were surprised, but alas.

Good luck to you, Saori, in this World.

After that adventure, I was picked up at Kamayama trainstation by Host dad to go to Dinner with Host Mom's sister and friends. You know how when you're really little, you have pre- arranged playdates with other kids to give your mom a break or whatever? Well, I, at age 16, had a prearranged English playdate with a man called Jeff. He teaches english. This was all I knew beforehand about him. Now, when you think, Language teacher, you think thinly balding slightly overweight mellow dude, right?

Oh no, no no no. Mr. Jeff turned out man built slightly like a bear with a height to match. He spoke in a rough central American accent and had an equally rough attitude. This man had absolutely no mouth to head filter at all, said exactly what he thought, so all in all he was basically the opposite of the Japanese stereotype

He was extremely intelligent, and we spent half the dinner debating Japan culture from Woman equality to National attitude. It was nice, since I haven't had a chance to hold an educated conversation for about 6 months, and I think Mr. Jeff felt along the same lines because before he had my name down he told me when the conversation turned to college, 'I like you. You're not stupid. Tell you what, you study your little ass off, come here, and you can live with us for 4 years when you go to college.' He was half serious too.

The other half of dinner he regaled me on how he'd gotten his internal defibulator device stuck in his chest while conscious and working for Japanese gangster construction companies, and whole trivia of life. And inbetween pauses he would argue with his friends wife. Which was interesting in that she didn't speak English and he didn't speak Japanese.

Speaking of which, I asked him pretty early on ‘So you don’t speak Japanese, huh, how about that.’ I then got a story about how a childhood disease that almost killed him, but irreparably damaged his brain making him incapable of learning new languages. I will never judge before knowing again. I will never judge before knowing again.

After dinner, Jeff's British friend and his wife came and most of the adults got flying drunk, which was hilarious. The Brit had brought along his little boy, just a wee thing. He was spouting off Japanese about a million miles an hour when I asked him, “hey, what's that toy?" in English and he just said 'ITS A FLYING FISH!" And took off in English. I was just all WHOAHHHH COOL IT SWITCHES JUST LIKE THAT, I WANT A BILINGUAL 3 YEAR OLD TOO!! [The Brit's response? You can have this one…]

Monday was Valentine’s day! In Japan, on Valentine’s day, it's a tad different from America.

[These rebellious youth, undmindful of the traditional values of imported marketable

holidays.] Instead of merely doing something with your special somebody, [or mourning your

lack thereof] you give chocolate to all your friends! Or really, supposedly, it's the day girls give chocolates to boys, but since boys and girls tend not to mix and nobody likes

chocolate more than, well, a female, at the highschool level it has turned into 'girls make treats to give to everyone they like'day.

Ninna and I jumped that bandwagon hard. I'd googled out a couple of Japanese recipes beforehand, and the bright idea was this: Japanese recipe means we could find all the ingredients at a Japanese grocery store and Japanese measuring devices would match up with the amounts!

This aside, anybody that really knows me that for my plan for the domestic future is to marry Riannon K and come home to a homecooked meal every night. Either that, or enjoy cans of Spaghetti O's and instant ramen with 30 cats. Still deciding. That is to say, I'm not the best cook you can find. Keeping all this in mind, let me show you the equation for our dream treats.

2 exchange students + 1 Danish Cake recipie .. in Danish, without the instructions + 2 Japanese recipies + a Japanese kitchen + Japanese Measurements


Do you see our domestic skills overflowing from this cake. Simply spilling out.

Somehow, through all that, we managed to make mostly edible and halfway yummy chocolates, cookies, and even a cake. Enough for about. Oh, 12 valentines. I had about 16 people I really wanted to give them to, but alas. Ninna was kind enough to let me have 9, and exchanged with my school group, Stamp-chan, and (heheh) also gave one to my Handsome Homeroom Teacher, Oyama sensei.

On Valentines, Wakayama also did something it does fairly sporadically but quite halfheartedly, like a habitual diet shirker; snow. Apparently, it had decided to make up for the last, about, 12 years [See; as far back as my classmates remember] and really put some effort into it. It snowed from 11:00 to about 9:00 pm. The snow, initially fighting the higher than freezing temperatures, didn't stick at first, but around the 3rd hour it started to lightly build. Like powerdered sugar. This drove my cooped up classmates just about out of their minds- they're about as exciteable as hyperactive Chihuahuas anyway, and probably just about anyone would take flipping out over snow to legitimately paying attention to Ancient Japanese.

After school, there was a giant snowball fight in the courtyard, and people built mini snowmen on the tennis courts. Badminton was also canceled, and I headed home in the two inches of slushy snow on Deathtrap, the not so trusty bike. Which sucked. See why students in Spokane don’t commute 40 minutes via bike.

HDad built the snowman, HSis the snow.... rabbit?

From the side of the house

Tuesday was hisashiburii badminton. There's been an interesting and diverse range of things keeping me from it lately, a great deal stemming from my lack of desire to go, but regardless of the reasoning, I'm pretty sure Arai sensei has not been pleased by this. At all. Halfway through practice, when Moeh went over to ask Arai sensei if we were to be paired for a certain thing, he said, 'Emily is weak'but with a really heavy Kansei accent in really rough Japanese. I just kind of laughed and Moeh and Sensei looked at me and asked why, and I said 'I understood that...' and Arai Sensei: ‘Ahhh, so you understand now hmm..’ The only thing keeping him from chewing me out is probably his perceived imaginary language barrier.

Wednesday was the last day of Badminton until year end of tests are over, which start in two weeks.



See the ones in red? I've memorized those. Yes, all those.

I am thumping myself on the back because no one appreciates this. No one. I say this because the Japanese don't seem to believe I can actually read them, and all the foreigners seem to wonder why I bother trying. I strive alone. Alone. And you know what? I can read light novels now. And Biology textbooks. And most of history. And warning labels. And train station instructions. Eat that. EAT THAT EVERYONNNNNNE.

NOW FOR THE NEXT 949... AND THEN THE 300 EXTRA USED IN NAMES.... YAY.............. ...

If you want to feel a bit of my pain, click here and click the 'study button, then just click through a few - notice how most of them have 2-4 different way

Thursday I got caught up reading on the train to school. I started that night's dinner conversation with, 'Say, Ayume, did you know that it takes about 20 minutes to walk from our station to the next?' Host family kind of stared at me for second, like, 'Oh, no, you didn't-' And yes, yes I did- I had looked up from my book that morning to watch the doors of the train closing on my stop. At the next station, I checked the schedule- the next train wasn't for about 35 minutes. So I started off on foot. I didn't have a clue where I was other than 'if I follow the general directions of the train tracks I will inevitably end up at my stop. It was a nice walk. I wish Japanese roads made more sense.

My host family joked that I probably couldn't find any more ways to screw things up, and had probably managed to pull off just about every small mistake you could imagine at this point, from forgetting keys to dropping traintickets- I warned them not to test me. They also commented on my excellent sense of direction and firm grasp on the layout of Wakayama city. I assured them it was because of my extensive experience getting lost.


Yasai / Fruit store

Japanese school bus-tiny tots only only- green words read; Nagusa Kindergarten

Temple near school

Practically a whole flock of birds were on this structure

The next day, I proved them wrong by forgetting my PE clothes and having to watch during PE. Which was kind of fun, since I ended up spending most of it with Kuriyama writing the PE pass slips ‘With your entire heart, please write a reflection about your pass experience’ [I kid you not- that wording. Japan is pretty cheesy.]

Did I mention since after the Marathon, we’ve been doing jump rope in PE? Yes. Jumprope. Not as a side thing. Jumprope. Just jumprope. I definitely haven’t touched one of those since 2nd grade, thanks.

She warned me that writing; ‘Everyone seems to really hate this, and me too.’ ‘Wow, aren’t these PE uniforms gaudy? Like the entire gym is purple’ ‘Even standing and watching for 50 minutes hasn’t imparted upon me the actual point of this.’ Would probably be a bad idea, so we spent about 20 minutes wracking our brains for suitably awful responses.

Saturday, I ended up at 7 o’clock AM studying somehow. I will be taking the same world history and biology tests as my classmates, WHICH IS BASICALLY LIKE SUICIDE BUT HEY AWESOME. ADMITTEDLY MY SCHOOLGIRL CRUSH ON MY HISTORY TEACHER IS KIND OF DEFINITELY HELPING THE DRIVE TO STUDY.

[Yutaro, Forgotnameloudboy, and Sakura being Uke, Seme homo peas and offspring hetero peas, respectively.]

You know, with teaching methods like this, maybe Biology is possible afterall...

Anyway, month 6, OVER AND OUT.

Febbing it up 2 weeks

Halfway through February already...

I left off near the end of January, right before one of Rotary's oh so fun droning lecture orientations, at which I ended up extemporaneously speaking for about 5 minutes in Japanese due to a speech topic mixup. [I had managed to ask the only other exchange student that had no idea.] Anyway, it was on the differences between Home country and Host Country- I seemed to have an opinion very different from my other Americans. They all made their speeches about how different Americans and Japanese were; Americans were noisy, said exactly what they thought, how Japanese were respectful quite and polite...ect... I'm not going to really go into it, but it seems like they were still generalizing and stereotyping so much, which disappointed me. Felt so shallow. I spent my time going into why I thought our cultures were more similar than was said. I really do feel that way, too. I wasn't just being ornery.

Arai Sensei let me play my first doubles match two days later at badminton. Moeh and I lost the first, but and won the second! Admittedly, she was kind of carrying me, but I didn't do too bad.

The next friday was Marathon meet day! Since the start of third trimester, we'd been doing running in PE. Whenever we ran, we were ranked according to speed. My ranks, respectively, out of ~65 girls were 7, 51, 6, 42, and 9 - tell me that Badminton hasn't paid off! Er, if not necessarily the exercise of badminton, Mr. Badminton captain has PE at the same time as me and it was frankly embarrassing how often he lapped me when I wasn't trying my best. I bet you can guess which days he wasn't there though hur hur hur-

This was the only picture of the Field I got before my cam died.

Anyway, on the actual meet day, I forgot my bike key and ended up hitching a ride with host mom. We had the Marathon in this giant stadium, and the girls started first. All of us were called out to the middle of the field, did our exercises, and were sent off with a bang! We looped the track in the middle twice before heading out winding 5.5 km course around the outside. As I was exiting the stadium, a couple of the watching boys from my class yelled out "GANBARE EMIRI!!" [try your best!!] and halfway through I ran past Oyama Sensei, who was standing there looking overheated in this long coat. He repeated the same words, so it was certainly a good atmosphere !! : ) I kind of didn't pace myself too well though, and by 2/3rds of the way through I was ready to just about collapse. I kept it up and finished 41st of 300 girls. That's not overly bad for someone who's been consistently sedentary for the last, oh, 6 years. = D

The next day, my host family took me out to this giant theme park, Nagashima spaland! There was this ridiculously huge roller coaster, and since it was pretty damn chilly and overcast, there was almost no one in the park. We ran around, Ayume being quite audible in her complaints of the previous day's exertion, and went on every ride.

1/3rd of the largest rollercoaster in the park

Yes, I did jeer my host family onto going on this ride. Ayume and you can see HMom in the back.

Miyuki and HDad waiting for coaster

Afterwards we drove for about 10 minutes and pulled up in front of- a hotel??? No, wait, an Onsen?

Now, for the uncultured of you reading this blog, allow me explain the concept Japanese Onsen - hotsprings. AKA, - public bathing. You bathe in a special room with everyone else, and then you can go out and soak in the hotspring pools. My reaction to this revelation was probably pretty funny to watch, to be honest. Everyone got out and I was just sitting upright in my seat glancing around and stuttering, 'wait, what, what, what are we doing- I thought we weren't doing this?-' they all just kind of paused and stared at me, like, you didn’t know? What's your problem? 'Well, if you don't want to, if it's impossible, it's okay...' host mom offered. I stewed in my panic, and did what I usually do when it comes to things like this- go for it. Afterall, there was no time to really make a decision, and plenty of time to regret later.

It was amazingly, uh, Japanesey. Host mom and dad bid us goodbye- HMom to a massage, HDad to the Sauna. We girls went into a locker room arrangement to undress. Without a hint of hesitation, my Hsisters just stripped down to their birthday suits and headed off to the bathing area- leaving poor sheltered, cripplingly modest Emily in this state:

Now, in America, having hair halfway down my thigh, I tend to get a lot of stares, or at least double takes. As a foreigner in Japan, Japanese sometimes have a hard time looking away. Combine this with a general lack of clothes and you have the overpowering novelty of foreign hair queen, stark freakin’ naked. Now, I’d like to think I’ve developed a bit of a thick skin by now, but I swear to god that having everyone’s eyes lingering on you and having conversations started by little old ladies can be a bit unnerving. “Y-yes my hair is long,” wheredoIlook wheredoIlook’ uh, thank you,” says I, clutching that tiny, tiny, towel. “I have to uh, go now.” Eyesscarredeyesscarred.

Speaking of towels, the practice is that when you get in the hot spring pool, you fold the mini towel you’ve received and place it on your head. I actually counted the number of times it fell off into the pool. 7.

I did find one upside to all my pesky hair- when it finally got into my head to use it as camouflage, I found that method actually gives more coverage than most modern day bikinis!

I’d like to think I bonded with my host siblings during this experience, but I think they found it more strange that I stuck to them like glue. EXCUSE ME I AM A POOR CULTURE SHOCKED FOREIGNER YOU ARE NOT LEAVING MEEEEE KYAAAA -

After getting dressed, we ate dinner in the huge room with rows of low tables and floor mats. I felt warm, clean, and just general contented- until I decided to eat an icecream cone, which was pretty stupid. I mean, there are few feelings as good as the warmth and pureness as I got after all that bathing and soaking, and then I had to go shove a mountain of frozen liquid down my gullet. Sheesh.

There was like a whole week after that but I completely forgot what happened. I have a day planner but all I really wrote in it was: “I had a weird dream about state shoes. My shoe was Nebraska. I wonder if Nebraska is actually in the shape of a shoe, like in my dream,” so I guess I should probably just go.




Temple at Nara

Yes, sorry, I’m a horrible person. Let’s talk about January.

As stated in the last Journal, I changed families again in the beginning.

The Tsuji family has been interesting. It has it’s ups and downs.

I feel like I’m being watched constantly- the my Host mom and older Host sis have no problem commenting on any habits I have that don’t match up with their ideals, be it hygiene or eating or whatnot- which I didn’t feel too bad about until my host mom brought up the subject of bathing- now, I bathe every other day here, which is about half as often as the Japanese, but one day after coming home from club on a normal bath day, I fell asleep accidentally ended up not bathing. The next day, my host mom brought up the subject and recited my hygenic activity for a the last week and asked if it would become a habit- older sis joined halfway. I was like, wait a second guys, why are you even paying that much attention?? THIS IS BORDERLINE CREEPY-

On the upside, this is the first Host Father I’ve had that I actually feel comfortable with. My first two just kind of weirded me out, to be honest, which probably has more to do with my sheltered childhood than with any actual creepiness, but I digress. It’s fun at mealtimes not to have to grit my teeth while suppressing the urge to throw up at the variety of sounds emitting from Host Dad.

Host dad is just kind of one of those incredibly chill ‘I live with 3 women, and believe me, nothing you do phases me’ kind of guys. With me that makes 4. Poor him.

This morning, I was running late and forgot my lunch on the way out the door, and he just coolly ‘Emiriii! Lunch!’ and brought it out with me- along with the snack/candy basket! “Okashhhh [candy/snack]’ he said, slurring the last s sound and grinning, like, no big deal, you’re already on your bike but here’s your lunchbox and I brought out the entire snack collection too’ no probo. It was really thoughtful and funny, I thought. Although it does show he’s picked up well on my like of candy, which could be a bad thing. Ahem.

Host mom is really a very strong person, and we butt heads sometimes but never seriously. It’s what you get when 2 outspoken stubborn people with different raisings get thrown in the same house. From the get go she just adopted the attitude YOU ARE MY EXCHANGE STUDENT AND THAT IS THAT okay LETS GO. But, she is, as mentioned earlier, really attentive and tends to worry.

Host mom and Host dad have a really great relationship too. After the kids leave the dinner table, they just sit there blabbing for ages and when I end up being the last of the 3 kids eating I always hurry because it vaguely feels like I’m interrupting something...

Ayume Tsuji, 17, has been interesting. I never know how to act, and I’ll leave it at that. I’ve been making more of an effort to put myself out there after my school counselor said that Ayume had said in passing that she didn’t know if I was happy or not in their home. It’s paying off, I think. Still. As were in the same class, everything I say and do around her is something I wouldn’t mind my entire class knowing, which can be taxing.

My second week, they took me to Nara! For those of you don’t know, Nara is city in the Nara Prefecture that is most famous a special park. Of course, there’s a Buddha big enough that I can slip through one of it’s nostrils [Tried AND tested] and a temple a few times older than Amerika, [you are probably still wondering about testing the nostril theory] but the main attraction is neither.

It is fat, overfed, cushy pestulant beasts that litter the sacred cobbling stones..

No, this isn’t India. It’s not cows. It’s… deer. Uh, yeah.

You might not know this. But Deer are scary. Especially when you’re holding a handful of deer biscuits and there are approximately 10 of them nipping at your heels. And coat. And bag. And hair, if it happens to be long enough to be in reach. But of course there’s no one like that in Japan, right? Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha….


But funnier than this, Ayume was absolutely terrified of the deer. Like, crying high pitched squeals fleeing in knee high, high-heeled boots kind of terrified. I’ll admit I found it hilarious…………

She didn’t really appreciate it when I snuck up behind her, and with a wave of a biscuit, summoned a herd of a deer for her…. What an ingrate. Maybe a cultural thing?
She did okay with the little ones though

Hey did you know this! The word Rickshaw, you know, that vehicle carried by a guy in front, common in india and what not? That’s! That’s actually a Japanese word! Jin (人)rik(力) Sha! (車) Meaning: Person-power-vehicle! Person powered vehicle! Yeah ! I got to ride in one, courtesy of host dad, and it was interesting. The guy powering it was really funny, and had fun showing off his uh, equally funny English skills while me and Ayume apologized for our weight and promised to diet in the future.

Sadly we did not hit any deer on our Jinrikusha adventure.

Badminton has continued! A fault due to some perverse sense of masochism rather than enjoyment, I think, but I’ve had my ups downs. And my flats. And the downs. And the vertical drops. And my Marianna trenches.

Do you sense a trend.

To be honest, I’m not that bad at badminton. But last November, about 3 weeks after I joined the club, I was forced to take time off because I did something weird to my ankles and I couldn’t even stand without hurting. Before that, I had almost made friends in the group- but when I returned it just was so, ugh, awkward ka naaa. And you know those people that tend to lead the group? Well, theres one, her name is… SUSAN and SUSAN is one of those fun people that was nice to me at first for obviously ‘foreign exchange students are cool!’ ! When I came back, her and her jerk friend MARY took a dislike to me, and it doesn’t help that SUSAN and MARY are the best among the girls. And MARY is practically openly hostile, but in the manner of ‘I’m better than you, you pose no threat so I don’t really bother making a big deal of you’ hostile. Which is fine with me.

Around the beginning of November, Arai-sensei let me do a practice game. This is pretty rare, usually I just referee. Well, he matched me up, surprisingly, with MARY. Considering it was my 4th game set ever, I wasn’t exactly shooting for a win, but that day I was on one of my slightly vertical bumps, and shook hands with her enthusiastically while laughing over my soon to be utter defeat.

Well. Turned out, not so utter- I lost, yes, but 13-15. Much to the surprise of everyone involved, especially myself. Considering my second ever game, I lost to the worst person 21-0, this wasn’t exactly something I was expecting. Obviously, I was pleased, but man, you should have seen MARY.

After our referee went running to record the results of our game, MARY sank into the fetal position on the gymfloor, and the repetitious ‘what happened? What did I do wrong? What do I do?’ was ALMOST cute until I realized that MARY had neither a sense of tact, nor perspective, as even though I lost the next game 6-15, the bleatings of ‘What went wrong??’ continued in consistency for about 15 until she ended up in tears, SUSAN and her other friends gathered around.

I was slightly appalled. After the first game, I had said ‘Hey, it’s not like you need to worry- everyone has those kind of games.’ But she didn’t meet my eyes after this. But seriously, I know I’m not the best- but to think her opinion of me was so low that two consecutive wins would spark 20 minute juvenile fit is downright insulting. I got pissed enough to say ‘Hey, would you just quite already? It’s not like that game even meant anything. Aren’t you being rude?”

I do like badminton, it’s just, the people and the regimen are so exhausting.

On the 24th, I sat in on a Skype Video conference with Rinako and three of her friends- Rinako, an exchange student to Sweden last year, skyped her Swedish school’s Japanese class and we had a conversation. It was interesting! I got to watch Swedish being thrown around, which was cool. And be in the presence of people whom I suddenly felt superior to, Japanese language skills wise. That’s rare here, wahahaha!!

Another thing worth mentioning is that something about my Japanese comprehension really jumped around the beginning of this month. I’m not kidding at all. I’ve read that language learning is more like a ladder than a ramp, with stretches of flat periods and then EPIPHANY moments, but I’d never really experienced one- and who knows for sure? But I’m not kidding that I understood a disproportionately larger portion more during the orientation yesterday than the orientation a month ago.

My brain is starting to be able to connect what I read with what I hear, I think. For those not in the know, I’m a bit of a Kanji nut and I memorize about 8 a day. Considering I’m nearing the end of the Kanji learned in the first 6 years of schooling- first 1006, to be exact, and the most common 1000 make up about 95% of printed Kanji, I can actually read the majority of Japanese. 


Don’t those little scratches just fill your heart with joy! They do to mine! I just go into happy place! I may have to learn Chinese next to keep the squiggle parade rolling!

But anyway, the gibberish syllables of Japanese words are much easier to remember when you have a meaning to associate with the gibberish, and some of them are really funny! For instance, worry uses the Kanji for ‘heart’ and ‘distribute’ 心配― because you’re giving your heart out to worry about the sake of others!

But it’s so hard to learn just orally- English we have Garden, and Vegetable- so when we want to say Vegetable garden we just say ‘Vegetable garden!’ In Japanese- Yasai野菜, vegetables, and sono 園, garden, give no hint to saien―菜園- vegetable garden. [The English equivalent of this method would be vegederp] So conversationally based, you wouldn’t be able to figure it out-this makes Japanese really hard to learn orally, I think. Many extremely complicated concepts that take English many words to express are made into 2 character words- but with Japanese’s lack of sounds and abundance of homonyms, it’s incredibly hard to remember words just from sound- I just plugged in ‘keishoo’ into my dictionary and there are 7 words- Alarm bell, inheritance, flesh wound, mild sickness, beauty spot, title, and shape!!

Because I can kinda read Kanji, and because the start of the year marks the start of the new trimester, I began participating in class. I still don’t fully understand all of the teachers rapid Japanese, but with textbook supplements I can basically understand.

My favorite teacher is my Home Room teacher and World History teacher, Ohyama Sensei!! He is so funny! I swear, I have never seen him smile- not one time. Although I might have seen a little one once… no, wait, that was probably just a lip twitch.

He’s handsome, always wears slick suits and glasses, and most of all, has just the clearest voice! Oh, man, someone catch me! Swoon! He’ll say things that get the whole class laughing but NEVER. WAVERS. Once, when the shortest girl in class forgot her hand warmer on the teachers desk, he held it up above her head and she was hopping around like an over excited rodent and the entire class was practically crying but POKER FACE man he would be great at poker you have no idea.

He likes to go on tangents during lectures, it’s fabulous! The problem is that I usually only remember the derailment moments and not the actual uh, lectures, but hey, if I ever find myself in a debate of the nutritional benefits of horse meat versus beef, or on the plumbing practices or lackthereof of renaissance Europeans- I’ll be set!

Now, being homeroom teacher, he comes at the start and end of school every day on top of normal classes, and then once on Wednesdays for LHR- longhomeroom. He uses these opportunities to prime us for life by giving us various bits of guidance and INSPIRING SPEECHES. I cannot actually tell if this is Mr. Ohyama being cheesy or just a Japanese thing, because my badminton coach tends to do it as well,[although I hear inspiring speeches is a pretty common affliction among the sportsy types] and not to mention every single Japanese assembly ever… Either way, inspiring speeches somehow become more digestible when given by a man who’s facial expression never changes….

I also picked up biology! Remember the kanji thing? Well, it’s a goddamn BLESSING in biology! In English, you have a crapton of sciency words that are about forty letters long and drop out of your head before you’re even done reading them- but in Japanese, they just stick a few kanji with appropriate meanings and BAM science term is born! Two or three characters long! Sweet stuff. Not gonna lie.


About a week after my last journal, perhaps around the 1oth sometime, I succeeded in losing my train pass. Trainpasses are issued once, and only once- you pay upfront and get to hop in off specific trains without issue. Anyway, my train pass for one month cost about 60 dollars, and that’s kind of a mega discount considering I take a train twice a day, every day, including weekends- 220 yen in the morning and 280 in the evening- 500 yen a day- that’s about 165 dollars a month without the pass. Want to do the math on how much losing it on the 10th would cost?

It was after badminton- it ended late, and then coach gave us and INSPIRING speech such to that I couldn’t leave, and when he was done, I was LATE LATE. Both the train and I arrived at the same time- and my damn key wouldn’t lock, and then I was running running towards that train but WHERE WAS THE DOOR ARRRRGHHH what do you mean only the furthest one to the front- MAASAAAKAAAA-

I was exhausted from a 1 hour commute, 6 hours of school, 3 hours of badminton, and a frenzied 15-20 minute bike ride when I discovered a severe lack of trainpass. Luckily, my Host sis had afterschool uh, school, that day, and was on the train- she pleaded my case to Conductor-san – the next morning, it was nowhere to be found and I got to pay the train fee [cry] As I was pedaling out full speed in typical Emily fashion and doing mental math on how much this little mistake was going to cost me, this sketchy really handsome guy comes from out of nowhere and rides up really, really close to me and says “EMIRI!”

He was wearing a uniform the same as my school and knew my name, [although just about all the male uniforms in Wakayama look the same]- so I adopted EMERGENCY EXCHANGE STUDENT TO ASIA SURVIVAL TECHNIQUE; although you have no clue who the person you’re talking to is, if they seem to know you, act as if this isn’t the first time you’ve met!

It turns out, though, it was- he was from another school. How he knew my name? He’d picked up my train pass- and my name was printed on it!

SUDDENLY BEING THE ONE OF THREE CAUCASIANS IN A CITY OF 300,000 TOTALLY HAS IT’S UPSIDES. I asked if he knew about me, and he said no, and then I was all OH LIKE DUH LOL because totally how many other foreigners ride this entire train line? Oh that’s right none.

Either way, I was really impressed that he went to all the trouble to catch up to me to return it, since I pedal out about a million miles per hour. Although later when I realized he was one of the three creepy guys who come to my station specially to smoke it was kind of.. strange, but he went really out of his way to return it which was really thoughtful, so you really can’t judge a person at all, I think!


JAPANESE PEOPLE ARE REALLY CONSIDERATE AND I KIND OF LOVE THE WHOLE LOT OF THEM. This is not a comparison to any other nation or anything. It’s just that. Japanese people.

Near the end of the month, I went with my Host fam to make Soba noodles! Unsurprising ly, we ended up in a room full of old people, haha! And listened to greetings for about 20 minutes, you’d thing we were annexing a small country or something. Near the end, I’d kind of zoned off somewhere, but I caught the words ‘International…’ and tuned in right in time for a very poor English greeting. Which was hilarious. How thoughtful.

Either way, I mucked around in a bowl for a while and screwed around with a long pole like rolling thing, succeeding in making a whole bunch of itty bitty, sporadically shapped two inch long noodles…. [no one said I was any good, you know.] and we boiled and ate them on the spot. Weren’t too bad. Then Soba-Sensei then showed us the proper way and I left with a vague feeling that something had been done backwards….

OH MAN THIS JOURNAL HAS NO RHYME NOR REASON AND IF YOU MANAGED TO GET THROUGH ALL MY ENGLISH STARVED BABBLING, THEN CONGRATULATIONS! This isn’t obviously everything that happened but it’s already like, 5 pages, so I’ll desist.

Month….5 and a quarter, over and out!