japanese high school girls

My First Day of Japanese High School!

9/1/15

{Warning- this is an extremely long post. I apologize for the giant text wall!}

Today was my first day of school here in Japan! Well, almost first day- today I was just there for a few hours to take a tour and give my self introduction. But I still count it as my first day because I am now officially a student of Fujimigaoka.

I woke up at 5:30 (which is the same time I woke up in America) and went upstairs to eat breakfast. After eating I went to get ready. Right now all the students are still wearing their summer uniforms. I will make a video all about my uniforms, but I don’t have everything yet so I will wait until I have all the pieces to make the video. The belt was too big for me, so I didn’t wear that. In the summer you can either wear long-sleeve or short-sleeve blouses, so I chose the short-sleeve one for today (Japan is so humid!). On top of the shirt is the sweater vest, and although it’s cute I don’t understand why it’s necessary in summer! Everything seemed to fit, but the vest was a little baggy around the arms- at the fitting they kept giving me bigger sizes even though I told them that the medium was fine. But the story about my uniform fitting is for another time (^ u ^)

At around 9:10, my host mom and I left the house; but first we took some pictures. I look so awkward (> u <) Of course on my first day it happened to be raining- only lightly, but I was hoping for some sun. Just as we stepped out of the house and onto the sidewalk, my host Rotary counselor pulled up in his car. Even though the train station is only a three minute walk, he offered to drive us there; we were all going to meet up at the station anyways, so we thought that we might as well go together. At the station my host mom charged one of the older train cards my host family had so I didn’t have to buy a ticket every time. This is what the card looks like (it’s a popular train pass brand here):

As you can see, mine’s a little beat up! Oh well, it still works and that’s all that really matters. Tokyo train stations are so busy and crowded, especially in the morning rush. The previous night my host dad explained to me my train route to school. I have to take two trains, but the entire journey only takes about ten minutes. The maps of the train lines are a little confusing, even though all of the stations and routes have the names printed in English. I guess it’s difficult because there are just so many train lines. At the station I also met my counselor’s assistant- she is such a sweet lady. Everyone was commenting how cute I looked in my uniform (I disagree- I don’t think it looks good on me!). The route to my school is so confusing, even my counselors and host mom struggled a bit to navigate the stations. But somehow we finally made it to the right area. From the last station it’s about a five minute walk to my school. My host mom held the umbrella over me so I could film the walk there (I filmed it not only for YouTube but for me to watch it and memorize the route). Everyone here has been so supportive of my YouTube channel- I’m so happy!

When we entered the school, one of the ladies at the desk showed us the cubby slots to place our shoes in. We had to change into these really attractive (can you feel my sarcasm?) indoor slippers which had the school name printed on them. The front mat had the school crest on it (almost everything at Fujimigaoka seems to have the school crest!).

We were all led into a conference room, and in a few minutes the school principle and vice principle came in to go over the basic formalities. They had my Rotary application and proceeded to ask me questions about myself. Some of the questions I could have answered in Japanese, but I was so nervous that my mind blanked and English came out of my mouth before I could stop myself. The principle asked me what I like to do, what my parents do, and if I knew Japanese. When I said my mom is a doctor, he looked stunned. He said I come from a very respectable family. I told them I’ve been studying for six years, and took one Japanese course at school; he almost rolled off his chair in surprise. They told me that I didn’t have to worry about the self-intro speech, and that I could do it in English or a mix of Japanese in English. I surprised everyone, including my counselors, when I said that I was going to do the entire thing in Japanese. The principles said they looked forward to hearing it, and then they took their leave to prepare for the opening ceremony. My counselor asked me if I wrote my speech in romaji (Japanese wrtitten with the english alphabet), and my host mom stepped in and said it was all in Kana and Kanji. I passed them my notebook, and my counselor’s jaw hit the table.

I was getting a little more nervous as I heard the all the chatter of the other students on their way to the auditorium. Soon I would be in that auditorium, in front of everyone, giving my speech. Everyone kept telling me to relax, and I did my best but I was still on edge. When one of the teachers came to escort us to the auditorium, I almost tripped because my feet were unsteady. This was going to be the largest crowd I have ever spoken in front of. The building itself is huge, and it’s six stories high- I barely saw even a quarter of the entire campus. I had seen pictures of the auditorium online, but it was even bigger in person. The bleachers were almost entirely filled; all of the girls were chatting and sharing stories of what they did over the summer. Many of them noticed me standing awkwardly in the doorway. I sat down off to the side with my host mom and counselors; my moment was approaching quickly. But first the principle said his opening words. After him, the two new English language teachers from the UK gave their self introductions. It didn’t sound like they knew Japanese that well; my host mom leaned over and said my speech was much more advanced.

One of the teachers is from London, and the other is from Scotland. They both seem really nice and energetic- I hope I get to meet them in person later. The Scottish teacher had spent a year of university in New York, so maybe I can ask him about that later. They both went through powerpoint presentations about themselves, and the students seemed pretty enthusiastic about it. Finally, after all of that was done it was finally my turn. I gave my camera to my host mom so she could film, and I waited to go up on stage while the principle introduced me. He said a little about me, and the second he mentioned I was from America I heard a squeal from the girls. But the the thing that surprised me the most was the reaction I got when he mentioned my mom is a doctor. There was a loud gasp of awe from the entire auditorium- I think being a doctor is a pretty big deal here in Japan. I was ushered onto the stage and told to go to the podium. Because the indoor slippers had no grip, my sock-covered feet kept sliding out of them, so I had to concentrate really hard on not losing a slipper as I made my way up the stage stairs.

The lights felt way too bright, but as I looked out at the crowd, everyone looked really friendly and eager to hear what I had to say. I took a deep breath and began. There were a few parts I stumbled over, but the crowd was hanging onto my every word. When I said my Japanese isn’t very good, everyone started making sounds of disagreement. I think they thought I was joking, because there was a little laughter too. There was a huge roar of applause when I finished, but when the principle mentioned that I would be studying here for a year one group in the crowd started clapping and bouncing in their seats- they looked really excited and happy that I am going to stay for so long. I bowed to everyone and returned to my seat. Everyone congratulated me on my speech, and I left the auditorium feeling a little lighter. But I wasn’t done quite yet. Later I would go to my class and make another self-intro speech.

We went back to the same meeting room to leave our things, and then I went with the teacher, my host mom, and my counselor’s assistant to a room where I would be fitted for my gym uniforms. There are so many pieces to a Japanese school uniform; I have so much Fujimigaoka merchandise now! I had to change into the uniforms to try them on. Again, no one believes me when I said I needed a size medium, and they gave all larges. But once I emerged from the dressing room looking like an oompa-loompa in the oversized clothes they immediately gave me the right sizes. I have a summer and winter gym uniform, and a separate gym skirt for dance class. Ugh, I hate gym class because I am terrible at sports. Back in America I wouldn’t have to take gym anymore, but it looks like I will never escape PE! I also got fitted for my cleaning apron- in Japan the children clean the schools; there are no janitors. Finally I was allowed to change back into my regular uniform. I hope we have a lot of time to change, because it takes forever to button and unbutton my shirt!

After I changed back we went to my classroom. The room itself is pretty small. All of my classmates were there, and they started squealing as soon as I came in. I gave a very short introduction, because they just heard my long one, and then I said goodbye (I won’t be going to school again until Monday, September 7th- that will be my first full day). In the next class over, there is a girl who will be coming with me on the train every day and helping me out for the first few months. I am so grateful for that- she is so nice! I hope we become good friends. For the next hour or so we were talking with my teacher in the meeting room. My host mom and counselor were asking different question, and because it was all in really fast Japanese I kind of zoned out. I know I should have been more attentive, but I was exhausted and I felt a headache coming on. I knew my host mom would explain everything to me later. I also got my school schedule- I will explain it in another post once my classes are finalized. I was asked what clubs I want to join, and I said calligraphy, flower arranging, or tea ceremony. Because I said I like art, sensei (teacher) asked me to help paint things for the upcoming school festival.

Finally around 1:00 PM we were ready to return home. I bid my teachers farewell, and my host mom and I started our journey back. My host mom got me a nice new train card, and she said we have to find a cute train card pouch for me to keep it in.

 On the way we stopped at the store and picked up some bento meals for lunch; I chose オムライス (omuraisu- omelette rice). Its an omelette on top of a bed of rice with sauce drizzled on it. It is so yummy!

We got home around 1:30 PM, I ate, and I fell asleep on the couch. It was a long, tiring day- but it was a great first day of school. I’m excited to see how the rest of the year goes!

(Video of my first day will be posted soon!)

Pulsar’s 10 Favorite Anime Of 2016

It’s time for my Top 10 Favorite Anime Of 2016 List!

A few things to keep in mind:

1. Im not including any sequel series (which means Sound Euphonium 2 and Food Wars: The Second Plate arent on my list, although theyre both great shows and definitely worth checking out).

2. This is strictly my opinion. If you dont see a show you liked on here, Im not bashing it or saying its not any good.

3. Im only including shows I watched all the way through to the end. There are some shows I didnt get a chance to finish like Mob Psycho 100, Orange and Shouwa Genroku that I need to revisit.

With that all said, here we go with the Honorable Mentions!  

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HONORABLE MENTION #1: PLEASE TELL ME, GALKO-CHAN!

This is a really fun series of comedy shorts revolving around three high school girls: an otaku, a gyaru (think the Japanese equivalent of a valley girl) and a sweet but airheaded rich girl. Most of the humor is sex-related and yet the show never feels mean-spirited. Definitely worth checking out if you want something quick to watch and laugh at.


HONORABLE MENTION #2: MAGICAL GIRL RAISING PROJECT

Dark takes on the “magical girl” genre have become more and more commonplace in the aftermath of Madoka Magica. This show revolves around a mobile app game that allows you to create your own magical girl, and gives 1 in 10,000 players the ability to become a real-life superhero. But soon things take a dark and violent turn.

What separates this show from the pack is the sheer variety of powers and abilities that it features. All the girls (and one guy) have different motivations for wanting to be a superhero, and their powers are diverse and interesting. Dont let the cute art fool you: this is NOT for young kids.


HONORABLE MENTION #3: SHE AND HER CAT - EVERYTHING FLOWS

The only reason I wound up not including this show in my top ten is because its literally 4 five minute episodes. But man does it pack a punch, especially if you love animals.

This is a short series about a young woman and her aging pet cat. The show is entirely from the point of view of the cat, and you see how he views the world and how he views his owner with unconditional love. If youve ever owned a pet, take the time to watch this one.

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And now its time for my Top 10 Anime of 2016. Here we go!

#10: MYRIAD COLORS PHANTOM WORLD

KyoAni’s first series of 2016 was this overlooked fun little fantasy gem about a near future in which a virus has caused people to be able to perceive extra-dimensional and paranormal beings around them. The main characters are four students of a special school for students with special abilities who can seal off and fight phantoms, or in some cases help them resolve their unfinished business so they can move on.

This show got a lot of attention early on in 2016 and just as fast seemed to drop off the radar, mostly because people seemed disappointed that it wasnt a darker/more “serious” show. But thats okay. Sometimes I just want to be entertained. And Myriad Colors does that.

#9: KONOSUBA - GOD’S BLESSING ON THIS WONDERFUL WORLD!

Konosuba is the first of two “trapped in a fantasy world” anime series on my Top 10 list. This is a trope that has been done to death, but where this one won me over was in the sheer irreverence it has for its own genre.

The main character, after dying in a rather embarrassing fashion, is magically transported to a fantasy world by a goddess who turns out to be a bit of a screw-up. In order to find work in this new world, he assembles a motley crew including a masochistic knight and a mage who only want to blow things up. Sound ridiculous? It is. And it’s absolutely hilarious.

KONOSUBA returns for a 2nd season starting this month, so you have time to catch up before then!


#8: IZETTA THE LAST WITCH 

In an alternate version of World War II, the archduchess of a small country about to invaded by the Germans is kidnapped… but is then rescued by her childhood friend, who turns out to be the last witch on Earth. The witch volunteers her help in defending her friend’s country from the invaders, and soon the tide has turned in a BIG way.

Do you like watching WWII-era dogfights? Imagine one with a witch flying around using a giant rifle as a broom and blowing Nazi planes out of the sky. If that doesn’t sound cool to you, I don’t know what to say. Check this one out if you like badass female leads and awesome action sequences.


#7: KIZNAIVER

Studio TRIGGER (Kill La Kill) returned in 2016 with this sci-fi series about a group of teenagers who are forced to be part of an experiment linking them emotionally. This show connected (see what I did there) with me on multiple levels. Adolescence can be an insanely painful part of life, and many people never move on past the things that are done and said to them during this time. The characters on this show, even if they aren’t always likeable, are always UNDERSTANDABLE. I genuinely felt for all of them and wanted them to end up OK. If you like sci-fi but want something different, give this one a go.


#6: 91 DAYS

This is another great series that seemed to fly under the radar this year. I never heard many of my friends who are into anime talking about this one, and its a shame, because this show is something special.

91 DAYS is set during Prohibition and is about a young man whose entire family is murdered by the Mafia. Seven years later, while in hiding, he receives a letter giving him the names of the men responsible, and he begins to work his way into the family in order to destroy it from the inside out.

This is a fantastic revenge story, with some twists and turns you won’t expect and a darkness to it that stuck with me a long time after it ended.

#5: PLANETARIAN

“I am just a little broken…”

Prepare to have your heart a LOT broken.

PLANETARIAN takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where hostile machines have taken over the Earth. A “junker” is scavenging for supplies in a department store when he is greeted by the android mascot of the store’s rooftop planetarium… who has been in stasis for years and has no idea what has happened to the world. The junker initially wants nothing to do with her but realizing he has nowhere to go decides to hide out in the planetarium for a while, and soon gets roped into fixing the projector so the android can present the show to any guests who may show up.

If you like your sci-fi with a healthy dose of feels, check this one out. Its only 5 episodes long but it stuck with me long after I watched it, and I’ll likely be coming back to rewatch it many times in the future.

#4: YURI!!! ON ICE

Yes, an anime about gay male figure skaters made my top 10 list? Why? Because its an awesome goddamn show, that’s why.

After suffering a complete meltdown at the previous World Finals, Yuri has given up on skating and has decided to come home to Japan. No sooner has he returned than his idol, a Russian figure skater named Victor, shows up at his doorstep… wanting to become his coach.

This show is consistently fun to watch, with great animation, some incredible skating sequences, and arguably the best romantic couple of the year in anime. And tell me the opening song doesn’t get you pumped, and I’ll call you a lying sack of shit. Yuri On Ice is awesome. Watch it. Like, now. 

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My top 3 is where it gets tricky, because any of these next three shows could have been my #1. I’d rank them all at the top in terms of quality, so I’m going with them in the order of which ones had the most emotional impact on me personally.

#3: KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS

If you liked Attack On Titan, this is better. Yes, I said it. I love Attack On Titan, but this is a better show. 


Set in an alternate timeline during the Industrial Revolution in Japan, a virus causes people to transform into walking corpses who soon overrun the entire country. Humans are forced to barricade themselves in walled cities and use armor-plated trains to travel from fortress to fortress. One day, in the middle of his home being overrun by the “kabane,” a young engineer who has been working on a new steam-powered weapon designed to defeat the monsters is bitten by one of them… but instead of transforming all the way, he becomes a kabaneri, a human/kabane hybrid. He joins up with a fellow female kabaneri and the survivors of his fallen city in an attempt to make their way to safety on board one of the armored trains.

This show is essentially a nonstop chase sequence through the first half, and political intrigue comes into play halfway through. If you like nonstop action, gore and terror, this is your ticket to ride.

#2: RE:ZERO
I watched the first episode of this show the day after it aired, got bored, and didn’t come back to it…until about three months later, when I kept hearing people talk about the show and how it was affecting them. While on a road trip I decided to give it another shot, and ended up binge-watching the entire series in one go. It’s that good.

RE:ZERO is about a young man who, after shopping at a convenience store, suddenly finds himself in a fantasy world straight out of the games and shows he loves. While initially thrilled to be there, he finds out rather quickly that he is completely out of his element and ends up dying a rather grisly death… only to find himself back where he started from when he first showed up in the new world. It turns out that he has the ability to come back after dying to a certain “save point” (which changes over time), and while no one around him remembers the previous timeline, he does.

So, all good right? No matter what happens you can come back and fix it? Well, not so fast. Imagine falling in love with someone only for them to not remember who you are or things you’ve talked about. Imagine seeing the people you care about die over and over again because you keep messing up. Imagine making mistakes, thinking you can fix them by dying… and coming back further along in the timeline and NOT being able to undo them.

This show takes all the issues I usually have with the “transported to a fantasy world” genre and not only addresses them but essentially makes them the focus of the show. The main character alternates between being funny and likeable and selfish and arrogant, and while he can be hard to like at times, he’s easy to understand and identify with. The supporting characters are fantastic (including arguably my favorite female character of the year, Rem the demon maid) and the story has many twists and turns, with many more to come as the show has been confirmed for second season.

I’ve never been so glad that I gave an anime a second chance as I am with RE:ZERO. Definitely check this one out.

#1: ERASED

Imagine this: when you’re a child, two of your friends and a third child you don’t know but is in your class are murdered. You were the last person to see the third victim alive, but didn’t do or say anything, and you have felt guilty ever since.

Since then, you have had a curse: every once in a while, you will relive the same three to five minutes over and over again, Groundhog Day style, until you change something. It might mean pushing someone out of the way of a car, it might mean stopping a purse snatcher. But you are stuck until you fix what needs to be fixed.

Now imagine, after coming home to find a loved one murdered, you are blamed for the crime and are about to be arrested when you feel that same “rewind” effect happening… only when you open your eyes, it is 1988, you are 11 years old walking to school (but with your 29 year old mind intact), and the murders from your childhood are about to happen again.

What would you do?

ERASED is the best anime of 2016. No other show excited me, terrified me, made me think, made me cry, or made me remember as much as this show did. Even if you don’t like anime, watch this show. It’s my #1 for a reason.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my list! If you see a favorite of yours from 2016 that’s missing, shoot me a message and I’ll check it out! 

Watch on haikara-nippon.tumblr.com

盛リコレ ~JKの盛りポーズの歴史~
Mori Pose Collection ~History of Japanese High School Girls’ Pose~

東京パフォーマンスドール
Tokyo Performance Doll (NTT Docomo x Snow collaboration)

2017

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