Friday, November 15, 2013

Summer Vacation II and Halloween

Hello everyone! Sorry for the delay, but I finally have a new laptop (the old had to be mailed back to the USA) and have figured out how to function (somewhat) with Windows 8. This new version really is not the most user friendly, but at least now I know how to get to my files, and so forth. To catch up with all the events that have happened so far, I will make this post really long and full of photos. I'll first start off with finishing what I did during my summer vacation, then continue on with some fall parties I attended.

During the last few weeks of September, my mother and brother came to visit me here in Fukuoka. However, we were only in Fukuoka a few days. Much of the time they spent here was meeting our relatives in Kagoshima and Kumamoto. This just happened to be a great time for my mother to visit especially, because some of our relatives just happened to have a new baby. During our stay in Kagoshima, we were not only able to see a traditional naming ceremony for the new baby, but also was able to see a traditional Japanese festival.

The tying of the rope was just the first part of the festival. The second part was a giant tug of war, where more than 3000 people participate to win! Of course, besides seeing the festival, we also went to many other places, including a famous seaside location, an traditional Japanese armory, and finally to a family dinner finishing off with the tug-of-war festival.

After all this activity my mother took a break, but my brother and I went with one of our relatives to visit Kagoshima city. There we had delicious Kagoshima ramen and a shiro-kuma (white bear). Both were so tasty! We also went to a museum which taught about the Meiji Restoration era, which was also interesting to see. However, for the first time I was able to see Mt. Sakurajima up close (during the winter it was too cloudy to see clearly) and it was actually quite frightening. I have a hard time believing that the Japanese living in Kagoshima are so calm, going about their daily routines, when there was an active volcano a few miles away erupting ash into the air! I was told it blows ash into the city almost everyday. Sometimes people have car accidents, because the volcanic ash prevents them from being able to see when driving.

After Kagoshima we went to see our relatives in Kumamoto, though our time was much shorter there. So, since we only had one night and one day to spend together, we just had a nice family dinner and a visit to Kumamoto castle. My brother was really happy to see the performing samurai at the castle, but my mother was more happy about being able to see her relatives. I think it was really a great trip to be able to reconnect with parts of our family, who we otherwise would have not been able to meet, if I had not come to Japan.

But sadly after a little under two weeks, my family had to return back to Tennessee, USA. I really miss them, especially during the holidays, but I know I can always talk to them online when I need to. Plus, I have plenty of family here in Japan to keep me company if I need it!

So, of course, once summer is over school started back up again. The start of the fall semester also means the laboratories receive new foreign students. This year we received two new students from China (both girls) which brings the total number of foreign students in my laboratory to four! As a sort of welcome party to our newcomers, a few students and myself planned a big Halloween part for all our members. It was a lot of preparation, but when we finally had our party, it was a ton of fun!

 I am glad we had some fun, because shortly after everyone became very busy. The next big event happening at the school is the student festival: Kyudaisai. I hope to be able to take some interesting photos of this event to show you all. Last year my Japanese was so poor, so it was difficult to communicate with people at the festival, but this year I am much more comfortable talking with Japanese students.

To all my friends and family in the USA, please have a Happy Thanksgiving! Please know I miss you all, and I miss the food!