Chapter 10: Hardcore in Japan

Since coming to Japan, my only exposure to hardcore has been the FC Five CD I saw in Tower Records about 4 months ago and this kid on my campus that I initially befriended on account that he was wearing a Stick To Your Guns t-shirt. The only thing I know about Stick To Your Guns is, “Move! [insert breakdown here]”, but I know they’re associated with hardcore so I figured he would be my only link to the scene while here in Japan. We talked about our favorite bands a few times, but it turns out he was more into metalcore and so talks about music slowly faded. I searched for potential other fans of the genre, but whenever I mentioned “hardcore punk music” the answer I always seemed to get was “Green Day” (ironically enough they played a show here last month). This went on for months and in between time, I checked various Myspace pages and Twitters to see if any hardcore bands would be playing in Japan (Nagoya, more specifically). If I remember correctly, Earth Crisis played a show in a nearby prefecture (state), but it was too pricey to get out there and I’ve seen Earth Crisis once in Atlanta and I didn’t really enjoy them (blasphemy, I know). The Mongoloids came to Japan last month, but they stayed only near Tokyo and I seriously live no where near Tokyo, so that was out of the question. I was beginning to think that I would never go to a hardcore show in Japan. The only Japanese hardcore band I know is FC Five and they aren’t currently touring, so finding a venue that even booked hardcore bands was a chore within itself. Luckily, a friend of mine from Atlanta hit me and my girlfriend up with this Facebook message.

Leave it to my friend in America to inform me about shows in Japan. He successfully did what I couldn’t do for months, in one day.

Most venues in Japan provide an option for concert-goers to purchase their tickets in advance. There are several options, like using a special code at the local conbini (convenience store) – sort of like ticket master, but computer-automated and with no extra charges, or reserving your tickets through your cellphone (the option we chose). Whatever option you choose, it’s always best to reserve your tickets ahead of time. In this case, it was a difference between $40.00 (the day of price) and $30.00 (the reservation price). Believe it or not, $30.00 is usually the low-end price for shows out here. I think the most I’ve ever spent on a show (excluding This is For You Fest) was $25.00 for the Gorilla Biscuits reunion show. You get used to it, but it’s not the $8 and $12 dollars we’re use to.

Finding the actual location of venues is the easy part. Find the subway station that is closest to your venue, they’re usually at most a 5 minute walk from the venue (in this case, it’s Kamimaezu). Look for a few land marks (there’s a 7-11 right down the street) and hit up Google street view if you need more reassuring. I don’t know how it is in other parts of the country, but not having a ride is cited as a top reason why kids don’t go to shows in Atlanta. It makes me wonder how strong the scene could be if we had better public transportation. The trip to Kamimaezu takes about 1 hour by bus and subway.

Instead of giving a written review of the show, I’ve provided a video detailing our adventure and some bullet points I forgot to mention in the video.

– A straight edge band in Japan seems even more extreme than in the states to me. Seriously, most people in Japan smoke or drink alcohol. It’s very cheap and very accessible. I was surprised to see an edge band in Nagoya.

– I was pleasantly surprised to see how many kids actually knew Cruel Hand. I know them and so do most of my friends in America, but they seem to be pretty popular in the hardcore scene around Nagoya.

– Ceremony’s set was completely nuts. I think they really freaked a lot of the Japanese people out. The lead vocalist (Ross) was often found jumping into the crowd, rolling around on the floor, rubbing his sweaty head on unsuspecting Japanese girls, and singing to individuals who have clearly never heard of Ceremony before. One of the Japanese guys in Shark Ethic came up to me and said in basic Japanese “This band is crazy, they’re so cool”. I couldn’t put it better myself.

– BANE held it down, of course. They played all of my favorite songs and even played some new songs off their new World Series Records. There isn’t much to say about BANE that hasn’t already been said. BANE is BANE and if you don’t know what that means, then you should see them if they come to your town.

It amazes me how widespread hardcore is around the world. If you ever get a chance to study abroad or go overseas, look up if any hardcore shows will be in your area prior to your trip. You’ll meet interesting people and see how similar scenes are across the map. In the mean time, continue going to shows, supporting your local venues, and talking to unfamiliar faces.

Chapter 9: Gaikokujin Profiling

Japan is a country who’s population (127,076,183) makeup is about 98.5% Japanese and 1.5% other. Of that 1.5%, non-Asians (Koreans and Chinese) account for 0.6% of the population (that’s us) [1]. Japan is an island heavily influenced by much of the western world (largely America). America’s influence on Japan ranges in a variety of mediums: art, music, books, television dramas, and movies. I wouldn’t necessarily say that those mediums aren’t a snap shot of American life, but I think you’d be amazed to find the amount of Japanese people who have an underlining fear of being a victim of crime while staying in America (or at least I was amazed). I can’t really blame them though, based on the media’s influence you’d probably think the U.S. was the trigger happy wild-west too.

In 2002 the National Police Agency recently announced that the number of crimes committed by foreigners on temporary visas jumped by 25.8 percent. Serious crimes like murder, robbery, and arson, were up 18.2 percent [2]. Foreigners stick out like a sore thumb here in Japan. I can’t even begin to tell you how many stares I get in my own neighborhood on my way to local supermarket (I’ve lived there 5 months, I thought they’d be used to me by now). Hell, there are plenty of foreigners around my neighborhood, shouldn’t they come to expect some non-Japanese faces from time to time? I even go to a school called “Nagoya University of Foreign Studies”, but I guess with the strong homogeneity of Japan and media headlines that read “If a suspicious foreigner (fushin na gaikokujin) calls out to you, do not take your eyes or hands off your money or your bag” [2] they can’t really help it.

During our school’s orientation they told us once we get our alien registration card we don’t have to carry our passports anymore, but until then we should ALWAYS keep it on us incase the cops stop us for questioning. Wait, what? Why would the cops stop ME for questioning? I don’t plan on murdering or robbing anyone (although those fashionable wallets that young Japanese men have unsecured out of their back pockets look real tempting, even if it’s to teach them a lesson). I’ve come to learn that your intentions don’t matter, if you’re gaijin you’re prone to being stopped.

A week later me and a friend were stopped again by the cops, this time riding our bikes. Like we said in the video, “We understand that they are doing their job, but it still stings a little bit”. I think what I dislike most about being stopped by the cops is the sideways glares we get from pedestrians while being questioned. I read once that Japan has a 90+% conviction rate. I haven’t questioned any of my Japanese friends on this matter, but with numbers that high I’m going to assume that most people think that only bad people deal with the cops. Why would the cops stop you if they didn’t think you were doing something wrong? Japan is seemingly an infallible country (Honne and tatemae [3]).

Being questioned by the cops (even if they are just doing their job) reinforces the stereotype of “suspicious foreigners”, creates a greater air of xenophobia, and makes foreigners (or at least me) who are doing the “right thing” more resentful of the police. I know it’s a Catch-22, but I just don’t want to be stopped by the cops again just because I don’t look Japanese.

Shortly after this post, Greg was stopped again by the police in the comfort of his own dorm room.

[1] CIA Factbook: Japan –

[2] Japan Times: Foreigner Crime –

[3] Wikipedia: Honne and Tatemae –

Chapter 8: Elementary School Internship

Why, hello there! It sure has been a very, very long time since the last time that we talked! Well, needless to say, by looking at the title of this blog post, you can tell that I have been a busy woman, not including taking some time to travel a bit and my little side hustle of tutoring students at a small English school. Well, I’m back and I hope that I didn’t keep you waiting too long, but I’m really excited to share with you my experiences at my 10, well, technically 9-day internship (but I’ll get into those details later) at a local elementary school.

So, prior to coming to Japan, as many of you know, I was studying Middle Grades Education at my home university. Well, when I decided to come to Japan, one of the main things I wanted to accomplish during my time here was to gain some experience working in a Japanese school, but mainly an elementary school since I will be certified to teach Kindergarten through 8th grade. Talking with one of my friends who completed the internship here at NUFS the semester before had nothing but good things to say about it and I knew that I made the right decision, although my internship started during the first 2 weeks of our long 3-months break ~_~’.

To get enrolled into an internship here at NUFS, I had to attend a meeting for all students that were interested in one during the Fall Semester, a few months ago. There were literally only 2 students at the meeting, another girl who was looking into the same internship and myself, but in the end, it was only me. At that meeting, I met with the director of NUFS International Department and learned about the different opportunities that were offered, internships ranging from hotel and travel management to daycare services, learned about how to conduct myself in a professional Japanese setting, and what I needed to do to complete and earn my internship credit. A few weeks later, I had another meeting with an advisor who set up my placement at a local school called Nagakute Minami Elementary School, which is located about a 10-minute bike ride away from I-House. My advisor then informed me that I would have to go with her during a day in January to give my あいさつ (aisatsu) “self-introduction” to the principal of the school.

So, on the day of my self-introduction, I met with my advisor and walked to the school. I met the principal and a few other staff members and teachers, had my picture taken for my name tag, and gave my あいさつ in Japanese. I basically just told them my name, where I came from, what I am currently studying, and thanked them for the opportunity…and then I was done. My advisor did some information/paperwork exchange and then we were on our way back to campus. During the trip back, she informed me that I was very lucky (at least in her eyes) because the principal was going to prepare a desk for me that I could work at and observe from in the teachers’ office! I felt a little special because I knew that would help me feel a bit more like a part of the working dynamic of the school.

(My desk, where I practiced a lot of Kanji…)

Just 2 weeks after my self-introduction, my internship started on January 21st! After a slight mishap of accidently going to the junior high school rather than the elementary school that was just located a street over, I arrived at Nagakute Minami, parked my bike, and was greeted by a staff member who showed me to my shoe locker and brought me to the teachers’ office, where I met with the principal again. I was given my schedule and asked to wait in the office until all of the teachers arrived. Once all of the teachers were at their desks, the principal led me into the office and began to introduce me to the staff…and then he asked me to give an あいさつ, which I had prepared the night before throughout my restless night because of the excitement and my bad nerves. Well, let’s just say that it was a partial success. This is what I wanted to say:

おはよございますみたさん。私はラシダバカールです。アメリカからきました。日本へ九月一日からきました。今、名古屋外国語大学のりゅうがくせいで す。日本語の勉強をしています。ありがとうがざいます。Translation: Good morning, everyone. I’m Rashidat Bakar. I’m from America. I came to Japan on the 1st of September. Now, I am a international student at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies. I am currently studying Japanese. Thank you very much.

Well, let’s just say that I said about half of that and with a lot more あの。。。(Ummm’s), but I got my point across. After my ill-performed introduction, the principal showed me to my desk and gave me my name tag. I was then greeted by my internship advisor and teacher that I was mainly going to be working with, Marie 先生(sensei – “teacher”). To my surprise, she was another 外国人 (foreigner) and taught the majority of the English classes at the school for all of the grade levels. She informed me about the lessons of the day – body parts, and that I should be prepared to sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes a million times during the next week. Right after she explained all of that, 2 二年生 (2nd grade) students arrived, introduced themselves at the door, and called for Marie and myself (Side Note: I noticed that every student that needed to enter the office had to introduce themselves, state their purpose, and excuse themselves for entering, then when they were leaving, they would have to say: しつれいしました (shireishimashita), which basically means, excuse me for my rudeness; a very polite, Japanese phrase.)

(The students loved watching me use chopsticks during lunch…)

So, all day and during the rest of my time at the school, I worked with Marie 先生 with various grade levels, introduced myself to each new class that I attended, and helped with any of the activities that they were doing for the day. While I was there, the classes sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”, played various games, completed listening activities, learned about what animals live under the sea, asked me questions, and gave tons and tons of high-fives and hugs. I also observed other science, music, and math classes, attended 2 festivals at the school, and even practiced with the cheerleading club!

(Brought me back to my Varsity Cheerleading days in high school. Go Warriors!!!)

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I’m glad that I took time out of my break and travel time to help out at the school. I met some really awesome teachers, worked with some of the sweetest and funniest students that I have ever met, learned a lot about the differences between American and Japanese schools, about an elementary school’s setting, and even learned/practiced some Japanese with the students. I honestly won’t forget about my time at Nagakute Minami Elementary School, but I wish I could forget about the day that I had to call in and had the most miserable weekend of my life.

Here’s the story. So, for lunch, they serve only milk to drink…the problem there is that I am somewhat lactose intolerant, well, in America, I was very lactose intolerant as in I only drank soy milk, couldn’t really eat ice cream, and luckily cheese was my only dairy ally. Here in Japan, I’ve been able to eat yogurt (like I currently am while writing this post), eat the best parfaits at Cat’s Garden, and so, who would have thought a little milk would have done anything??? Yea…terrible idea. I had the worst stomachache amongst other symptoms that night, had to call into my internship on only my 2nd day, explain all of this in Japanese, then call my advisor and explain it all in Japanese again, and then endure the worst weekend of my life. Obvious lesson learned.

(One of the best lunches I had there…w/o the milk!)

So, I hope that was an insightful and interesting look at participating in an internship in Japan. If you have the opportunity to study abroad and if an internship is right up your alley for your major, I hope that you go out on a limb and do one because it is an experience that I don’t think that you can have unless you come to work here in Japan. If you do end up doing an internship here in Japan, let us know about it, I would especially, love to hear about what it was like for you and what you did!

I think I’m meant to be a teacher <3)

Thanks again to all of our readers and subscribers to our YouTube channel! As you can probably tell, our channel has been taking a lot of our time, but we have a ton of footage to share, so I hope that y’all have been enjoying it all. Don’t forget to send us a line or two here on our blog and YouTube channel, add us on Facebook, check out what we do on a daily basis through Twitter, and browse through our millions of pictures on Flicker, all linked on the sidebar of this page!

Thanks again and see you sooner than in a few months from now!


Chapter 7: Let’s Eat

Food – the one thing that binds all life forms together on the planet Earth. Just like music, it breaks through all language barriers and almost everyone has a favorite and least favorite dish. Prior to my arrival to Japan, I had limited knowledge about what constituted authentic Japanese food. Sure, I knew their were various types of noodles and sushi of course, but there was so much more that I didn’t know (not including the Japanese variants of what I considered American staples).

The follow post is split up into 3 sections of opinion: “Foods That Japan Gets Right”, “Japanese Variants on Western Staples”, and “Foods That Fail”.

Foods that Japan Gets Right:

  • Curry! The Japanese love curry and so do we! Curry was actually a meal option on our flight over to Nihon (sort of like a food ambassador for things to come). Before we came to Japan, Amanda and I used to make curry all the time in our tiny apartment kitchen and now we have it at least once a week (or once every other week). My favorite type of curry is home made shrimp curry. Of course there are local chain restaurant alternatives like Coco Curry (one of the most popular chain restaurants in Japan), but nothing beats making curry the way YOU like it with your own hands. Ginger is served on the side with rice and together, they make the perfect combination of spicy and savory. Japanese curry gets an A+.

(Our inflight meal – Shrimp curry with salad, Inari (fried tofu filled with sushi rice), and a brownie)

(Shrimp curry again. This time it’s from CoCo Curry House.)

Next on the list is sushi. This comes as no surprise seeing how I’m in the country of its origin, but I put it on the list because the sushi here is much better than my watered down expectations caused by lackluster sushi eaten at my local “Japanese” restaurant back home. For me, sushi is best eaten on a cheap conveyor belt with friends fighting over who gets the next maguro piece or who can eat the most plates. Of course you can eat at more fancy and prestigious sushi restaurants, but I perfer the overall package of conveyor belt sushi. Plus, I doubt you can get strawberry parfaits and chocolate cake at those fancy-smancy restaurants. Conveyor belt sushi is never a bad choice.

(105 Yen a plate?! Amazing! Just hope you get a good seat near the front of the line.)

Okonomiyaki brings up the rear as the last entry for “Foods That Japan Gets Right”. For those who may not know, Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake containing a variety of ingredients (as per wikipedia). There are so many Okonomiyaki styles and flavors that its hard to say what exactly Okonomiyaki is and what it isn’t, but one thing all Okonomiyaki shares is their delicious taste. I like my Okonomiyaki Hiroshima style (layered with noodles). I actually got a chance to have some authentic Hiroshima Okonomiyaki in November and it exceeded all expectations.

(Amanda and I eat at a local Okonomiyaki house. Cho good!)

Japanese Variants on Western Staples
Face it, everyone wants to be like America and if they don’t want to be like America, then we’re going to FORCE them to be like us. All politics aside, Japan has many western influences, especially in the area of food. If for some strange reason you come to Japan and hate all Japanese cuisine, you can eat like you never left home (mostly). Some western food chains found in Japan are: McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway, Wendy’s (RIP), and Denny’s. So far, I’ve only had the pleasure of eating at McDonald’s, Denny’s and Subway. McDonald’s is better in every conceivable way with more variety (The Teriyaki burger and shaka shaka chicken among other things), but a bit more expensive. Denny’s is in no way like the Denny’s back home. It’s more like Japanese style lunch/dinner (Omelete rice, gratin, and steaks). So, do NOT, I repeat, do NOT go in there thinking you’re going to get treated to an American style breakfast. You will leave horribly dissapointed. Subway is like Subway back home, but with a lot less options and teens that hate their jobs. Fast food in Japan doesn’t even seem like fast food. More care and less grease is put into each and every double quarter pounder with cheese and for that I must say, I actually like fast food here as oppose to in America.

(Japan! Stop putting egg on everything! Oh okay, I give up. I love eggs too.)

(R.I.P. Wendy’s. Apparently these guys are closing all over Japan)

(Japan’s take on Tex-Mex at local Los Tacos restaurant. No egg this time.)

Foods that fail
Japan can’t be completely full of win, can it? Of course not, and that brings us to the final section, “Foods That Fail”. I’m not a picky eater by any means, so when I don’t like something I really don’t like it. There are two things that have dissapointed me food-wise while in Japan; pizza and breakfast foods. Are you a fan of the Grand Slam meal at Denny’s or my personal southern favorite the All-Star Breakfast from Waffle House? You won’t find even a fraction of the breakfast menu options found at your local IHOP here in Japan. Japan does not do Western breakfast. Amanda and I were lucky enough to find pancake mix at the local store, but based on the pancake selection in many restaurants, the Japanese dress up their pancakes and serve them as desert. This is NOT the pancake way.

Another food favorite that has fallen victim to the Japanese way is pizza. Why is there tuna on my pizza? Why is there mayonaise on my pizza. EGG?! On my pizza?! The lack of sauce, the lack of cheese, all these things are a problem and if you want a “proper” American style pizza from Pizza Hut be ready to shell out 3,000+ Yen for what they call a “Large” size pizza (An American medium). Even when we go to our local Italian resturant (Marino), we are served up some hyper flat circle with toppings and “cheese” under the name “pizza”. Now, granted the “pizza” isn’t bad by any means, but its missing that certain something. I think it’s called flavor.

(A sorry excuse for breakfast in Japan. Is that suppose to be eggs and bacon?! Salad is NOT for breakfast.)

(Hey Amanda, what are you eating? Pizza? That’s not a pizza!)

Food in Japan varies greatly and I only touched on the most basic of foods (try going to the supermarket here to see what I mean). I’ve come to love Japanese food for it’s variety and healthly benefits and hope to try even more foreign foods during my time here. I may even grow to like egg and mayonaise on everything I eat. Maybe…

Chapter 6: 8:15am, August 6th, 1945

On November 7th, Greg and I traveled to Hiroshima to visit the Peace Memorial Museum with some of our fellow NUFS international students. Before coming to Japan and having the thought of living here, Hiroshima was one of the places I saw when I envisioned Japan. Learning about it in school since junior high, I’ve always felt that heavy sadness that is associated with the dropping of the bombs and to finally have the opportunity to visit and experience the atmosphere of Hiroshima, I knew that this was something I couldn’t miss.

About 2 semesters before coming to Japan, I created a lesson plan for one of my education classes that incorporated the reading of Eleanor Coerr’s Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.  Personally, I never had the chance to read the book when I was in grade school, but once I found out about it for my project, the story always stuck with me. The story is about a young Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki who developed leukemia after the atomic bomb was dropped about 1 mile away from her home. During her time in the hospital, her best friend told her of the old Japanese saying that if you folded 1,000 cranes, you would be granted a wish. In the book, it is said that Sadako never reaches her goal and her friends fold the remaining cranes, but she actually did and continued to fold more before her death. The following semester, I used the story again in my “Teaching Grammar” class for a project involving ELL (English Language Learners) students.During my last month or so home before our departure, my little sister and I went on a documentary binge randomly one week. We ended up watching “White Light/Black Rain”, an HBO documentary that was made for one of the anniversaries marking the dropping on the A-Bomb. I was pretty moved by the images and video because, honestly, I had never ventured deep enough to understand the true horrors of the bombing, visually. I don’t know if it was my naivety or my fears of digging into the unknown that made me avoid truly diving into everything that was – the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So, with that all in mind and my new found “understanding”, when I saw the sign-up sheet for the overnight excursion to Miyajima and Hiroshima, I was all go!

All-in-all, I can say that visiting the Peace Memorial Park and Museum was amazing and eye-opening. Seeing the A-Bomb Dome made it that much more real to me. The Children’s Peace Memorial was exactly as I had imagined and read about. The whole entire atmosphere of the park and museum was surreal. The Peace Memorial Museum was an experience that I will never forget. Reading about the stories of the people who lived through the destruction, those who lost children and family members, and seeing relics that were donated to the museum, like a horribly burned tricycle that belong to a child that died in the blast, all made me think about and question why such lives had to be lost. Although such a tragedy took place there 64 years ago, the restoration and pursuit for peace seemed to lift some of the pain that was left behind after the bombing. Being able to see the actual paper cranes that Sadako Sasaki made herself and now serve as a symbol for a nuclear war free world.

So, finally having the chance to visit Hiroshima and learn about the war and aftermath from the Japanese perspective, I’m truly glad that I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. One of the things that I am really happy for is my purchase of my own personal copy of Sadako and the Thousand Cranes. I hope that I can use this book in my future classrooms and share my experience with my students. Hiroshima with always be a part of what I think when I think about Japan and now with different a understanding and feeling about the culture.

Chapter 5: 2009 NUFS/NUAS School Festival

Every year, before the windy Fall weather arrives, campuses across Japan can be seen gearing up for their annual school festivals. School festivals in Japan are a chance for various clubs, circles, and organizations to showcase their talents in a variety of ways: several sports clubs had food stands to raise money for better sports equipment, the traditional swordsmanship club put on a demonstration of advanced sword techniques, while the Japanese Red Cross were handing out information and taking blood donations (pictured below).

I believe that the school festival helps further build the group mentality. Everyone helps out where they can, you get to see and enjoy many talents from your peers, enjoy live music, dramas, and comedy shows.

One of the best things about the school festival is the D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) ethics that everyone seems to have. Most, if not all of the booths are completely student made and are comprised of hand made parts (no pre-made stuff here). This makes for some interesting and rather impressive booths.

In my opinion, there are two drawbacks to the school festival – 1) If you’re a foreign student with minimal Japanese skills then you may feel confined to eating food and enjoying live music. You could go out on a limb and sit in on a school drama, but your enjoyment is not guranteed and 2) It is VERY crowded. If you are not a fan of rubbing elbows with your fellow Japanese classmates in small buildings and even smaller walkways, then feel free to get to the festival early in the morning before the rush or in the evening when the crowds have gone home for the day.

(I heard there was a walkway at one time where all those people are standing.)

The Japanese School Festival is a unique experience that should be experienced if you get the chance.
You can enjoy more photos on our 2009 NUFS/NUAS School Fesitval set on Flickr.

Chapter 4: NUFS Classes & Campus Life

School here at NUFS has been in full swing for about 2 months. Classes officially started for us りゅうがくせい (ryuugakusei) “international students” on September 28th after about a week of orientations over student and campus life, including some tours of the local cities nearby. Since Greg and I are both taking the Japanese Culture track of classes this semester, we’ve been offered a lot of opportunities to explore and interact with the culture through excursions sponsored by NUFS Japanese Language Institute and lots of free time outside of our scheduled classes.

Besides doing tons of local traveling, eating, and shopping, we’ve been learning and experiencing a lot with our Japanese Language and Culture classes. Here’s a rundown of our Fall class schedules:


  • 10:50am – 12:20pm ~ Japanese Language
  • 1:20pm – 2:50pm ~ Japanese Business*
  • 3:00pm – 4:30pm ~ Japanese Pop Culture Through Media


  • 9:10am – 10:40am ~ Japanese Education and Society
  • 10:50am – 12:20pm ~ Mapping Culture: The Development of Nagoya into an Industrial Center**
  • 1:20pm – 2:50pm ~ Japanese Language


  • 9:10am – 10:40am ~ Modern Japan Through Its Cinema
  • 10:50am – 12:20pm ~ Japanese Language


  • 1:20pm – 2:50pm ~ Japanese Language and Society
  • 3:00pm – 4:30pm ~ Japanese Language
  • 4:40pm – 6:10pm ~ Japanese Culture and Art


  • Cultural Excursions

[* = Amanda / ** = Greg]

So, our class schedules are decently spread out to allow a great deal of study and exploration time…and we have been taking full advantage of that! Other than spending a lot of time out ‘n’ about, we’ve been spending a good bit of time expanding of Japanese minds. Having our Japanese Language class everyday has been doing wonders for our language skills. I can most definitely say that personally, my listening skills have gotten a lot better, especially from the help of our Japanese R.As – Yuka, Koko (Yuko), and Yuri who take the time to help us understand conversations in full Japanese.Other than that, school life here in Japan has been quite similar to school life back in the States, except for the huge emphasis on extra-curricular activities, which is another whole blog post in itself, definitely since our university is having it’s annual festival this weekend! Stay tuned for that entry, but to hold you over, here’s a tour of the NUFS campus:


Chapter 3: Tokyo Adventure

Day 1 – Getting there + Akihabara

Two days before our departure on Friday the 25th, Amanda and I ventured to Nagoya city to purchase a pair of Shinkansen (bullet train) tickets. The process was “quick, easy, and painless” (even if you have minimal Japanese language skills). Here’s a couple of tips that helped us out:

1) Know where you want to go. This seems obvious, but if you aren’t going to a major station like Tokyo, Osaka, or Nagoya, it may not be so obvious where you need to get off; Which brings me to my next point.

2) Know what type of train you want to take. On the Tokaido line (the line that runs from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka) there are three types of trains: Nozomi, Hikari, and the Kodama. Amanda and I opted for the Kodama train which makes stops at every station and is apparently cheaper (although I didn’t notice a difference in price from when we rode the Nozomi on the way back from Tokyo). If you do notice a price difference between the three trains then choose the Nozomi. Sure, you might not have much time to rest, but you’ll get to your destination faster and you’ll more time to explore.

3) Know if you want reserved or non-reserved seating. I really don’t see a reason to not get reserved seating unless they’re no vacancies or you don’t 500 (ish) Yen. Reserved seating gives you a guaranteed seat on the train and apparently the seats are better (as per my friend Wes). Reserved seating is well worth the extra price. Do it!

That’s pretty much it! Like I said, if your Japanese language skill isn’t very strong then learn a couple of choice phrases and know the previuosly mentioned and you should be well on your way to your travel destination.

Amanda and I arrive at Tokyo station around 1:30pm and make our way to Ueno’s Touganeya Hotel (check-in is at 3:00pm). We make it with minor problems (the hotel construction misguided us from the hotel’s actual location), unpack, settle down, and head out to Akihabara.

Akihabara was exactly what we thought it would be: maids handing out brochures for their cafes, anime and manga never out of visible sight, video games, figures, electronics, and the massive amount of people that love them. Amanda and I stop off at a local sushi restaurant to get a quick bite to eat before exploring. The sushi was pretty standard, but it was my first conveyor belt sushi experience so I enjoyed it very much. We spent the rest our time going into multi story buildings looking at any and everything and buying a couple of goodies.

Loot obtained:
Greg: “Street Fighter Artworks Ha” & “Headphone Girls: A Pictorial Book
Amanda: “Toradora! Pictures! Yasu Illustrations“, “Nana – Caution – Artbook” “Gelatin Fall 2009 Magazine” “Afrika” for the PS3, “Nana vol. 1“, & a “Korilakkuma” plushie.

By the end of our Akihabara trip our feet hurt and we were completely exhausted. We turned it in early to get ready for Tokyo Game Show the following day.

Day 2 – Tokyo Game Show

Me, Amanda, and two of our other friends (Wes and Chris) wake up and are out the door for TGS 2009 by 9:30am. We’re assume that if we show up a little later than opening (10am) then we could avoid the large crowds. I don’t know if we were completely wrong, but if the crowd at 10am was anything like the crowd around 11am then it didn’t matter when we showed up (there were TONS of people regardless).

TGS was great. We had a lot of fun, but we all came to the consensus that TGS is best experienced through a computer screen. The appeal of TGS for me every year is the content and new release information. When you’re at TGS you don’t get a chance to see everything and you definitely don’t have translations helping you make sense of it all. It was quite the experience, but I think one time is enough for me.

Later that night the gang ventured to Takadanobaba to go to Big Box’s Taito Station with one goal in mind, see Diago Umehara. Well, mission accomplished and then some. Got destroyed in a couple rounds of Street Fighter, met a cool guy from Sweden, Met Richard Li from and took some purakuri. Some guy who had one too many Chuhai SCREAMED in excitement over Amanda’s Azusa (K-On anime) jacket and that pretty much concluded our night.

Day 3 – Shibuya + Harajuku

Amanda and I decided to spend our last day in Tokyo at Shibuya + Harajuku. We would start from the famed Hachiko statue, hit up the Shibuya 109 building, and end our trip in Harajuku checking out the cool fashion scene. Shibuya and Harajuku are both places you NEED time to explore. Just like Akiba, there is simply too much to see and do to go without having an effective plan. So we spent most of our time just looking in and around shops, Amanda purchased some clothes, we got lost looking for Harajuku, stumbled across a local festival, and enjoyed gazing at high end shops (i.e. Gucci, BAPE, Fendi, etc). Pictures and video really do a better job at telling the story than I do. Enjoy a quick video and our Flickr slideshow below.

Tokyo Slideshow

So that was our Tokyo Adventure. We learned a lot and although we sometimes got lost, we gained valuable information to enhance our next Tokyo trip. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog.

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Chapter 2: Exploring Nagoya (and some more!)

First and foremost…I love Japan! Being here for the last couple of weeks has been amazing! This very well may be the “honeymoon phase” happiness speaking but its helped make exploring our current surroundings and venturing out so easy (despite the language barrier, of course). Despite not knowing Japanese well enough to communicate with the daily citizens, I feel we’ve been getting by pretty good and have made some pretty decent achievements in our explorations and experiences thus far.  So, in terms of exploring, we have gotten quite acquainted with our home community in Nisshin and are mastering the Higashiyama Line to Sakae and Nagoya City.

Speaking of getting out ‘n’ about, here are some, and when I say some, I mean tons of videos of us getting out of I-House and doing the whole tourist thing.

Strolling through Nisshin-shi!

Going to the historically awesome Nagoya Castle & nerdin’ it up at Bic Camera (a 6-story electronic shop).

Walking around one of my favorite spots in Nagoya – Sakae!

Although we’ve been doing lots of traveling on our our, NUFS also offers its own school-funded excursion every Friday for us international students! Our first one was to 2 of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Gokayama & Shirakawa-Go!

Last but not least, our biggest trip has been to Kobe to visit our good friend, Chris from back home. It was a bit daunting because one of our Japanese R.A’s, Yuka-san highly suggested that we take a bus rather than the Shinkansen, which was out first “lazy” choice & we had no idea how to even start for a bus ticket online. Luckily, Yuka-san knew of a really awesome bus company and took us to the local Lawson (convenience store) and helped us buy our tickets, which were extremely cheaper than the Shinkensen! And in the end, we ended up saving a lot of money getting to Kobe, despite the long hours on the bus and had an amazing time with Chris and meeting new friends!

Hope y’all have been enjoying the blog! We’ve been working really hard to capture as much as we can and we’re currently trying to get on a better schedule that works well with our school schedules. Thanks for all of the love and support and we hope you keep reading!

Now for some blog pimpin’

Chapter 1: Life at NUFS’ I-House

Next Tuesday will mark our second week of living in Japan. Although its been a very trying experience, I think we’re finally getting settled into our new life. Life at the International House (I-House) is similar to dorm life back in the states. You have a basic commons area that serves as a meeting ground for important outings or for hanging out with friends, several kitchens, the Nakaniwa (Inner Garden) for a change of scenery, and your own personal room. Around I-House, there is always something to do or someone to hangout with. This can be a good or bad thing depending on your personality, but overall I think it’s more beneficial than not (especially if you’re into networking with others). The following videos are of Amanda showing you her room and around I-House. Enjoy!


Took a shopping trip to Bulldog (kinda an equivalent to Spencers and other random stores).
We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the music selection here in Japan.

Our reaction to Mcdonald’s in Japan.

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