Exploring Fukuoka and Making Friends in Japan

Exploring Fukuoka and Making Friends in Japan

My favorite aspects of my language program in Japan so far is making new friends from all around the world. I’ve made friends from Turkey, Sweden, California, Australia, China, etc. It’s just amazing to be able to meet with each other and to be able to learn the same language that I want to learn.

We also hang out during our free time as well as study the Japanese culture and the language together. It’s just a fun and amazing experience to be able to enjoy learning the Japanese language and culture while making friends!

Below is my second week of activities during my time abroad.

Day 7 in Fukuoka:

Today, I went with my host family to Yuusentei park. It was a very beautiful and well preserved place. It had a small waterfall, as well as a pond where there was a bunch of koi and small turtles inside the river. It was very beautiful to see the old Japanese palace. Especially the Ohiroma Hall, which was the formal room lifestyle of the samurai, as well as the Josuian (which was the tea ceremony room that was isolated from the hall).

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After going to Yuusentei park, we went to walk on the Mochihama beach near our home and we went to Robosquare. Robosquare was a display place of all these very cool inventions. For instance, a robotic dog, a robotic baby, and a Hello Kitty robot.

It was so cool to see all these amazing, high tech robots in Japan because I’ve always seen some of them through videos on the internet. However, now I’m able to see it with my very own eyes.

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Day 8 in Fukuoka:

Today, I went to the beach with Kat’s host family at Meinohama. I have never actually seen any other places besides Tenjin, Fujisaki, Hakata, and Fukuoka Airport, so it was cool to be able to go to Meinohama (Two stations away from mine).

We drove to a supermarket store to buy some food for a barbecue. We then went to the beach and the food that her host mom’s boyfriend cooked was delicious. After eating all of our food, we all went to the beach to swim.

We all stepped into the water, but it was freezing. For me anyways, Kat just dove straight into the water even though it was freezing. Even Niko, the host mom’s dog didn’t like the cold water either. But that didn’t stop us from enjoying the beach. We created a sandman as well as sand balls to throw at each other. It was fun!

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After the beach, we were given one hour to explore the whole area. Kat and I decided to find an ice cream shop. We searched and searched and searched, but we couldn’t find a single ice cream shop. The only thing we found was a barber shop, a bike shop, a seafood restaurant that was closed, and more beach. We then just found a place to sit down and talk for a little while.

Day 9 in Fukuoka:

Today was when the new students in GenkiJacs were coming to class. I noticed that I didn’t have class till later on in the afternoon. So Kat and I decided to meet up at Hakata station to go to Canal City Mall. We went looking and exploring the mall because the last time we went, we didn’t see the 2nd to 5th floor of the mall. While we were exploring, we got to see a pretty cool water show every hour. They played different songs from like the Nutcracker and Indiana Jones. It was cool to see it installed inside the mall. After exploring the mall fully, we decided to sit down for ice cream from Baskin and Robins (again another American company).

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After that, it was time to head back to school. We went back to school to meet another Greenheart Travel student named Aiden who was a scholarship winner just like me. Sadly, we were in different classes, but it was cool just being able to talk before I went to my class. After class, my friends and I didn’t have anything planned, so Kat and I went to the station and went back to our host family’s home.

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When I went back, Mahiru had his friends over and we were having pizza for dinner tonight. It was cool meeting other Japanese students around my age and being able to talk with them. After eating the pizza, I guessed they had some crazy idea. They grabbed a duck mask and went out in the dark to do something. I didn’t join them even though they asked me if I wanted to, but I just couldn’t get my mind off of why do they have duck masks in the first place.

Day 10 in Fukuoka:

Today, we had a cooking class. We went to a place where we were able to cook udon from scratch. We hand-made the noodles by making the dough for it. After making the dough, we rolled it flat, and cut it into small thin pieces. When we were done with that, we cooked them and we got to eat it with the broth that the teacher already made. We all sat down and ate the udon together.

After the udon, we were to create our own temaki rolls of either egg or cucumber or even both. After eating our meal (and my friends finally coming to the cooking class), we left to go back to school and took our classes.

After class, Kat and I went to explore Hakata station’s mall because the only place where we got to see in Hakata station was the pokemon center and the supermarkets. We explored the remaining floors and finally found a place where it was amazing. It was a garden on top of Hakata station and it had a small train tracks with a shrine and a lookout place where you could see everything around Hakata Station.

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Day 11 in Fukuoka:

Today, we had another activity class where I learned how to do Japanese gift wrapping. I learned three different styles of wrapping gifts as well as the difference between the Japanese letters and what each color of the string that was tied around the letter represented. Like for example, black is usually for bad news such as funerals, while red is like a sign of good news such as money or marriage, etc.

I also learned how to make a gift that look like a collared shirt with a neck tie, a way of wrapping omiyage with a piece of cloth (sadly I don’t remember the specific name for it) and a way to wrap small gifts. It was cool learning different ways of wrapping the gifts. We then cleaned up and went to class to learn more about the Japanese language.

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After class, I went with my friend Kat to the movie theater together to watch a movie. We both wanted to see how the Japanese theater compares to an American one. We saw the difference immediately when we were buying our tickets. Turns out, we had to choose where we were going to sit in the movie theater. So we chose two seats near the middle of the theater and he gave us our tickets.

Apparently it was like girl’s movie night or something like that where Kat got her ticket price cheaper (lucky). The seats were very comfortable and we could easily find where we had to sit even though it was super dark. The whole movie theater looked very clean, especially the ground which was surprising to see.

We watched some movie trailers which had a Japanese voiceover of describing what the trailer was about (even though the trailer was in English). And during the movie, I saw the Japanese translations, but it went so fast, I couldn’t even read the first word before it switched to another sentence. I don’t know how they are able to read that so fast, but I guess it just means that I’m still trying to learn the language.

Day 12 in Fukuoka:

Today, we had another activity class where we learned how to do Japanese Taiko drumming. We all went to school, where we left to take a bus all the way the taiko drum place. There we got to see a live demonstration performed right in front of us. Surprisingly, the person who did most of the talking spoke very good English which surprised me. They said that they are international, so they travel a lot to perform in various places, so they picked up the English language.

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They also were going to give us a live demonstration. We were lucky to see it because they said that they usually don’t do a demonstration for people, but since we were such a big group of students, they said that they wanted to do it for us. We got to see an amazing flute player and a taiko drummer do a duo and a solo right in front of our eyes which was amazing. It was awesome! After the demonstration, we got to do our own songs and learned how to play the taiko drums. It was cool learning how to play it as well as being able to see it performed by an expert.

After class, Kat and I went watch a movie at her host mom’s place because she had a tv that we could use to watch an animated movie. Kat doesn’t watch anime that much, so I wanted to show her what the “Classics” are like. We watched Ponyo and Totoro together and we created dumplings/gyoza for dinner. It was fun creating it from scratch with her and her host mom and we made a ton of gyoza for the three of us. After we cooked the food, we thank her host mom for the meal and we all dug in. It was very delicious.

We were able to finish all the gyozas that we made and we helped her clean up. We then started to do our homework because we remembered that we still had class tomorrow and we helped each other with our homework.

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Day 13 in Fukuoka:

Today, Kat and I went to Canal City Mall again so that we could buy omiyage (presents) for our friends and family. We finally mapped out the mall on Monday, so we knew where to go to find certain things. We knew where we could get her mom some nice jewelry, for her dad, some snacks to munch on at home and for her grandma, traditional things that she could use back at home. It took a while to find the things that Kat wanted to get, but we were able to get them with another hour to spare.

We then went to the place where I had to go to get more snacks for my family. We then went to Cold Stone to buy some ice cream. We talked to each other and after eating the ice cream, we didn’t feel hungry, so we went back to school instead of eating lunch (in which we will soon regret later on).

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When we went to the school, it was time for the ceremony again. This time I had to say goodbye to three of my friends. I had to say goodbye to Kat, Martin, and Viggo. It was hard to imagine that they were all going to leave this week, but sadly there was nothing that I could do to stop them from leaving.

After class, my friends and I had plans to hang out after school to say goodbye to them. Sadly, Martin, wasn’t able to come, but we still had a huge group of people hanging out with us. Our group was made out of six people, Deha, Kat, Viggo, Maja, Marcus, and me. We went to karaoke where we failed miserably with Japanese songs and English songs. We only spent there for about an hour or so and we went to the bowling alley.

Sadly, Viggo had to go after karaoke, so our group went down to five. We went bowling which turned out was very crowded because a company was doing a bonding experience with its workers. Luckily, we got a lane and we started to bowl for two rounds.

The first round went to Marcus who came in first place, Deha in second, me in third, Kat in fourth, and Maja in fifth. The second round, Marcus, Deha, and I wanted to try do trick shots, so we were doing all these weird shots while Kat and Maja took it seriously. I don’t remember the placing exactly, but all we knew was that Kat got first place with over 70 points (greater than what I got when I was trying).

We then went to eat dinner at a ramen restaurant and said our goodbyes to our friend and went back onto the subway. While I was walking home, I wished I had more time to spend with my friends, but sadly, time goes by fast when you are having fun. And truly, hanging out with them was so fun that I forgot that this was my second week in Japan; one more week before I had to go back to Hawaii.

Want to see more of my adventures in Japan?

Check out my video from my second week in Japan and don’t miss my recommendations at the end for where to buy anime and sites around Fukuoka Station.




duke-bio-blog-imageDuke Takeno is 16 years old and lives in Oahu, Hawaii. His goal during his language program in Fukuoka, Japan is to “learn the language, connect with the other students in the program as well as my host family, and to enjoy what Japan has to offer.  I can’t wait to begin my adventure!” Follow Duke’s adventures in Japan on his weekly blog post updates.

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