Aqua Timez - Niji .mp3
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

First day at school!

This morning I woke up at about 6 and quickly showered. There was a delicious breakfast ready when I got out of the shower... Bacon, eggs, yogurt, melon pan, fruit jello, toast, rice, milk, coffee, and more. This seems to be a common theme. For breakfast there is always a big variety of choices. Anyway, by the time I got finished breakfast I was starting to get sort of nervous. I said by to everyone and headed to the car with my host Dad. On the way to school we stopped by my Obachan's house and said bye to her as well. Later on we drove past a group of maybe 20 students walking and he told me they were from my school. I started feeling really excited and we quickly arrived at school. As soon as I got out of the car students started staring and pointing and whispering and waving. It was so crazy! My host father took me inside where we were greeted by a head teacher. I thanked him for everything, said bye, and headed up to the teachers' room. It's a room completely filled with desks and it seems kind of cramped, but it's where the teachers go every day in between classes and before/after school. The teacher led me to a small room connected to the teacher's room and told me to take a rest and relax. So I dragged my heavy suitcase and bag into the room and sat on the couch. The teacher left the room so I sat for maybe 15 minutes just thinking. When will I meet my host brother? What will my family be like? All of a sudden a familiar face runs in and happily greets me with a smile of relief! My friend from YFU Orientation apparently was going to go to the same school as me! It was really nice to see her, and she seemed so relieved! It was a good relaxer! :) We talked all about our families and what we have done so far and during our conversation a teacher walked in. He told us we would have to introduce ourselves in front of all of the teachers and then in front of the whole school. What?! Really?! I had no idea!! I was so unprepared! But nevertheless we started planning what we would say. Quicker than I could imagine he told us to come out and it was time for our introduction to the teachers. Cristin was so nervous, but I told her not to worry and I pretended to be confident. The teacher said something probably along the lines of okay everyone it's time for the exchange students to introduce themselves, and the room fell silent. "Okay えばん、どぞう。" I then introduced myself in front of maybe 70 teachers all in Japanese and it went much much better than I thought it would! At the end they all applauded me! It was such a crazy feeling! After Cristin introduced herself they led us back into the small room where they gave us each a paper with our school schedule and then told us that there was going to be a huge introduction ceremony where we would introduce ourselves on the stage. Once again Cristin and I were so nervous! They told us to relax and gave us both a cup of tea and left the room. Suddenly, someone came into the room and sat on the couch in front of us. He introduced himself. It was my brother! Wow what a crazy feeling! We talked a tiny bit and then there was somewhat of an awkward silence and he left. Soon enough the teacher came back in and told us to remember to wave a lot and that the ceremony was about to begin. They led us to the たいくかん (Gym) where 600 students were waiting for us. When we entered the room the whole band was playing and everyone was cheering! We couldn’t believe it! It was so amazing! Two chairs were sitting on the stage and the teacher motioned for us to go up on stage and sit. The crowd was cheering and waving and soon the principal came up on stage and silenced the crowd. He said an introductory speech all in English that I had a hard time believing the students understood at all. (His English was really good and he used big vocabulary words.) Basically the message was "We are extremely lucky to have an opportunity like this so I hope you will all use it to your advantage to learn a new culture and share your own as well as practice your English and learn something new!" Then a student came on stage and also said an introductory speech in English. After that it was time for me to introduce myself. I can't really remember that well but I didn't feel too nervous. As soon as I started speaking Japanese some of the students gasped. "Whoa!" "Suge!!!" "Sugoi!!" "Umai!" They couldn't believe that a がいじん could speak Japanese! It was really amusing :P! People still to this day that I meet are amazed even if I say one simple Japanese word! After our introductions we were led into the crowd into two random open spaces between the students and they started an amazing ceremony!! Boy students were playing the drums and girl students in ゆかた(yukatas- a Japanese style traditional dress) were dancing with fans, chanting/singing, or playing a traditional flute. It was really one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in my life! After the amazing ceremony we started our first day as students at a Japanese high school!

Some of these pictures were taken from the Kakunodate High School Website! (They made a post welcoming me and Cristin! They spelled our names wrong but it's not a problem haha :D )

First Day

I would tell you all about my first day in Japan but it wasn't as exciting as my first day in Akita. We arrived at the hotel and talked with some YFU officials and then headed to our rooms. That night we got to go out and explore Tokyo! It was really fun and awesome.... I was finally in Japan! The next following days were about the same and then the departure date came! I learned that I couldn't meet my real host family until Monday because my father was changing work places so I would have to stay at my area representative's house. Arriving in Akita was one of the most exciting days in my life! As the plane lowered and I saw all of the green rice fields growing bigger and bigger I felt like I was finally in Japan! It was a completely different feeling than being in a hotel all day with 100 English speaking students! By this time I was too excited to even tell if jet lag was having an effect on me! After the hour long flight I was greeted by a girl who looked about my age holding a welcome sign and a really kind looking man who seemed really excited to meet me. After talking with the girl it turns out that she was an 18 year old exchange student from Korea named Sang Yi and she was staying with my area rep's family for a year! She was so nice and amazingly good at Japanese. She had apparently only been in Japan for 3 months but she seemed fluent to me :P! After waiting at the airport while everyone met their families we headed out to the car. He told me it would be about an hour but anything was okay for me after my 11 hour flight from California to Tokyo! During the car ride my host father and Sang Yi were asking me questions in Japanese and that's when it hit me that I was actually in Japan! I held one of my first real conversations in Japanese. I was so excited that I didn't even realize how long the car ride was! I was constantly staring out the window at all of the amazing rice fields and mountains on the horizon. When we arrived they told me that my host Mom worked at a school and that there was a basket ball game that we were going to watch. As we started heading for the stairs Sang Yi started waving to a girl at the top of the steps. When we got to the top I was greeted with a huge hug! I was surprised because in Japan, hugs aren't a very common thing. It turns out the girl was my host sister who had spent a year in America! (so her English was almost perfect!) I guess that could be a good or bad thing :P. She could help translate but it would definitely be a bit longer until my speech was in all Japanese. It might seem like I'm just saying this because I was in Japan but the basketball game was seriously the most exciting basketball game I have ever seen in my life! The score and current winning team was constantly changing back and forth until the buzzer, and our team won! Watching the game was a really good relaxer because I got to sit back and watch something knowing that I was finally in Akita! During the game I met my host mom, a really really sweet woman. After that we headed home, but not before picking up my sister's ADORABLE dog named Muku who had just got done getting his hair cut. On the way home I talked a lot with my sister and it turned out that she was engaged and getting married in Hawaii and invited me to come. Of course I want to but the cost might be an issue! :P They also told me that we were going out to dinner! YAY! It was a huge barbeque style restaurant! My favorite! At the restaurant I tried all kinds of new food like cow tongue and raw beef... I can't believe I did that! It was actually really good! Overall my first host family was such a warm and welcoming group of people! Hopefully we can meet up again before I go!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nihon is amazing!

So I've been in Japan for about 2 weeks and I'm having the time of my life!! It's so amazing here! Today is my school festival and I'm about to leave for it right now! I'll definitely write some posts later! (sorry!!)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Busy busy busy

The past few days have been so busy! So many classes and activities and games!! I met more awesome people like Cameron, Kira, Alec, and Erik. There are so many awesome people here that I can't list them all! And けいこ先生 and Max are so awesome! Well, tomorrow is our last day here in California.. It was really fun while it lasted and meeting all these new people and messing with other kumi's flags and such. We are all going to see each other at Tokyo though too in the hotel! Apparently all of the awesome originals like Natasha Ashley and Jomar are going to be in Tokyo for 2 days too! I'm excited! I hope I get to see them again before coming back to the states.. But for tomorrow I'm gonna have a loooonnngggg day! I wake up at 5:30 and we get ready to take an 11 hour flight to Tokyo where we'll land at about 1 AM our time but 2PM their time and we will have to stay awake until bed time!! Through all of this I'm still thinking about my host family and wondering what they're like! I'm so excited to finally meet them, but so far this has been an amazing experience! :D

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Today was SO AWESOME!

Today was AMAZING! I'm pretty sure I've been awake for 24 hours now... But it was all worth it! With one hour of sleep I boarded the plane to California for a 6 hour long ride. When I got to the airport I met a really awesome girl named Ashley! We got to the orientation extremely early! I met so many awesome friends today that all seemed to get there early too! Natasha, Jomar, Ellen, and Minny! I'm gonna have so much fun tomorrow :D

Saturday, June 5, 2010


The main point of this post is to see if this app on my iPhone works... But anyway, I was emailing my host brother today and he seems really cook! He says his friends like to play tennis and soccer which are my two favorites! Awesome! I think I'm gonna have an amazing time in Japan :D

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Hey! I have been emailing with my host Mom and I just received an email from my Dad! Apparently I will be attending highschool with Shinya in "Kakunodate!" I am so excited! I can't wait to hear more from my host family :D

I sent some emails back and forth with my Area Representative in Akita!

I've talked with your host mother now asking the family to let you know their e-mail address. She said she understood your Japanese very clearly and is pleased to have such a good communication between you.
By the way your file we got from YFU Tokyo didn't have any photo of yours. Is it possible to send a couple of your pictures to the Okawas and to me by e-mail? I have to send them to the school you will go to as soon as possible.
Thank you.

I'm so excited!! :D Can't wait for an email!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Watashi ha hosutofamiri ni denwa wo kakete!

Oh my gosh... I just got off the most nerve-wracking and most amazing phone call I've ever been on! I called my host family!!! That was so amazing... I can't even explain my feelings right now! All I can say is that my host mother is really nice and she has such a nice soft-spoken voice! My phone conversation went a little like this:
(all in Japanese)

Kumiko: Hello?
Me: Hello!
Kumiko: Yes!
Me: Good morning! I am the American exchange student! How do you do? Nice to meet you! I'm really excited! (she laughs a little bit) I have been studying Japanese for 2 years so my Japanese isn't very good yet.
Kumiko: NO! Your Japanese is very very good!! :)
Me: No, no (laugh). I have some questions
Kumiko: Yes?
Me: What is my little brother's name?
Kumiko: Shinya
Me: Could you please say that again?
Kumiko: Shi-n-ya
Me: Shi-n-ya?
Kumiko: Yes! It is Shi-n-ya.
Me: Thank you! Also, do you have an email address?
Kumiko: Hai! ...pause... I don't really know how to say...
Me: Yes! It's okay! Lastly, do you speak any English?
Kumiko:Hm.... I'm not good at all! (laugh)
Me: It's okay!
Kumiko: Yes! Thank you so much!!
Me: I would love to speak with you again! Goodbye!
Kumiko: Goodbye!

She was so nice!! I felt so dumb at times... even though I wrote a script I was still stuttering because I was so nervous! But it was so worth it!

A couple things I need to note: The Japanese word for yes is "Hai!" and they say it a lot more often than we do. It is more like an expression sometimes. It sort of can also have the double meaning of "go ahead!" Also, it might seem like she wasn't polite after the translation to English, but she was so kind! I can't wait to finally meet my family! I'm so excited! :D



The Okawa family! :)

Dad- Satoru
Occupation- Company employee

Mom- Kumiko
Occupation- House wife

Brother- 15 years old


They live in Aza-musashino, Tazawakao-Obonai Senboku-shi Akita!

I'm so excited!!! :D

Akita! :D

I just got this email during school! :D

"To YFU students from abroad,

Welcome to Japan. I am Mr. Yuichi Sato, area representative of YFU Japan, which has decided to place you in my area. I live in Akita Prefecture, which is located in the northeastern part of the main island and faces the Sea of Japan.

I am writing you to express our hearty welcome to you and to inform you that you will be accepted by a nearby senior high school. You will go to school from Monday through Friday. It will be good opportunities to experience a Japanese school life and to make friends with students there.

The following items will be necessary when you go to school. If you possibly have them, it may be wise of you to bring them with you when you come to Japan.

(1) A pair of sports shoes (, which you will be expected to wear only inside the school building; clean white tennis shoes or ones like them are good)
(2) Some pairs of white socks (plain sports type)
(3) Sports wear (which you need in PE class)

As for school uniforms, your host family or the school will arrange them if they are necessary for you.

Your host family is really looking forward to seeing you soon.


Yuichi Sato
Area Representative of YFU Japan

******************************************* Yuichi Sato*******************************************"

I'm so excited! Apparently YFU has all of my host family information but they won't give it to us until we figure out what is going on with the IFC scholarship money... I want to know as soon as possible!!