This was my final week in Japan for my language camp program. Read on to learn more about my experiences these last few days and check out my video highlights below.
Today, I went to Fukuoka Tower with Kat. During the subway ride, I was talking on the phone with one of my friends and an old man was staring at me weirdly. I didn’t think about it too much and I continued to talk to my friend. When I arrived at Meinohama Station, the old man grabbed me by the arm and started talking to me in Japanese. I didn’t really understand what he was saying, so I told him in Japanese that I don’t understand.
He pulled me towards a sign that said, “When crowded, turn off your cell phone near the priority seats.” I still didn’t understand because it was neither crowded nor was I in the priority seats. So I told him I don’t understand, but I’m sorry in Japanese. He then asked if I was from China or Portugal. I kept trying to tell him America, but he still didn’t understand and started saying something that I couldn’t understand in Japanese. I knew that there was no way I could communicate any further, so I said I’m sorry, and he finally left.
I was told later on that Japan has etiquettes that they follow all the time and I was breaking one of them. I now know to never call someone on the subway (even though I saw five other people who were Japanese doing it.)
After the traumatic incident in the subway, I met Kat and we walked to Fukuoka Tower to buy our tickets to go up to the top. There was actually an English tour guide who told us the facts and history of Fukuoka Tower, which was very cool to see that they were considerate of international people. We went up to the highest floor possible and got to see a stunning view of Fukuoka Tower. We spotted our own homestay houses as well as the places where we’ve been to and it was just an amazing sight to see.
We then went to the place where they sold crepes. It was very delicious and after eating we walked to see the city lights. It was amazing.
Today I had to say goodbye to Kat. It was sad seeing her leave because we only got to spend two weeks in Japan, but it was cool hanging out with her. I was able to say goodbye to her at the airport as she was about to go home. It was nice being able to talk to her one last time before I had to see her leave.
I didn’t really feel safe when I went outside of the apartment this morning because there was a lot of bad omen signs that just appeared out of nowhere. For example, I saw a tons of black crows on top of a dead tree with black cats lying around it. I usually don’t care about the supernatural stuff and all those ridiculous rumors about how bad omens could bring an end to you, but it just seemed so out of place. Luckily my host family and I were going to Dazaifu Shrine, so I thought that if this is a bad omen, hopefully the shrine will take care of it.
We parked outside of the shrine and we walked up towards the shrine. There were a huge variety of shops from food vendors and ice cream shops, to samurai toys and anime goodies. We went to the shrine to pray as well as look around the shrine. It was huge because there was a museum as well as a theme park. Sadly, we weren’t able to go to both of them because it was such a far walk, but we got to enjoy the sightseeing, as well as being able to buy some cool things from the shops.
Today there was going to be a new batch of students who were coming to the language camp. We had three new people in my class; Candace, Joshua, and Aden (I’m sorry if I spelt your name wrong). Aden and Candace are both Greenheart Travel students and Aden is a scholarship student which is the same as me! We sadly didn’t have enough time to talk, but at least we got to know that we were all Greenheart Travel students.
My friends and I went to a bookstore after class. We decided to go to a bookstore which was near Hakata Station. There we got to see a lot of cool things that we could buy. There were Yugioh cards, books, CDs, DVDs, guitars, pianos, etc. I would’ve bought something for myself or my family and friends, but sadly I forgot to bring my money, so I could only buy a book. But it was interesting to see all these things in one store which was cool. After going to the bookstore, we decided to call it a day and went back home.
Today I went on an anime/otaku map tour. We were going to go to different places where we could buy anime goodies. We first went to Mandarake, and it was a huge anime store. It had everything that you would want! It had action figures, posters, CDs, DVDs, cards, manga, light novels, etc. There was just a huge amount of anime stuff which was so cool to see!
We then went to a GEE! Store which actually had an event for one of me and my friends favorite anime. It was sad because we couldn’t believe that we missed an event for one of our favorite anime shows, but we didn’t let that spoil our fun when we were looking around the GEE! Store.
After going to all those stores, I decided to stay at school to work on my homework with my friend and then back to my homestay. After eating dinner at my homestay, I went for a walk to the beach, which was only a five minute walk, and I got to see something that I wasn’t expecting…Fireworks. I guess you could say that this was my very late Fourth of July Fireworks celebration.
Day 18 in Fukuoka:
Today, I went to Kushida Shrine after my Japanese language classes were over. We went before a festival, so we got to see all the preparations. My friends and I paid some money for a fortune teller (luckily there was an English version). My friend, Deha, got moderately lucky which apparently was the second best for fortune tellings. When I looked at mine, I got very lucky which was the number one for fortune tellings. I did a small fist pump in the air and quietly said “YES” because I got one of the best fortune tellings. My friend and I hung the fortune tellings and we went to pray to Buddha for good luck.
After going through the temple with all the shrines, as well as some shrine priests and priestess in their uniform, we went to Kawabata Shotengai. It was like a mall but it had a long walkway with different shops at each corner. We even found an Owl Cafe which was one of the things my Japanese language teacher in Hawaii told me about. After finding the end of the mall, we reached Canal City Mall in which we knew our way back to Hakata Station and we left to go back to our homestay.
Today I did a cosplay class and we learned the history of cosplay as well as our sensei’s cosplay past. It was so interesting learning the history of cosplay. In the past, cosplay wasn’t accepted in Japan due to a horrible incident. It was the 1989 incident of Tsutomu Miyazaki which had a huge impact on people’s views of anime, cosplay, or manga. After learning the history of cosplay, our class got to do our own cosplay. I cosplayed as the Prince of Tennis, but then I noticed that I looked exactly the same in real life because I always wear collared shirts that are sporty as well as long pants.
After class, I went to Makiko’s house to visit her one more time before I had to leave Japan in a few more days. I got to meet Daiki again and we got to play chess together. After playing chess, we ate dinner which was pork cutlet and it was absolutely delicious. After eating dinner, Ms. Makiko wanted me to try calligraphy, so she taught me how to write “Happiness” in Japanese and after a long, stressful, difficult time, I was finally able to do it. After learning how to write calligraphy, it was time for me to leave and go back to my homestay to meet two Japanese students who were going to America during the winter. Ms. Chikako wanted me to talk to them in English to help them with their English language. It was cool meeting Japanese students even though they were older than me (they were both 18 years old).
Today was the last day that I had to go to school at my language camp. It was sad to say goodbye to all the new friends that I made from when I first started school. My friends and I agreed to hang out after class to have somewhat of a party for the people who were leaving. I finished up class and I went to the ceremony. It turns out that I was the first person to give my speech. I started to get nervous because I was the first person to speak in a language that I’m still a beginner. There were times that I messed up, but I believe I delivered my speech in a way people could understand. After getting my certificate, I got lunch with my friend Deha and we waited for the people who were coming bowling with us to arrive.
Apparently, I forgot that sometimes students have different classes, some are in the morning and some are in the afternoon. My friends who were going bowling with us had classes during the afternoon, and it would take us 2-3 hours of waiting in the lounge before we could go anywhere. So my friends and I decided that we would go somewhere else besides bowling. We went to the station where our sensei recommended us to go and we had trouble right when we got there. We didn’t know what the bus looked like and none of us knew Kanji or that much katakana. We asked an old lady for help and she told us to wait for a while and the bus would come to get us. We waited and finally the bus that looked like the one our sensei described came and we went on. We waved goodbye to the old lady and she made a X with her hands and I started to freak out.
Luckily though, we were on the right bus and we went to the onsen safe and sound. We got to go inside and take a nice hot bath as well as style our hair. We went to eat dinner and dessert where I finally found shave ice after two weeks of searching.
Today I had to start cleaning up my room so that the next student who is coming tomorrow would have a nice clean room. It took me a while, but I’m used to cleaning my room because my mom wants me to clean the house every Friday.
I finished, and I started to get hungry, but I knew I wanted to go to Tenjin to look around the area. I told Mahiru about my plan and he said sure. After eating I looked at my phone to find if there was anything near me that peaked my interests and sure enough there was. There was a Tower Records store only ½ a mile away. I remembered that my dad used to talk about how Hawaii had a Tower Records store before, but then they closed down, so I decided to go there first.
I went there and to my surprise it was pretty packed with people from my age to my dad’s age. It was so cool to see all the music CDS and everything in one place. I got some goods to bring back to my dad and went to Medarake to buy something for myself.
I then went back to my homestay family to be greeted with another part of Ms. Chikako’s family; her daughter, Chiharu who just came back from Singapore. We talked for a little while and we ate dinner together and just talked about anything that came to our minds. After a while we knew we were all tired so we went to our rooms and slept.
Sunday was the day I was leaving Japan. I asked Mahiru where I could go to get snacks for my trip back home and he took me to a convenience store that sold pretty much anything; from clothes and suitcases all the way to snacks and electrical appliances. We walked all the way there to get the things we needed and we went back to our home. Then I waited for a little while before it was time for me to go. It was very sad to say goodbye to my host family, but I had a feeling I was going to meet them again one day. Ms. Chikako drove me to the airport and we said our final goodbyes.
After nine hours of watching movies and eating snacks, I arrived in Hawaii! When I landed though, it looked so unfamiliar to the point where I didn’t know if I actually went on the right plane. I followed the people in front of me until we reached customs in which I found out that it was Hawaii because there was a sign that said “Aloha!” I went through customs easily and grabbed my bags and headed outside to wait for my parents. My mom greeted me with a warm smile and a huge hug saying, “Welcome back son!” I was so happy to see my mom again and couldn’t wait to tell her all my experiences in Japan. We drove back home after getting me something to eat because I was starving and then I was greeted with a huge surprise.
My parents redecorated my whole entire room and it was amazing. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my room because it looked so brand new and cool that I was just speechless. I thanked my parents for everything and said I’m finally home! After unpacking and sleeping for six hours, we had a welcome home party with all my friends and family asking all about my trip in which I showed them the videos that I made and they loved it! I was sad leaving Japan, but thanks to my amazing loving parents, family and friends, they made me happy that I came back to Hawaii!
Duke 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.