Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thursday, May 6 – Sunday, May 9, 2010-

I must have been living in a little bubble of excitement, planning, anticipation and Spring Fever lately, because there is no other way I can explain the fact that TOMORROW my cousin Andrew will be landing in Japan, so beginning the most epic Japanese Journey ever recorded in this tiny island's history!!! Haha, okay maybe there are a couple other events in Japanese history that eclipse this duo’s adventure-trip-2010, but seeing as I’m living in my own little bubble (self-admitted) none of that matters right now. =)

I have had the swing of the seasons here in Nakagawa, or at least the rice paddies. seeing them go from harvesting to planting. In fact, a chance photo I shot from a car window back during the first week of my exchange happens to be of a rice field right near my house, so I am actually able to show you all the two shots to compare below:

Last Fall

This Spring

(Quick Note: When the trees and mountains have reached that beautiful mixture of different shades of green, the Japanese say that the mountain is laughing. Kind of a cool phrase)

Today, Sunday, was actually another day I’d been looking forward to/dreading, for the past month or two. It was the notorious Tochigi District Event at which Exchange students must give their biggest speeches of the year. I had my whole speech, talking about the Japanese language, written out for a couple weeks so I felt good coming into the day. I have given bigger speeches before, but I realized that when it’s in Japanese that kinda changes things. Haha. As it turned out I did pretty well, actually better than I had ever practiced it. In fact each exchange student who spoke did a great job. In fact this photo to the right pretty much captured each of our moods going into the speeches pretty well, but we all did great! It’s a nice sense of accomplishment and pride knowing that we’ve come from knowing basically zero Japanese to now reaching the level of Japanese where a room full of 300 Rotarians can be laughing at our jokes, complementing us afterwards on what a great job we’d each done. I’ll admit that I’ve had my own ups and downs with the Japanese language (at first it was a fun challenge, then it was just a challenging challenge, and at some points it was at the level of I-want-to-pull-my-hair-out-because-of-the-fact-that-I-don’t-even-know-how-to-express-the-fact-that-this-language-makes-me-want-to-pull-my-hair-out!). But now I am once more feeling the sense of pride that I have gained something very tangible (although it is entirely intangible) out of my year here, and that is a completely new foreign language that I can now whip out whenever I need it.

Anyway, it’s getting late and I have a very big day, make that week, coming up tomorrow! Andrew, I can’t wait for all of our adventures buddy. As for the rest of you, I’ll see you next week when I will undoubtedly upload a ridiculous number of photos once more! Until then, Sayonara.

The left half of the room full of Rotarians
We actually spent the morning at a temple where we were invited to see the lighting of a sacred fire. It was kind of like a deep mediation and I found it a nice 15 minutes to find a little inner peace before all that lies ahead of me.
The long flight of stairs leading up to the temple
Exchangers 2009-2010
Some of the decorative temple items
A quiet mountain stream and bamboo well
These, sadly, are actually all after families that have lost children
Another rice paddy scene, you've got to admit that the Japanese don't mess around when it comes to their rice!!
The other day I made mashed potatoes for my host family. They loved it! Great recipe Uncle Lee
It's finally warm enough outside to start cleaning fish tanks again! Haha, not your typical sign of spring is it? But it was a big day for the fishery kids, they were all excited to be working outside agian =P