Girls being Boys, Turtles and Kpop

You could say that my mission to ‘revive’ my blog is sort of a New Year’s Resolution, as well as an “oh crap It’s been two years since my exchange already and I really need to get my arse into gear” resolution. So, seeing as such resolutions are notoriously hard to uphold, lets prove that theory wrong and get onto it!

I have something around 30 (yes thirty) things to talk about to fill in the second half of my exchange, so how is this going to work? From now until my exchange is ‘finished’ each post will include three short topics in order to get through things.

This post will be talking about these three things:

  • The day I went to Takarazuka (27th July 2013)
  • The day I went to Kasai Rinkai Koen (30th July 2013)
  • The day I went to Shinokubo (1st August 2013)

On another note: until I’ve caught up with the end of my exchange, each post is going to show the date of the last of the three events rather than the day it was actually posted. As you can see, this post is dated the 1st of August. This is so it can fit into the time-line of my exchange under the ‘archives’ drop down on the right –> (or at the bottom if you’re on mobile) ^w^

Takarazuka (27.07.13)

What is Takarazuka? You’re probably wondering.

The Takarazuka Revue (宝塚歌劇団 Takarazuka Kagekidan) is a Japanese all-female musical theatre troupe based in Takarazuka, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. Women play all roles in lavish, Broadway-style productions of Western-style musicals, and sometimes stories adapted from shōjo manga and Japanese folktales. The company is a division of the Hankyu Railway company; all members of the troupe are employed by the company.
Wikipedia – “Takarazuka Revue”

The Takarazuka Revue consists of five troupes; the Flower (hana), Moon (tsuki), Snow (yuki), Star (hoshi) and Cosmos (sora) troupes. Although all roles are played by women, each actress is either an ‘otokoyaku’ (male role) or ‘musumeyaku’ (daughter/female role). Each troupe has two ‘top stars’; an otokoyaku and a musumeyaku who play the lead roles in the productions put on by that troupe.

On the 27th of July 2013 I was lucky enough to be able to go to a Takarazuka performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Tokyo Grand Theatre with Oonishi san (my liaison person).

Takarazuka2Romeo and Juliet poster

This particular performance was by the Star Troupe, whose top otokoyaku is Leon Yuzuki and top musumeyaku is Nene Yumesaki.

Takarazuka1Leon Yuzuki; Romeo (left), Nene Yumesaki; Juliet (right)

The performance was absolutely incredible, to say the least. You have to be a prolific dancer and singer to be in Takarazuka, so the choreography and music was out of this world. There was also an interesting twist to the story in this performance; ‘Love’ and ‘Death’ were personified and played a significant role in the musical, showing how the two concepts are intertwined in the plot, and especially the climax, of Romeo and Juliet.

Takarazuka3Love (pink) and Death (black) – quite literally intertwining

Kasai Rinkai Koen (30.07.13)

On this particular Tuesday of my Summer Vacation I went to a place called Kasai Rinkai Koen (park) with my Japanese tutor, Kasai sensei! How much of a coincidence is that? The main purpose of our visit was to see the aquarium. There was this one room that was kind of like a lecture hall with seats slanting up to the back, but instead of projectors at the front there was a giant wall of glass through which you could see all these fish.

Kasai Rinkai 2

We also saw a penguin feeding, had a delicious lunch ourselves, and then I bought a Turtle plushy that I named Kame-Kun (Mr. Turtle).

To finish off the day, we (to quote my diary) “took this slow ass train” on a tour of the whole park, to the seaside, and eventually came to the tallest ferris wheel in Japan. It’s called the “Diamond and Flower Ferris Wheel” and is a total of 117 metres tall, with 64 carriages and takes 17 minutes to go all the way around. From the top you can see the whole of Tokyo and all the way to Mount Fuji.

Kasai Rinkai 1

Shinokubo (01.08.13)

Shinokubo is the ‘Korea Town’ of Tokyo. It’s jam-packed full of Kpop merchandise shops and Korean restaurants. I went there on a day trip with two of my school friends, Anri and Kaoru, who are also Kpop fans.

Shinokubo1
We spent the morning and the afternoon perusing the stores, fangirling over this and that (mostly Tohoshinki – better known as TVXQ – things) and buying all that we could afford/carry. Around noon we met a German girl who was staying in hostels as she travelled around Japan. She joined us for lunch at a restaurant, where we ate spicy Korean soup that came with yummy side dishes.

We parted ways eventually, arms full of CD Cases and printed towels and bracelets and badges and who-knows-what else. Little did I know at the time, however, that my Korean experience in Japan was only beginning…Keep an eye out for recounts of the two Kpop concerts I managed to nab tickets to, and my 3 day trip to Seoul! (Was that a bit cliché?)

Next Post’s topic!

  • AFS Summer Camp; August 5th –  8th 2013

See ya next time! ^w^

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My June ♡ (2/2)

Welcome, my wonderful fantastic brilliant marvelous superb amazing incredible readers, to the second half of My June! Let’s begin..

So alot of things have happened since the last thing I wrote about, and Im afraid that to get back up to date Ill have to skip over some things. This post will just highlight the main events that have occured up to a certain point.

Firstly, debates..
On the 22nd of July, a saturday, I joined a debate (actually it was more like a discussion) between us AFS Tokyo students and some students from Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin (which happens to be my school), held by the Soroptimist International Group. We were talking about poverty in 3rd world countires and what we can do to make the situation better. We also got a really good lunch (it was held at a fancy hotel) and gifts at the end.
Another debate that I participated in was reccently, on Saturday the 20th of July, at my school. We were debating the topic “The Japanese University year should start in September” (at the moment in starts and finishes in April, along with all other types of school and companies also hire new employees at that time). I was on the ‘against’ side, and our arguments were that it would cause Confusion in Society between leaving university and entering a job, and that the 6 month gap between highschool and university/university and work would prove bad for students (as they would most likely waste that time). The opposition argued that starting in september would make it easier for exchange students, as it would match with the US and most of Europe, and that the 6th month gap would provide a good opportunity for students to study.
What do you think?

Secondly, AFS meetings!
AFS students arrive in Japan every half year. I am a spring student (because I arrived in the Japanese spring) and when I arrived, there were autumn students who had already been here for half a year. Those autumn students finished their exchanges reccently and went back to their own countries, so we had a farewell party for them! The party was fun, and it involved lots of speeches, gift giving and food. There’s always good food at AFS events. That day I met the son of my next host family, who’s going to Ecuador soon, and that was interesting.
Since then we also had an orientation for the AFS camp coming up in August. At the camp there will be many AFS students from all around Tokyo, many who I know from the orientation at the beginning of my exchange, and also lots of Japanese high school students who are interested in going on an exchange. It should be alot of fun! And you’ll hear about it later.

The BALL SPORTS FESTIVAL at my school (きゅうぎかい)..
On Tuesday the 2nd of July we had our Ball Sports Festival at my school. The options to choose from were Basket Ball, Volley Ball and Table Tennis. I chose Table Tennis..
For the day we had our own class t-shirts. Each class had one or two teams in each event and we were playing for the class as a whole. We also had headbands, which we got all of our friends to sign.
In the end, somehow, our table tennis team ended up winning the entire table tennis tournament! There were 15 table tennis teams all together, from senior 1 to senior 3, and we came first out of them all! I dont expect our sempai were too happy with that..
Picture time :D
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The following saturday, the 6th of July, I went with the Senior 2 students from my school to watch Kabuki. Kabuki is a traditional Japanese sort of Play in which only men can act. If there is a female role it is also played by a man. They dress up in elaborate costumes and act out traditional stories. Follow the link to learn a bit more from a short YouTube video..

Kabuki

The performance we watched was about a man, a woman and a fox. The man one day saved the fox, and the same day he met the woman and they fell in love, promising in marry. But then the woman disappeared (I have no idea why, but she left with her parents), and so the fox, who turned out to be magical, shapeshifted into the woman to prevent the man from comitting suicide in grief. The story takes places many years later when the real woman returns with her parents to marry the man but finds that the fox-woman has already married the man and they have a child. The fox woman realises that she can no longer live with the man and returns to the wild in her fox form, leaving behind her home and family, but not before the husband realises that she is infact a fox and not the woman he loved, but still beggs her to stay. And thats the end of the story. It was so cleveryly done, with the same actor playing both the woman and the fox-woman using super fast costume changes. And there was a part where he had to draw calligraphy on a paper door right in front of the audience, and calligraphy is pretty hard..but what was awesome was that he wrote with his right hand, then his left hand, then with the brush in his mouth! It was incredible. The set was also really cool, ’cause the stage could rotate, and so they could just turn it around and move in some different props and it would change from a house to a forest. It was amazing, I really enjoyed it.

Now we’ve moved into July..but that’s okay. In this post I’ll write up to the beginning of the summer vacation, which I’m in now!
But first, time for some random rambling about stuff that I’ve been doing in my spare time.

Okay so in Kendo on saturday the 15th of June I fell over (for the second time in a row) on my left knee. For about a week and a bit after that there was a really nasty bruise, but that went away eventually. What’s weird is that now, almost six weeks later, it’s still numb! I can poke it with my finger and I won’t feel it! Ahaha, it’s really strange. It’s like having a numb foot before the pins and needles set in after you’ve sat on it for too long, except, well, it’s lasted like a month and a half..I wonder if I should be worried xD
Anywho, I just felt I needed to share that. Next thing..
I’ve been reading a ton of books since I got here. I’ve recently read The Darren Shan Saga (books 1-8), Tuesdays with Morrie, The Mourning Dove, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Hobbit and the first of the Lord of the Rings books, and now I’m onto the second.
Basically The Darren Shan Saga is a super cool series of easy-read books about the adventures of a half-vampire boy named Darren Shan (no romance involved). Tuesdays with Morrie is a thought-provoking book about facing death and, subsequetly, living life to the fullest. The Mourning Dove is packed full of life lessons focused around Love and Dealing with Guilt. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a (slightly disturbing) book from the point of view of a young boy who has autism as he deals with the divorce and scandal of his parents. And I’m hoping everyone knows the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings :P

And now, onto the last weekend before my Summer Vacation! On Friday the 12th my stay at my first host family came to an end and I moved to Oonishi san’s house, where I’ll stay for around a month. I was at the Tsujuta house for just under four months and they were so welcoming and helpful and I have so much to be grateful for, so a huge Thank You to them! I had such an amazing time while I was a part of their family and I’ll definitely see them again. The following day, Saturday, at around Midday, Sophie came up from Gifu! Most of you probably won’t remember, but Sophie is another girl from New Zealand who was placed in Nagano Prefecture, and so I hadn’t seen her since the orientation at the begnning of our exchange. She came up to Tokyo for the weekend by Shinkansen (bullet train), stayed overnight at my house and retured on Sunday afternoon. During that time I took her around Tokyo, and we went to Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku and Toyko Tower! The latter I hadn’t been to myself yet, and it was really amazing. It looked like the Eiffel Tower, except white and red, and smaller. I believe its three hundred and something meters tall, which is still smaller than the Sky Tower in Auckland. I think the Sky Tree in Asakusa is closer to the height of the Sky Tower (although I haven’t been to it yet). Sophie and I didn’t actually climb the Tokyo Tower, we just looked up at it and bought over-priced souvenirs, which was fun! Photo time~

image

And that brings to a close the second half of the My June update. Look forward to the post about my summer vacation so far, coming soon! I’ll leave you today with an extremely amusing and, of course, accurate picture of that lot that call themselves One Direction.

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(The faces are those of a bunch of famous YouTubers. Isn’t this genious xD)

Byebye! ♡