Andreas’s Japan journeys

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Homestay package III

Filed under: My blog — Andreas @ 11:52 am

Ok, so I have rewritten everything just like it was and now I am finally going to update this again. Just hope there is no problem. I deleted the last entry so now it looks as if there has been a pause for a month with nothing in January, which basically is a truth, but I hope this will make up for it. Enjoy people!

Exploration a’la 1542 28/12

I feel like the Portuguese when they first discovered Japan. I went to Nagoya for the second time that actually felt like the first time (the real first time I got off the train, went into a store across the street from the train station and then returned home). This time I experienced the city with some friends and we saw all the glorious things that a big city had to offer (except the castle unfortunately). The hot dog restaurant where a hot dog poured ketchup on himself and I could eat 3 items for the price of 70 SEK.

Nagoya. A back-alley with a temple. On the sides there were two huge office complexes and then this small shrine… They sure take care of their old buildings. On the right is a vending machine for warm food. I’ve never seen one of these in Sweden, only for drinks. But in Japan you can find ones for food and batteries as well!

The Indian restaurant where I ate the best bread I’ve ever eaten, with garlic and tomatoes on it, with some chicken curry that I slurped until my stomach felt as if it would burst. The 7 storey anime boutique, where my friends spent extra time on the 4th floor, the one dedicated to the porn…, and on the way back to the station we went past a place with a huge sign of an anime girl and though; cool another anime place we haven’t been to yet, but as we got closer to the entrance the naked girls gave us second thoughts about entering. We did thought the place and its surroundings did seem a little bit too suspicious anyway! Only thing was, it was just next to everything else decent. We really didn’t think there would be something suspicious there.

The Indian bread called nan, delicious!

From left to right; Hard rock cafe! – Club SEGA, need I say more? – Oh my, what’s this…

I also went to this superstore for electronics. They had it all, cameras, TVs, sound systems, computers, games, you name it. Only problem was… they didn’t have the game that I was looking for. What a let-down. They did have the expansion pack that has been released just a few months ago, but the price was outrageous. I could probably buy two expansions in Sweden for that sum of money. And it was in Japanese as well, so I don’t think I’d have understood anything anyways. So that is one more thing to add to the very short list of things that are more expensive in Japan than in Sweden; computer games. Now don’t think this applies to tv-games as well, because it sure does not. I can buy Zelda for 6000 here, and in En it would probably be about 10000 in Sweden. I’m thinking of ordering my game from Sweden since I can get it for about 100 SEK there, instead of 450 SEK…

– – –

Today’s word is hakkendiscovery

Open congratulations!… 1/1

…To you all! Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu. Happy New Year! That’s what they say in Japanese when they want to celebrate the new year. I think… Well it sounds like it, and there may be a small logic to it. I think… Open the new year and celebrate for it, yoho! Something like that. At least it was a blast with the host family to celebrate New Year’s because there was no real christmas for me. The dad in the family worked on christmas eve just as I thought. Actually, he worked on the day that we count as New Year’s Eve. 31/12 that is. Just a little, but it was 9 in the evening that he had to go to work. *thumbs up* In any case, on 1/1 we headed for the nearby shrine called hachiman. Hachiman is also the name of a god, and that’s why the temple is called the same thing. But before that we had the best dinner yet, with shabbu shabbu, the best Japanese meal I know of. It’s a pot where you cook your vegetables and meat instantly, it’s all raw when served on your plate, and you use your chopsticks to stir your meat in the pot for 10 seconds and then it’s done, slurp! One piece down the hatch and then you pick up your next raw piece and cook it. It’s great, and extremely expensive at restaurants so I’m glad I got the home-made version.

My hostfamily – Shabbu shabbu – Mochi!!!

After the dinner we watched some tv with various “celebrate the new year” programs running all night, but we headed for the temple at 12 am. By car… 5 min walk to the temple and we took the car… And the okasan is telling *me* I’m gonna gain weight if I eat fruit in the evening……. Oh well! It was good that we had the car since we forgot the things we were going to bring as offerings. So once back at the temple again at like 20 past, we could finally get to it. There were loads of people and I went around trying to take as many pictures as possible before the battery went out. Then I rang the bell and made a short prayer. Shinto temples are so much cooler than christian churches.

First some comedians and a bit singing. The guy in a school uniform is really funny. He is playing an anime-character, a schoolgirl that slays something cause he walks around with this sword all the time. But he speaks in his normal voice and makes fun of the audience. He’s not as scary as a few people who actually gives in and becomes the character they appear to be (which means talking in a strange voice and thinking they are the opposite sex… ozoroshii)

Here we have a really popular artist called djOZMA. He’s crazy, but fun. And I was quite surprised when he and all the girls dancing with him got naked… well, later it was said that they were dresses (the girls, he was actually naked) and the tv company had to appolgise because some viewers had taken offence. The thing became so big the news in the States actually reported on it.

Some mini shrines that the family made to please the hose gods and bring them luck for the coming year. Notice the oranges all over the place.

After the prayer was over I got oranges (to stay healthy during the coming year) and the guy handing them even said happy new year in English to me. I think he thought I didn’t speak Japanese. And for some reason I didn’t that moment, because I had forgot what happy new year was in Japanese, so I couldn’t show off. Damn memory, it always fails at the critical moments, like when you see some nice girls or when a guy says happy new year to you in English! But at least I got two oranges instead of one like everyone else did! I’m special! Then we got some rice wine with rice in it. Talk about doubling it. And there was some strange fruit in it as well, cut to pieces, that was really hard. Tasted a bit strange but at least the drink warmed me. Then we went home and I cried “gott nytt år” into the street and the famly thought I was being robbed and a dog started barking like hell. Talk about a successful New Year’s Eve!

This is the temple we went to, a bit dark, but you can see it’s a shinto shrine because of the distinct red gate called Torii.

– – –

Today’s word is iwauto celebrate

Fiskdam the Japanese way 3/1

Today the host family and I went to the same Hachiman shrine we went to during New Year’s. Today was the first festival of the year and it was dedicated to getting a good harvest this year. It is played out every year, but only once, so I’m glad I was part of it, because it was crazy I’m telling you. First of all, when we finally got there the temple was already full but we got good seats anyway. Everyone was either too curious or too afraid (dochikanaa….) of the big bad foreign guy clamping into their ceremony to give me space to sit. The ritual had already started some ten or fifteen minutes ago I think, with the group of priests singing to the lone beat of a drum. It took at least thirty minutes. Two songs were played but they were long, but I didn’t mind. Was something new and different, so I snatched some shots, trying to get the drummer as well. After the song one of the priests had to act as the cow and carry the rice candy that symbolises the harvest on his back, circling one lap around the drum. When I say candy, I don’t mean candy like in Europe with chocolate dipped raisins or anything. It’s called mochi and is hard as rock. And it’s huge. About 1 metre times 1 metre circle shaped, half a decimetre thick. The old priest had major problems going round the drum and the rest of the priests had to hold the mochi (took about 6 guys) not to break the cow-priest’s back.

Left to right; The priests singing – the rice is handed out – my rice – my homestay mother’s rice, basically rice all over the place. Did I mention that this thing called mochi I’ve been talking about is made out of rice?

After that the real ceremony was over and I thought, cool, ok let’s go home. But no, now we were going to wait for the priests to throw all the mochi out to the audience. If you eat the mochi you will remain healthy the coming year (didn’t I hear that about something else just recently…?). The way the mother explained it, I thought it would be like fiskdam back in Sweden during childhood birthday parties, but without the rod. I could not have been more wrong… It was chaos!! War! Take cover! It didn’t help. After cutting these huge pieces into smaller variants, half the size of my hand, the priests could heave them out in the audience, and everyone went crazy. The mother told me I had to get as many as possible! I thought, well, I’m in front and have quite a good place, I can easily catch one or two when they throw them out. I mean I’ve been to concerts and stuff where they throw stuff at the audience. If this is the behaviour at a Japanese concert I’m too afraid to attend one.

First of all, they threw full buckets at once and there was no way you could avoid the mochi pieces. I got several in my head and face, almost knocked me to the ground (they are hard). And the guy to my side… holy shit he was like fighting for them! If they didn’t land in my bag I had he would snatch them right in front of me. And the person behind me would grab me feet so he could get the mochi. It was seriously a battle! No wonder the Japanese could get so far in the Second world war, what with the fierceness they fought for some mere candy… But in the end the foreigner prevailed!! I got quite a share of mochi myself after levelling up in the skill “mochi-avoiding”.

But in the final sequence one priest apparently thought that I should get more, because there were actually few who were throwing directly at me so I didn’t get that much at first, so he threw the whole bucket at me, and despite my ultimate reflexes I got at least ten of them right in the head, and into the bag. The rest bounced off and guess who took the ones I couldn’t catch from the ground but Mr. Belligerence. He was quite old so he must have a high experience level of “mochi-snatching” and he gets +5 when competing against foreigners I bet.

After the battle I had to clean my pants, jacket and hair from mochi pieces and walked groggily from the battle-raged temple. That night we feasted on mochi pizza. I thought we would get the mochi on the pizza as small pieces together with the mushroom and tomatoes, but no, it was the entire dough that was made out of mochi and then fried, so that was quite the different pizza, just like the previous fish pizza I got at the homestay… but it was good, really.

– – –

Today’s word is tatakauto make battle

All about school 5/1

I figured that since I have actually been here for three months already, I’d give some more info about my school and all. Especially since my class has ended and I will get a new one with new teachers the next semester. So I took some pictures of the school and my classmates and of course my teachers. I was actually threatened by one of my teachers that if I didn’t write that she was the best teacher I had had she would do horrible things to me (including lowering my grade I have no doubt!), so let’s get it over with and say that Naruse-sensei was my best teacher during this time! (uso…*thumbs up*)

Some photos of my class and classroom. First off are the five rules – listen, talk, write, read all you see, and the 5th and most important rule; check out the teacher is she’s hot. – My friend from Canada – Chris from America, he’s gone at the moment, this was from my last class. He’s coming back next semester – A class shot – Second class shot – Now here we have the picture of the class wedding. My Greek friend Kostas and Korean Hwang are married (Kostas is naturally the bride!) and their German kid Toni, talk about multi-lingual family!

The Yamasa II building where we study at the moment, when I took this shot I was in another building however.

Lastly my teachers; my kanji teachers (from last semester, I don’t have them any more) – Naruse-sensei, best teacher in the world… – and Terada sensei

– – –

Today’s word is ichibanthe best

All about my homestay 6/1

After due consideration I have decided to make something more about my homestay. Just like my school it feels as if I have not really introduced my homestay where I have now lived for a month and will spend another three months with. In an earlier post I gave you some pictures of the house from the inside, and while I want to give some from the outside I have so far failed to get some pictures from there. I do have some more of the kitchen… but I’d like to show the house from the bypassers view too. I am going to see if I can get some photos later on. Instead of pictures of the immediate house, I have taken some of the surrounding scenery (I have no idea why I didn’t take some of the house from the outside at the same time, so don’t ask) and of the two temples that are close-by. There are two temples within 5-15 minutes by bike, a shinto and a buddhist.

Ok, so here we are finally with some more pictures of my house. First off the kitchen and the bathroom.

And here we have some pictures of the outside that I took one a bright day. It appears that the family didn’t have a huge garden as I thought at first… I just haven’t had time to check out my faulty statement.

The shinto one is where we celebrated the New Year but since it was dark I figured I should give some more presentable pictures of it, because it’s a very nice place. Only thing is, there is a love hotel right next to it… The other temple is also very nice and located more inside the urban area of the district, while the shinto is outside by the fields so it is undesturbed. I am uploading the pictures of the temples into my gallery, so you have to make the effort of going there and wait for all the pictures to load (I still haven’t figured out a better way unfortunately), so I hope that you are patient. A good way is to open the gallery in a seperate window and let it load for 2 minutes while continuing to read here. I’ve also got myself a mobile phone with a sumou guy on it! I didn’t like the colour at first, but you get used to it. At least it’s better than pink.

My mobile phone that I bought, and I even have a sumou on it!

– – –

Today’s words are jinjashinto temple, and oterabuddhist temple



  1. “but as we got closer to the entrance the naked girls gave us second thoughts about entering”

    WHAT?!?!?!?! Are you gay!?!? how can you say you guys got second thought about seeing that sign!! what has Japan done to you…

    Comment by David Carlström San — Friday, March 30, 2007 @ 7:42 pm

  2. sorry for my bad english

    Comment by David Carlström San — Friday, March 30, 2007 @ 7:43 pm

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