First and foremost, I would like to thank my parents because without them, I wouldn't be able to have such an eye-opening experience! They understand me the best and did not even hesitate when I asked if I could join this program. All my mum said was, "Alright, of course you can go. I'll make your dreams come true!" T_T THANK YOU SO MUCH MUMMY DADDY I LOVE YOUUUUU!
It all started when my Japanese teacher gave me a brochure about a homestay program in Tokyo, Japan. That time, I was having my A2 Levels exams and I was too occupied to even contemplate about it. However, one fine day when I was talking to my friend about it, a driving force in me suddenly made me very determined to go for it, no matter how much it takes. I know I wouldn't have this chance anymore once I get too busy with university so I signed up for it! I must say it was the best decision ever and never would I regret making this decision.
I flew to Japan the night after I was done with my last paper for A2 which was Physics Paper 4 (wah like some businesswoman so busy liddat). Met up with the other fellow Malaysians in KLIA who were also under the same homestay program and off we went for our one-month adventure in the land of the rising sun!
With daddy, mummy, Wei Khit and Xin Er who came to send me off!
It touches my heart how we didn't know each other before the homestay but now we're close friends! :)
After a long ride on the plane, I finally set foot on the Japanese land! You wouldn't know how happy I felt. I was so over the moon I almost teared! Two of Sendagaya Japanese School's representatives came to pick us up to send us to the train stations closest to our host families' houses! We were really nervous yet excited to meet our host families for the first time!
Few of them got off the bus to meet their host parents! I got off at Kichijoji Station, where I greeted my host mum, Ooishi Nagako who's 73 years old! I was afraid that I had to use formal Japanese with her but it turned out that she was really out-going and used casual Japanese with me so it was a relief! My host dad (78 years old) picked the both of us up and brought us to the nearest shopping complex to buy ingredients for lunch. Host mum also accompanied me to buy my Suica card!
I stayed in Miyamae 4 Cho Me, Suginami-ku, Tokyo! Below are pictures of my room and the house!
I was totally in love with my room! It's cozy and spacious! The house is surrounded by bamboo trees so I had a beautiful view every morning. :)
A super comfortable traditional tatami room with kotatsu!
I didn't know such a beautiful place existed in Tokyo, a huge city where I expected to see skyscrapers after skyscrapers! I was totally taken aback when I was brought here on the first day!
Say hi to my host mum! She was so cute when I asked her to take a picture with me because she didn't know where to look! :D
On the first day, I didn't plan to go anywhere because I desperately needed rest as I hardly slept during the flight! Host mum made udon for me (so delicious I tell you!) and talked to me about the route to the nearest train station and which train to get on etc. She explained a few rules in the house to me but I didn't really have a strict curfew. She said as long as I make a phone call and tell her that I'm going back late and not having dinner at home, it's fine. I guess I couldn't contain my excitement despite how tired I felt so I asked if she could walk with me to the train station on that day itself so that I can remember the direction! So she agreed and off we went! And mannnnn, she walked so quickly that I had to catch up with her like every minute! It's a Japanese thing to walk quickly, I know. After a few days of walking, I eventually walked faster than I could ever imagine. LOL. It's good training! You can't possibly walk slow because everyone walking beside you walks so fast that you feel like a snail. T_T
There are so many things I want to blog about but I guess I will just summarize them in one blog post! I shall start with the places I've been to. :)
1. Harajuku - Takeshita Doori（原宿 - 竹下通り）
Harajuku is a place pretty good for shopping ranging from accessories and clothes to shoes, for both men and women. It is also heaven for Johnny's fans. *coughs* I once went there during Arashi's Love Tour in Tokyo Dome and the whole of Takeshita Street was full of Arashi's fans (they were easy to spot as most of them carried the Love tour's bags).
2. Meiji Shrine (明治神宮）
I melted the moment I got there. It was such a beautiful and peaceful place! I just stood there, full of awe. Everything was just perfect, with the thick trees surrounding you while you breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the occasional churping of the birds. I almost wished I could stay there forever!
I wrote my wish too and guess what?! It came true not long after that. More elaboration on that later!
We also got to witness a traditional wedding ceremony (which was very formal and strict) and I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post the pictures here.
You'll see this huge AKB48 Cafe & Shop once you exit the Akihabara Station. Akihabara is paradise for AKB48 and anime fans!
And also, Gundam fans won't be able to resist this Gundam Cafe!
Looooooots of AKB48 merchandise in the shop!
4. Ueno Park (上野公園）
Ueno Park is officially my favourite place in Tokyo! The trees there were so colourful they immediately got me in a very bubbly mood! I felt like I turned into a child when I reached Ueno Park, snapping pictures and taking videos everywhere. One of the things to do on my to-do-list in Japan was to witness the beautiful trees!
Look! Super pretty!
How I wish the parks in Malaysia can be like this too... Then I wouldn't mind going for picnics every week. :3 It's a very good place for couples to date as well! :D
Panda yaki! Why does everything Japanese have to be so cute?! I can't resist ahhhhhh!
Super duper happy!
What a bored-looking Aziz. LOL.
5 . Shibuya (渋谷)
Also on my to-do list! To visit Tsutaya (my paradise!) and sit in Starbucks looking out at the famous scramble crossing!
Shibuya 109! The clothes sold are really very fashionable (but super expensive) and the shopkeepers all look like models! T_T Why, Japan, WHY? Urayamashiiiiii.
I went to Shibuya for 3 times I think? It's also a shopping heaven! Bought all my new clothes there hehe.
The Forever 21 there has so many floors I got a bit dizzy looking at the clothes! Haha.
H&M too! The building's so tall Yuko had to squat on the floor to snap this picture that people walking by stared at her. LOL gomen ne.
Went to Shibuya again on my last day in Japan (yes, I love this place THAT much) and sat in Starbucks while writing a love letter to my 5-year-old Japanese bf. :P It was drizzling so you could see walking mushrooms at the scramble crossing.
6. Ueno Zoo (上野動物園)
PANDAAAAAAA! We were lucky that day because I eavesdropped a few Japanese talking and they said usually the panda would just be sleeping or lazing at a corner.
It was my first time visiting a zoo during winter and man, it felt super relaxing! No sweat, plus it was the cleanest zoo I've ever seen! Surprisingly it wasn't really smelly as well!
Umm, hi there goat. I particularly liked this goat because it kept grinning at us with utmost interest.
I also got to experience something you don't always get to experience - getting kicked by a goat. I only wanted to take a picture with it though, do I look like someone who brings harm to you, goat? T_T It kicked me with its hind legs and walked away ceremoniously wtf. So I aimed for this goat instead. As you can see, I stood far away from it this time, just in case, you know.
Favourite animal on Earth, penguins!! I can look at them walk and laugh by myself all day, trust me. It's THAT funny to me HAHAHA.
Hakuna matata!! So proud of myself for capturing this picture ngehehe.
And this too!
I was the only adult among all the kids who waited to take a picture with it. *sad*
7. Asakusa (浅草)
The famous kaminarimon (雷門)!
Soft cream also must have so many flavours. T_T Took me quite some time to scan through every flavor but in the end still decided to stick to my favourite flavour - strawberry! Super yums! Went there on a different day and tried banana chocolate but it was a tad bit too sweet for my liking! :/
Tried omikuji for the first time and guess what I got?
Good fortune! Happy enough hehehe. Eu Mund got bad fortune and emo-ed for the whole day hahaha poor guy.
8 . Tokyo Tower (東京タワー)
Went there for the first time with my online friend, Tantesa who've been in Japan for about 8 months so she became my tour guide for the day! So xin fu. Hahaha.
SO SO SO IN LOVEEEEEEE!
Tantesa and I!
Had my favourite zaru soba for dinner!
SO CUTE GAH.
Tokyo Tower at night! AGAIN, SO SO SO IN LOVEEEEE!
Went to Tokyo Tower for the second time with these boys!
9 . Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー)
Tokyo Skytree was built only in March 2011 and became the tallest building in Japan at 634 metres tall. It is the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest structure in the world after Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Bought lots of omiyage from Skytree! :D
10. Tokyo Disneyland (東京ディズ二ーランド)
*peace* It was like a fairy tale!
My favourite group photo! But too bad Aziz's not in it.
Mickey ice cream sandwich!
Disneyland was really beautiful and dreamy but it was too packed! Everywhere I went was packed with people and I could hardly breathe in the shops!
11. Tokyo Dome (東京ドーム)
Nyahaha Tokyo Dome is my second favourite place after Ueno Park! The lighting there was so pretty I almost teared. Besides, Arashi's Love Tour was going on while I was there! *hyped up* More on this later! :D This photo was taken during the first time I went there.
This was taken during the second time I went there! I went there with Yuko to line up for the Love Tour goods! Couldn't resist this great chance since I was already there in Japan!
12 . Ghibli Museum (ジブリ美術館) in Mitaka (三鷹)
Finally got to see Rainbow Bridge! And also, Tokyo Tower was lit up with colourful colours! Should have gone there! T_T
Paradise for Gundam lovers!
14 . Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise (横浜・八景島シーパラダイス)
It took us quite some time by train to reach there! (About one hour plus) But we couldn't possibly feel bored because first, there were no one else in our train coach so we went hysterical and second, look at the view above! The pictures above were all taken from inside the train! :D
Here's a video of us going crazy in the train lol.
What is Japan without UFO catchers? However, I did not play any of these because I knew it would just be a waste of money since I basically suck in anything of this sort. Lol.
We went to the aquariums and witnessed a live water mammal show! It was super entertaining!
They were all super adorbs! :D
Ayumi and I on a shaky jetty? which almost made me puke so I sang songs to distract myself.
Roller coaster! On which I had no guts to ride. :P
Ahh, what a breathtaking view!
15. NHK Hall in Shibuya (NHKホール)
My host mum kept telling me that I have to go to NHK Hall so on my last day in Japan, I went there with Ayumi with zero knowledge of how the building looks like and how to get there. We got off the train at Shibuya Station and started asking for directions, first from a Koban and the others from random pedestrians. It was pathetic, I tell you. Hahaha. Plus, it was raining and our shoes got so wet that I believe I could have reared a fish in them. We got distracted on our way there at a Disney shop and spent lots of money there. T_T I gave in to cuteness!
And... We finally reached our destination!
The annoying thing about the rain that day was that it was drizzling but it drizzled for the WHOLE DAY. I'm not sure if rain in Japan is always like this because for the whole one month I was in Japan, that was only the second time it rained. LOL. The first time it rained I stayed indoors. My present before I leave? Hmm...
The entrance fee to the Studio Park is only 200 yen, surprisingly! I thought it would cost a lot of money. And....... I had no regrets going there because...
OMG. You wouldn't want to see how I reacted when I saw this the moment I entered. Arashi's hosting for this year's Kohaku Utagassen and hence, the huge poster!
They don't do the peace sign, I know. :P
16. Ikebukuro (池袋)
Met up with Tantesa again, who once again became our tour guide for the day! The funny this is, all three of us knew each other on Facebook because of Johnny's!
It was our 2nd last day in Japan when we came here. I'm not an anime fan but the others are so we spent almost the whole day here.
My favourite Detective Conan! Probably the only anime I watch.
Lai let me give you Totoro!
In front of Ikebukuro Station at night!
17. Shinjuku (新宿)
Shinjuku's famous for host clubs eh? ;) The guys were dreading to leave that place LOLOL.
Those are mainly the places I've been to during my one-month stay! I wanted to visit more places but because I had school from 8.50am to 12.10pm, half the day would be gone by then. *sobs* So I tried visiting as many places as I could!
I had many memorable experiences in Japan and I would like to highlight some really interesting ones!
1. Witnessing my host mum wearing a kimono for someone else
My host mum is a 着物教授 so she's a professional in this! I was in a hurry to school though, so I could only watch a bit while eating breakfast!
2. Wearing a kimono
It was a Sunday and I didn't have plans to go anywhere with friends so I just stayed at home in the morning! So host mum suggested why not I try wearing a kimono?
This is the outcome! I really really liked it! However, I must admit that I could hardly breathe and walk properly lol. Sooooo many layers around my waist! *gasps*
I had to ask my host mum to help me take photos because no one else was at home. She had a hard time trying to hold my DSLR it was so adorable. Most of the pictures turned out blurry! Hahaha. I picked 3 best ones out of those!
So pretty right?!
3. Drawing an anime character
I tell you, it was a lot more tiring than it looked! I will not take anime for granted now. T_T I was mentally drained for the whole day after drawing just ONE anime character! It really challenged my patience and attention as everything was done in utmost detail! *salutes*
*hides* Sorry for my retarded drawing, I really tried my best!
Me with 亞月亮, who is a cartoonist! She was the one who taught us some skills in drawing and guided us along the way! Got her comic and signature as well. :)
4. Visited Suginami Animation Museum, met the director and drew flip-book animation
Man, this was a challenge for me as well! I can't even draw an apple nicely. T_T I was given a whole stack of papers and asked to draw whatever I want on top of a tracebox. My level of creativity is zero so this was what I came up with! *fail* The outcome was pretty cute though! You can see it in the final video I embed in this blog post!
Look at how the pros relax because they finished drawing so early!
Oh hi there Conan! *winks*
It was an honor to be able to speak to the director! He is also a friend of many popular manga artists (Doraemon, Kamen Rider, etc.) He even showed us his ancient pictures with all of them during their teenage years, which were really heart-warming! :') He seemed to like Malaysia a lot too! :D
5. Experience a Japanese tea ceremony
I'm not very sure where this place was but I remember we got off at Nihombashi train station!
Tsk tsk. This pretty Japanese lady made all the guys go wooooooo~! :P
The process was really delicate and done very slowly.
The hot water is poured from a considerable height to make a "delicious" sound.
Hold the cup with one hand and mix the tea powder with the other really quickly, finally writing a の beautifully.
We were divided into a few groups and while other groups were in front making tea, we were asked to think of our favorite phrase or word and write them down on this long vertical cardboard. So I chose to write 笑う門には福来たる (I made a little mistake on my cardboard! :/ Wrote 笑う角には福が来たる instead. Fail to the max!) which means good fortune will come to the homes of those who smile.
6. Went to Tokyo Animation College
We learnt how to fill anime characters with colours and how to make them appear moving!
The whole class was conducted in Japanese which was really interesting! I admit I did mess up at some parts teehee.
7. Ate monjyayaki!
Gosh the picture's so blurry! I've always heard people mentioning monjyayaki but I've never really tried it myself! One day, Ohashi sensei (our Japanese teacher in Malaysia) came to our school to visit us and treated us lunch when school ended! I must say I am a terrible cook because my monjyayaki was TASTELESS. It tasted like nothing but flour. *sobs* But it was really fun!
Group photo with Ohashi Sensei!
8. Ate crepe with strawberry, cheesecake and ice cream in it!
It was also my first time eating crepe! I was a bit greedy so I chose the one with the most things in it LOL. Ended up so bloated but it was tasty although I'm not a fan of sweet food. Surprisingly, it wasn't too sweet so I liked it!
9. Bonfire at my host family's place!
I invited all my Malaysian friends over to my host family's place for a party! My host mum was kind enough to prepare curry and salad for all of us! T_T Her daughter's family helped a lot too! Had lots of fun fooling around with the incredibly cute kids and chit-chatting (mainly nonsense)!
Ate Japanese mochi for the first time! Dip it in soy sauce, wrap it with seaweed and voila! YUMMERSSSS.
My host mum's grandsons eagerly helping out!
10. Played "Karuta" in class!
Karuta is a Japanese card game, the basic idea is to be able to quickly determine which card out of an array of cards is required and then grab the card before it is grabbed by an opponent. The cards below were all drawn by my classmates, how cute! Hahaha.
And guess who the winner was?
ME! BWAHAHA. Earned myself a packet of chips as the prize. :3
11. Visiting a maid cafe
This was on my to-do list so I thought I should visit it while I was in Japan! After all, I bet it would be a great experience and true enough, it was! Although probably not in a positive way LOL.
Even ice cream also have to be so cute. T_T
Everything was so expensive in the maid cafe! We even had to pay to take a picture with the maids! Hahaha. I couldn't really accept their voices, kind of 気持ち悪い for me but I guess the guys enjoyed it! ;) I guess maid cafes are meant for men! But it was indeed a great experience because now I know how maid cafes work and how they look like inside!
I'm saving the best experience for the last!
JENG JENG JENG JENG!!
I think purikura is a must-do thing when you're in Japan! The machine really did a good job in making the guys look ultra pretty LOOOOOL.
13. ATTENDING ARASHI'S CONCERT!
This was the best thing that happened to me in Japan! Remember I said I wrote my wish in Meiji Shrine? I wished that I could attend Arashi's concert while I was in Japan, and it came true! I believe it was purely luck and fate. I tried looking for a ticket with a reasonable price online about one month before I went to Japan but to no avail. All the tickets' prices were skyrocketed to prices like RM2K! The most expensive one I saw was 250000 yen which is about RM8K! CRAZYYYYY. So I basically gave up the idea of attending one, until one fine day while I was on FB, a Japanese friend I added not long ago posted a status asking if anyone wants to go to Arashi's concert with her! Even then I thought "Nah, the price will just be as high, I'll just give up" but somehow a voice in my head told me not to! Luckily I DM-ed her or else I wouldn't have had this amazing experience! We made a deal through FB message and finally, on the day of the concert (12th Dec) we met up at Shinjuku Station! I accompanied her at Tokyo Station because she wanted to do some shopping and then we had early dinner before heading to Suidobashi station for Tokyo Dome!
Everything felt like a dream to me! I almost wanted to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I've always wanted to get hold of a ticket and finally my dream came true!
Even when I reached Suidobashi Station, I felt like I was still dreaming. So many people were standing outside the station holding boards that says something like "Please sell a ticket to me". I felt extremely lucky that I manage to find myself a ticket because Arashi is really SO popular that many people don't get to buy their tickets! The tickets are just so in demand. The line of people holding boards continued all the way to in front of the stadium it's really amazing!
It was really the most amazing feeling being outside the stadium, looking at people laughing and hopping out of excitement! The best thing was that you know everyone there had the same interest as you and all of them were there for the same purpose. :)
The moment I entered the stadium, I was speechless. "Ahhhhh, finally!" was all I had in mind. Photography is prohibited in the stadium so I was really afraid when I took this picture. The humans in blue are all the staffs, there were so many of them looking at us! D: This was taken 2 hours before the concert started.
This was taken after the concert ended, when everyone got up to leave.
After the concert, with Ayu-chan!
A picture of all the concert goods I bought!
I wrote my thoughts about the concert immediately on FB, I'm gonna copy paste them here!
"I can't believe I just experienced Arashi's concert with 60,000 people. Everything felt like a dream, a beautiful dream. Their voices sounded so perfect live, their dance was so freaking sexy I almost fainted (especially PARADOX omgggg the hips part omg! Nino almost killed me there), the funky dance was the most amazing thing ever (everyone synchronized so well and the penlight colors changed simultaneously) and Ai wo Utaou of course, gave me endless goosebumps. I was also frightened a few times by the fireworks LOL but it was seriously indescribable! Everyone looked so handsome omg! My view of the whole stadium was the best thing ever! Although I could barely see their faces, the view of the whole stadium compensated for it. Like what Nino said, とても綺麗な景色でした。The lighting was just perfect! Their solos were really good as well! I personally liked Aiba's solo, he sounded so sweet! Happiness got everyone really high! The encore got me really excited too because they sang Kansha Kangeki Ame Arashi (smile again!) and My Girl! All I can say is, I'll forever respect their hard work and dedication in making every fan's dream come true! Thank you mummy daddy for making me dream come true as well!! Money well spent, hehe! I'll definitely attend more of their concerts in the future. Seriously the best 3 hours ever! And also, thank you Ayu Chan for selling the ticket to me! I had lots of fun with you!
I'll definitely treasure those wonderful times and who knows, maybe in the future I'll get to attend more concerts? :)
I really don't know how to describe my homestay experience in Japan. I really had such a splendid time in my dream country. My love for Japan has just become stronger than ever. How can a country be so perfect? There are many reasons why Japan became my favourite country.
The first thing everyone must notice in Japan is its cleanliness. You can hardly find a piece of rubbish on the ground and if you do, congratulations! :P And the weird thing is, not only can you hardly find litter on the ground, you can hardly find rubbish bins around too! I had to keep all my rubbish in my bag and bring them home to throw away. T_T Or throw them at the nearest train station!
A random road in front of 7-Eleven.
Second thing is, the Japanese are the most polite human beings I've ever come across! Every single time I talk to them I feel ashamed of myself, thinking, why am I not as polite as them? Every time I gave way to a cyclist while walking to the train station from home, he/she will nod at me and say either Ohayou (good morning) or Arigatou (thank you). It melts my heart each time I encounter that and it has already been one of the reasons why I like walking in the morning. Their courtesy never fails to make my day! Not only that, Japanese people's sincerity in helping people made me respect them even more. During my first 2 days in Japan, I got lost on the way home from the train station at night because I exited the station from the wrong exit! How stupid. The first time I got lost, I asked random strangers for directions and they were more than happy to explain to me! However, because it was very dark and everything was still unfamiliar to me, I was still lost. LOL. Until I met this kind lady. I tell you, Japanese people are god-like. T_T I asked her for directions to go to a restaurant just behind my house and she said I was totally in the wrong direction, which really, really scared me. She said it would be dangerous for me to walk home since it was really dark and I had no clue how to go back. I could just nod in agreement. Suddenly, she said "I'll walk home with you! I'm not very sure of the directions but I think it'll take quite some time, maybe half an hour or so. Don't worry, I'll make sure you reach home safely." That was when I almost wanted to break down and thank her profusely. How can she be so selfless for someone she doesn't even know? T_T Anyway, on our way back, she asked me lots of questions about myself and I, too asked her questions about her job and family. True enough, we walked for about half an hour before finally reaching my house. I couldn't be more grateful for her help! *cries*
Third thing is, the safety in Japan. Although I can't say that Tokyo is 100% safe, at least I felt safe while walking home at night, even during 1am. I never had the fear I have when I walk alone in Malaysia, even during daytime.
Fourth thing is, the convenience of the train system! I could go anywhere I want easily! Although I must admit the railway map was super confusing to me initially, I finally got the hang of it and realised that it is actually pretty simple!
Fifth thing is, the strawberries in Japan!!! They're so huge and red and juicy and sweet omgggggg.
Sixth thing is, everywhere I go, I see Johnny's! Which makes my day! Even better, most of them are Arashi's faces! *floats*
At Ikebukuro Station!
Arashi's faces are all over magazines in the book shop!
Johnny's Shop in Harajuku!
Kanjani 8's Wii banner!
Arashi LIVE on TV! This was FNS if I'm not mistaken.
You can see Arashi's faces even in trains!
Ahhhhhhh only if Malaysia has these! *dreaming*
Another fun thing about this homestay program was the school I attended! I attended a one-month course at Sendagaya Japanese School located in Takadanobaba.
The entrance to the main building.
Group photo of us Malaysians!
Classes were fun too (although sometimes boring when things get repetitive) and my teacher even used Arashi while teaching. LOL.
On our 2nd last day in Japan, our school made a video and held a farewell party for all of us! *touched*
With my classmates! :D
During the farewell party with a few teachers and school staffs! :D
There's just ONE thing about Japan that irritates me but at the same time, makes me laugh in my heart all the time. The train during peak hours! Wanna try being a sardin in a tin? Go ride a train in Japan during peak hours! :P
Last but not least, pictures with my host family!!
Anticlockwise from bottom right, Ayumi, me, Natsuki, Youko-san, Yuutarou, Waku and my host mum!
My heart melts every time I see him! いつもワクワクしているワクちゃん！
Where you going, Waku?! I just wanna have a proper photo with you! T_T
On my last night in Japan, we celebrated Osamu-san's (the kids' father) birthday! Super heart-warming!
Before I left, I gave Natsuki and Yuuta love letters! Hahaha. They were so shy when they received it! SUPER CUTEEEE! I also wrote 3 pages long of words of gratitude to my host mum in her sketch book for her as memories. Hopefully she understands my broken Japanese (well, she should have gotten used to it by now!) and I hope I've been a reasonably controllable child to her! :P
Although I sometimes get scolded by her
I have many more things to say but this blog post has become very long so I'll elaborate more in the next blog post! (how it's like living in a Japanese house, the food my host mum cooked for me, etc.)Thank you for those of you who have come so far!
Here, have a Hello Kitty in kimono as a reward! :P
Here's the video our school made for us! :)