I didn't want to post anything until I had my pictures to upload with them, but it looks like that might be too much to ask. I don't have the USB connector for my camera, and I've been trying like mad to find something that would work. I might just have to go to Akihabara this weekend and buy one, which would suck.
So, here are the updates from this past week! Be ready for a lot to read~
I talked to my momma on skype and took a shower with my BRAND NEW GREEN TOWEL FROM JUSCO! Then I went downstairs to make my delicious bread and cheese feast! You can get 8 slices at Jusco for 88 yen, and Japanese bread is fantastic. It toasts perfectly, which I cannot comprehend. Joe was making breakfast, too, so we chatted about Photoshop for a while cause we are both nerds like that. I went back upstairs and had a nice long chat with the folks. The cat is doing much better, for those of you wondering.
When Maria and I finally got our butts in gear to roll out to Harajuku, we realized a bunch of other people were going, too. We set out in a huge pack for ~*~HARAJUKU~*~. Trains are still terrifying, but we got there ok. We were greeted out of the train station by a huge crowd of people. Sunday is the day when everyone goes out to shop or flaunt their new outfits, so it was PACKED. The main walkway was so crowded it was hard to get around, much less go into any of the shops, but we had fun marvelling at all the cool stuff. When we got to the end, we turned the corner and BAM there were trillion story Forever 21 and H&M buildings right next to each other. Awesome.
We also found this tiny little used clothes store across the street that had tons of amazing stuff for like 90% off. Maria got three dresses for about 250 yen. Woah. From there we decided to head back to the station, but when we got there we saw some people dressed up like super crazy ravers and another dude with a FREE HUGS sign, so we stopped for photos. Right there across the street was Meiji shrine, so we had to go adventure~!
The shrine was beautiful, and there was some kind of big to-do that day, because tons of people were there. There was a HUGE arch under which you entered the shrine, and there were huge barrels of sake and wine lining the path, then beautiful ice sculptures. There were so many of them! Definitely over 50 sculptures. Hopefully I can post pictures soon, I took photos of almost all of them.
When you get to the entrance, you have to wash your hands in the traditional way before going into the temple. I gave it a shot, I hope they don't mind if I didn't do it quite right, haha. There was a giant crowd upon entering the main area. They were lined up to say their prayers and throw their offering into the offer boxes. Some people from our group wrote their wishes on slips with offerings and put them in another box that was farther away. We wanted to put our wishes on one of the wooden tablets, but they were 1000 yen, a little pricy.
I got my fortune slip for 100 yen, and though I can't read it, I'm going to ask Aki to help me soon. I had to wait in line, and then when I got there, I paid my yen and held this little box upside down and shook it. Inside are chopsticks, and one will fall out of a tiny hole in the box. On that chopstick is a number and your fortune slip corresponds to that. We left the main temple after all the photo ops had been op'd and walked out into an area selling food. I couldn't resist! I got a mochi, which is a bun filled with beans of some kind and steamed. It was soooo much better than the kind you can get at Jusco.
By the time we were done, the sun was setting, meaning it was FREEZING. We hopped the train home and went to Jusco for supplies. On the way we saw this doofy car with sexy anime ladies painted on the side, it was baller. Then we came home and played some Super Mario Broz and went to bed.
I woke up late, finally. I had to force myself to sleep cause of the jetlag. When I finally got around (you're welcome, John), I invited some dudes from my dorm to try and find the Sega arcade with me that was supposed to be like 3 stops over. I left with Jacob, Dave, Matt, and Kevin to find ~*~SEGA~*~
We decided to walk, cause 3 stops isn't too far. On the way, we saw a girl getting ready for her Coming of Age Day cerimony. She was all decked out in her kimono and her mom was taking pictures of her in front of the house. We asked to take her picture, and turns out she spoke very good English. Her mom was SUPER EXCITED that we wanted to take her picture, she was very flattered. It was really cute. From there we kept walking and got a little lost, so we went into a convenience store to ask directions. Luckily Kevin speaks very good Japanese, but even so the people at the counter had NO IDEA what we were talking about. They kind of pointed us in one direction, so we just decided to wander around.
WANDERING IS AWESOME, we found the Sega place. It was decrepit and totally SHUT DOWN and boarded up with metal plates. Oh well. It did have a badass picture of Sonic and Tails riding through the air on an American football plastered to the side of the building. BUT! Lo and behold! There was a temple not so far in the distance! ADVENTURE!
We had to climb these windy roads on a hill, but eventually we hit some stairs that led up to the temple. While we were going up, three ladies were going down, and they said to us, "hurry, hurry, you're going to miss it, hurry!" And this of course was in Japanese, so I only understood "hurry," but HURRY WE DID and we got to the top and BAM! There's a dude on top of this huge ladder in the middle of a crowd throwing stuff out to the crowd! We tried to catch one, I think they were some kind of banner, but none of us got one. It was still fun, and as everyone dispersed, we got led to another group of food stalls! And I got takoyaki. Which is fried octopus balls. They were good, but smelled very fishy and the octopus was chewy... I couldn't eat all of them myself, so I brought two back for Maria.
There was also a statue of an angry monk, which we asked a nice Japanese lady to take a picture of us in front of. Cool. Then we went wandering again. At the temple were tons of graves, piled on top of each other on the hills. They were really beautiful. We saw a little boy pumping water to clean a grave with, which was extra cool.
On the way back we saw a cute cat (which everyone at the temple was taking pictures of instead of the beautiful buildings haha!) and got ice cream. At home I made CURRY ALL BY MYSELF AND IT WAS DELICIOUS AND I AM A PRO. Then I beat Dave at Mario Kart. Good night.
FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! We got up way early to get to the bank before school so that we could pay for our commuter passes. The trains at rush hour in Japan are nuts. Everyone just pushes in until they fit. It's like sardines. And everyone is DEAD SILENT. It's quiet and packed and you can't breathe... It's very odd, something I'm slowly getting used to. We got to our stop at Tamachi station ok, but we got a little lost getting to the bank. We managed to find it ok, but they didn't exchange currency until 10 30 AM, so we just went to school and watched people play Bomberman in the Student Gov't Lounge until classes started.
First I had Art History. Shrug. It was ok. Then we had lunch time, and I ate some of my delicious left over curry! I got my commuter pass at lunch. What you have to do is go get your Temple ID, which you can only do at certain times, but it goes very quickly. They take your photo and you wait like 3 minutes and then they print out your card. Then you go get your commuter sticker from another office, and from there you can go to the train station's office and buy your Suica card. I got mine to go through Gotanda station, which is the cheaper option. It costs about 15900 yen.
Then I came back and went to my painting class. I'm going to have to buy a ton of supplies which kind of sucks. When that was over, I hung out with Li and met this cool kid Asif, but no one was going home, so I went back by myself. I was very proud of myself for figuring it out.
Maria and I watched The Hangover and played Mario Kart then went to bed exhausted.
I rolled out early to go with Dan to the Ward Office at Kamata Station to get my Alien Registration card. It didn't take too long, and the people spoke fairly good English. They told us to come back in 2 weeks to pick up our cards and WHOOSH! Off we went to school! On the way, we found Mika, so we all went to school together.
It was my FIRST JAPANESE CLASS YAY! We are learning at a very fast pace, I don't know how I'm going to keep up. We learned all the greetings, thanks, and goodbyes, as well as the first 2 lines of hiragana. Whew! At lunch, Faye, Mika and I had a fun bank adventure where I made an ass of myself trying to speak English at the lady at the counter when Faye speaks very good Japanese. Then I had printmaking with Joe and our teacher Daisuke is THE CUTEST MAN EVER. We got out a little early and I hung with Lisa for a while, then had Japanese and Chinese Lit with Faye. Our teacher for that class is this badass feminist lady. Her favorite French Feminist is Guillaumin, I can tell.
After class Joe, Maytee and I went on an ADVENTURE to find Sekaido, the art supply store in Shinjuku. Our map was USELESS, so after wandering around for a while, we asked some Japanese high school boys that were playing Kingdom Hearts on their PSP (hahaahaha) to help us. They WALKED US OVER THERE LIKE 1/2 A MILE cause they were AWESOME and at the end I gave them all high fives, cause they rocked. They thought it was really funny. People in Japan don't really high five. Haha.
TURNS OUT THOUGH we went to the wrong Sekaido, cause this one didn't have any paints. There is another one on the OTHER side of the train station, but we messed up. We got a few things we needed that they DID have and went home. I hadn't eaten all day, so Joe and I went to McDonald, which is amazing here. The Coke is much sweeter, and the burger was very peppery and tasted like the cow might have been healthy. CRAZY RIGHT? Oh man, and I ate fries mmmmmmm.
Then I watche Dave and Paul play Left 4 Dead and did some homework and slept.
Oh man, j/k about that Art History class being alright. We spent THE WHOLE CLASS PERIOD on how to write a thesis statement. IT. WAS. AWFUL. Maria and I left the class seething. Then I had painting, and the teacher was a little pissed that I didn't have my painting stuff yet, but I promised him that I'd get it on the weekend, so we're all cool. He showed paintings he liked, most of which I liked too. When we split into groups though, and I went with the Intermediate class which is with 4 other Japanese girls, NONE OF THEM SPOKE. It's really nerve-wracking that no one talks in class. I asked Sora about it, and apparently Japanese kids don't talk in class because they don't want to mess up their participation grade. Weird. Since I didn't have my paints, I left a little early and met up with Minh for our PHONE ADVENTUREEEEE.
We went to Shibuya to get our phones since we heard that the SoftBank in Harajuku was out of prepaid phones and that the one in Roppongi was sketchy. We eventually found the right one (the English speaking one, there are like eight SoftBanks in the 4 block main part of Shibuya alone). They didn't have any prepaid phones either, so we had to go to the Japanese-only SoftBank, which ended up being ok. They spoke enough English that we were able to get what we needed, and the people at the English-speaking SoftBank told us exactly what to get. We had a 30 minute break where they were registering our phones, so we rolled out to Mos Burger and got some food and then went to Shibuya 109.
Let me tell you about Shibuya 109. It is an 8 floor Japanese mall extravaganza. IT IS JUST FULL OF WOMEN'S CLOTHES THAT ARE BEAUTIFUL AND PERFECT. Oh man, it was like being in a colorful heaven. Amazing. And the shoppers and clerks there are dressed perfectly and have amazing make up. Wow.
We went back and Minh and I got our JAPANESE CELL PHONES YEAHHHH! Then I came home and tried to make rice but the kitchen sinks are clogged so we weren't allowed to use the kitchen, so I had to make rice in the upstairs rice cooker which, I found out, doesn't work. I finally asked Paul if I could use the kitchen rice cooker and he said it was ok. I made rice balls with the terrible soggy mixture for lunch, we'll see how that goes.
I left my purse at home and had to RUN FROM THE STATION TO GET IT and I barely made it to class on time LAME.
Japanese class is still intense, we have our first quiz on Monday and we have to know all the hiragana and all the numbers AAAAAGH! I'm going to have to study my butt off! Then we had lunch.
The rice balls were totally inedible. So gross. So I went to the convenience store and got a Cup Noodle, which was so good here. They actually have little pork bits in it that aren't hard and gross. Maria accidentally got a milk out of the vending machine, and she only drinks soy milk, so I got to have it and it was SO GOOD! Milk here is really excellent. :)
Then I had printmaking, which, again, was uncomfortably quiet, even though Joe and I tried to talk. Our teacher Daisuke is like a really legit good printmaker. He has a press from the 1930's and does the prints on stone (I am a terrible artist and can't remember what they are called), but anyway, he showed us his work and it's pretty amazing. He's SUCH A COOL DUDE. Here's his website: http://www.d-inada.com/
Thennn we went to our Lit class, which is still super bad ass. I love our teacher (the feminist one). I found out that Jessica and Kevin are in my class, so we hung out and then went home together. BUT I missed the stop at Gotonda and got separated from them, but I got home ok.
Maria and Minh and a bunch of kids went to the Student Government party, but I went out for teriyaki (grilled/barbecued chicken on a stick) with Joe, Jessica, Jamie, Kevin, and Dave. A nice Japanese businessman helped us order, and the boys got hit sake and were giggly all night. It was all good fun, except that all I had eaten all day was that Cup Noodle and we only got one teriyaki apiece and I was SO HUNGRY, so Jessica and I went back and then hit up Jusco and McDonalds since the kitchen is still off-limits.
Then I passed out. Goooooood night.