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I'm in Toyama now which is more countryside than Osaka. Yesterday I went out with my friend Haruka and her mom for a bit in the evening. We walked/played with the dog and (legally) picked flowers from a garden. At night, Haruka's mom drove us to see fireflies!! I had seen one firefly before at Ishibashi Shopping Street near my home in Osaka and was already really excited then. This time, we went to the river and I saw many fireflies!! So pretty. It was the first time in my life seeing many fireflies. They were like stars in bushes! I have always enjoyed looking at stars. I always feel in awe looking up at the sky on a starry night. Seeing fireflies felt like that. Haruka put a firefly in my hand and that was cool too. I got to see a firefly really up close. (^_^)

When they fly, they glow sometimes and not at other times. Haruka's mom said that Japanese people believe that fireflies fly between the real world and the world of the dead. When they are not glowing (when we can't see them) they are supposedly on the other side.

Really grateful to Haruka's mom for driving and taking me along!

Yesterday, I visited Crossland Tower and was a guest on my sister's English-teaching TV show. I think it will be broadcast later this month. I also visited the Oyabe City Hall and met Nance's co-workers. I found out that there is a cafeteria for workers in the basement of the City Hall. It was closed but there were vending machines for drinks.

Things I worked on yesterday: errands, Human Sciences research, translation of journal abstract related to family members of suicide victims, speech.

Lot of things to do...

Had some problems sleeping last night. A few days ago Hanako (friend from Nagoya) told some scary stories in the car. She had seen really scary supernatural things and was telling about them. I don't want to repeat the stories to anyone. They are too frightening. I might be scared of the dark for a while. Trying not to be, but feel a little freaked out to be alone sometimes.

JR bus fire

A few weeks ago, I was on a JR (Japan Railways) highway bus to Tokyo. Less than one hour into the trip, everyone on the bus and I smelled something burning. There was an announcement that we were at a rest stop and that everyone should take valuables with them. Then suddenly the driver came on the intercom and yelled "kasai" (fire) and that everyone should evacuate the bus! Everyone was really scared the bus would blow up. I was on the second floor of the bus. It was really hard to move as everyone was scrambling for the exit. Bus fire!Collapse )

Earthquake Relief

At Umeda yesterday there were a lot of young people raising money for a relief fund for the big earthquake in China. They held boxes and signs and bowed and yelled "Yoroshiku Onegashimasu." (Rough translation: "We ask you a favor.") I really appreciate their efforts. It was a rainy day and everything. Of course I donated and actually a lot of people did too. I'm glad when people take care of each other. I'm grateful that I wasn't in the earthquake myself, and that I have no family members there. Being a Chinese earthquake, the situation really hits close to home. I truly hope that everyone in the region will be OK soon.

Sayonara Ticket Pia?

Yesterday I got up really early and lined up in front of Ticket Pia at Hep Five in Umeda. Got good seats to see "Junjou," a traditional Japanese play!! (^_^) I recognize all the Ticket Pia employees and I think they know me pretty well. At the end of my purchase, an employee (one of the first people I ever talked to when I was buying tickets in summer) said 「いつも有難うございます。」(Roughly translated: "Thank you for your continued business.")

I felt a little sad yesterday as I left the Ticket Pia, because I don't think I will be visiting Ticket Pia again this year. I thought about how in the beginning I used to be confused about the store's opening hours and location. I'm not planning to buy anything from them since I'll be leaving Japan soon...(T_T) If I'm sad about visiting Ticket Pia for the last time, I can only imagine how I'll feel on my last day of classes at Osaka University, or the last time riding the train to Kobe, or when I say goodbye to Mori-san at the airport. I am really going to miss Japan!! Fortunately, I think I will be able to visit Japan and everyone here in the future...

Maiko Taiken

Also, when my sister came to visit, we went to Kyoto and dressed up as maiko (apprentices of geisha)! I really have to thank Mother T. and Father T. I am friends with the whole T. family. Father T drove us to Kyoto and both Mother and Father helped us take a lot of pictures. It was fun to feel like a maiko. Because we were students, there was a student discount and the cost was only 7300 yen. We took a few pics in the studio and then we got to walk around Kiyomizu Temple for about one hour as maiko. A lot of people crowded around us and took pictures of us/ with us. I felt as popular as Mickey Mouse at Disneyland! or maybe some kind of star...I think my sister and I were pretty convincing. A lot of people thought we were real maiko. One Japanese guy came up to me and asked if I was studying with "--Sensei" (I think that was the name of a maiko teacher.) It was also really amusing to see Chinese and American tourists struggling to talk to us in Japanese or in English with large gestures. Nance and I never answered in English. I never directly said "I am a real maiko," but we only talked in soft, polite Japanese and in short sentences so as not to give anything away. Haha...we didn't want tourists to be disappointed that we weren't real maiko. It was so fun and I think everyone had a good time. One interesting thing about pretending to be a Japanese maiko was that we could hear tourists' real thoughts. One Hong Kong tourist said (in Cantonese) that my sister was fat! LOL. My sister and I started laughing REALLY hard, and I'm sure nobody knew what was going on with the maiko. It wasn't graceful to laugh like that, but we just thought it was too funny. Took a lot of memorable pictures. I will cherish those photos forever. They are just so "Japan"!

After that we went to Golden Pavilion and then out to dinner with the T. family! Review of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA the movie!Collapse )
Other things I did during Spring Break:
Went to Tennoji Zoo and an arboretum with friends from school.

Went to Universal Studios Japan with my sister. Rode on the "Hollywood Dream" rollercoaster four times there. :D We also rode on "Jurassic Park" about four times. I think many of the rides were a little different from the US versions. "Jaws" was surprisingly really fun!

Visited Tennoji Park with my sister to look at sakura. A strange old man started talking to us which was kind of scary at first, but it got really interesting after a while. He was telling us that we should study hard and get skills. He told us that a job in sales would be a horrible idea. He said that if we worked hard, maybe someday we would get to leave Japan and travel abroad (!)...I thought he was pretty nice. Maybe he just didn't have a lot of people to talk to usually. He talked to us for about one-and-a-half hours...Read about Calamity Jane!Collapse )

Kimono fun 2

Haven't written here in a long time. (>_<) Sorry to all my readers. I am very grateful for your visits! (^_^) I've just been busy with a lot of things at school. Also, my computer has been crashing and freezing a lot. I contacted Dell about this but things are quite complicated because I have an American account/ model but I am living in Japan now. I tried to email and chat with a Dell Japan representative but was rejected today. but Dell in America turned me over to Dell Japan...aargh. Oh well this will get resolved in time.

I still wasn't done talking about Spring break. :) I went to Kyoto with Mori-san's nephew Daiki! and we went in kimono's! When I visited the Kyoto National Museum on my own I saw flyers for a special campaign that was going on in Kyoto. On certain days, people dressed in kimono could enter Kyoto attractions (like museums, heritage sites, and gardens) for free! What a great deal! and subways and buses within Kyoto would also be free! Where I went!Collapse )

March 16th-Kimono fun 1

I was telling Mori-san (my Rotary host counselor) that I had seen Saotome Taichi’s Japanese dance performance and that I wished I could wear a pretty kimono too. XD
Mori-san said that his mom was a Japanese dance teacher and that she had a lot of kimonos at home. He got permission from his mom, so on Sunday, March 16th I visited his mom’s house! Mori-san’s mom was in a kimono. I was a bit confused about what to call her, and Mori-san said it would be good to call her “obaachan” (“Granny”). I also met with Mori-san’s sister and his nephew and niece!More about kimono dress-up!Collapse )

March 15th: Rotary PSC party at Asahi Dry

My semester at Handai (Osaka University) has started!! The start of the school year in Japan is April to coincide with the blooming of sakura. That’s something I just learned this week! I didn’t get a chance to write about Spring Break earlier, so I’ll make a quick summary now of all the fun stuff that happened! I’ll write a few entries on Spring Break. (^_^)

March 15. Rotary PSC party at Asahi Dry (beer hall) in Umeda. Many scholarship recipients attended, but I was the only Ambassadorial Scholar from America. GSE teams and scholars back in Osaka after studying abroad gave presentations. Some presentations included interesting slideshows!

Mori-san and I sat across from Rotarians from Minoh-City. They have club meetings close to where I live, so I’ll be visiting their club to give a speech some time in the near future. Ben, Cultural Scholar from Austria, was also at my table, but I couldn’t talk to him much since he was quite far away. Sadly, it was Ben’s last Rotary meeting, as his scholarship period was ending.

Several scholars and one or two Rotarians performed! There were classical piano and opera performances. Also, Ben is a professional musician and songwriter, so he wrote an original song for Rotary! He sang about his experiences and it was a great song with meaningful lyrics. For more of Ben’s music, please visit www.benshmusic.com. :D
More about the party!Collapse )

Hanami with PSC Friends!

Today I went hanami (flower-viewing) with friends from PSC (the Rotary Past Scholars' Club)! It was really fun! All the sakura (cherry blossoms) are in full-bloom now so we decided to go to the park near Osaka Castle to enjoy the flowers. Nakahara-san organized the whole thing and I really appreciated it!

I met up with Nakahara-san at Umeda Station, and we rode the train together to Osaka Castle and met up with Hebi in the station. The flowers in the park around the castle were really beautiful. There were a lot of people and the line to the ladies' room was really long!! There were a lot of food booths selling castellas and Osaka food. We all bought some food and met up with Nagira-san. We then headed over to the main park and Nakahara-san bought us all admission tickets. :) More Hanami!Collapse )