Week 11: Crepes and Kraft Mac & Cheese

November 14, 2016

1I appreciate Patrik so much. I’m so used to drinking five cups of coffee at Richmond because it’s so easily accessible so I appreciate Patrik letting me make coffee in his room. I was having a hard time staying up in my International Trade class so Patrik brought me a cup of coffee during my class break, before my History of Pre-Modern Japan class. やさしいね〜 (he’s very kind, huh?)!

2-1
Isabella and Annabelle finished writing their speech about their Korean trip for JPL100 and I finished my grammar homework for JPL300 and this was the outcome. We were all very tired so we continued to hang out in Annabelle’s room in Sakura Village. I was also messing with my camera a bit. Trying new lightings and what not.


Do you all remember the Draw Something app that came out maybe…four years ago? Well, Griff, Patrik, and I were hanging out in the Komachi Lobby and rediscovered the game. Some of our other friends joined in and we soon found out that Griff is actually Picasso. How do you even draw that nice of a toilet and blender? I want his drawing skills.

6.jpg
Griff even drew me…I don’t have a neck but it’s still a pretty good drawing considering he drew me with only his index finger on his small screen.


We had our first snow this past week. I still can’t believe the snow stuck. It’s only the beginning of November. I woke up and heard the hail hitting the ground and immediately fell back into bed…very unwilling to walk outside in the cold. Thankfully I bought a winter jacket from UNIQLO though and it actually keeps me very warm. Now I have to buy some snow boots though or else I’m going to injure myself.

109
Saturday, a group of us took the bus to AEON to eat lunch then walked over to Yotsugoya station to head into Akita City. I had the directions up on Google maps but closed the app when I realized where the train station was…you could see it in the distance. Unfortunately, the rode split into two and we didn’t know which road to take. Everyone yelled at me for closing the app then proceeded to split up. Patrik, Griff, and I walked on a path that led into the fields while Isabella, Annabell, and Tristan took the actual road. We ended up meeting up five minutes later as the roads met up! We made it to the station five minutes to spare before the train arrived.


You wouldn’t believe this but we actually ended up getting on the wrong train. It took us in the opposite direction. That’s the life of AIU international students: reading the schedule wrong and getting on the wrong train/bus. The train took us to Wada Station so we had to wait there for an hour before the train came to take us to Akita. It was fine though. We listened to some music on Patrik’s speakers and took a couple videos of us doing the mannequin challenge. If you don’t know what it is just look it up online and it should pop up as it’s trending right now. We had to retake one shot at least 10 times because I couldn’t stop laughing. Anyways, we went into the city and went to Karaoke for about 3-4 hours. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures but just know we sang our hearts out to 80s music and Michael Jackson songs. We took the last train from Akita to Wada Station and walked for an hour back to campus.

13
I’m super proud of all of my friends for expanding their collection of beer stickers. Most of the time Japanese beer cans have a sticker on them so I decided to start collecting them on my phone. When I got to Akita, I influenced people to start collecting the stickers as well. Everyone has more than me now though and it’s upsetting. I took off all of my stickers recently so I have 0…


Sunday afternoon, everyone came to Isabella’s apartment to make crepes. Griff and Patrik had been planning this out for about two weeks now. It was originally supposed to be pancake day but Griff told us that the pancakes wouldn’t be as good without baking powder, so crepes it was. Patrik went all out and bought whipped cream, chocolate sauce, strawberry jam, canned peaches, and canned pineapples for the crepe toppings. We didn’t have a whisk so Griff, Annabelle, and Patrik stirred as fast and hard as they could with the forks and chopsticks. It was pretty intense.

1615
I FaceTimed my mom asking for help on how to make the whipped cream since none of us could read the directions. She told me that we needed a whisk or else it would be very difficult to make. So, Patrik actually ended up running to the Komachi kitchen and finding a whisk. The whipped cream was almost impossible to make with just a fork. Kevin had been stirring it for about 20 minutes and the consistency was still very liquid. Tristan took the whisk and stirred for only about 5 minutes before it turned to actual whipped cream.

17.jpg
We actually had a can opener but I guess it didn’t work out too well…I turned my back to help Isabella with the crepes and by the time I was done the can was opened like this. Super dangerous…we should probably invest in a nice can opener.

1918
The first one was pretty rough but Isabella looked up a tutorial on YouTube and after that the crepes came out perfect. Patrik sprinkled some brown sugar on his crepe. He had the first one and Kevin commented on the placement of the whipped cream. All of us put our whipped cream inside the crepe and Patrik found it super weird. I guess that’s just a minor culture difference in the way we make crepes. Everyone had 1-2 crepes and we were still very hungry so Isabella ended up making some Kraft Mac and Cheese that my mom sent me recently. Eating American food was a nice change. My mom is visiting at the end of this month so I’m going to have to ask her to bring some more mac and cheese with her!


Naomi at Akita Week 10: EXCITING NEWS!!

November 10, 2016

OKAY, SO VERY EXCITING NEWS! I Facetime my mom pretty often while I’m here since it’s so easy without the usual time difference while I’m in Richmond, as she’s in Okinawa with my younger brother, Tyler. Well, she has met a couple of my friends here via Facetime including Patrik. She knows how close the two of us are and knew that Patrik had nothing planned for winter break. See, Patrik is staying here for a year so he has about a three week winter break to do anything. Well, I’m going back home to Okinawa from December 22nd – January 5th before heading back to Richmond and…

IMG_0987.jpg

My mom invited Patrik to come with me to Okinawa and he had to get approval from his parents AND HE JUST BOUGHT HIS TICKETS THIS PAST WEEK! HE’S GOING BACK HOME TO OKINAWA FOR ME AND I’M SO EXCITED!! I’m sorry for all of this excitement but it’s just…I’m so happy. We’re going to have so much fun. I get to show him where I grew up during high school and he gets to try Okinawa Soba and Milk Zenzai and all of the other Okinawan food that I love. I told him we’re going swimming at the beaches; I don’t care how cold the water is, we’re still getting in the water. We’re going to chill on the seawall. I’m so excited. You have no idea.

Another thing that made our day even better…after he bought the tickets, we started walking back to our dorms. I was talking to him about chilling on the seawall as someone passed us. This woman immediately turned around after hearing the word “seawall” and asked me if I was talking about Okinawa. I told her I went to high school there and she told me that she graduated from Kadena High School, the rival of Kubasaki High School, my school. I was shocked. I asked if she was a student here and turns out, she’s a professor! I told her that Patrik was going back with me this winter break and she told us she’s going back too. It was a great moment. Everyone from Okinawa understands how close everyone is, especially with the military life. I CAN’T WAIT TO GO TO OKINAWA WITH PATRIK!

img_0958
Remember last week how I mentioned we had a speech to give in Japanese class? Yeah, it went very well! I snapped a quick picture of Patrik giving his speech. If we used difficult vocabulary in our speech we had to put it on a slide and show it to everyone so they would know the English translation. Patrik talked about the culture shock he felt when coming to Japan. For example, how kind and helpful Japanese people are. I didn’t provide a slide of difficult vocabularly words because the Japanese words I used were words students in our level should already know, or so I thought. I talked about Japanese vending machines and how they sell hot food and drinks, and the convenience of selling iced black coffee, since they don’t have that in the states. After a speech, the students have to ask the speaker questions. I had about seven questions related to vending machines directed towards me. Just as I was about to thank everyone for listening to me, Will, one of my classmates, raised his hand to ask a last question. He asked me what 自動販売機 meant…he didn’t know the Japanese word for vending machine. Everyone started laughing. Here I am talking about vending machines and everyone asking me about vending machines and poor Will didn’t know what I was talking about. 亀井先生 (Teacher Kamei) laughed as well.

Cool Japan, a show on NHK that promotes Japan’s “creative industries” to foreign countries, came to campus and asked for international students to give two hours of their time to watch popular Japanese YouTube videos. After every video we had to write down our comments and rate the video. Between videos the camera crew would walk around and quickly interview students, getting our opinion on Japanese innovations. They had us watch videos on bullet train, PPAP (if you don’t know what this I recommend looking it up), bentos, and raw squid. We had to watch 43 videos. It took a while but it was interesting trying to understand why certain videos had millions of likes in Japan and even outside of Japan.


On Wednesday, there is no early Japanese class so Patrik and I decided to sign up to go to Omagari Elementary School to hang out with the students. The Division of Research and Community Outreach (RCOS) puts out events weekly for international students to participate in. Most of the events include going to elementary/middle schools and talking to Japanese students.

IMG_5996.jpg
We got to the school an hour early so Patrik, Okka, and I walked to a nearby grocery store to get some breakfast. It was super cheap. We were able to buy a 2L bottle of tea for less than¥100. We bought a couple of riceballs and some sweet bread then headed back.

IMG_6014.jpg
We were directed into the gymnasium and seated in front of all of the students. The students welcomed us by all standing up and singing a song to us. They were all so cute. Afterwards, we each had to introduce ourselves and introduce our home country with the file book we made ourselves. Of course, we had to do it in Japanese. It was a challenge but very fun to try out. Patrik stole my camera and ran to the back to snap a picture of me introducing the US to everyone. The kids yelled with excitement when they saw the pictures of the hamburger and pizza that was already included in the file book.


After we all introduced ourselves, we played a couple of games with the kids. The teachers all stood around and announced what games we were playing. We played Rock, Paper, Scissors first. I was so confused as to how they were paying but I understood towards the end. Everyone runs around while the music is playing and once the music stops you have to find someone to go against. The loser has to put their hands on the winner’s back and follow them around when the music continues playing. The winner runs around and looks for someone to go against once the music stops. The loser then goes behind the winner again. This is repeated over and over again until there are two winners left. You can imagine how hectic this is because the winner’s lines of kids behind them increases more and more with each win. Whoever wins gets to walk around the entire gymnasium with all the kids behind them. It was so funny seeing us, the older international students, following the winner in front of us and having more students behind us. The kids were too short to put their hands on our back so we all had to bend down!


The school provided lunch for us and it was quite delicious. Two students from each classroom had to bring our lunch trays to the classroom. Patrik and I were assigned to the same classroom for lunch so we followed the students there. I was surprised to find out that we were served the same amount of food as the elementary school students. The rice bowl was filled up only a quarter of the way. We were served a vegetable soup, gyoza, and some type of noodle and meat mix. We also drank milk with our lunch. I used to drink milk with every meal when I was younger but I haven’t in a while so it was interesting. The milk actually tasted really good.

IMG_6039.jpg
Patrik ended up getting more food since it wasn’t enough. Funny because when we got back to campus he immediately went to his room to get more food because lunch wasn’t filling enough.

IMG_6041.jpg
I snapped a picture of the students’ backpacks. This is a typical Japanese backpack that you see in アニメ (Japanese animation) or 漫画 (comics). I used to have one because my mom made me attend Japanese Elementary School for a month every time we visited Okinawa during the summer. I had to wear a uniform but these students didn’t have to…quite envious.

IMG_6043.jpg
Can you believe the students brush their teeth after eating lunch? Some kids didn’t even use toothpaste. The teacher told everyone to sit down and start brushing their teeth as she played some listening video in the background. Patrik and I sat there smiling at each other while watching the clean and healthy children.

img_6045
After lunch, we headed back to the gym to say bye to everyone. The kids made a tunnel for us and it was the sweetest thing. Again, since they were so short we had to bend down the entire time we ran through the tunnel. It was uncomfortable bending down for that long so I ran through the tunnel as fast as possible to get to the end quickly! I had such a wonderful time so I told Patrik we should sign up for another one. We’re going to try going to RCOS tomorrow and sign up for another Wednesday morning/afternoon one.

IMG_1002.jpg
Unfortunately, Patrik and I have been stuck in the IT lab all day working on our papers. Fortunately, my paper has to only be 1500 words long; Patrik has to write a 4000 word essay. I actually just finished and left to go back home. Patrik wasn’t even half way through…he’s probably going to be stuck there all night. Poor guy. His paper is for his Japanese Literature class and my paper is for my Japanese Premodern History class. It’s our last long paper for the semester! We still have to write short papers for the discussion forum and come up with our final project. I should probably start coming up with an idea for that considering the semester is quickly coming to an end.


Naomi at Akita Week 9: 漢字漢字漢字

October 31, 2016

This past week has been pretty slow. People are getting sick and wearing masks to avoid the sickness spreading. It’s getting super cold. I ended up facetiming my mom who was sleeping in my room. I asked her why she was in my room and she told me the AC works better there…I almost jumped out of my chair when I heard that. She’s still using the AC while I’m over here freezing my butt off!

img_0813
I went for a walk after my classes since I had some free time. A couple of my friends told me that there was a dam about a 20-30 minute walk away so I decided to go find it. I listened to music the entire walk. Only about 5 cars passed me. I ended up finding the dam but didn’t take pictures, as it was already getting dark. There was a small green frog chilling on the fence blocking the dam.

img_0886
You know how Patrik always gives me coffee in those cup noodle containers? Well, I went to AEON (the mall) this past week and ended up buying some paper cups from DAISO (100 yen store, basically the dollar store). I also bought my own mug since I get coffee from him that often. I went to his room about 5 times this past week just for coffee. While we waited for the coffee to brew, we showed each other music that we recommend. Me with my hip hop music and him with his metal core music. It’s funny how close we are but how different we are, especially when it comes to music taste.

NekoPOP-FAKY-interview-2013-B.jpg
I forgot to mention but last week, Patrik was showing me some Japanese music he listens to and he ended up playing a song by a band named FAKY. I started freaking out because my friend, Diane, the girl I recently visited in Tokyo, used to be in that band. She ended up leaving it because she wanted to do something else I showed him one of their music videos and pointed out Diane and he started freaking out. We both started singing along to the music video and wow, it was such a surreal moment. If you want to check out one of their songs just type in “Better Without You FAKY” and you’ll see Diane with her long red hair.


There was a Halloween party at the Student Hall Thursday night. Isabella and I decided to stop by because my friend was performing. We thought we were going to be late so we ran all the way to Student Hall but ended up being early. We watched the costume competition and two guys dressed up as Cup Noodles won! Patrik was there as well with his skeleton face paint. Jay ended up performing and blew us all away. It was Isabella’s first time hearing him sing and “wow” was all that came out of her mouth.


Most of us went out Friday night for a Halloween party and ended up pulling an all-nighter since we were unable to get back on campus till the next morning as we had to wait for the trains to start running again. We slept all of Saturday and woke up around 4pm! Since we practically wasted the day, we decided to all cook dinner. Isabella and I went to AEON first to get the ingredients. She bought spaghetti and Carbonara sauce. I decided to make Goya Chanpuru, an Okinawan dish, since my mom sent me Spam in that care package she sent me last week. I bought tofu, eggs, and goya. Isabella already had salt and soy sauce so I was set. I had to call my mom before I started cooking to make sure I was doing everything correctly. She also sent me jushi, Okinawa style rice seasoning with vegetables and meat, so I had to make sure I was using the rice cooker correctly.


We had so much food. I made rice and Goya Chanpuru, Isabella made her spaghetti, and Annabelle and Kevin made chicken with some sweet chili sauce. Patrik was the only one that actually enjoyed the Goya Chanpuru; everyone else thought it was too bitter, which didn’t surprise me. Tristan actually said that we should all eat a mouthful of just Goya. I didn’t do it because I didn’t count, as I enjoy the bitterness. So, Tristan, Isabella, Annabelle, and Patrik all took about 5 pieces of Goya and stuffed it in their mouths. It was great. Annabelle made the weirdest face and immediately ate chicken afterwards to get rid of the taste. This makes Goya Chanpuru sound bad…I promise it’s actually delicious.

img_0925
This upcoming week, we have to give a 3-4 minute speech in Japanese class. We can’t have any notes or anything so we basically have to memorize our speech in just Japanese. I’m actually pretty nervous. For this speech, we had to decide to talk about either something that surprised us, saddened us, or excited us about Japan. I wrote about the vending machines in Japan and how the abundance of them surprised me.


I’m not kidding when I say you will find at least three vending machines on every street corner in Japan. It’s unbelievable really. They have vending machines with hot foods, like hot dogs and cup noodles. They’re everywhere. Back home in Okinawa, right outside of our apartment, there are seven vending machines lined up outside, side to side. Even outside of convenience stores, they have vending machines lined up outside, despite the drinks they have right inside the store.

black-boss1.jpg
I appreciate it though because these vending machines sell iced black coffee. It’s a struggle for me when I go back home to the states because the only way to get iced black coffee is if you go to Starbucks or to some other chain store. It’s not as easy, common, and cheap as Japan.

img_0927In addition to the speech I have to memorize, I also have a 漢字 (kanji) midterm to study for and its just line after line after line. I’m even studying for it right now. I’ve been doing well in the class so I’m not too worried about it but this is an exam on ALL of the 漢字we’ve learned so far this semester…wish me luck!


Naomi at Akita Week 8: UNI-eed to read this

October 27, 2016

IMG_5658.jpg

Who has the bluest hair? Patrik and Isabella have a competition going on and Isabella is winning as of now. I don’t know why but in this picture, Patrik’s hair actually looks pretty blue compared to Isabella’s but in real life, Isabella’s is much darker. They have both dyed their hair twice in Akita. They both brought dye from back home…dedication, huh? Every time they see each other, the blue hair is mentioned at some point. You can hear Patrik’s heart break a little each time someone tells him Isabella’s hair is bluer. Lots of people on campus think they’re a couple too. It’s a great time.

I asked my mom to send me my heat techs (clothes from Uniqlo meant to keep you warm) that I left at home so she ended up sending an actual care package full of American and Okinawan snacks. I shared some with my friends. Well, mostly American friends and they were all excited and nostalgic with the taste of fruit rollups. There’s a picture of Tristan putting the fruit rollup tattoo onto his tongue! I don’t know why my mom sent me a package of fruit rollups because I never ate them growing up as a kid…she probably sent it because of the Halloween packaging. She also sent me a huge 240-piece bag of assorted chocolates – Milky Way, Snickers, 3 Musketeers, and Twix. Too much candy.

IMG_5687.jpg

img_5708

Over the weekend, our school set up another bus trip for us to the Oga Peninsula. We headed to the GAO Aquarium first. We could see the ocean and it was absolutely beautiful. I missed hearing the waves crash. Anyways, the aquarium also had some animals, in addition to all the fish, frogs, jellyfish, and eels. It was Patrik’s first time seeing a polar bear and penguins! There were seals awkwardly floating in the water. They looked like grandpas; it was so kawaii (cute in Japanese). There was also an exhibit with the fish that eat at your dead skin cells. The fish were in this container that had holes where you could stick you finger in so I did it and it felt…funny? The fish were nibbling away on my fingers. I bet if I stuck my foot in the container I would’ve never stopped laughing because of how ticklish it can feel. We also saw a vending machine that sold solely food and it was weird, as the food included hot dogs and takoyaki. Japan really gets invested in their vending machines. You can’t go 100 meters without seeing at least 3 vending machines. That’s not an exaggeration.

img_5744

Really quick, there was a room with tanks on the side of different types of fish. In the middle, there was a big cage with two turtles in it. Isabella and I didn’t pay attention to what was in the cage because nothing was moving so we just went straight to the tanks. However, right as we were leaving the room we noticed the turtles inside the cage. It wasn’t moving at all. It was completely still. We both started staring at the turtle wondering if it was a toy. As we were staring, Isabella asked, “Is it real?” and RIGHT after she asked that question, the turtle blinked. Needless to say, we both freaked out and yelled a bit.

IMG_0851.jpg

After the aquarium, we headed to Nyudozaki Cape, the northernmost cape on the Oga Peninsula, for lunch. All the food was too expensive for us college students, so we ended up just exploring the lighthouse and the ocean near the restaurants. Thankfully we stopped at a grocery store before the aquarium so we weren’t that hungry. The picture of the menu shows a picture of a bowl of rice topped with uni (sea urchin). I took a picture to send to my mom since she loves uni so much. I’m not a picky eater; I eat everything, but the only thing I cannot eat is uni. My mom plans on visiting me at the end of November and I’m sure she’s going to want to go to this cape solely to eat that bowl of uni. Delicious.

I tried taking a picture of Annabelle, Isabella, Tristan, and Patrik jumping but they could never get it together. Someone was always still on the ground. Tristan didn’t jump in one of the pictures. I ended up giving up and going to the coast. We found some stairs, stairs as in a bunch of rocks lined up, which led down to the ocean. There were a bunch of hermit crabs crawling in the water and a couple of small fish swimming around. We jumped from rock to rock to get deeper into the ocean. It wasn’t too cold, the wind felt nice against our faces, and the sound of the waves was relaxing. I can’t tell you how much I missed the ocean.

img_5930img_5924

After the cape, we went to the Namahage Museum and Oga Shinzan Folklore Museum. There’s a story titled the Legend of Namahage: The 999 Steps. The Han emperor brought five demonic ogres with him to Japan that constantly stole crops and young maidens from the villages. The villagers decided to trick the oni (ogres) with a proposal. The villagers commanded the oni to build one thousand steps to the Goshado Shrine in a single night, if they could then the maidens would be offered to them, if not then they would have to flee the village. The oni made it to 999 steps before a villager mimicked the crowing of a rooster, making the oni believe it was the morning. They ended up running away in panic. We actually watched a short performance on the banter between the Namahage (oni) and the household head. Although we didn’t understand much of what was said, we found the Namahage to be hilarious with their sluggish/deep yelling. After the show, we walked around the Namahage Museum filled with costumes and demonic masks. We even saw a man carving the masks by hand!

IMG_5956.jpg

The last place we visited was Mountain Kampuzan. There was a rotating observation deck at the peak of the mountain but we had to pay 540 yen. No one ended up going on it because the view was already beautiful enough. There was some performance going down below and you could hear someone banging away at the drums. It was a nice way to end our day trip. Once we got back on campus, everyone was too tired to do anything, despite it being a Saturday night. I pushed myself to finally do my load of laundry that I’ve held off for the past week. Isabella ended up cooking pasta for us so I didn’t have to worry about making my own dinner. She was worried the garlic red sauce tasted like seafood but it tasted just fine. We ended up watching Friends afterwards and called it a night.

 

 

 


Naomi at Akita Week 7: 肉人参

October 24, 2016

On Thursday, Patrick and I decided to go on a walk since I was stood up for my date. Just kidding, not date. I’m an LDIC (Language Development and Intercultural Studies Center) conversation leader. The LDIC is a self-directed language-learning center that provides several resources for students trying to learn a new language. They provide several computers and you can check out movies or TV shows. For example, they offer the entire series of Friends with subtitles for any student trying to learn English (I love Friends). I volunteer through the Foreign Language Conversation Support meaning any student can sign up with me to talk about anything in order to improve their English speaking skills. I had two appointments and my first one didn’t show up so Patrick and I went for a short walk before my next appointment. It was such a beautiful day but, unfortunately, our walk lasted only 20 minutes. Patrick asked to borrow my earphones so he could listen to music and continue walking while I headed back to the LDIC for my next appointment. You wouldn’t believe this but my second appointment didn’t show up either…いいね〜

IMG_0700.jpg

This weekend, my high school friend from Okinawa visited me. Her name is Ami and she’s currently a senior at Osaka International School. She arrived Friday afternoon, so we both ate lunch at the school cafeteria then went on a walk to a shrine near campus. Unfortunately, it was raining but we took some umbrellas from Komachi lobby (one of the dorm buildings) and headed over. The shrine seemed randomly place and was very secluded. We had to walk up several stairs just to get to it. Ami and I bowed at the entrance, gave money to the shrine, clapped our hands twice, and prayed for a bit. Afterwards, we headed back to campus and took the bus to AEON mall. We shopped for a bit before Patrik joined us. He was very enthusiastic about going to the arcade and finding Dance Dance Revolution. I didn’t think they would have it but we ended up finding it and “dancing” for a bit. Ami played once and refused to continue so Patrik and I finished up our turns then we all headed to dinner. I forgot the name of the restaurant but wow…the food was delicious. Ami speaks Japanese fluently and knows the dialects of both Okinawa and Osaka so we talked about that for a bit, as Patrik was very interested. Ami actually thought the way people speak in Akita was very weird; apparently, understanding people with an Akita dialect is difficult for people outside of the prefecture.

IMG_5279.jpg

On Saturday, we headed to a beer festival in the city. We took the bus from campus to Wada Station then the train from Wada to Akita. On the train, Ami interviewed Patrik for her article. She writes for her school newspaper and wanted to write about her visit to our school. While she was doing that, everyone was staring out the window at the passing rice fields and I was playing Sudoku on my phone. We actually ended up skipping on the festival because it was very small and expensive and instead we just hung out at different spots in the city. For lunch, we went to Lawson’s (convenience store) and bought riceballs/steamed buns/ramen. It’s common for people to buy cup noodles and eat it right there. Lawson’s actually provides hot water for you, so Ami ate her noodles on the street while we were all talking and hanging out.

On our way back to campus after hanging out in the city, we had an hour at Wada station till the bus arrived. So, naturally, we had a photo shoot…meaning, I took several pictures of Ami while everyone else sat on the side and snacked on pizza flavored chips. These are some of the pictures I snapped. She looks like a monkey in the one of her hanging off the pole. We ended up playing music out loud and dancing freely since there was no one in sight.

Screen Shot 2016-10-16 at 6.10.31 PM.png

I forgot to take a picture so I had to screenshot from Isabella’s snapchat story but later that night, Isabella invited us over for dinner. She made 肉じゃが (nikujaga) and we ate it with rice; it was her first time making it but it turned out amazing. Nikujaga literally means meat and potatoes; this is a common Japanese dish of meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, and konnyaku noodles. Isabella only had two potatoes left so she actually apologized to us because it was more of 肉人参 (nikuninjin), as in meat and carrots.

Sunday was Ami’s last day so we woke up early before she had to head to the airport at 12pm. We woke up and immediately went for a walk around the park near campus before even changing out of our PJs. She has a set pair from Uniqlo and I thought it was the cutest thing. She only brought one pair of socks with her (she forgot apparently), so she had to wear my socks. She also stole my shoes that morning so she was pulling off the typical Naomi look, as in mismatching with the striped socks and checkerboard shoes. Ami said it felt like Christmas with all of the green trees and her red PJs, so she ended up playing Christmas music; Mistletoe by Justin Bieber was played. Afterwards, we headed back to my apartment to change and went straight to the convenience store near campus to buy breakfast. Then, I gave her a tour of the campus. It took less than half an hour, as AIU’s campus is very small. She was mostly impressed with Nakajima Library, as is everyone. Our library was actually voted to be one of the nicest libraries in Japan, I believe. Whenever our school is written about in an article or posted in a handout, our library is always shown because of how beautiful it is. After the tour, my friend Toshi took us to the airport. Ami bought some お土産 (souvenirs) for her family and friends back in Osaka. I wasn’t too upset when I said bye to her because I plan on visiting her in Osaka one weekend before the end of my study abroad.

IMG_5595.jpg

After dropping Ami off at the airport, Patrik decided that we should go on a walk to another shrine near campus. Instead of a 20-minute walk, like the shrine I went to with Ami, this shrine was a 55-minute walk away. We had no plans for the day and it was so beautiful outside so it was no problem. We walked through villages that were completely surrounded by trees and rice fields. There were several elderly people working in the fields and in their gardens. We saw two older men stacking huge bags of something (we couldn’t figure out what it was) and Patrik went up to them and asked if he could take a picture in their tractor. He’s not shy at all! When we finally made it to the shrine we gave some money and clapped our hands twice then prayed. The name of the shrine was八幡神社 and, unlike the other shrine I went to with Ami, this shrine was right next to the road and not as secluded. After our visit to the shrine, Patrik told me there was a river near us so we walked even further. The water was so peaceful. We saw someone canoeing in the distance. Also, while walking near the river, we both looked up and saw at least…AT LEAST 100 dragonflies just swarming around; I’m not exaggerating. After the river, Patrik said there was a temple nearby as well, so we walked even further than intended. On our way back to campus, instead of walking on the sidewalk near the streets, we walked on the pathways in the fields (there was a lot of poop). Our walk ended up being four hours and we got back on campus as the sun had set. It was a good time but our weekend ended with us heading to the library to work on our 作文 – essay for Japanese class about the AIU festival last weekend.

 


Naomi at Akita Week 6: きりたんぽ and 栗駒山

October 14, 2016

This past weekend we had a four-day weekend due to the AIU Festival!! It was two long days of food, performances, games, food, and food. Many students/clubs came together and set up food stands. There was even an Okinawa Soba (my favorite food from home) stand! Some of our friends were selling food as well like cinnamon waffles, which were amazing by the way, hot dogs, curry udon, fried meat/cheese/pumpkin, and bubble tea. I was able to go on the outside of a bridge connecting two of our buildings to snap a picture of some of the stands. Unfortunately, I had to crouch down and go through some barriers that were filled with spider webs but it was worth it. The web did get on my cap but I was able to refrain from yelling. Also, halfway through the festival, Patrik decided to take a break and re-dyed his hair blue. I helped him out since he couldn’t see the back of his head. When we returned to the festival everyone pointed out how blue his hair was and of course, he responded with “I swam across the China Sea and back and the ocean rubbed off.” Oh, wait, he had another response that is my favorite: “I married a mermaid.”

IMG_4816.jpg

Before we headed out the first day, I went to Patrik’s room to get my daily dose of coffee, of course. Unfortunately, he ran out of cup noodle containers so I had to use an actual mug. After inhaling some coffee, we met up with some other friends and walked around. ワン (One), the school’s mascot, was walking around so of course, I told Patrick to take a picture with it. This is the pose he chose.

I took a couple of pictures of some of the events/performances that were held during the festival. Well, the first picture is of two of my friends from Colorado, Isabella and Annabelle, practicing for their dance performance. They’re both in a hip-hop club. Patrik tried practicing with them for a minute, as he was in the hip-hop club for about a week before he dropped it. He couldn’t recall any of the dance moves though so he ended up just moving in weird motions. There were about 5-8 different dance groups that performed that night. One of the groups danced to Michael Jackson, which made me super excited. I was dancing towards Patrik while we were standing in the crowd and he just laughed at me; it was a great feeling. On the second day of the festival, I woke up super early…well, 10:00am, to watch some of my friends perform. Two of my friends that attend AIU sang a couple of American songs and it was beautiful. Bea’s voice was so soothing. Afterwards, I went up to them and saw Bea holding a stuffed animal of Woody’s horse from Toy Story. I think the horses name is Bullseye? It was so random but apparently, Bullseye is their third member of their small band who couldn’t attend. I thought it was cute and worth mentioning.

The second day of the festival also started with me going to Patrik’s room to drink more coffee. Well, I went to his room after watching my friends perform earlier in the morning. I told him that I was going to buy a bowl of きりたんぽ (Kiritanpo) for breakfast because it was cheap and also something I needed to try while living in Akita. Patrik still ate breakfast though: a container of yogurt with his milk coffee and bread chunks mixed in. That right there is the definition of poor college life. He still ended up buying a bowl of Kiritanpo though, as did another friend that joined us. Kiritanpo is a famous dish in the Akita prefecture. Freshly cooked rice is mashed and wrapped around bamboo sticks, forming a cylinder shape, then toasted. That’s the main part of the dish but there are also mushrooms, chicken carcass, green onion, ginger, shirataki noodles, and burdock root. Two ladies working behind the stand tried talking to us about the chewy smashed rice. They wanted to teach us that it was made of rice. Patrik and I understand some Japanese so we were able to respond; they were so 元気 (lively) and their smiles made our day. Griff, Patrik, and I took our bowls and went to the side to eat our bowls of Kiritanpo. It wasn’t too cold out but the hot soup was perfect. The three of us finished our bowls so quickly then headed over to buy some cinnamon waffles.

img_5081img_4956

My friend, Isabella, invited me to join the Wandervogel Club. I ended up joining along with a couple of other friends and man, what a great decision. Emil, the leader of the club, sets up monthly trips and this past week we went hiking on 栗駒山 (Mountain Kurikoma). It was the perfect time to go because of all the fall colors. We still had an hour left to drive before we made it to the mountain but made a pit stop for a bathroom break and the view was already so beautiful. Takao (right of the picture above) took my camera and snapped pictures of everyone. Every time I’m around him with my camera he asks to take pictures. He’s even thinking of buying his own now!

img_5196img_5192

Emil told us that it would be -3 degrees Celusius at the top of the mountain so everyone obviously dressed in thick layers. I was wearing pants under a pair of sweatpants, two pairs of socks, a t-shirt, long sleeve, sweater, rain jacket, and jean jacket. I need to buy a winter jacket…but yes, the point is we were all wearing a lot of layers of clothing. Probably 13 seconds after we started hiking, everyone started stripping off their clothes. Halfway up, some of us were sweating. I even sweated through my shirt and onto my backpack. I’m not going to lie, I’m very much out of shape so hiking up the steeps parts of the path was slightly difficult. I was messing around and jokingly yelling while making the trek. Okka started singing “Marry Me” by Bruno Mars and some people started joining in. Isabella practically free-styled for some of the trek. I think the pain from hiking was getting to us. The pain was definitely worth the view climbing up though. The vibrant colors of the trees were beautiful. The way the trees were set up made it look pixelated in some areas of the mountains. We started getting higher than the clouds. We even saw a helicopter in the distance surrounded by clouds and it was the coolest thing; I wish I took a picture of it but my camera wouldn’t be able to zoom in that close.

Look at the clouds! It was such a beautiful sight. We were all so relieved when we finally made it to the top. The last minute of the hike was the hardest because of the steepness but we all forced our way up. As soon as we got to the top we took a quick group picture with the flags that Emil made. A minute later, we immediately started getting cold and put back on the clothes we initially stripped off. Emil brought some pots to boil hot water for everyone so we could all eat cup noodles. We stopped at Family Mart (convenience store) before driving over to the mountain so we could buy some breakfast and cup noodles. Oh man, it was delicious. Takao was sharing his snacks with us while we waited for the water to boil. My mouth was watering for the noodles though. The hot spicy soup was delicious. It warmed up my fingers momentarily so I was able to use my chopsticks correctly. For the next five minutes, everyone was slurping away at their noodles.

img_0617img_0613

After we made it back down the mountain, we realized that we were two hours behind the schedule Emil set up for the day. Fortunately, no one was in a hurry to get back on campus so we all agreed that we would go to the onsen (hot springs) and get dinner together. We drove about an hour to the onsen. It was a life changing experience. I recommend everyone go. It may be uncomfortable for you to undress completely in front of other people but here no one cares so it gives you ease. The girls and boys are obviously separate so it’s not bad at all. Isabella and I practically ran into the locker room after paying our 600-yen. We were both so cold and I know Isabella had been waiting all week to go to the onsen. She was practically yelling “ONSEN!” with every step she took up that mountain as motivation. It was my first time so I didn’t know how hot the water would be; my skin was on fire! It was so refreshing though; I felt like a new person. We had an hour in the onsen and I knew I wasn’t able to take the heat for that long. I was hanging off the ledge with my arms hanging on the side. Isabella ended up just laying on the ledge so I decided to join. The cool wind felt wonderful. I still can’t believe I was comfortable laying out completely naked like that in the freezing cold. Afterwards, we all took a shower and headed to a restaurant. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but it served set Japanese meals. I sat with Takao, Adiya, Bea, and Isabella. Takao, Adiya, and I all got カツ丼 with a side of Miso soup. カツ丼 is a popular Japanese food with a bowl of rice topped with deep-fried pork cutlet, egg, and sautéed onions. The egg is cooked in a sweet and salty broth as well and it’s so delicious. I wanted to eat another bowl. After dinner, we drove another hour and a half back on campus. We didn’t get back till 12am…we left campus at 6am the day before! All of us were so tired but it was worth it. I can’t wait till next month’s trip!


Naomi at Akita Week 5: Cup Noodle Coffee

October 7, 2016

Saturday night, about 20 bands auditioned in the Student Hall for the main stage for the AIU Festival we’re having this upcoming weekend. I don’t know how this school has so many musically talented individuals; they were all very fun to watch. The pictures above are of Saeki, singer, and Isshin, bassist. They’re in a band called チョゲ (Choge). There are 5 guys in the band and they’re all freshmen, meaning they just formed this band only a couple of weeks ago and they blew the crowd away. Hopefully they get the part!

IMG_0338.jpg

Here’s a picture of Patrick bringing me coffee. We have Japanese 300 together everyday. On Tuesday, after our reading class I have a two-hour break before our Kanji class. Lucky for Patrick, he doesn’t have to take the Kanji class since he knows more than what we’re supposed to know. I don’t know how he does it. Anyways, because he’s free, he offers to make me coffee all the time. The thing is he puts the coffee in his finished ramen cups. I think it’s the greatest thing. I just wanted to show you all how genius this idea is.

img_4791img_4755

On Sunday, some of the Colorado crew (Tristan, Kevin, and Chris) and I decided to explore in Akita City. We took a free bus from the AEON mall to Akita Station and then walked to Senshu Park. This park is the site of the Kubota Castle that was built in 1603. There was a bronze statue of Yoshitaka Satake in the middle of the park as well as the white castle called osumi-yagura, which served as the lookout and weapons depot. There was supposed to be a waterfall next to this castle so we were expecting something big and exciting. Instead, it was the smallest waterfall we had ever seen; it was quite funny actually.

img_0403img_0402

After walking around for 2-3 hours, we stopped by at Lawson (convenience store) to get some snacks and drinks. Kevin was hungry and couldn’t wait till dinner; we had an hour till Toshi picked us up anyways. We ended up going to Kaitenzushi to ensure Tristan could eat (he’s a vegetarian so going to ramen would’ve been a poor choice). It was super cheap, only 98yen for one plate of sushi! Some of us tried the horsemeat sushi because why not? It was very hard to chew and tasted like…well, nothing. All I could taste was the ginger. It was still nice to try because now I can admit that I’ve tried raw horsemeat! I had 11 plates, by the way. That’s 22 pieces of sushi. Well, 21 pieces. I split a plate with Toshi. We both decided to try something new so we had these thin small transparent fish. I can’t remember the name of it, unfortunately, but you just need to know that it tasted very fishy. I ended up covering the fishy taste with lots of ginger. It was a great time. We all had food babies afterwards though and couldn’t move.


%d bloggers like this: