Tuesday, July 20, 2010


We're home!

A little groggy, both happy and sad, we've arrived. I was even able to fix the website!

Now I've gotta buy some coffee.



Saturday, July 17, 2010

Alright, school is over.. and Emily and I both survived, which is pretty cool. The whole evening ceremony was pretty great, with a bunch of food and drink (they just put beer everywhere, so you never have to go to the bar to get it! wow.)

My speech was alright, I think. I was kinda nervous so I spent most of the afternoon practicing with Emily, and my host family said it was fine (but they're pretty nice, and they seem to like me..) a lot of people ended up crying over the course of the evening, which I guess is good. I'll take credit for some of it. ha!

Afterwards we partied pretty hard.. drinking at the park (which is perfectly acceptable in Japan) then an hour of karaoke, then a trip to Susukino where we hung out at a bar with some new Japanese friends, drinking and eating meat on a stick. That stuff is apparently pretty universal, and you don't need to be fluent to have a good time.

Today my host family kinda led me around for some food and sight-seeing.. After a full day of adventuring, we went to another hot spring/public bath, which is always awesome.. This one had a nice outdoor section, which is probably my favorite, but it's hard to choose when everything is awesome. I hope/imagine Emily has something similar going on.

I'm not entirely sure if we'll see each other before Monday (at the airport!) so I'm planning on taking it easy, slowly packing and cleaning up over the next 24 hours.. then home!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Friday morning

Well, today is the last day of school here in Sapporo. It's been a tough week, I think.. yesterday was the final test, which wasn't too bad, but today is the final presentation. It's gonna be in front of everybody (whatever that means) and it's a little bit nerve-wracking..

Additionally, I got asked to give a speech tonight at the graduation ceremony/farewell party. I suppose it's an honor, but I don't think anybody else wanted to do it, either.. ha! Maybe they didnt pick me so much as I was the first one who didn't say no. ha. ha. So I've spent the last 3 days memorizing stuff for the test, stuff for the presentation, and this speech that Harano-sensei and I wrote. Jeez..

I should mention that I'm not really that good at Japanese, and it's a long speech all in Japanese (of course).. in front of a bunch of Japanese host families. I'm a little worried they won't understand it ('cause of my bad pronounciation and such) and the students won't understand it ('cause its in Japanese!).. and it'll just be me making noises with my mouth for 5 minutes in front of everyone. Hopefully they know when to clap at the end..

Anyhow, at the other end of it we'll have survived a month in Japan, which was pretty amazing.. We've still got the weekend to party and relax and recoup before the journey home (we leave here on Monday, umm.. I think we might get home Monday, by going back in time..) Not completely sure, but I'm not gonna worry about that now..


Monday, July 12, 2010

monday night

Today was a lot of school - two Japanese classes in a row and then lunch, then a class of Japanese culture. Which doesn't sound that bad, but two classes in a row is pretty rough for me - I get kinda tired after one!

Anyhow, after class we went to the station with a new Japanese friend, Shinya-san (no photos, sorry) who taught me how to read half-price, which is pretty important I guess. Turns out, a lot of bars are half-price around the time we get out of school, but not the one we've been frequenting... (which we call 'bar restaurant'). So thats a pretty important lesson, too bad it's in the last week. For the record, he also pointed out a few bars that are all you can drink for 90mins, for around 10-15 bucks. Yeehaw, desu.

After that, my host mother escorted me around the giant mall complex and took me to dinner, so I've got another photo of me eating. At least I'm not smiling look a goofy idiot in this one.. ha! The other photo is me in front of a giant float sorta thing, one of about 30 that high school kids made for a parade/festival in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, I missed the actual parade (it was Friday night, while we were partying in Susukino) but Shige-san took me took the high school Sunday morning to check 'em out in the daylight, and they're pretty impressive.. I think the kids made them entirely themselves, and had to carry them by hand around the neighborhood. My high school was different.

I went ahead and posted a few pics of the night-time parade, even though I wasn't there, because it's pretty cool.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sunday morning in Japan

whew.. sorry for the long delay, it has been pretty busy around here.

Here's a pic of me at the bath, and Yoshiyasu-san and I at a bar, and Shige-san and I ate a restaurant on a lake.

Our school work has really ramped up for the last week, leading up to a final exam and presentation (for group 3, at least). It's pretty scary stuff for me, because all of the vocabulary is new and presentation format is kinda specific.. so I'm spending every morning sorta rehearsing the lines of my 'script'. As well as all the other stuff for school that are unrelated to the presentation.

Anyways, life outside of school is pretty great! Friday night we went to Emily's host family's friend's bar, where we were treated awesomely, given a little private room with food and drinks, and even a guitar, haha! So we played a few songs (though we were a bit embarassed) and it was nice to be able to play a bit.. it's been 3 weeks or so, and thats tough. Afterwards Emily and I explored Susukino some more, looking for live music - which is surprisingly difficult. Eventually we found a tiny little jazz club, and I think they were more or less wrapping up as we walked in, but they went ahead and did another set, mostly for us (i think..)

Because we're so obviously foreigners, we get a lot of attention.. so at this cozy little club we got to talk with everyone there. Pretty cool.. most of them were musicians, and one of them loved doing card tricks, so we saw lots of neat sleight-of-hand stuff, and then played some Japanese bridge games (emily won once).

Saturday I went to another public bath with Yoshiyasu (one of my host brothers), this one was like a spa, i think (having never been to an American spa).. it had a lot of tubs with different temperatures, some outside, as well as these rooms that are like saunas, but without the steam.. just hot rooms. They were awesome, especially after a night of drinking.

I skipped over a whole week of stories (and photos).. I'm sorta bummed about the website stuff, and it sorta tempered my enthusiasm (unfortunately). Only a week left, so we'll try and do better..


Saturday, July 03, 2010

Just a few quick pictures before I go to bed, from our recent adventure to a surprisingly awesome park just outside of Sapporo, full of crazy statues of granite (i think) including a recreation of Stonehenge and those Easter Island heads, and a whole bunch of Buddhas spread throughout.. if you look closely, you can see Shigeyasu-san (one of my host brothers) and I in front of the Daibutsu.


Friday, July 02, 2010

Just a quick one...

It is Saturday, about noon here.. After a pretty good night of partying in Sususkino (entertainment district of town) I've had a slow morning, breakfast and coffee and studying, not bad. Susukino was a crazy adventure, I think Emily has some pictures - we'll post those eventually.

Then I hopped on the computer to check my email, and the whole website has been taken down for some kinda malware/virus problem, and I can't figure out what to do! It's a bit of a problem, being in Japan and all.. and the email I got says I have 15 days before they delete everything!

If anyone knows how to get a hold of Wes Shirley, maybe he can help.. I'm not entirely sure what the problem is, but it affects both thenewmexicanrevolution.com and theleaningtowers.com, and if that stuff got deleted it might never get rebuilt, which would be a bummer.

thanks and love and such -


I gotta run now, but hopefully Wes can hear about this somehow.. if not, I'll start figuring out international phone calls.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

This is our most recent group activity, Kado - a traditional Japanese flower arranging art.

The whole PSU crew with our arrangements.

My work in progress.

Last night we attended an international student exchange barbeque. We played huge games of tug-o-war and tag -- very fun and cross-cultural! Aaron bought a 6-pack of Sapporo tallboys to share with our new friends, Ken-san, Naoya-san and Dai-san.

Last week we visited Okura Yama, site of the 1972 winter Olympics 90-meter ski jump. This is the view of Sapporo from the chair lift.

The past week has been heavy with Japanese language classes, every morning I think.. with one day 2 in a row. So that has been a little intense, but also good. I (Aaron) somehow tested into the hardest of 3 levels, (I was aiming for level 2) so I'm in a little over my head sometimes, but my host family is super helpful - I'm sure I learn more Japanese at home than at school, but it's different stuff.

The BBQ thing was pretty fun, but it involved a lot of physical activity. An epic 4 team game of tug o' war (tsunahiki) that my team was destined to lose, and then a crazy form of tag (O Nagokko, i think) that lasted about an hour nearly killed me, I think. Luckily, I had that 6 pack of beer waiting for me, so I was able to persevere and make friends.

We're still having a hard time finding a good place to hang out and drink and relax (local dive bar, for example).. perhaps they're not the same here, every place we've been to has been a little stiff, or something. Tomorrow night we go to Susukino, an entertainment district of town.. I mentioned it to Shige-san, one of my host brothers, and I think he used the word erotic to describe it. Not sure though..

Also, this morning I found out Yoshiyasu-san, my other host brother, has the same birthday as me. That's pretty cool.

This morning we had a lecture on robotics, which was awesome. Hokudai has some fairly neat robotic stuff, although it seems real-world oriented, like controlling vibrations in machinery and buildings. At first I was a little disappointed, but then he started showing amazing videos of autonomous robots navigating hallways and playing soccer and such, and it kinda blew my mind. He also had a little robot dog-like thing, which was pre-programmed (not autonomous) but still pretty cute.

Tomorrow is Friday, no Japanese class.. probably won't have much to post until Monday, but we'll see.