HAYYY pt 1

Oh, dear. I seem to have abandoned this doo-dad. And I also seem to have abandoned my theme of naming each post after a new Japanese word.


But, really; sorry about this delay. After my body reluctantly recovered itself from being all sick-like, I was launched into a series of busy, busy things. Most of which I'm not even going to bother letting you know, because you're super bored and probably just came here to see pics of Japanese kidz doing cute things

Shiori-chan being so adorable it's borderline stupid.

So I'm gonna go ahead and work backwards as far as events that I haven't documented go, because that's how cameras work and I'm literally going to have to flip through my pictures to be able to remember things that have happened, especially when we get into the 200's (eeek, it's been so long I'm sorry!) But! At least the 泊り(sleepover) is fresh in my mind, and this story has many lol's in it so I think I can compensate a little :)

So. The kindergarten holds a 泊り for the oldest kids as a kick-off to the summer program, and also as a last hurrah for them seeing as how they will be graduating to elementary school once the summer ends. It's a nice little treat that the teachers throw for them (read: a lot of bitch work) BECAUSE WE LOVE THE 年長'S SO SO MUCH ~ cough.

AAANYSPANKLES. So the kindergarten was turned into a "Hotel" for the night, complete with all of us having to wear matching shirts and the kids having permission to have us completely clean up after them (fml). Oops, I skipped the part where all of the teachers (plus some of the kids' mother's) had to cook dinner for all 60 or so 年長's who would be sleeping over. Menu; Japanese curry rice! It's a bit different from Indian curry, but zomg the delicious-ness was astounding and my tongue still has no idea what even happened omg.

So the kindergarten closed about 4 hours early so we could get our cook on. First was to chop about 200 onions, carrots, and potatoes.

Dear onions,

Go die in a fire.

No love,

My eyes.

But seriously, the office was turned into a mini cutting studio with all the tables void of teacher-like things and strewn with onions. Momo, one of the 3 male teachers in training, walked in to get something from the copier and practically burst into tears and ran straight out. The women giggled. It felt nice to be with a bunch of gossiping women chopping up produce, even if I could only understand about 70% of wtf was going on. Next was the frying part, which was done in a little canopy-looking area where the bikes are usually parked. One of the mom's had lived in New Mexico (random lol) for 6 years so her English was quite good, and all the other mums were like "すごい!!!!!!!!!!!!" every time she opened her mouth and I was able to understand what was going on. What I wanted to say after the 9th time that they were all "ooooh, ahhhhh" was that them being able to chatter in Japanese was way cooler than lame English. Seriously, I feel like we got the short end of the stick as far as languages go. Regardless, they were impressed with the amount of Japanese I knew, and I in turn am surprised by how good I'm getting after only being here for a month. Mind you, my polite Japanese has degraded to extremely informal chatter, so going back to NU and talking to my old teachers will be interesting. They'll probably think I'm some sort of delinquent. YEAH ANYWAY

Have some cute. You deserve it after all my rambling. Lovely Sana-chan!

So after my housewife-like duties were finished (lol jk I was nearly halfway done but was getting tired of getting smoke in my eyes) I helped some of the other teachers load up all the 布団's (futon's -- YEAH THAT'S RIGHT, FUTON IS A JAPANESE WORD. Welcome to mind-fuck ville, population ME. I have been pronouncing it wrong my entire life. It took me a while of reading "futon" over and over to realize that it was actually "futon" and yeah. wtf. I will correct you from now on if you continue to pronounce it wrong. It is not "foo-tawn". NO. it's "h(f)uton."That and karaoke. It's not "carry-okee". No, you lose. It's "kara-oke". Okay? right. cough. 


So the kids came around 3:00, and were let loose to basically troll around the "hotel." For the lolz, this is what  made the kindergarten a "hotel"

I'm ~halfway convinced...
THERE YOU GO. Official hotel status.

The extra funny thing is only extra funny if you know how to read Hiragana (shout out to Sam and Sarah, as well as maybe Jasmine or anyone who has taken Japanese for more than 2 weeks and is reading this)

Remember; I work at Mizuho. +1 if you lol'd like I did when I took this picture.

And now for a random smattering of pictures before I progress with my sleepover story:

Spot the cutie! (hint: he makes it very easy for you)
Lol, when I said "random smattering" I really just meant one. LIFE IS FUNNER WHEN YOU'RE UNPREDICTABLE, OKAY?!

Oh geeze, where was I. *scrolls up* ah, yes. So after all the kids arrived, we had them change into their swimsuits to get ready for EXTRA SPECIAL PRIVATE POOL TIME!!!!!!!!1111 which, sadly, couldn't happen because (lol) a typhoon was passing through. yikes. So the swim instructors improvised them and had them all just...go the ホール (kind of like a mini auditorium; I think I mentioned it in a previous blog post) to play an hour's worth of games that would have been taken up by swimming. I originally thought this was going to be a pretty daunting task, but I forget that children have this tendency to want to repeat a game about 18 zillion times if they thought it was fun the first time around, so all was well.

I only kind of remember what they were doing here. All that you need to know is that it kept them  occupied for a long, long time.

Right. This blog needs to make sense. So soon after was dinner tiiiimee!! Yay, time to eat the curry rice I bled 14 eyeballs for. *confetti*. Each of the 年長 classrooms was transferred into a "restaurant", and the teachers (lol yay for getting out of doing a lot of things) became lovely servant lady...things.


wait that sa tree lol fml

hahaha. to be continiued. 


ah...so biigg...



I can barely describe the title of this post (moe) in English.

It's like...that feeling you get when you see something that is literally so cute that you're not necessarily in love, but you get all giggly and fuzzy and go "awwwww" about a billion times in your head and just want to reach out to the object of your 萌え and hug it to pieces while simultaneously dying inside over how cute it is. Like a crush, kind of, or extreme infatuation.

萌え will be relevant in a bit, when I get to the part about the maid cafe. Oh ma gawd y'all.

So this day started off with Mint cooking me a Thai breakfast of "crispy" eggs (they turned out mildly crispy lol) and some salmon. Omnomnomz. Grace came down and was like "You guys are going to a maid cafe today? ...CAN I COME PLZZZZ" so our party increased from 3 to 4! Yayy, the more the merrier for adventure-type things.

So as we're bouncing along in the train, excited for our day, I take a quick glance around and notice goodness gracious me, Japanese girls got their shoe game on point

Shout out to the little girl. WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN. If only my feet weren't so big...

It was kind of EXTREMELY HOT in Akiba, and I don't know what it is about Japanese people and the lack of wearing sunglasses when it gets so freaking sunny, so I definitely enhanced my foreign-lookingness (whoever thought this would be possible...) by whipping out the Ray-Bans. What I did see, however, was the prevalence of people using parasols, yes PARASOLS.

Like a scene out of a movie or something. um,  this edition  of spot-the-fashionista is sort of NOT DIFFICULT AT ALL. Damn damn damn why can't I dress like them and make it look so effortless? 
So our first stop in Akiba before the maid cafe madness was to go to ヨドバシカメラ (Yodobashi, which is sort of like Best Buy but on some srs CRACK) to try and get headphones for Lhriza (spoiler alert, she couldn't choose, typical www) but what I did find by the headphones section was this gem:


So after Lhriza was finished being undecided over which headphones to buy (the square ones are cute but there isn't enough base, etc :P) we walked around with a map that a lady cosplaying in some...kind of outfit gave to us when we left the station. It was kind of tricky but we eventually found 2 different areas teeming with maid cafes.

Ok before I go on, let me explain a lil' bit:

So as I mentioned before, Akihabara (shortened to Akiba) is おたく central, pretty much. I touched on it before, but basically it's for people that have such extreme obsessions i.e. games, manga, anime, etc. that they're known to not really leave the house much as they accumulate their nerdom. cough. Maid cafes were kind of constructed for these awkward shut-ins to get an opportunity to meet women. If it sounds wrong, it's because it kind of is. MORE ON THIS LATER.

So my inner おたく squeed when we walked through this little mini-mall thing where they had amazing figures on display and omg guys it's Haruhi

Explanation: been watching this Anime since the 7th grade, and kind of sort of learned the entire dance sequence that ends each episode (and yes I mean the entire thing, just ask me to do it and I will)


I don't know who you are but I'd like 839438 of you please.
Idk what this was, but it was really shiny and kind of epic-looking, plus it was something in Japan as tall as me so I carpe diem'd and all that.

I feel like this will become one of those posts where (if you don't know me that well) you awkwardly discover just how strange I am. Oh the fuck well.

We continued our trek through Akiba (which by the way I'm in love with, can we take another picture break and just look at this plz?)

Neat thing about this amazing place is that on Sundays (which is when the 4 of us went), before 6 pm there are no cars allowed on the roads so people literally can just walk up and down the street, do cartwheels, pose for corny pictures, that sort of thing...

Yes, I took advantage of this. Me and Lhriza :)

Yes, I wore my Harajuku Girls shirt. Life is funner when you just admit that you have no shame.

Spotted these 2 adorable little ones and figured that they were inspired by my shameless posing in the middle of the street

socute. Every single child on this island. SOCUTE.

Quickly realizing that this post is more pictures than words. Idc, FB is being stupid and not letting me upload pictures so I'm going to keep going.

Anyway, I got very very VERY excited when we spotted a Taiko: Drum Master game hidden in a Sega store, and immediately had to play:

It's similar to DDR, but with drums. And also really, really fun.

There's a video of me playing this, but a certain individual who shall remain unnamed (Lhriza.) still hasn't uploaded it :P

We did a lot more procrastinating on our way to finding maid cafes, and went inside a little store filled with UFO Catchers. These are really big in Japan; I mean I see the odd UFO Catcher in the little front lobby-thing in Wal-marts and Jewel's and whatnot, but nothing this intense. it was really bright and there were so many machines and I really was tempted to just win everything I saw.

Pandas plz.

Oh hey, look, I think we actually made it to the whole point why we were in Akiba to begin with...

So, more about maid cafes. As I mentioned, every waitress is dressed like a maid. But like...RIDICULOUSLY ADORABLE maids. They're dripping with jewels and charms and fluffy things and are all curly bobbed hair and wide eyes. It's the kind of thing where you're shocked and mildly disturbed but simultaneously having the best time ever. So the building we went to was 7 stories high, with a different cafe on each floor (the whole multi-level store thing is big in Japan. They're fans of conserving space.) we went aaaalll the way to the 7th floor, and only had to wait in line for about 20 minutes. When it was our turn we were greeted by a group of 3 disgustingly cute maids with a "おかえりなさいませっ、お嬢様" which is pretty much "Welcome home, mistress."

Ok, take a minute. Deep breaths. All together now: WTF.

So, yeah....remember that whole おたく thing from earlier? About how these shut-ins couldn't interact with girls? Yeahh, the entire time in these cafes the maids treat and address you as if you're their master (lol). They put ketchup on your food for you (lol) cut up said food before you eat it (lol), even let you pick the color of what straw you want with your drink. WHAT. The 4 of us felt out of place, but decided that this situation was too hilarious to not exploit.

The first maid we encountered asked if we understood Japanese (I'm kind of a blatant display of foreign-ness)  but she should have asked if we could comprehend cute because I swear that's all they were speaking. I looked around at all the maids flouncing about, and found myself judging them with Lhriza as they passed by ("oh! she's adorable! Look at that bracelet! Meh, she's alright. Could have dressed a little cuter.") and was further mortified when we were asked to pick a maid out of the lineup of all the staff to get to take a picture with later (you could also play a game with them, but I wanted a memento of this crazy ass day). Is anyone else picking up on how atrociously dehumanizing this process is? But still hilarious. You get sucked into the atmosphere. Oh right, there were also 2 awkward おたく dudes sitting near us who were obviously not there  for the lulz. Awkward.

Right, 萌え (moe). The maids were definitely a fan of this word. Before you drank your drank or ate your foods, the maids would bless it by instructing everyone to make a hand heart (no joke) and sing "萌え, 萌え, ちゅう~!" while bouncing from side to side. ちゅう means kiss, or rather the sound you make (chuuuu). She was literally inserting love and over-the-top cuteness into our meal. Like, what is this I'm trapped in some sort of cotton candy nightmare.

The 4 of us were seated at tables right in front of the stage where people could get their pictures taken, and I had a moment of extreme face palm-ness when I commented to Lhriza that the maid up there taking pictures with the poloroid was also adorable, and the maid turns and looks straight at me and waves. I'm like o___o ... then she goes "I can speak English." LOL. LAWL. PERFECT. It turns out the first maid we got could also speak English since she had lived in Canada for 6 years, and she was just too shy to speak in front of us (similar to my whole fear of speaking Japanese to native speakers...I could relate.)

Anyway, we were all called up on stage when we were ready to get our picture taken, and when it was my turn I awkwardly stood up in front of my maid and this woman was probably a couple inches shy of 5'5'' even with 4 inch heels on and sort of just stared at me and went "OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH!!!!" -_- sigh. Endless struggle of a tall person in Japan. Anyway, you could choose animal ears to wear in the picture, and OF COURSE I CHOSE THE LAMB EARS~. Me and...whatever her name was took a picture, which was promptly printed out and decorated with marker (another big thing in Japan: taking pictures and then drawing on them. More on this later.)

Finished product:

Notice the giant "萌". Good god.  ISNT' THIS SO CUTE THO

A picture of all our maid pictures (I don't have a scanner, shoot me).  BASK IN THE CUTE.

Anywhoodles, we finished up our food and got "License of Your Majesty" membership cards which were only Level 1, and if you went to the same cafe 5 times you got to the next level (no really guys)

I feel like a certified pimp or something. AWW YEAH.

Shit this is the part where the post gets too unbearably long. Okay so after trolling the maid cafe came to a sad close (we have every intention of returning, fyi) we went to a プリクラ (Purikura; photo booth!) I've always always ALWAYS wanted to do the whole photo booth thing in general, but especially プリクラ's because they looked so amazingly fun and just so...Japanese, you know? When in Rome....

So we went to the basement of a shop that had many different booths, all different themes. I think the one we chose was fashion-themed or something? I couldn't tell because when you walked inside and had to choose settings everything was timed and it was all very stressful so Lhriza just ended up wildly pushing buttons and I think the setting she chose enhanced your features, because I ended up with big ass eyes. Like, my eyes are pretty naturally wide as it is, but...yeah it was pretty ridiculous. But necessary. I think that's a recurring theme in my stay here: Ridiculous, but necessary.

So after we were done giggling and posing and being 15 year old girls, we ran around to the back of the booth for the editing station. THIS IS WHERE SHIT GOT INTENSE. You had 90 seconds to customize your picture, i..e adding crowns to people's heads, drawing squiggly lines, adding sparkly stars banners, etc. Basically cute-vomiting all over the place. It was intense but also fun because we were sort of breathlessly picking features and squealing when the time got closer to zero. Too too fun. I need to do more of these.

Love. Love love love.

Sorry if this post was unbearably long...reeling off of the disappointing news that Winter/Spring 2012 will not, in fact, be spent at the University of Sydney and I'm kind of figuring out housing and what I'll do with my life at NU and whatnot. I'm thinking of taking a quarter off and just going the fuck to Sydney anyway. Thoughts?

To everyone I promised a postcard to; SORRY THIS IS TAKING ME SO LONG. I still haven't gotten paid yet, but know that I have not forgotten about you!! I'll write something sweet :)

Instead of going to bed like a sensible person, I am now going to re-watch ever Haruhi episode because I can.




Title means "simple", which is exactly what this blog post shall be.

I'm sick. Like throat hurting, stuffy nose, weak sick. They thought I had a fever, but it was mostly because my classroom was too hot. Remember how emotionally charged Japanese people will be? Yeah, I kept getting offers to go to the hospital and my boss apparently has the same symptoms that I do so she whipped out like...4 bags of prescriptions and kept offering pills upon pills and I only kindly agreed to something to help with my throat because that shit is really starting to get on my nerves.

English time with the 年少's was fun, I brought in my speakers to play a fun little song on my iPod, that sings about big and small, fast and slow, open and shut, loud and quiet, etc. I underestimated (I just typed that as misunderestimated. Yeah, my English is going to hell.) how loud my speakers were, so I had to shout the words at them, which was fun because kids like loud things and grand gestures and whatnot, but that also did horribly mean things to my throat and I guess I was jumping around too much because I was sweating bullets and out of breath and I think my internal temperature was almost 39 Celsius and this is a horrible run-on sentence and I have to sneeze UGH.

Being sick in Japan is not fun.

What is absolutely fun was the day I spent in Akiba with Grace, Mint, and Lhriza (you're welcome) before my disease took over me. I promisessszzz that will be a really fun post to read; I'm just too tired now. :( Contents include our first time at a maid cafe! Oh lord.

In the meantime, a little treat of what Akiba's like;

One of these things is not like the other. Oh, and also a dude.




お疲れ様でした ...hmm. How to translate this into English.

It's a Japanese 決り文句, (kimarimonku) or a "set phrase". There are about a billion of these (learning them was real real fun) and...hmm. You say these at certain set times, and use them every single time without fail or else you'll be stared at and judged for your lack of cultural awareness / be kindly asked to gtfo out of Japan (kind of but not really.)

Examples: everytime you're about to start a meal / eat food that someone has made for you, you must say いただきます (itadakimasu) to express your gratefulness. Then, when you're finished eating, you say "ごちそうさまでした" (gochisousamadeshita). No questions asked; do this or else you'll look like a colossal fool.

So I guess with お疲れ様でした (otsukaresamadeshita), since we say it everytime we conclude another joyous day at the Kindergarten, and my friends say it after our hang-outs come to a close (so so so formal, but I'm getting used to it) it's...a phrase you say when something ends? Or something? Idk. Nothing makes sense in English here. But that's your Japanese lesson for the day. Absorb it.

Sorry about the lack of blogging. I've been so busy last week; mostly because I've been putting some of my lessons into fruition! <3<3 Mind you, the regularly hired English teacher on Tuesday forgot that he was supposed to come in, so as I was hanging out with some of the 6 year olds, I got pulled aside and was asked to lead English time like right now, yes we mean right now, lol have fun  and got to the English building where a group of the 年中's (ages 4~5) were sitting there, waiting for them to teach them. I was absolutely horrified; I had nothing with me for my prepared lesson plans; I wasn't supposed to start until Thursday. But I mean...when duty calls...

I opened up with the "Hello song" which I knew the kids were familiar with since they sing it every time the other English teachers lead English time. The song goes a little like this (to the tune of frère Jacques):

Hello, hello!
Hello, hello!
How are you?
How are you?
Very, very happy!
Very, very happy!

After I made them do that a couple of times (having them do Okay...SPIN! or some shit) I realized that I would have to do something else, or else face sudden death. So I had all the girls stand up, taught them to say "I'm a girl!" complete with anti-feminist hair flips and makeup pantomimes. Then I had them sit down and had the boys stand up and say "I'm a boy!" while flexing and growling. Don't hate; it got them to remember how to say 'girl' 'boy' and determine which one they were.

After this, I again realized that shit I have about 10 minutes left...so I decided to do the best I could with the birthday game without having Fei to back me up; I had them (try) to make a circle, stood in the middle, asked "Who here is 4??!!" while holding up 4 fingers. Some of the kids smiled, nodded, and held up 4 fingers and stood up. Others held up 5 fingers and also stood up. And, there were some precious children running around and playing with toys. sigh. Thankfully this group ended early, and I sang the goodbye song (Goodbye, *dramatic arm circling* everyone! *clapclap* Goodbye, everyone! *clapclap* Goodbye everyone, see you *pantomime binoculars* again *wave*) then frantically tried to think of more productive things to do with a full 20 minutes of class time for the next group. These were yellow-hats; きくぐみ. Notoriously known for having severe issues with paying attention. They actually weren't too horrible; I was able to kind of sort of hold their attention as I read them "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", but I already knew in advance that the circle game was a bust. I could see it in the teacher's eyes that she somewhat sympathized with my pain, but there's only so much you can do when you can only speak English for 20 minutes and the only other adult in the room knows not a lick.


Fei lent me her iPod (a purple nano...brb, crying over my lost child) and her speakers so I could play "If You're Happy And You Know It" loudly enough to drown out my horrible singing, and played this for the kids after the Hello song. There's a Japanese version, so they pretty much knew what to do, but just listened to the English translation and tried to piece the two together. LOVE IT WHEN CHILDREN LEARN.

After that, Fei also lent me about 40 laminated color circles that the Kindergarten uses for English. I familiarized them with red, yellow, and green, the proceeded to (sort of) play red light/green light. I did a couple of pilot tries to see if they could get the concept of the game, but there's something about getting a room full of kindergarteners to run and then telling them that they have to really stop running now seriously that doesn't work. Blargh. But my supervisor happened to pop in as the kids were finally getting it, and nodded approvingly and took pictures/video of my angel of mercy who correctly put up the right circles when I yelled "Okay...time for yellow! Now, show me red! Good! Now, green!" Eventually all of the kids wanted a turn 信号(stop light) and were swarming me, all screaming "ME PLEASE! ME PLEASE!" so I switched it up and played a more inclusive game with the circle of colors; I randomly placed them all around the room then asked them to "Find me something ____!" and see if they were able to correctly identify the colors. Mind you, there was always that kid who would say the Japanese equivalent exactly after I gave the instruction, so I'm not entirely sure if they all knew the colors in English. But hey, at least someone understood!

I was feeling pretty good, read them another book, then sang Goodbye. It was a pretty successful lesson and I did the same thing the next day. I gotta admit I was a little frazzled when my advisor gave me a full schedule for July. ACTUALLY TEACHING AHH HELP.

Anyway, apart from boring school shit, I've been hanging out a lot with Fei and some girls from my dorm! After frustratingly finding out that my debit card works at no nearby ATM's (Ummm can I get paid now? In cash? Soon? Kthanx) I asked Fei if she could lend me some money for a train ticket. She asked where I was going, I told her that I was going to get some Korean food/drink with some fr---OMG HOLLY I LOVE KOREAN FOOD CAN I COME TOO OKAY I'M COMING.

So an hour or so later and we're in 新大久保, (Shin-ookubo, aka KOREAN TOWN). I introduce Fei to Ahreum, Grace, Lhriza, and Mint. In case you're wondering who the later two are...

The bear and the duck.

So Fei and Ahreum hit it off almost immediately, what with Fei's love of Kpop, Ahreum's hilarious habit of trying really hard to speak English but just lapsing into Japanese, and the presence of alchohol (lemme tell you how strange it was to drink legally. I know I only have 3 more months but still. The novelty.)

The food was delicious, and Ahreum kept sweet-talking the waiters in Korean, and we got a bunch of free food and the drinks were free, plus our bill was 15% off (LOLLLLLLLLLLLL.) Ahreum kept us laughing with tales of her raucous partying in Korea, which she tried to do in English ("In Korea...bery, bery...*pantomimes drinking, then sleeping*) and we made plans to A) go to a karaoke bar B) pregame said bar at the park in the station next to  大泉学園 (where the dorm is). I had loads of fun, and will be sad to say goodbye to these lovelies in September :(


Eating Korean in Japan...I feel like I'm being trolled. But I don't care. WAS DELICIOUS.

Lhriza noticed me take my camera out as soon as the food got there and told me that she shares the same obsession with taking pictures of food that I do. NOT ALONE.

Lhariza, Ahreum, and Fei! Being cute and Asian of course.

That awkard moment when you realize, sitting at a table with 2 Filipinas, someone from Thailand, a Chinese-born Japanese person, and a Korean that you're the ONLY NON-ASIAN PERSON THERE. literal story of my life for the next 2 months...

Mint literally does that pose every single time a picture is taken of her. Also; note how stupid I look doing the peace sign. I promise I will perfect this by the time I return to Evanston.

So I awkwardly asked Mint why her name was Mint (not hating, just really curious) and she says that literally all Thai people have nicknames because their actual names are too long and complicated to use in everyday conversation. She says her mom...really likes Mints. And, yeah. My mom named me after Halloween but that is nowhere near as awesome.

Group shot! Didn't realize my hair looked this dumb...

And now for a brief session on why Ahreum is my new favorite Korean:

We couldn't find a place to throw away our tissues, so Ahreum fashioned a little purse out of hers. Like, what?

Didn't look nearly as cute as her. A problem I face with many people here...

In conclusion, cats like to hang out here (no, really.)

Hi, I own this space.
I have maybe 2 or 3 blog posts worth of happenings before you're mostly caught up with the comings and goings of me in Japan. I swear these will get more interesting...the Kindergarten is almost closed for the summer, which leads way for the Summer Program, which is supposed to include lots of neat things. Including me getting to be in a Kimono!! Watch out y'all.

Also, I get to see Harry Potter before you do. Lol.