Murata Apartment, Fukuoka

The Goto family helped me ship my bags and took me to the bus station. It does not feel like it's been a whole month.

I got on a plane for Kyushu. This was the first time I've been through an air transit system without the company of the TSA. I understand it's a recent law, but apparently anything capable of producing wireless signals is verboten, even if the signals aren't being used. This includes laptops, DSs, and anything with an "airplane mode." The lady sitting next to me didn't seem to care, though, texting on her cell in the middle of the flight.

I got a window seat, but for some reason I didn't get a window. Row 15 on that plane has no windows. The plane did have, however, the little personal display with flight info on it. It even had a camera feed from under the plane you could watch. It was pretty cloudy most of the way, but it was still fun to watch.

I was met at the airport by Mr. Kaba, a Labo staffer who took me through the subway to my host family. My host dad also happens to be Labo staff, although he had some sort of appointment so he couldn't meet me at the airport. My host mom is Korean, although she's lived in Japan for ten years and speaks Japanese quite fluently. I've got a seven-year-old bilingual host sister, Mari.

Only the dad was home, and I had hardly come into the house before he pulled out a DVD copy of "Saving Private Ryan" and set it playing.

In the evening, another Labo staff, Mr. Nakahama, came over and we went out to dinner. After we returned home, we played some card games and had lots of fun. This isn't like any other host family I've had before, but I think we'll get along.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Today was my last day here in Tokyo, tomorrow I get on a plane for Fukuoka. Janet and I went out for lunch with a bunch of the Koreans in our class.

Said a lot of goodbyes. Big day tomorrow!

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Today I took the Aussies to the Edo Tokyo Museum. I had to get up an hour earlier than usual to get ready, because I forgot to grab the materials on the way out of the office yesterday. They blew through the museum really fast, and made it seem a lot smaller than it was.

Last kanji class, I'll miss Nakayama sensei.

After class we went to the italian place for dinner.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

After school, Emma and I went to Akihabara and shopped around a while. I was looking for a charger for Janet's electronic dictionary, but apparently the term "universal charger" is about as geographically challenged as "world series." The closest I got was one dude offered to build me one for about forty bucks. I kept looking, but most of the stores were closed up by around 8:00. Oh yeah, and I managed to score the guitar hero DS game for under ten bucks new.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Today... I got a haircut? What else... we met with Yumi to prepare for the orientation in May.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Today we had the Calligraphy workshop with Amanuma Sensei. I went with "snow" (yuki, 雪), and sucked at it. Oh well.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Today I went with Yuima and Dai to Yokohama. We checked out Landmark Tower, the tallest building in Japan, but it was too expensive to actually go up. We went to a LEGO store. Went to a museum about Japan's emigration history. We went to the big terminal where the Cruise ships come. Went to Chinatown. Had bubble tea and bought a wallet from peru.

Lotta walking, I'm tired now.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Today I went to Matsudo and hung out with the Ishida family. After dinner, they pulled out a cake as sort of a late birthday party. My host families are awesome.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Today we did the "introduction to the train system" workshop.

In the evening I went to Maaya's Labo party again. Daiki came too. There were a couple kids who were visiting home from a three year stint in London.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Today we had the album workshop. I showed my album to my class, too.

We went out for dinner and karaoke again.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

On the way back from Shinjuku, I stopped off at one of the larger stations (forget what its name was exactly) and shopped around a bit. I found a few of the games I've been looking for for a while, pretty cheaply at that.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Today I studied, attended class, and took a short walk through east Shinjuku on the way home.

Oh yeah, and I passed the JLPT! Woot.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Another big test today. I don't feel so good.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Today Daiki and I went to Akihabara. It was his first time there.

Played the new Winning Eleven with him a bunch. I rather suck at it.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

This morning my alarm clock decided to let me sleep in, because it was Saturday I presume. I rushed and still made it to the Go Institute on time, despite some clown on the Rapid Chuo line pulling the emergency brakes.

I met, played, ate with, and interviewed Mr Kudo Hisha 8d, a nine time prefectural champion. I look forward to including that in with my project.

My family threw another "everyone come hang out with Cordell" party, I did my best although I think I was a bit out of it. I really should get some sleep.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

This morning we did the songbird workshop.

I got a package from the Nakatani family in Nagoya with a birthday present and some valentine chocolate. Chocolate penguins.

I went to Maaya's Labo Party after school. Saw Yuima there.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Went out to Denny's today. It's still Japanese, but since it wasn't so much of a shock this time it wasn't all that bad.

Stopped by the AU booth at Shinjuku to figure out how to block a mailing list Stuart managed to (accidentally) get me on. The lady just chose a bunch of really confusing options and said that I would never receive mail from that site again.

Emma lent me TWEWY. It's entertaining, if nothing else, and it contains Hachiko.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Today was a public holiday, so I didn't need to go into Shinjuku. My host mom took me to Risukoen, sort of a squirrel petting zoo. I got to feed squirrels out of my hand, that was pretty fun. We went for a walk through a local park and visited a tea house, too.

AA and Dad called to wish me a happy birthday.

Later, another family came over for the evening. We had lots of fun. They even shut off the lights, said "surprise!", and brought out a cake with candles!

It's late now.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Today's my birthday! Yay!

In the morning my host family gave me a card they all signed. It was even yellow!

My Japanese class sang happy birthday to me, that was nice.

I got some emails from my family wishing me a happy birthday, those made me happy.

After school, Emma had to go to a Labo Party, but the rest of us went to the Taito arcade in Shinjuku. We played the taiko game and Mario Kart GP, took some purikuri, and dumped some coins futilely into some UFO catchers. I wanted to give Pachinko and Slot machines a shot, just to say I'd done it, but it turned out the place had some kind of special coin system I didn't feel like wading through.

We met with Lance (the Australian Labo staffer), and went to Shakey's, a pizza restaurant. I had some garlic mushroom pizza, a couple onion rings, and what was on the menu as "focaccia." It was more like matzo bread, with cheese, sour cream, and maple syrup. Interesting, to say the least.

Lance made me try some budweiser. It was nasty. Coral had me try some of her lemon booze drink (lemon sour? I forget). It tasted like someone had spoiled some perfectly good lemonade by putting goldenseal in it or something.

Coral and Janet had to go home, but the rest of us visited a standing bar. It was packed, so we ended up with a table outside. I tried some Kirin Lager, which was even nastier than the american beer. Also some sake, which was like drinking vinegar. I guess I don't have to worry about becoming an alcoholic.

Oh yeah, and I got in touch with that go master dude that Ariel referenced me to. I'll meet him at the Nihon Kiin on Saturday. Yay!

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

Had a workshop with Lance today.

So, yesterday my host family asked me what kind of cell phone I had. I didn't think much of it, but today I figured out why. My host dad works at Docomo, one of the largest cell companies in Japan. I have a phone from AU, their biggest competitor. Awkward.

They helped me with some of my homework, it's a bit easier now because I was more or less able to keep up with the material in class today.

Goto Apartment, Machida, Tokyo

This morning I helped my dad set up a go match with Mr. Watanabe. Dad won the first and Mr Watanabe won the second.

Then I moved to my new host family! There are two kids, Daiki (13), and Maaya (10). Daiki is letting me use his room while I'm here, which is awfully nice of him. I think I'll like it here.

There's a lunar eclipse just before midnight, but it's only penumbral and I'm tired.

Watanabe House, Machida, Tokyo

Today my host dad took me out to Kamakura. We saw the Daibutsu, went to Enoshima, and visited the big shrine. There were cats at Enoshima.

Watanabe House, Machida, Tokyo

Went out for dinner and karaoke with the other interns, Ariel, and Idie. Managed to screw up the buses yet again. I am not getting enough sleep or something.

Watanabe House, Machida, Tokyo

Screwed up the bus again.

Starting to feel a little burned out.

Watanabe House, Machida, Tokyo

Today I visited one of Watanabe Tutor's parties near Nagahara station. Had fun.

Went shopping with her and Taizo, and found alfredo. Nom.

Geez I'm tired.

Watanabe House, Machida, Tokyo

Today we started Japanese class. I'm jumping in in the middle, and it's pretty confusing.

Watanabe House, Tokyo

Today I met with all the other interns, including the two new ones from Australia, Stuart and Janet.

Got a big box kite in the mail. It's a wonderful kite, though the middle of Tokyo is not particularly the best place for kite flying. That didn't stop Stuart, Emma, and I from running around with it on a big patio in front of the Tocho. Kites like this are quite rare in Japan, as I understand it, and crazy foreigners sporting one in the middle of Shinjuku is an even rarer sight. The patio was sorta sunken and surrounded by trees, so it wasn't windy enough to really get up. Oh well, we still had fun.

Watanabe House, Tokyo

Today I walked through Yoyogi park, Meiji Jingu, and visited the Tocho and saw Fuji. After a long trip plagued by rocky communication, Nishiyama dropped me off with Mr. Watanabe. I'm staying at this house either temporarily for a week, or for the whole month. Not sure yet. This family is older, both kids are quite grown up.