Today there was some kind of feast in our street! I went there this morning, and I was finally able to drink apple juice, which I wanted to drink since the day that I was in the airport. So I've waited a long time to drink that. We also had popcorn, and my host brother was complaining how much salt there was in there, and I informed him that it's nothing compared to popcorn in the Netherlands. This is another great example that food in Japan doesn't have such a strong taste, and that people have a stronger sensibility to tastes, which is good and probably better for their health than the stuff that we eat.
I also had 流しそうめん (nagashisoumen), which are fine white noodles served flowing in a small flume. If someone has a nice video to show the readers what it is, then please be more than welcome to post it here.
A last thing that I want to say, is that today was the first day in Japan that I haven't boarded a metro. It's crazy that people use it so much! I may have mentioned this before, but I'll say it again. My road to school is like 10 km (6.2137119224 miles for you Americans), and I bet that a lot of students have it worse than I. For me it takes like 50~60 minutes. For me it's crazy, because in the Netherlands, I just mount on my bike and go to school in 15 minutes. And if I wake up late, there is always a possibility that I can make it to school. I had once 12 minutes between waking up, and being in my classroom. But if that'd happen here in Japan, I'd be virtually decapitated.
Today was a day full of adventure and fun dear readers. ~
We went to Nara today! We went through a tunnel under a big mountain between Osaka and Nara. We started by feeding deers, and anyone who has ever seen Japanese deers, knows how dangerous they are. I'll explain the concept: There is a road which is inhabited by deers. And on that road, there are a few stands where grandmas sell food you can feed to the deers for 150 yen, and the second you buy it, you'll get constantly assaulted by the deers around you, so that you have to run for your life while you're feeding them and accidentally bump into people, because you're looking backwards, until the food is eaten and then you're not interesting anymore.
And you see, there is a thing I don't get here. How are those grandmas, not assaulted and eaten alive by those deers? I don't get it, I really don't. So if someone can explain that to me please, then you're very, very welcome to post why you think it is so.
Then we proceeded to visit the 大仏(daibutsu), which is a famous and big Buddha in Nara. And then I and my hostbrother mounted some kind of chariot, and were toured around by a poor guy who had to pull us through the city for half an hour. Then we went to eat a lot of various things, like rice in fricking tea, ricecake, iced grean tea together with compressed milk and a lot of candy. And I'm so sorry that I write this so quickly, but it's because I don't want to make this too long. xD And I do have pictures this time! I'll collect my courage one day, and do my best to post them here, but now it's way too late for that.
Oh! There is something I forgot to tell you. Yesterday, when I just finished writing the blog, I lied down in my bed, ready to sleep, when suddenly, I felt liquid in my nose. And I was like 'no, please, no... Frick!' Because it was a nosebleed. I succeeded to not make my bed red, but I did fill two bins in my room with blood, and when it finished I washed my nose and hands, so that I wouldn't look as if I just had murdered a whole class of children, and went to sleep.
And then this evening, we went to eat dinner in a restaurant, and the moment we left the house, yep, my nose started to bleed. So after I was laughed at by everyone (in a fun way and including the grandmother), my hostmother took a package of tissues and gave it to me. And I bleed the whole way to the restaurant, and it very conveniently finished when I sat down. And we proceeded to eat a lot of random stuff, and I drank tomato juice.
Yeah, I did know that part of the culture. And no it wasn't so extreme. And honestly, I think they laughed rather because of the beautiful timing of the nosebleed than that I was randomly attracted to something or someone in an empty street.
I tried Kendo a few times and really didn't like it. I found the footwork too restrictive (and actually kind of silly), for one thing, and also didn't like the limitation to 3 strikes (all coming from the same place) and a thrust. I'm now practicing a style called 刀道 which is more similar to Iaido than Kendo, and liking it much, much better. It doesn't have the competitive matches of Kendo, but it's openn to a lot more movement, strikes, etc.
Today I had the last full day of school, I was afraid I'd get a nosebleed in the train or at school, but I'm happy Í didn't. After school, I had calligraphy today. I'm horrible at it, but it's okay, I was able to talk to the people there, and try to draw a few random characters, mostly the chicken-character. I'm still amazed at how even the teachers are very friendly here. It's too bad that tomorrow will be the ending ceremony.
Speaking about ending ceremonies... I have to make a speech for tomorrow, and I haven't even started yet! I'm so dead, but it's okay. I'll try to do it in all the six languages that I can properly talk, plus a bit of Chinese maybe. But I'll keep this short, I have to write my speech xD, goodnight~!
Today was the ending ceremony at school, and saying that it was stressing is an understatement. But I did succeed at reciting my speech in front of the whole school. I did a speech in Japanese, and then proceeded by sayinng the same thing in 5 more languages, and then saying xiè xiè. The principal personally gave me a present, and I was very surprised when he bowed lower than I could physically bow myself.
A little thing I have to say before this, there is one thing I like to drink that doesn't exist in the Netherlands, and that is Pocari Sweat, mainly because the 'interesting' name, and all my classmates knew that. So this morning one of the boys came to my table and dropped a bag of 9 BOTTLES of that stuff. And then I got a tenth one from someone else. And then the class proceeded by giving collectively a board, where all of the students wrote a little paper on it. It was so cute, I didn't even know what to say!
And in the evening, my host mother, grandmother and myself went to some kind of local festival, where I did a lot of different things. One of the first things was shooting at a stand. And boy, I was prepared. Since the last time I did that, I figured out that the pistol was slightly divergent, so I decided to pay a lot of attention. The first time the bullet went too quickly for me. The second time, I aimed for the middle, and I saw the bullet going to the right, and above the middle. So the next time I went a bit lower and to the left, and I succeeded. At least, I would have, but it wasn't strong enough to make it completely fall. So I tried it multiple times, but it didn't want to fall down, so next time I'll figure something out to make my shots stronger. The next thing I did was kingyosukui. Kingyosukui is something where you have to fish goldfish with a very thin paper, and I've heard of it and have been warned that it was very difficult, and people usually succeed to fish three of them before the paper breaks. I was mentally prepared and succeeded to fish 8 of them!
Today not a lot happened and I'm very tired, so I'll just tell what happened today.
Well, today I had kendo, and spoke with another exchange student for half an hour. He's from Thailand, and I enjoyed talking to him. Then when I returned home, I slept because I really needed that. xD
Today I had kendo again, and I noticed I was getting better at it. I don't have to think so much as in the beginning anymore. I still have to be better at a lot of things, but I'm not as unskilled as the first day. I also haven't done anki for like 6 days, so I did that as well. And I heared that tomorrow we'll go somewhere, though I'm not sure where. So tomorrow I'll be able to write a bit more than these days.
Another thing that I found interesting: In the train, people usually do something on their phone to avoid eye-contact because that is quite awkward. But I was fairly surprised when I saw a woman in her 90's use an iPhone for some kind of random game teenagers usually play. That like never occurs in the Netherlands, so that was certainly an interesting thing to behold.
This morning I did kendo again(, sorry for being so boring xD). And once more, I've noticed that it's getting easier. I can slam my foot without dying of pain every single time and I'm less embarassed when I shout 'screams of war', or whatever you'd like to call them. The teacher will even try to find armour for me to wear before I go back to the Netherlands. He isn't sure whether it'll work out, but he's going to try, so that'd be interesting.
Then when I got home, we went to another place in Osaka, and we started to eat. I managed to eat way more than I would have managed to eat when I was in the Netherlands. So that probably means that I'm not being as lazy as in the Netherlands, so that's good.
Another thing I have to tell you before we can continue this story, is that one of the reasons that I started learning Japanese is that I wanted to play a game I've played when I was younger, that game being Phoenix Wright. And the 6th game is only available in Japan, so that was one of my reasons to learn Japanese. When I was like 7 I tried to play it in French, which was hard, because I could only speak in French, and not read. But I succeeded to finish the first three cases back then. And then two years ago, when I was 12, I started and finished the three first games in English in one summer. And now I decided to look for the Japanese versions of the first three games as well.
So we suddenly entered a part of the city where the otaku culture roamed. (otaku is a Japanese word for someone who has an obsession with something, usually anime or manga.) And I saw different stores, some of them being quite inappropriate by having body pillows everywhere. But we finally found a store where they selled DS games, so we entered that store. It was a big store, but they apparently only had the 6th game, and I first wanted the first 3 games, because I want to build up the story again, and this time in Japanese. And on top of that it was for the 3DS, which I don't have because I haven't played with a DS for a very long time. (two years ago I played that game on my iPad) Then we entered a smaller store, but again, it wasn't there. So I and my hostfamily stood in front of the store, ready to go to different shops for different things, when I recognized the logo of the game, and wanted to shout 'yatta!' (I did it!), but didn't because I ddin't want to bother people. It all the first three games, but for the 3DS. But I still decided to buy it, because I couldn't really miss that opportunity. And I can maybe buy a 3DS when my Japanese gets good enough to play this game, or I'll try to borrow it from friends.
Then we proceded to go shopping and going home, then I did anki, because I didn't want it to pile up again, like last week. And I'm happy I had something to write today, even though it wasn't so much about Japan and rather about my life experiences with a game that is around as old as I am.
So this morning I went to the calligraphy club as well, and even though I promised yesterday to write that crazy kanji on the big paper yesterday, I didn't do it because I already have enough difficulties writing normal sized difficult kanji. So I wrote chicken (鶏) a few times, then lovely (麗), and then gloom (鬱). The kanji I write look quite very pixeled though. That's probably because I've learned all the kanji by using Anki, and Anki, on my computer at least, shows very pixeled kanji, and I learned them by copying those.
Then I was taught a technique. First of all, if the kanji is dividable in two halfs, you can make the left side a bit smaller than the right side, and it'll look more balanced.
Then after that I asked whether I could try the same thing as the other students were doing at that time. They were namely copying orange examples of random old Chinese characters the teacher wrote. It was very difficult, and I was copying the same paper like 10 times. And I wasn't visually satisfied by what I wrote down, but hey, that's okay, because I'm a beginner.
And for anyone wondering, this evening we ate beef. xD
Today I did kendo, and students from another high school came to train together with us. I was a bit afraid that I'd be too unskillful. And because of that I decided to to a lot more my best than usually. And except for not understanding what to do until I saw someone else do it, I did pretty well. But because we train barefoot, my feet start seriously hurting, which I'm not really happy about, but okay, I'll survive that pain for a few more weeks.
Then I went to talk a bit with the calligraphy teacher before I got home, and I got invited to go with the people of the calligraphy club to an exhibition of calligraphy in Kyoto a few days before I go back to the Netherlands. So that's something I'm looking forward to as well.
When I got home I was quite tired and slept for three hours. I often take naps here in Japan, because I always sleep 6 hours or less, usually 5 and a half to be exact. So naps are necessary.
And again, for anyone wondering, we ate chicken for dinner. xD
Since you're traveling with Dutch, I'm curious to know if you visted Haus ten Bosch. I know a Dutch guy who was hired to work there and ended up staying in Japan. It must be a surreal place for a Dutch person to visit.
Today during kendo I started to feel that it is getting a bit more natural. And I got compliments that I was getting better, so that's very good. And I'm starting to be friends with some of the people that do kendo, so joining clubs does really help you to get friends. In the beginning I wasn't too sure about that for some reason, but here I go. Today after kendo, some of my new friends and I made a group on LINE, which was meant to be an English group, but we talk about various random stuff.
Then when I was going back to home, I sat down on a seat and then I saw an old man walk in the train. And I decided to stand up and give my seat to him. Before I could decide how to form my formal sentence he said 'sankyuu' (thank you, but then with Japanese pronunciation). And I was quite happy I was able to make someone else happy. It is really a great feeling if I can actually help someone, especially if I had to do so little for it. Too bad that there aren't as much opportunities to make people happy where I live. After a few stations he got up from his seat, said 'sankyuu verii machi' (thank you very much, but then with Japanese pronunciation), and then he disembarked from the train.
Today I woke up, and I and my host brother went to a place called Water Run (ウォーターラン). We met with one of his friends and entered that event. It's some kind of water world, where they have people perform musical stuff and there is a constant water battle between the visitors.
That was pretty nice, but here comes the drawback. I got my first sunburn ever. I never got a sunburn because I don't leave the house a lot, especially if it's warm, because I usually don't like warm weather. But today I was outside for a lot of hours and it was like around 35 degrees celcius probably. So here is my first sunburn, and it's not a great feeling. I can't wait until I moult like a snake...
Tomorrow I won't have kendo, but the day after that I'll have my last kendo lesson. I'm curious how annoying my sunburn will be. xD