Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Walking Around Ikeda----Experiencing アバター (Abataa - Avatar) 2/21 - 2/22



So I apologize for being so slow with my posts and updates. This post is about 3/21, so I probs forgot a bunch BUUTTT I will try to remember as much as possible as I write, so, yeah. I will also be updating posts whenever I get sudden bursts of random memories and such. ANYWAY,

I woke up sometime around noon, which was actually incredibly early for me as I usually get up quite a bit later than that BUUTT I am currently trying to change my sleeping hours to a more realistic and polite schedule. My family/Japan currently has several days of vacation though, so everything is pretty lax. My host brother is actually just as bad/nocturnal with his sleeping, so I’m not alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I ate breakfast/lunch with my host brother, who then then skateboarded off to go hang out with friends that I would actually surprisingly run into later on in the day unexpectedly. SO, I actually spent the whole day with my host dad which was pretty awesomely amazing because he is a pretty awesomely amazing host dad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My host-grandmother/obaachan actually lives right next door, in this absolutely gorgeous traditional Japanese home that smells like incense on the inside which.is.awesome, and we went to see her immediately after breakfast/lunch. The houses are kind of connected in the back, or in other words it takes like 1 step to get into obaachan’s house from my host-house, which is super convenient and awesome. We walked into her house from the back door which I guess is something she doesn’t appreciate, because she scolded my host dad for doing it (host dad is obaachan’s son) which was funny. She doesn’t speak a word of English, but I told her I speak a teeny bit of Japanese and she immediately took that as an indication of me being super fluent in Japanese and started speaking in slightly rapid fire Osaka-ben which I kind of, didn’t understand at all. It was all perfectly ok though, because, she is hilarious, and very grandma-like, in the sense that she gave me a ton of Japanese cookies and was super sweet. She told me that, 20 years ago, she hosted an Australian girl for 5 months named Jenny, and Jenny is now married to a Japanese man and lives in Perth, Australia. She also has a giant wombat stuffed animal and she showed that to me as well. Up until then I actually had no idea what a wombat looked like, so that was an enriching experience. OMG her house was so gorgeous toooo!!!!!!! The house was incredibly traditional Japanese-like, with a semi-large altar in one room, incense everywhere, tatami floors in every room and an insanely gorgeous traditional Japanese garden. Next time I go over I will most definitely take pictures. I was impressed, impressed over already super impressed because of my host family’s house (HEATED FLOORS>

After that excursion, we went one step back into the host-house, my host dad and I sat for maybe like 5 seconds, and then he was all like “let me show you Ikeda city!”, and I said “yeah!” and we walked/took trains around the city which was super amazing!!!!! I couldn’t BELIEVE how much there is in the city. I had expected the city to be nothing but a suburb of houses housing 120,000 people BUUUUT I was totally wrong. The city is most definitely not touristy, but there is a ton to see and do. There are several museums and quite a ton of parks all over the place which feels super homey, and there is this mountain in the center of the city called Satsukiyama, my host mom said it’s just a hill though. She went all like “NO. Satsukiyama is HIRU (hill)”, which was really funny. I like Satsukiyama a lot—very calm and when the wind blows all the trees swish all over the place which looks really cool.

So. My host dad and I walked along several narrow streets (in the pictures you can kind of see what their area looks like. Unlike what these pictures show however, my host-house is at the end of this extremely narrow little road that is basically hidden from the rest of society. Totally ok though. I LOOVE their location. I will soon provide more pictures/video) to this covered shopping arcade-shopping areas which I remember very well from Japan when I came last summer. I looooove these shopping arcades. They are so incredibly convenient, the store names are wonderful examples of awesome ‘Engrish’, and the background music is super catchy. Also to note, I was pretty surprised that I didn’t notice a single non-Asian the whole day. I saw tons of people because Japan is busy and dense with human bodies, but not a single Caucasian person. THUS, I received a ton of stares. Like, the kinds of stares you receive in places like Matsuyama on Shikoku where foreigners are nonexistent. Usually I am ok with stares but it diiiid get a teeny bit awkward after a while. Some of the teenagers would stare at me, and continue to stare at me when I started to kind-of-stare at them, and when they passed me along a sidewalk, I would look back at them and sometimes they were still staring at me. YEAH, like THAT much. And that happened more than once too..Also when we took the Hankyu train to a different part of Ikeda (I took a picture of our local station. It's actually pretty big and has a modern shopping mall attached, and one of the exits is connected to a covered shopping arcade. I also took a picture of the houses of Ikeda with some hills in the background. Super peaceful and pretty), several of the fellow train-riders would stare a lot…I was surprised, and sometimes kind of scared. But it was all good, just something I may have to get used to. But SEERIOOUUSLY the stares totally surprised me (and still kind of do). I didn’t hear anyone talk about me in Japanese (or any other language) though. I was KIND OF hoping someone would (and that I would hear/be able to understand them) just so that I could eavesdrop c: teehee.

OH, something I learned about my host dad. HE MAKES INTERACTIVE BOARDS! When I called my host mom several months ago, I somehow thought she had told me that he works at a bank. I was totally wrong though, and I actually still don’t really understand what he does, but apparently one of the things he makes is INTERACTIVE BOARDS! Like, in this picture you can see random animals and buildings of Ikeda, and you press one of the buttons, and this traditional Japanese music plays while this enthusiastic man explains the picture. My host dad said he “made” this particular board. He also apparently made a map in one of the Ikeda city information pamphlets. He also apparently had something to do with cleaning dirty buildings. I am kind of very confused, but eventually I should be able to figure out Mr. Toshiyuki’s shigotoooo (job).

Hmmmmm (I am trying super hard to remember everything that happened. Here is a picture of Satsukiyama btw)…I noticed that there is a ton of shopping in this city. We went to one of several large department stores located throughout the area (This is random, but my host family owns three tiny dogs and they are always constantly licking the tatami mats in the house. I am watching Nana doing it now). There is also this famous statue named Billiten (picture of Billiten and I), designed by an American guy. If you rub his feet, you shall be blessed with good luck. He looks pretty awesome c: There is also a replica of a castle in the city which looks awesome (I didn’t take a picture though, for some strange reason). I’ll eventually get a picture of it. OH! ALSO, there are wombats EEEEVERYWHERE. Not real ones, but there are pictures of wombats, cartoon wombats, stuffed animal wombats etc. all over the place. Wombats are like, Ikeda city’s mascot animal. LITERALLY, everywhere.

We also went to a Hyakken/Hyaku En/100 Yen store which was amazing. I had heard good things about them from a bunch of people, and seriously, 100 Yen stores are like the definition of convenient. They have everything, and it is super cheap. I would have taken pictures but I don’t think picture taking was allowed (the store had so much amazing “engrish”). There was a chain restaurant named “Friendly!” nearby as well which I remembered from my visit to Japan last summer. I also bumped into Shota and his friends right after leaving the 100 Yen store who were skateboarding/socializing outside the train station. Apparently he and his friends had dropped by the house to come hang out with me, but I had left already with host dad, BUUUTTT it’s all good cause I bumped into them NOW! They were really awesome and friendly and wanted a picture with me as seen here. The one to the left loves baseball which is why his hair is so short (according to host mom), host brother is in the middle, host brother’s best friend is to the right of host brother. I feel terrible right now though because I forgot their names, and I suck with names, so even if they told me their names I would probably still not remember for a while BUUUUTTT..things shall work out. I will work incredibly hard to remember people’s names here. !!!!!!!!! OH, I also met several college students who know my host dad, and we met up in covered shopping arcade. They were super friendly too. People I have met have been, in general, very friendly. Wonderful-ness :D

Hmmm…I also had Takoyaki for the first time, and it was delicious!!!!! I love Osaka “jyankii fuudzu” (junk food)!!!!!!!! We had curry for dinner, family taught me some Osaka-ben (Osaka dialect) and host mom explained to me what ‘Kousa’ is. Kousa is yellow sand from China, and apparently there has been a lot of it recently. The sand makes laundry really sandy and heavy when being dried outside, so she apologized for having to wash my clothing twice. I was totally ok with it though BECAUSE with MY terrible body odor, my clothing would probably need to be washed…a lot. After all that, the family watched some game shows which was obviously HILARIOUS. We saw a bit of Manzen, which is Osaka comedy where two male comedians just, do stuff, and it is hilarious. We also watched Pirates of the Carribean (first one) on T.V. That was great. I tried introducing Pirate Language to the family through the movie but it didn’t work out too well…that’s ok though. I should be able to find another opportunity to introduce Pirate Language.

SO, that was 2/21. 2/22, I woke up and went to see Avatar in 3D with my host brother. WOOOOO I EXPERIENCED A JAPANESE MOVIE THEATER!!!! Aaahh Japanese movie theaters are super expensive. The food is insane. They don’t really offer much, but a medium popcorn is like 7 dollars and it isn’t very big in comparison to an Amurican medium size. Host brother and I were also 22 dollars each, which is kind of insane. Since our movie was 3D it was 22 dollars, though usually we are $18 each. Host mom paid for me which was super awesome of her. SO, we saw Avatar, and I was the only foreigner in the entire building (The building is/was huge: 18 theaters. I also think I am the only foreigner within like 100 miles), I got my share of stares (some lasting unnecessarily long), and also noticed that there is assigned seating, very unlike Amurica where people have like bitc* fights over seats, except that actually never happens…at least in Vermont it doesn’t. Our theater was completely full and my seat was B18, second row from the top, YAAY!!!!! I had not seen Avatar yet so this was pretty awesome. The movie was also in English with Japanese subs, which I appreciated BECAUSE the Japanese could then hear the various dialects, and I could then hear the English version, and then Shota could practice English, haha. Except, it was super difficult for him, because the movie had a ton of random Amurican slang that would be kind of hard to understand, and the Japanese subs were super literal and bland in comparison to the English being spoken, unfortunately. Or maybe the Japanese had a ton more meaning, but I just didn’t understand it. Either way, the languages differed. Like “sounds good sir” was translated as “onegaishimasu” for Japanese which means ‘please’. Anyway, the movie was amazing. I am so glad I finally saw it!!!!!!!!! The animation was absolutely amazing, and I completely freaked out when the black panther looking thing jumped out from the trees when Jake encountered those triceratops looking things, and then Jake ran away and the black panther looking thing is chasing him, and then he jumps off a cliff/waterfall thing and the girl almost shoots an arrow but then a jellyfish looking thing lands on her arrow and so she doesn’t shoot her arrow…yeah that was a really scary part of the film. I totally embarrassed myself while everyone else watched the movie completely contently. I actually freaked out quite a few times throughout the movie, and I couldn’t laugh with my obnoxious laugh like I usually do during movies because EVERYONE would have gotten mad and stared at me. People would have done the same in Amurica but I wouldn’t care. Being the super obnoxious foreigner in Japan doesn’t sound like a cool label to have unfortunately L I am noticing that my laugh is pretty much completely forbidden throughout most of Japan, but that is ok. I will find a location where I can laugh my obnoxious laugh, so that I won’t lose it. Maybe I can find a deserted park or deserted location somewhere in Japan where I can just..laugh. Now I am excited. I must find this place.

OK, so this is what I recall from the past two days. If I suddenly have a spurt of memory regarding these two days, I will most definitely update this post. So, if you have time, reading this blog multiple times may be worthwhile J



  1. Oliver! It sounds like you are having an AMAZING time in Japan, and Japan sounds awesome! I love all of the pictures and videos :)
    I hope you have TONS more fun in Japan, but I can't wait until you come back.
    ~Natalie Moffett

  2. Bah! Japan sounds AMAZING. I suuuuper jealous but really excited for you. I love reading your blog, it is like being in Japan myself.
    --Mia :D