I'll write this later about my experience of golden week- the 3 national holidays aligned in a row occuring the first week of may. Later!


A-anyway, so I switched the day before the Earthquake happened. I'd had a meeting with spanking new host dad the week before, so I knew him a little. I'd also met him my first day in Japan- I thought, wow, he looks like a fun host Dad! And was kind of looking forward to this house a little.
.................. ach.
.................. I am a terrible judge.

I parted my host families bawling as usual, rocking hugging my knees and watching the death toll rise from the Earthquake. I then met the host dad here. The first thing he did, was I switched at 11 am- we brought my stuff home, fetched my bicycle, host dad showed me my room- and then left.
Until 8. Story of my life here.
Eeerrrr well, to be honest, if I had to sum up my relationship with this family, it'd be this; personality clash. It was bound to happen. 4th family 'n all that.

I walked into their house, and the first thing that struck me was this; the lack of things!!
This family owns practically nothing- the entire house is completely spotless and uncluttered. It's almost unnerving.

Now Pan out to my room. There are books and papers scattered all over the desk. The paper has my dirty clothes pile unceremoniously dumped in the corner, and a rats nest of wires/chargers surround one of my only light sockets. There is random stuff shoved everwhere and the whole space gives off the fresh scent of chaos.
U-u-u-u-uhhhh yeah. And here we have the very basic example of our personality clash.

I'm not saying slobs and neatfreaks can't be friends. But we all know those nightmare dorm stories of opposing sides being forced to live with eachother in close quarters- it's a strain on both sides. The neater side not being able to understand how the messy person manages to function in that pig pen, and the messy side wondering when the neater one will remove long pointy objects from a certain sensitive orifices. Seriously. For example.

Yesterday, when I descended the stairs for dinner, I met my host mom for the first time that day. She kind of gave me that normal smile, then launched right into a laundry list of everything I'd managed to do wrong that day. I'd left the bathroom jar a little bit ajar; the silverware drawer was slightly pushed out, a tiny translucent slip of plastic had been found on the floor that was apparently my miss, the light at the door was was apparently left on, and I'd used the wrong sponge to clean the rice pan.

Wow. I must be the worst human being alive. Just. Shoot me now.

Then we said the greeting to start the meal.... itadakimasu.....
Awkward. That. I'm sitting there stewing. Like. Awesome, nice to see you too. Wow, I'd had a sushi party that day at the house with 5 people. I'd immaculately cleaned up, I though. You didn't even known I'd had one until you figured out I'd washed the rice pan wrong. But no, lets' talk about all my little slip ups some more. It makes for great dinner conversation, you know.

And Host Dad. Please. Don't get me started. I'll get into that later, in time. I'll even dredge up memories of traumatic trip to tropical Island Okinawa for you.

Anyway, they run 3 salons in town and work from 9-8 every day except for Mondays, so I basically never see them. My favorite point about this family.


Thursday was Ensoku: 遠足! Class field trip day! We'd voted a few weeks back and elected to go to Kobe, somewhere between I have no idea and Osaka. About the day after decision making, Saori had already decided what to wear. When they get to wear what the want, they kind of go crazy.
Anyway the day of, I arrived fashionably last- Aiko had screwed up her explanation of the meeting place and Kuriyama and Minami ended up having to run come get me while I freaked out on the phone. We boarded a travel bus, and I got plunked next to a girl who I'd never really talked to. Awwkward. I didn't know what to say. The return trip I offered up my Ipod and we listened to music together and talked about prolificness of Wakayaman love hotels, so that was nice.

Once we arrived in Kobe, we grouped up and given full reign- my group decided to go to China town. So did the Sensei's, although we shook them off in a convenience store. Chinatown was pretty cool, I kept bugging my friends, 'Is that guy Chinese or Japanese?!!' because I thought how nifty that they can tell the difference. Halfway through that, we ran into the Senseis and my friends literally seized me and forced me to ask to take a picture with Oyama Sensei. As in, here you go *PUSH* arhghhhhfhfhghghadfhdf that was awkward. I'm like, through the side of my mouth, 'SMILE, SENSEI, OK OK.' Hahaaa -

After that we wandered into bad Chinese style dress shops and various areas, and before we knew it, it was time for buffet~~ ohoh ~~ +1 culture point- if you go to a Japanese buffet, it IS culturally acceptable to take three plates and pile 'em up. I missed this at first, and thought, 'Wow. And I didn't want to look like a greedy American.'

Friday was a day off for whatever reason- someone who was important at one time's birthday I think. Ninna, the Australian girl from her school named Brunty, and I hopped on a Train at 9 to Tennoji- a section of Osaka. Ninna promptly got us lost, claiming how she 'knew where she was going' Which was fine, I got to see some of Tennoji
After we went to go make reservations at a place called Sweets Paradise. now, Japanese are pretty keen on gooey awful English names, but believe me, this one lived up to it. The concept is that you pay a painfully high base price to buy your way into an all you can eat pasta, cake, and sweets buffet.

+ 1 kilo for Emily.

Brunty and I masterfully spaced out our gorging and consumed calories after calories till the end. Ninna dropped out 20 minutes before our alloted 70, due to 'ice cream brain freeze' haha.

Quick glance around- only in Japan could you go to a all you can eat sweets buffet and have not one single person in the entire restaraunt be overweight. Sigh.

I returned at 5:40 so I could get to a Rotary event by 6- Dinner at 'Amuse' toiu French Restaruant. 2nd hosts Nishimoto, Current hosts, and then my first host mom + little bro came. Apparently it was makeup Birthday party, as I'd blown them off for Dinner on actual birthday. It was nice to see the 2nd hosts again, and we fell right back into it. Near the end, my 'steam roller personality always gets what she wants' Counselor Tsuji-San said, "Emily, we hosted this party for you! You are the center of the party," something along those lines; And I just cooly replied, "aaactually, I'm pretty sure that wherever you go Tsuji-san, you're always the center of everything.' And the entire rotary side of the table busted up laughing.

On Saturday, we had Makizushi party at my house, which combines the words for 'roll' and 'sushi' - Rynako, Kanna, Aiko, and Kuriyama came. We spent the first hour making rice, waiting for Kuriyama, and invading my privacy. When she finally showed up, we rode our bikes to a the nearby store called Evergreen to buy ingredients.

I'll admit, I was in sort of a bad mood. The 3 that arrived first walked in on my host dad going out the door, and he lingered for a few minutes talking and making cat noises. Now, they know I don't like the guy, but on first meeting he's a likeable guy, so they were like, 'ii kanji datta' which means, he had a good feeling? And when I kindly pointed out how they'd known him for 2 minutes and could not possibly begin to judge, Rinako said some things told me that I wasn't allowed to think of my Host dad like that- I informed her how actually, excuse me, I can actually think however I damn well please. It hurt that after how much I told about what he'd acted, she would still dismiss my feeling so easily.

Later they barged into my room, and of course there's the requisite 'haha this is messy' but then Rinako just kept going on and on and I'm like, aren't you just overdoing it a tad? Then later, at the store ... ARGHHH, I ended up clearly snapping at her when she something insensitive again, and walking off while they shopped for fish. I composed myself eventually and returned, but man that girl. I-am-better-than-you attitude gets me sometimes. Mattaku.

We came back, prepped the ingredients, and hoisted the coffee table into the living room. While rolling our sushi, we watched the movie 'my darling is a foreigner,' about a japanese girl who dates an American and the problems they run into. It was really cute. Overall, I had a good time though! When I came home my Host Mom had previously mentioned OCD flip out.

Sunday was '英会話練習!!” English Convo practice! With Ninna, Emily, Kuriyama, and Minami!!.... supposedly. Well, that got thrown out the window halfway through and we reverted to speaking Japanese, or just me and Ninna going at it in English. Ninna and I managed to get into fight mode near the end, which was kind of funny. We ended up running around shopping and going to McDonalds.

Anyway, thus abruptly endeth some week sometime I forgot. Chow.


And so, it has been two months since I last blogged. It's not overly hard to remember the exact date on which I did so- The day before I changed families, but, more importantly, the day before the earthquake happened.

Neither, to be honest, was such a fantastic thing. Bit understating both. Not that I'm equating my current host family situation to a tsunami, but I digress.

Anyway, I remember clearly when I first heard about the earthquake, a bit like 911 and what the old timers claim about the kennedy shootings. I'd literally climbed the stairs from posting my last blog in the living room, when host dad paid me a visit to my room, which was rare- `There's been a tsunami on the coast', he said, 'I'm going to go survey damages for my job." I was like, what? Tsunami?

But he wasn't making a big deal about it and left, and so I didn't think too much of it, but I eventually got curious and went downstairs to turn on the news. The picture it was reflecting was surely, not a pretty one, but even then I had no real idea of the scope. I didn't feel the earthquake at all. Sorry. That's not exciting. It was the biggest earthquake Japan has ever had, I was there, and I didn't feel a quiver.

I'm sure everyone who reads this knows about it, but in the event of passage of time or a case striking ignorance, here's what happened; A 9.0 earthquake struck about 90 miles off the cost of North East Japan March 11, 2011. It triggered a 30 ft tidal wave that devastated coastal towns, killing thousands and causing what may be the most costly natural disaster in history. O-oh, and on it's way, managed to hit a nuclear powerplant, which went into meltdown mode.
Actually, when you type it out like that, it sounds kind of like a sick joke. Poor Japan.

That Friday, I spent the day watching the death toll count go from 1 by 1 to 40, then slept and suddenly it was 500. Then, again, when I was changing families and riding in my Counselor's car towards my next house, listening to the news pointedly to trying to stop crying- 1200 people dead, 1500 missing-

This number would eventually rise to 13000 dead, and around 20,000 missing- I haven't checked recently for more accurate numbers, but still. Horrific either way and understandably rocked Japan in a huge, huge way.

As for the effect on my life, we got a 3 foor tidal wave and not much else. There was nothing to listen to for the next three weeks but earthquake broadcast, and the commercials all turned to encouraging social messages - whether for lack of companies that wanted to broadcast or some country cheerleading measures, we literally got to watch the same commercials about 'TRY YOUR BEST JAPAN' for about 3 weeks. Consequently, when you sing, 'arigatou!' in a singsong、 someone will immediately sing 'arigatou!' back at you, probably followed by a stylish pirouette twirl. Check it out: [IF YOU GREET EVERYTIME, YOUR FRIENDS WILL INCREASE!!! Is the last thing they say.] Understandably, because this is a terrible and creepy commercials force fed to the population of Japan for 3 weeks straight 15 times a day, stuff like this has popped up.
Oh lordy. /facepalm

Ahem, yes, so, it was often remarked in the few weeks following the earthquake that the peace in wakayama was simply 'creepy' Osaka too, was in this state- It was hard to know what to feel, at this time, so peaceful, but then just so close so much destruction- and that's when it began.
The great noise sucking noise as hundreds of Exchange students accross Japan were dragged back to their host countries by hysteric Parents, Governments, and Exchange organizations. Stamp chan, the Thai girl at my school, was a casualty - 3 from my district as well boarded planes sometime in the 2 weeks following the quake. The faltering state of the Powerplant was the cheif concern, although the media was really playing the whole thing up the whole world over.

So lonely, Seirin. So lonely. I didn't even get to say good bye.

Either way, it was a very very tragic event, but I am very proud of Japan and they way they've handled response, relief, grief, and just everything. The feelings of going through it with this country will certainly be sometime I remember for the rest of my life.