Wednesday, March 31, 2010


There's really no suitable way to translate that. 出発 technically means "departure," but who the hell wants to say "departure" when you can scream out "shuppa~ts!!" while striking an astroboy pose? Anywho, this entry is about leaving for my second trip to Japan. And it was almost exactly the same experience as last year. sorta.

Both times I left the US from SFO (San Francisco Airport) where it was sunny and beautiful, slept almost 10 hours on the plane ride over, sailed through customs, got greeted with the heaviest rain known to man, got hit on by some weird guy, and spent the first few days in a guesthouse in Koenji while I looked for an apartment. I wonder if things really do come in threes....should I be worried?

The difference, the obvious one of many, is of course that I wasn't staying in Koenji because I had gotten swindled out of an apartment and was stuck in Tokyo with no place to go. Handy little point there. No, this time I was headed back to Koenji because I love the place. It's really close to the station, cheap, safe, and really quirky. I love all the weird stuff about it.

First of all, the two stairs are scary as hell, especially when carrying a 68lb suitcase. Secondly, it's located over something that looks like it belongs in the pink light district. Can't figure out what it is, but I never see anyone go in or out and I never hear anything from there so I know it's not a karaoke place. Tis a creepy mystery.

Another really hilarious thing about the place is that it is too close to the station. You can actually hear the lady on the train platform informing everyone that they have reached Koenji Station. "高円寺、高円寺です。ももなく・・・" Yea, you can actually see the station from the roof.

Despite that, which is actually not a bad thing really, the place is really wonderful and I would really suggest it to anyone who wants a temporary place to stay in Tokyo. It's just two stops over from Shinjuku on the Chuo rapid line and less than a minute from the station, and Koenji itself is a really fun area of Tokyo. Excellent location, comfortable rooms and beds, and the management couldn't be nicer. Just look how happy and friendly Ryuusaku looks!

And as you can see it has a nice sunny rooftop with wooden patio. The whole place has a nice wood feel to it. Very tiny, very cheap, but warm, safe, and friendly. They speak perfect English and of course native Japanese so just send them an email if you're in Tokyo!


So I've been back home for a while, which sucks but is also kinda wonderful. Two adjectives that often seem to go together in my life. Maybe they're having like a little affair or something, hmmm? Oh god, I'm so weird. Why the hell does anyone read this?

Anyways, it sucks because I'm stationary. I'm in sunny California, which is not the worst place you can be, but it seems like hell. Funny how I always want to be somewhere else. When I'm in Vermont, I miss little things about California. (Like diversity. haha.) But when I'm in California, I find myself telling people about this cute little coffee shop in Burlington, or this amazing crepe place down by Lake Champlain. Can't stop talking about it. I should learn to be a little more grateful of what I have, maybe. oh well. *shrug.*

It's kinda wonderful because I've gotten to spend a lot of time with my family who I like never see. Ever. I've been here long enough to remember why sometimes just home is as wonderful a place as those half way across the world. This is what my home looks like:



And in case you didn't know, I'm a crazy cat person.






Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sum up of my time in the US

The US is boring. That's why I haven't been posting anything. It's boring, no one cares. Japan is way more exciting, but I have actually been traveling a bit, and this is a travel blog, so I thought I'd just sort of sum things up here.

First, I flew back from Indiana with my mom, slept over one night in California, and then took a red-eye to Burlington, Vermont for school. I go to the University of Vermont, not the most exciting place, but me likes it.^^

I had a wonderful fall semester. I started learning Mandarin. My school teaches Beijing Mandarin, but I watched a ton of Taiwanese dramas so I'm also learning the Taiwanese dialect. Also, my school teaches simplified characters, but I decided to learn traditional as well on my own so I won't die if I go to Taiwan. haha. And of course still studying Japanese and Korean. Also, I got to meet a ton of really nice international students! I met 2 from South Korea, 1 from Taiwan, 1 from Thailand, and including my friends from last year, 6 from Japan!!

One day we all climbed up the fire escape on the tallest building on campus to watch the sunset. (The picture's a little West Side Story, don't you think?)

That's the view from the top of the fire escape. It's what most New England looks like for those of you who've never been. It's really cute, actually. Really pretty in the fall when all the leaves turn and a really wonderfully tiny place to study.

That's me and all the international students as well as some other college friends down by the waterfront of Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont. I've mentioned earlier that I'm a sunset whore, well here's another great sunset for you over the lake.

I traveled to Boston a few times this fall. Boston is a great city if you don't have to drive. It's only about a 4 hour bus ride from Burlington to Boston and it's a beautiful route down highway 39, especially for a Californian like myself. Lots of green.^^

I also went apple picking in both New Hampshire and Vermont! The one in Vermont was actually for the りんご祭り or "Apple Festival." They had taiko drums and everything...

After the fall semester, I've come back to California for winter break + 3 months because....drum roll please...I"M GOING BACK TO JAPAN!!!!! I'll be studying abroad for a year at 青山学院大学 or Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo!!!! But, the calendars of my American university and Aoyama Gakuin (which I will refer to as Aogaku from now on) clash meaning that I've been stuck in California until the spring semester at Aogaku starts in April.

But my wait is almost over; my flight is on March 23rd. So, starting now, this blog with now be updated hopefully weekly or so with my doings in Tokyo. I also plan to go to Taiwan and South Korea over my summer break, so this blog will (finally) no longer be only about Japan, but also about China and Korea and their respective languages. Yay, languages!!

Much to look forward to...

(p.s. all these pictures are courtesy of facebook, and most are from Akane. I stole them. haha.^^)


After Japan, I had to go to Brazil, Indiana to clean out my grandparents old home. My grandmother had passed away back in 2003, but my grandfather just died in the Spring of 2008. We hadn't gotten the time or the money to get ourselves to Indiana since visiting him in the hospital, so, my mom and I went out to rural middle America to sort through all the legal stuff as well as they're old house so we could sell it.

It was an extremely hard week. Emotionally draining, physically taxing, logistically and legally annoying. But, there is always a positive part of everything; it's a choice to see the ugly or the beautiful. I choose beautiful.

I got to spend a week with my mom, which is rare. We've always been very close, my mom and I, like Gilmore Girls only more sane. Since I went to college 3,000 miles away and then spent my summer in Japan, I haven't really gotten a chance to be with her.

Also, My mom has two step-sisters who were never really part of her life, but they came and helped us clean out the house. I really got along with one of them; had the same sense of humor. I've really gained a lot of family this year, huh? Two aunts and 25+ cousins in Hawaii. I used to be able to count all my blood relatives on my hands.

Getting Home

One would think that getting home would be the easiest part. You've already been in Japan for a while now, you know the area (in my case, I had already been to Narita Airport 3 times), and your are leaving the new and foreign environment, not stepping into it full of anxiety. Should be a breeze going back to the known. Not so much for me.

It actually took me 48 hours to get home. 48 hours straight!! That's 2 days!! Figure in the time zone changes and I basically lost 3 days of my life. just like that.

First of all, I got a horrible stomach flu the day I was supposed to fly back home, but I couldn't stop throwing up so I decided riding on a plan for 11 hours plus travel to and from the airports was kinda ムリ. totally not gonna happen. So I rescheduled for the next day, but I still wasn't feeling all that great when I left the next morning. I was so out of it, that I got on the right line, but going the wrong way. haha. oops. So I got off, got going the right way and made it to the Airport about 2 minutes too late according to the lovely Japan Airlines lady checking me in.

$1,000 later, I find myself on the fastest route back to San Francisco Airport which happens to include a 12 hour layover in Honolulu Airport. ha. I think I must have used up all my good luck throughout the trip (finding cool matsuri, stumbling upon shrines, and the sort) because I had only bad luck on the way back except that I had just met wonderful new relatives that live 20 min away from the Honolulu Airport. yay! They were amazing. They picked me up from the airport, treated me to lunch, lent me a bed for 2 hours, treated me to dinner, and then sent me on my way to the Seattle Airport. How wonderful are they? (I think my dad was jealous that I got to meet our cousins again before he did.)

Then I had like 5 hours to kill at the Seattle Airport, so I bought a bagel and coffee and settled in at my gate. 40 min before my flight is supposed to leave finally for San Francisco I realize that no other passengers are at the gate. Apparently my gate had changed but no one had thought to tell me. They didn't change the sign at the gate I was at, they didn't announce it over the intercom, they didn't really do anything except expect me to make it through a maze of subways under the airport to the gate farthest away in 20 min or so. Thanks Seattle, thank you very much. But I made it, I was like the last passenger on, but I didn't have much carry-on so all was well as I collapsed into the seat.

Finally San Francisco and family!! Yay!! All over!!! NOT. The world felt the need to restore my luck to complete equilibrium. I was too lucky in Japan and needed more bad luck, apparently. We ran into the most horrendous traffic heading back home. Hit rush hour heading up 550 making what would have been a 2.5 hour trip a 4.5 hour trip. Fun stuff.

Then I got home, fell on my bed, and died. Too bad I had another flight to Indiana in less than 3 weeks...