Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Goodbye Gaijin!

And finally we come to the last post! To sum up, this summer was nothing short of the most amazing summer I've had. I think the fact that there were fewer students in Sun Academy this year (only 14), due to the earthquake, meant that all of us Yale students bonded a lot. We hung out all the time and had crazy adventures every weekend. Our small number also made it so that we were able to hang out with the buddies in pretty equal proportions, making for a fun bonding experience. Not only that, but my host family was absolutely amazing--as I've raved about how awesome they were ad nauseum already, I won't bore you with more ;). Lastly, to be able to meet up with the Japanese friends I made at Sogang and to speak to them in Japanese was just a really unreal experience. Thank you Light Fellowship for making this happen! :)

The last week was a scramble to study for the final while writing our speeches and also making time to meet friends for the last time. On Monday, to show Kristi a "real" Tokyo experience, we decided to make a trip back to Akihabara to take purikura pictures (those photo booths that photoshop your pupils to look huge, plump up your lips, and lessen your facial hair if you're Gabe hahaha) and play in some of the arcades.
Tuesday involved Eunbi and me meeting my Korean friend who'd been living in Japan for five years and eating ox tongue for the first time, a pretty delicious meal.
Wednesday, I met up with Kumiko who I studied with at Sogang and walked around the National Palace, which was surprisingly deserted. Funny enough, despite being Japanese, both Kumiko and Chihiro had never gone to the national palace. I guess it's like how most New Yorkers have not gone to the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty! That week was also particularly sweltering (every day was upwards of 35 degrees Celsius, which is over 100F), making for a very sweaty, but rewarding walk around the palace grounds.
More hilarious Engrish.

We then met up with Rewon at Shimbashi and headed off to Odaiba, where we met up with Chihiro at her workplace and ate at a pirate restaurant. Quite the experience, and oh-so gaijinrashii (foreigner-like). For some reason, the waiters there yelled "adios!" when you were done eating.
Not so sure pirates used chopsticks...
I had a short lunch with Yoshiko (another Sogang buddy) on Thursday before heading home to study (or nap) and write my speech. Finally, the long-awaited weekend arrived after a grueling 3 hour exam!
I met up with Kana to head to Odaiba again, since she had never been there before (being a native of Kagawa, in Shikoku). We had a yummy lunch and walked around the area, failing to find the beach however, but taking a picture in front of a small replica of the Statue of Liberty! As dinner approached, we headed back to Nippori to meet up with Yoshiko and then with the rest of the Sun Academy-ers (except for a few who couldn't make it) for a dinner at my host family's house.

When we got to my house, even I was surprised to see the humongous banquet that my host mother had laid out. Absolutely incredible and delicious! Not only that, but she had even made a Yale cake by hand! Amazing is the only word I can use to describe it.

After a short session of gaming on my host brother's Wii, everyone then disbanded to write their speeches.

The next day, after everyone finally made it through their speeches, we were finally done with Sun Academy! We had a dinner at a delicious Chinese restaurant (it'd been a while since I'd eaten jellyfish) and gave a tearful goodbye to our teachers.
Haruka's dad shows us 合気道 aikido.
A party ensued with Gabe's family and brother in his brother's very cool apartment. There was plenty of talking and general festivities. I have to say, Gabe's 4 year old host sister Emily is one of the cutest little kids I've ever seen! She was so adorable and fun to play with, not to mention Gabe's host parents were so awesome and fun to talk to as well. I'm gonna miss them as well!
Finally, after pulling an all-nighter with the crew and some of the Japanese buddies, we all said our tearful goodbyes, hugged, and went our separate ways. Luckily, I'll see most everyone back at Yale, but to Rewon, Eunbi, and Michael, have an amazing year, and to Ruth, an amazing semester! I'm gonna miss those kids, especially since I'll be graduating this year! Alas, all good things come to an end (泣).
The next day was spent talking to my host mom for five hours--she's just so full of energy and so fun to talk to!
I packed after a delicious dinner of my favorite--sashimi--and headed off to Korea for a week, which was spent catching up with several friends who I had met in Korea, and finally I came back to Japan for one night (because of an overnight layover) to have dinner with my host parents. I packed, went to sleep for the last time in that pink house, and went with my host parents to Narita, where they saw me off, yet another tearful goodbye (泣).

From one set of parents to another, I finally met my parents back in JFK and went home after this amazing trip that went by in a blink and yet felt like an eternity! And thus ends my sublime stay in Tokyo.

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