Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Costco, Hibarigaoka Gakuen, and City Hall 3/23 - 3/24-3/25


Hmm...so right now it is 10:35 PM on the 24th (I have totally lost track of the days of the week), and I am currently trying to recall as much as possible about yesterday while my pictures are being uploaded to my computer, or as they say in Japan, pasokon (personal computer).I am super tired right now (btw, the picture of the dog is Suzu on my bed. I am in love with Suzu), because I went to my school (Hibarigaoka Gakuen) and spoke with the teacher who "I should always consult to" Nakanishi-sensei, which was draining for reasons I will explain later on in this post (my school is gorgeous). ANYWAY, TODAY, I went to Costco for the first time in my life, and, the experience was pretty amazing (I use that word a lot don't I). I had heard the word "Costco" everyday in my American life, and I continue to hear it everyday in my Japanese life, but, it was strange. I had HEARD of Costco, and I knew it was a place where people bought food in bulk, but I had no idea like...what it was, anyway. SOOO I went to a JAPANEEESE costco with host mom and brother.


Soooo Costco is pretty cool. There is a ton of food. This Japanese costco was basically entirely American food, and I even saw a group of three Dutch men which was pretty awesome. I would have to go to an American Costco to compare between countries though. Now, when I think of Costco, I think of the Japanese costco, and I don't know what the American Costco is like, so, it is difficult to compare, obviously. The Costco I went to yesterday seemed pretty popular, and was incredibly crowded, and I noticed that a ton of the fruits were from Florida. I bought some blueberries because I NEED FRUIT and no matter how much I eat I NEED MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAR. I have yet to see my host brother eat any fruit, actually.Which is kind of scary (in this picture you can see the sea of Japanese people in Costco around the sushi section). I used to live on fruit. Host mom has actually been feeding me a ton though, which is
too kind of her. And before she gives me a ton of food every evening, she always says "parents in Vermont must be worried, ne".

Oh, also, I also brought a ton of chocolate and candy for my host family, and, my host family loves all of it, and they call it Orichoko (Oli-choko/Oliver Chocolate) (in the picture of host mom and brother, they are trying to figure out the chair thing in Costco, which was like completely broken, or atleast impossible to figure out).

Later on that night, YUKI my host sister arrived with her ex-boyfriend (I'll explain that in a sec), and I must have forgetten to mention that up until the 23rd, Yuki was in Miyazaki surfing with her friends, and she just got home after hanging out with her ex-bf. She had been with him for a super long time, but then he cheated on her, and she punched him, and now they are friends. His name is Eryou (I LOVE THAT NAME) and he is to become a Priest at Nakayama-dera, a super famous temple, meaning he has a lot of money, and so my nick name for him is kanemochi (rich). He was pretty cool. He has dog allergies though, so he had a bunch of tissue paper stuck up his nose the whole time he was at the house because of the three super loud dogs that were like attacking him with their hair. I don't have a picture, but I most definitely will get one next time I see him. I do have pictures of Yuki already though!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yuki is pretty amazing. She is insanely wonderful at the piano, she is super skilled at Shodo (calligraphy), she is open minded and super friendly and skilled at surfing and awesome, and is obviously a part of this super awesome host family I have.
Aaaaah I can't really remember what else happened, but I will update this if I receive any awesome spurts of memory.


OK. SO. Today I didn't really take any pictures, because even though I went to my school, the weather was completely gray and rainy and I didn't want to destroy my camera, and I didn't know if bringing my camera to a little school-related discussion was appropriate (the school is intimidating D:D:), and my camera ran out of battery, which irritated me. I was in the middle of making a video tour of my Japanese house, and then my camera ran out of battery, and I was pissed. But, it was ok, because I still have until 2011 to make as many video tours as I would like. Also, regarding pictures of the school, I would rather get pictures of the pretty buildings in pretty weather, so that you all get a very attractive view of the school.

So, I was woken up at 9:30 am, took a shower, ate breakfast, and was driven to the school with host brother and mom. Host brother had guidance for becoming a high school student, so he went off to see his Japanese guidance counselor. The first thing I noticed about the school, was that, there were a ton of white-purplish/pink buildings, one of them newly opened for this upcoming year of high school (so I get to spend high school in a brand new Japanese building. AMAAZING), there were a ton of trees and vegetation, with one huge sakura/cherry blossom tree in a small square outside the high school area. There is a huge Olympic sized pool sorrounded by trees and stuff which is pretty awesome. A ton of benches, and the school is extremely hilly/on a steep hill. And there is no parking.
So, we went into one of the buildings, and were required to put on Hibarigaoka slippers, and like 10 different men came to say 'Hajimemashite' (how do you do) within the course of like, 6 minutes, and I had no idea who any of them were..one of them went by the name of Nakanishi-sensei, and he was the one I, host mom, and Miyahara-san spoke with about MEEE. At first there was a ton of confusion, and apparently the confusion was because we were supposed to come to the school on the 25TH, but Miyahara being a Donkusai (according to host-mom, means like, 'always making easy mistakes/always forgetting'), she told us to come on the 24th. Mizuno-san, who is one of the head representatives for YFU in Japan, is very annoyed with my area rep. all the time and is constantly telling her to go to the hostpital cause she thinks Miyahara-san has Alzheimers, hahahha. Miyahara-san is super friendly, but makes mistakes, with everything, which is actually hilarious, and I LOVVE IT. SO ANYWAY, things worked out, and we had a talk with Nakanishi-sensei in a separate room, who went over clubs (he signed me up for Judo. He said I should try a martial art and I don't know if I am capable of doing Kendo sooooo I said Judo. I am very interested in Judo anyway). He also went over some paper work and everything, and we went over my current enrollment in online classes which he said is fine, and at the end I asked him if I am able to receive class credit and he said that wasn't a problem at all. OMGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE AAAAH that made me so happy. SAAAAAAAFE. Then the vice principal came, and he seemed kind of questionable about me, and my host mom was all like "Don't worry, Oliver is good student. He is GOOD!" Apparently (my host mom told me this after), Hibarigaoka Gakuen hosted several exchange students in the past, one from Finland and another from Germany, and they both recently also went to Hibarigaoka Gakuen for a year, but they were...........really bad. And would make excuses not to come to school, and didn't follow the rules. So. The Principal said "NO MORE EXCHANGE STUDENT AT HIBARIGAOKA!" But, they accepted me and only me (so I will be the only exchange student), for certain reasons. Which is why the vice principal was kinda like "whats he doing here talking to Nakanishiiii". Host mom also said that the teachers at Hibarigaoka are super strict, and the Principal is super SUPER strict, and thus the school has become more prestigious, and acceptance into Hibarigaoka has become much more difficult. He also took away the majority of international-related classes, and currently the only language offered is English because he wants to put a ton of emphasis on English.

Hmmm...so actually, the whole time we were talking with Nakanishi, I thought that Nakanishi-sensei was the principal of the school, but then later on found out that he is actually one of like 20 English teachers, and is very kind, but according to many people is a terrible teacher. Some people question if he is even able to speak English which I think is hilarious. Anyway, then we walked over to another building and spoke with a Math teacher, and theeen....host mom, Miyhara-san and I went to McDonald's, bought coffee (host mom hates McDonald's but the coffee is cheap[er]), spoke for a while and reassured her that being a Donkusai is totally fine (she is actually pretty old), then we returned to the house, and I don't really remember what happened then, but an hour later we went back to Hibarigaoka Gakuen in order to measure my body for a school uniform (YFU Japan is paying for a new one apparently), I also bought gym shoes which are super Japanese-school-uniform-like and thus I am super excited about having them, we also had my body measured for my gym clothes. Since I am going to be a Junior/second year student, my gym clothes are PINK WOOOOOOOO and I am pretty excited for that too along with basically the entire thought of going to a Japanese school (school starts April 8th I believe...not quite sure though). Also I noticed that at the time when I was getting my body measured for uniforms and stuff like that, there were other students as well, and they along with all the teachers at the school were super solemn and serious looking. Host mom said it wsa because these were the students that weren't accepted into the school/class they applied for, and so the majority are in the lowest class at Hibarigaoka. Today (yesterday) was measurement day for most of the lowest scoring students :/ Scary stuff.

Hmm.....I am having a super hard time remembering stuff. We returned to the house after all the measurement stuff and introducing to several random teachers, we also ran into one of host-brother's female friends that is transferring to Hibarigaoka (she was the only happy/smiley student I saw at the school that day), and she apparently used to live in the same apartment building as my host family when host family used to live in an apartment/'Manshon'. (I am watching t.v. while writing this right now, and I am completely noticing that unlike in america there are like, at most 15 commercials ONLY, and so I keep seeing the same commercials ooooover and over again and I am starting to memorize them all word for word unexpectedly. It's kind of creepy. There was this commercial about 'Sumaato Chizu' [Smart Cheese] and I just sang the whole thing word for word somehow. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH OMG so scary) so after all going back and forth between house and school, we finally settled in at the house, and sort of just hung out. I did this, and online classes, and showed pictures to host brother and sister, and gave them more Orichoko, aaaand I can't remember anything else. OOH and we also figured out my kanji name. For gym clothes, since I am buying new ones, I get to have my name printed on, and my host mom recommended that I don't use katakana so that I can actually like, have a Japanese meaning which would be pretty amazing. Yuki and host mom really liked: 織羽 instead of just regular phonetic オリバー, and I really liked/like it too, SOOOO that is my new kanji name!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The meaning is something like, 'Weaving Wings', which to me sounds like something that could have a TON of hidden symbolic meaning which is pretty amazing. My host brother said I should use 檻馬, which means 'Caged Horse' or 'Horse in Cage' and I was all like "no" because that is a suckish meaning, and my host mom couldn't stop laughing. In the picture you see Shota writing my name in Kanji.

My host sister is super skilled at Calligraphy/Shodo as mentioned before, and so seeing her write my name was quite amazing. Much appreciated.

Soo, today so far has been very lax. We went to the Shiyakusho/City Municipal Office to register me as an alien/foreigner, and besides that we haven't really done much. I just had a bowl of udon which was wonderful, and I have kind of been half asleep the whole day. The weather is also incredibly dreary and gray and depressing, and I am insanely tired, so, the day has been pretty slow. Host dad says that Osaka weather is very 'kurejii' (crazy) and changes a lot, so, hopefully tomorrow will be super sunny!!! I kind of love rainy weather though. It's relaxing, but this is like stormy gray rainy weather (and the wind is super cold), so, it isn't really relaxing. Totally ok though. I have been doing quite a bunch lately, so I appreciate today. I also have constantly been asking host mom if she needs help cooking and all that, and she appreciates me asking a ton but doesn't want me to help. SO, a rule to any prospective exchange students: always be willing to help. It's a super easy thing to do and makes your host mom amazingly happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111 (also try putting away everyone's dishes for them before they put them away themselves ;);D You can have a kindness battle [kind of kidding])

Hmm...talk later. BYE!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Aaaah, Oliveeer!
    Your family and area and school and life sound so crazy nice! Jealous to the max, lol.
    And from your pics, it looks like the japanese costco is almost exactly like the american costco. The picture of all the people near the sushi section looks EXACTLY (like, it was weird) like the meat section here. We'll go to costco sometime, I'll show you.

    Can't wait to hear more from yooooou.
    (miss you too ;-;)

  2. Wow Oliver, it sounds like things are going great! Your host family sounds really supportive and kind, especially your host mom. Also, the dogs are gorgeous, I kind of want them. Not creepy, I swear.
    It's good to know you're happy so far, and enjoying your time in Japan. I hope your classes aren't too hard, and show those teacher what a hard working student you really are!
    Wising you well


  3. Wow Oliver, it sounds like things are going great! Your host family sounds really supportive and kind, especially your host mom. Also, the dogs are gorgeous, I kind of want them. Not creepy, I swear.
    It's good to know you're happy so far, and enjoying your time in Japan. I hope your classes aren't too hard, and show those teacher what a hard working student you really are!
    Wising you well


  4. (double post somehow? Sorry)

  5. I am suuuper happy for you. When you get your uniform can you post pictures of you in it? Reading your blog is super exciting and makes me desperately want to be in Japan too. :P


  6. Yo, yo! Man, you're in Japan now? Make the most of bukatsu! Best part of this country AND ARGHH KEYBOARD LET ME TYPE PROPERLY yeah anyways I was gunna join Judo then I found out the only members were two boys and I was like ... yeah no.

    Reading this is so natsukashii-- bringing me back to my first month in Japan. sometimes i wish I could do it all again ya know. XD


    oh, and btw, this is kiki (monkey-kid from CS)

  7. Hi, my name is Heidi Crawford. I was an exchange student to Japan in 2007. I only went for 6 weeks but I had many friends go for a year. I am so glad that I had a chance to read this blog. It reminds me so much of my Asian blog! Keep writing and I hope you have a wonderful trip!