Sunday, June 8, 2014

I Think I'm Turning Japanese

     Ok I'm sorry. I know I'm way behind on my blog, but I don't have time to spend on my computer when there's just so much Japanese-ing to be done.  Sorry everyone. But I've got some good stories to share and I know everyone will enjoy this so I hope it's well worth the wait.
I think it's been not quite a month since I last wrote so I'm going to just have to focus on the high lights or it might take so long to read that I'll be home from Japan before you finish (perish the thought!)

      So I'll start off with just some basic things. Like this photo which looks straight from a Miyazaki movie (like Spirited Away) or something.  I pass this every day on my way to work and it kind of makes me want to go in and explore.

I've been doing a bit of exploring around Sapporo (and really it's probably a miracle that I haven't gotten completely lost yet) and I've started discovering cool places like this just hanging out around the city.  I thought it was pretty cool. Some days I'm just biking to work and I'm like 'that looks like a nice trail to go down' and so I do. And then I am rewarded with things like this. And then I wander around until I find a landmark I know and I am once again on my way.

I've discovered some nice places to eat. For example, this delicious udon restaurant that I'm addicted to because of the tempura veggies that you can buy with it. Ah I want it right now as I type this...but that's probably because I haven't had lunch yet. But seriously, doesn't it look delicious? That U shaped thing is a squash or something (it's orange) but it's kind of sweet and I love it.  Ahhhhh.... food.

Also, I bike over this bridge every day and only recently explored it's banks with Souhei and Adrian. But look how pretty it looks. (Who am I kidding? Everything is pretty here in Japan.) So this is also a daily part of my life that I probably take for granted and just really need to stop, sit back, and re-evaluate.
                                                    I SPEND EVERY DAY IN JAPAN!

And I spend lots of time exploring the city with these two boys. Not only do I get to be the only white person in the group, but I'm also the only girl. Hooray for being the minority (this is never a thing at BYU.)

Also I may have totally gone to the zoo in Japan.  Now I think that makes 1 zoo in Nebraska, 1 in Paris, and 1 in Sapporo. I think I'm dominating this world zoo list. Not that I have one...but maybe I should get on that.
It was actually a lot of fun, despite the fact that it was freezing and super windy. That actually made it more ideal because there wasn't really anyone else around. No lines! That meant we could just stroll right in to see these adorable little monkeys and we didn't have to share them with anyone. Buahaha. Ok so not that I think it would have been that crowded anyway, but it's fine since I like the wind.

But let's be honest, all of the most exciting things happened the day after the zoo. Does anyone know what happened that day? It begins with an H and also ends with an H!... You got it! HANUKKAH!

Oops. I meant Hannah-close enough.  Obviously I had to greet her with this sign. My host parents made it for me when I came to Japan but since we were all at different terminals they didn't actually get to use it. So now seemed like the best time. Hannah's here! She's in Japan with me! (Well she was. Now she's gone.)  This was the beginning of the greatest adventures of our lives. (Kidding. But maybe some of the funniest.)

First of all, let me just say that Hannah and I being in the same country means that big things are going down. Which explains why Elder Christofferson felt the need to come and say hi. I mean how often are all 3 of us ini Japan together? (Not often.)

 So each day we would go out and do things. This is a cool park that we discovered on our way to somewhere else and so we got slightly distracted.  That's Hannah in the middle and Souhei doing the robot on the right side.  Sometimes it's kind of scary having Hannah here because it's just so easy for her to blend in and get lost amidst all the other blonde heads here....oh wait. I forgot that we are generally the only blondes for miles. That's actually pretty fun and definitely a first.

We also saw this cool park that wasn't really a park but rather a Hokkaido government building lawn. But it's totally epic.  We would have done more exploring if we weren't so hungry and on the hunt for sushi.

And, as if our hair doesn't make us stand out enough, sometimes we like to make really embarrassing mistakes. Like at this sushi restaurant, for example. That green stuff, despite what you may think, is NOT (I repeat, not) powdered wasabi.  Sadly, all 3 of us (Adrian, Hannah, and I) had already mixed it into our soy sauce. I'm actually not sure who was more embarrassed for us: the store person who came to inform  us that we had just put green tea into our soy sauce or us...Good thing we didn't have Souhei with us. We'd never have interesting stories like this if natives were around to keep us from looking silly. What a relief.

Also I can finally mark 'ride tandem on a bicycle' off my list. Although this picture probably won't be what most people expect when they see 'tandem riding.'

Saturday was quite the day. We had a fun filled day planned that began (quite early I might add) with Momo's sports festival! Look at how adorable and Asian she is?  I've never had little sisters before, but I'm thinking Asian ones are the way to go. Luckily, cheering for Momo all day out in the sun gave me the perfect opportunity to work on that tan I've always wanted...Because who doesn't find these kind of tan lines attractive? Really.

This is Momo dominating at her race. Okay, so she got third, but that means that she dominated the other two people. That's my girl! The one who is running like her legs and arms are made of spaghetti because she's got such great form.

And here's a picture of some of the other stuff they did. They had a bunch of events. This one was a flower dance something or other. It was extremely entertaining. And let's not discount the fact that Hannah and I participated in at least 2 different events during this sports festival. (Any visiting foreign girls' dream-obviously.) For one of the races they had to run, find their partner, and then find somebody who fit the description (which changed every time.) For example, the first one was 'fathers' so my host dad hopped up and ran for that one. The one that Hannah and I did was essentially for people not from the Hokkaido area. I figured we counted for that. So we both hopped up and ran with these kids. It was adorable because after running the little kids gave me their cards and they are the cutest things ever.

We, sadly, weren't able to stay for all of Momo's sports festival because we had a wedding reception to get to! And apparently, so did this one girl from my BYU Japanese class. Don't worry, she's not in the Sapporo ward or anything-she just randomly happened to be at this wedding too. Soooooo unexpected. But awesome also.

So this is that point where I attach that video that everyone has been waiting for. The one where my sister partially tricked me into agreeing to dance at this Japanese wedding reception when really it was partially a fault of me not understanding and the rest of me underestimating Japanese weddings. Regardless, I accidentally (on purpose) volunteered Hannah too once I was a part of it because, apparently, my sister needed 2 more people so I figured us 2 were perfect. And then it somehow spiraled into us being part of a 5 person Japanese boy band wearing high school uniforms and doing a choreographed dance at the reception.
(Not sure when it got to that point-but this was definitely a thing that happened.) I used to think that the Japanese onsen (public bath house) was about as Japanese as I could get, but this may have taken the cake. (That's me on the right. In case you get me confused with the other 1 white person dancing up there.)
Here's a sneak peek of us in our uniforms to get you mentally prepared for watching the video. Or else it's awesomeness might just make you pass out.

(Sorry, I did my best to embed the video but technology is just really hating me at the moment.)

Anyway, after the wedding, Hannah, Souhei, Adrian, and I took the Ropeway up the mountain so we could see Sapporo at night. It was beautiful and totally worth the $11 up there. Except our tickets didn't take us all the way to the top and I was too cheap to buy another so I made everyone walk.  But it was actually pretty nice out and only 1/8 of a mile more to the top (so not worth $6.) Of course it was also pitch black and nothing but stone steps-so great and adventuresome!  So enjoy this night's view of Sapporo. I know I did! The trip down the mountain was actually pretty fun because who doesn't like a trip down steep, stone steps in the dark a possibility of bears roaming around? Obviously that was also an adventure. 
I was kind of exhausted when we got home that night. Since Hannah and I had ridden to the church with my family in the car, we didn't have our bikes waiting for us at the church. So we decided to walk home because  taking the subway and the street car and walking between isn't that much faster than just walking. Plus it was a super nice night out-so walking it was! It only took us 75 minutes to get home but it gave us a good chance to talk.

  Man, I forgot how nice it is to have someone around who understands me completely.  Not that I'm complaining about Japan-because I love being here- but it would be nice if Hannah didn't leave.

(Contrast the beauty of Sapporo at night to Sapporo in the day. Behold!)

The next day we got to spend lots of quality time with the family because it was Sunday so we all went to church, hung out, drove around and saw some sights, had dinner together, the usual. So these pictures are from some of the places they took us to see.

The first one is Hannah and Momo because they got along so well while Hannah was here. Finally, someone Momo's own age for her to play with. :)
I bet you didn't realize that Stonehenge was in Japan. Or that it's under construction.  Yup...both of those things happened. (Sorry about the glare from the car window.)

Then there are these Easter Island statues. Also very normal. But not quite as normal as the fact that I'm actually trying to sit like a lady on that fake deer while Hannah is completely straddling hers. (Momo's doing her best to accomplish both at once.)
Just look at how well Hannah fits in-she can't leave now!

Monday was a big day too (every day is a big day when Hannah's here.) My host mom dropped the 5 of us off at an onsen town about 30 minutes away and we spent the day at the water park/onsen there. It was a ton of fun. Momo had the day off of school (since her sports festival was on Saturday) so she came with.  So we all had a ton of fun at the water park. Mainly we just followed Momo around as she chose where to go. But it was nice because I understood a lot more this time.    I even felt less awkward about the onsen this time. Not quite sure how Hannah felt about that. But obviously we both had a great time awkwardly laughing and not looking at each other and just enjoying the hot springs. 

This is a creeper shot that Hannah took of Souhei, Momo, and I walking around. It's kind of far away because well, it's apparently not a very good creeper shot, but Hannah said we looked like a little family. Ahhh I wish. I hope I have cute little Japanese daughters like Momo.                                               We got home around 4 pm and had to rush to church since classes start early on Mondays. So even though I really wanted to take a nap, we left to go teach. (Hooray for night classes. Oh wait.)                         
 But since class ended early we decided to go out for dinner and get some delicious Japanese food (since Hannah's time is running out. At least, her time in Japan.) So here's the 4 of us getting yakiniku. Which was so delicious but even though the menu said for 3-4 people what it really meant was 1 Hannah.  This is Adrian's sad face that it's already all gone. No more meat. 

Monday night we ended up watching Harry Potter with these guys so we got home kind of late. So we decided to go home right after class on Tuesday to get extra family time in since Hannah was leaving on Wednesday.

We spent Tuesday doing some last minute errands for Hannah/drinking chocolate milk and eating ramen. This was our first and last bowl together in Sapporo.  Luckily, even though today was bitter sweet, we spotted this random lady doing her grocery shopping in her casual kimono so that made up for the fact that Hannah has to leave. (I think she would agree with me here.) We have now dubbed Tuesday "Kasual Kimono Kayoubi" (Kayoubi-Tuesday) and if you're feeling really wild you can even throw 'Kaimono' in there (as that is Japanese for shopping and also starts with a K.) Anyway, obviously a creeper shot was necessary. I'm just a little bit disappointed that Hannah and I didn't think to ourselves 'gee, I need to run to the store real fast. I'll just throw on this kimono that's lying around and be back in a few.'

Here's another example of how awesome my family is. Since it was Hannah's last day they made this delicious meal of sukiyaki where you just throw a bunch of delicious food in a pot and then dip it in egg and eat. Then they even bought a small pack of fireworks for us to do together. It was so much fun.

Plus Hannah decided to get 'thank you' donuts for everyone so then we all ate those. The fun and food just never stopped. Although, from this picture I'm not completely sure these Japanese people know exactly what to do with donuts. But never fear, us Americans will teach them the way of sugar!

(Speaking of 'fatty' Americans = Hannah and I) Don't worry that this was a normal ritual at night. Hole up in my room after we've 'gone to bed' and snack on all the American junk food I brought with me. Obviously it's an important part of the ritual that I didn't bring a spoon so we were trying to reach the bottom of the peanut butter jar with our fingers.

Sadly, the day did eventually come where Hannah had to go. So this is us together at the bus stop waiting for the bus that signifies the end of our Japan. She's so stinking excited to be rid of me.
Luckily as we were waiting for the bus we randomly saw 5 tanks drive by, so we decided to dub Wednesday "casual tank wednesday' (Sorry there's no alliteration this time.)

Anyway, now she's gone.  What to do with myself?
Playing frisbee seemed like a good option-so I did that on Saturday. (My friend even took some pictures, but I don't have them yet and I don't want to take any longer to post this.) We also went to the Yosakoi festival at the park. Which, essentially, was like a giant dance competition. People formed teams and then performed their dance. It was like a giant never ending parade of traditional Japanese dances. It was actually pretty cool. We watched that for about an hour. This was my first time hanging out with some of the other YSAs outside of church so it was fun to get to talk to everyone.

Anyway, I think I'm going to wrap this up because I've kept my family waiting for this post long enough. And there are potentially lots of epic things you guys are missing out on because I can't remember them at the moment (I'm tired.) But oh well, this post already has too much fun in it.

So I'll leave you with this video as proof that I'm putting my time to good use here in Japan. (I practiced how to do a pull over.) Hopefully it know me and technology.

(scratch that. The pull over video hates me.)

Also, does anyone else feel like facebook is a little racist? Momo and Shelly definitely do not look the same. 

Also, I might cry. My time in Japan is already half over.  Make it stop!!! Why is it going so fast?!