It’s almost halfway through November and I haven’t finished writing about October yet!

Anita has started coming to Japanese class, so I can hang out with her basically every weekend. I’ve also been hanging around with people from school. Shuntaro and Okano (from my class) and I went to Ringer Hut for chanpon and to Cybac for a few hours. Cybac is sort of like a big arcade deal, but you pay by the hour. You can do video games, slots, pool, karaoke, and drinks are free. I’ve been back once more with Anita since then too.

A week or two ago, when we had a half day of school because of Foundation Day, I went with Ryouta and Kuramoto to Karaoke and around Hamanomachi for the afternoon. I had a little misunderstanding with my host mom when I mailed her to say what I was doing. She thought I said I was bringing my friends home for supper, but I really only meant to say I’d be home for supper. I still haven’t gotten the hang of when I don’t need to say “watashi” and when I do. Anyway, Kuramoto said that his girlfriend and her friend want to do Karaoke with me sometime. I think he’s trying to set me up…

That just reminds me of how practically all Japanese girls think all foreigners are hot stuff. Once not too long ago a group of girls came up to me on the street with a video camera to say “hi”. I think that’s what makes coming to Japan so different from going to Europe. Everybody here can instantly tell that I’m a gaijin. In many ways it’s a good thing – I somethimes get free stuff and everybody knows I probably won’t understand them. Sometimes it’s annoying though, because I bet they often see me as some dumb tourist. That’s why I like having a bus pass, cell phone, and school uniform – no tourist woul dhave those. It’s also great motivation for learning Japanese. I want to be able to surprise the people who figure I’m a dumb anglophone tourist.

Like when I really surprised my friends by singing a couple Japanese songs at Karaoke the other week. I had been listening to lots of music on TV and some rentals I got over by Chuoubashi. My host mom helped me by writing out a lot of lyrics in hiragana, plus I made a CD on Taishi’s computer that I’ve been listening to. I’ve been making an effort to learn (and sometimes understand) the lyrics. Still, though, at Karaoke, I usually have to mumble my way through the kanji on the screen.

One day after Rotary I went exploring in Amyu Plaza and found my two favourite songs’ sheet music – Ayumi Hamasaki’s Voyage and Hirai Ken’s Ookina Furu Dokei. The music teacher here has given me permission to use the grand piano in the music room when she doesn’t have class, so thankfully I haven’t had to spend everyone of my free periods bored in the English conversation classroom.

Through almost all of October I also did Dragon Dancing after school. On the 27th and 28th we went to Oita-ken, on the east side of kyuushuu, to perform a couple of times at a tiny little festival in the Ishibashi area. It was a little nerve-wracking finally performing in front of people, but really fun to do. Just getting all dressed up in those Chinese costumes was cool. I met a couple sisters from India just as we were getting to leave. They pulled me into their dressing room and the three of us just sat around chatting for a good 15 minutes or so. I got their email addresses and phone numbers and all that, but because they live there in Oita Prefecture, I’ll probably never see them. The older of the two has lived here four years, but the younger (21) is in the same boat as me – she’s only been here two months or so. Needless to say, the guys were quite interested to know what went on in that room once I got back to the bus!

Afterwards, we all went to onsen together. Let me just say that onsen – a public hotspring bath – with 25 guys from an all boys high school was a fair bit different from when I went with the three other male exchange students at our first orientation. A very different kind of entertainment… I suppose it’ll be asimilar experience in December. All the second grade students, including myself, are going to spend one week skiing in Hokkaidou. We’ll have onsen there too…

The total cost for the trip is ¥125 000, but luckily Rotary is going to pay at least ¥80000 of that. ?????? I didn’t even ask – it was all otoosan’s doing. It’ll probably be my only chance to experience real winter weather here – the average high has been about 14 C, and I’ve heard from home that they already have snow! Nobody here can believe that their resident Canadian has never been skiing, especially if they’re just recovered from the shock they suffered when I told them temeratures of -20 C and several feet of snow aren’t undeard of. Everybody seems to be freezing to death already while I’m here boiling under my (now mandatory) winter uniform.

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