|At Tokyo Disneyland|
|Eitoku High School in Nagoya, where we spent most of our exchange.|
This is the day we flew out of NZ. Basically, the whole day was taken up by the flight. We left Auckland at 9am-ish and got to Tokyo at 4pm-ish their time. I suppose you'll be interested in the movies I watched - Pitch Perfect which was actually really awesome, The Perks of Being a Wallflower which is now my second favourite movie of the year, Lawless which was okay but Jessica Chastain omg, and I rewatched Looper coz the person next to me was watching it and I couldn't resist seeing it again. Anyway, when we got to Tokyo our flight was running behind schedule and we had so little time to get from the international flight to our connecting flight between Tokyo and Nagoya. Luckily, a little lady working at Narita Airport ran us through the airport, giving us top priority at customs and stuff, and while our connecting flight was delayed, we got on the plane all in one piece. We arrived at Eitoku High School at around 9pm-ish, met our host families and went to their houses. As you can imagine, I hit the hay as soon as I got home.
|My Japanese style room. Good lord I made such a mess of things.|
I woke up rather sick that morning so I didn't have a very comfortable day but I still had loads of fun. We went and attended Eitoku High School and I was overwhelmed by how friendly the people were. We were like celebrities there. We had a couple of classes and then went out for lunch at Denny's of all places (it was Japanese style food, though) and then went to the Toyota Museum, which was pretty cool but it didn't have an Aston Martin there, so sadface. By the end of the day we were all pretty tired, and when I went back to my home I was still feeling really sick so I couldn't eat much. Blerg.
|Us with all of our homestays and our teacher Matua Les.|
We basically stayed at Eitoku all day, attending classes and what not. I tried to do some Japanese Calligraphy but man that was hard. I wrote 'movie' on my board. At the end of the day we had this party where we were only expecting a few people, but then like, 100 people were in this room and every single one of them wanted to talk to us. As you can imagine, that was rather exhausting. As the day came to an end, I sat in bed watching the Oscar nominations because they were at the better time of 10.30pm in Japan rather than 2.30am in NZ. I really don't want to even talk about dem Oscar nominations.
|Eating lunch in our homeroom.|
|The dance club we joined in with.|
This was the last proper day at Eitoku High School, and we had four English classes. The first one translated our names. Mine meant beautiful (hahahaha), loved by everyone and queen. In the second one we went around the tables and they told us things about Japanese culture. The next class read us stories in English. The last class asked us questions and stuff. We went and attempted to make some pottery (the guide did practically all mine for me though). As we got back to school and had nothing to do, we went for another look around the 'clubs', which students do after school until 6pm. Most of them were sports, and we even joined in on a dance class. That was fun. That night we had this insanely nice desert, which was kind of like a strawberry meringue. I want another one.
|On the Nagoya TV Tower.|
|In Nagoya at night.|
|At the dinner party.|
All us Dannevirke students went to the Ninja Museum, which was so cool. I want to become a Ninja now. Then we got back into Nagoya, went up the TV tower and went back to this flash as hotel. We had no clue that we weren't going home before this flash dinner party that night so we were in our casuals from our touristy stuff we'd been doing, while everyone else was dressed nicely. Luckily I had a nice jacket to hide the fact that I was dressed poorly. Anyway, after that dinner party which also required speeches, my host family took me to Nagoya Station where we went 15 stories up and saw Nagoya at night. It was so beautiful, but my camera couldn't capture it because a) the reflective glass hated me and b) my battery ran out. Afterwards we went for some chocolatey stuff at a cafe which was packed (weird thing when you live in Dannevirke) and went home. That was a tiring day.
|Me and Anna (my homestay) at Nagoya Castle|
This was our day with our individual host families, so I travelled with my family for a little while to go to a Shrine. That was really interesting. After that we went to a Sushi bar for lunch, that was probably my least favourite Japanese food experience. We went to the Nagoya Castle, which was amazing. Then we went out for tea for fried chicken. That was a really full on day, I pretty much passed out after I got home.
|The crazy entertainment complex.|
|Me and Cassie being cute with these interesting hats.|
|Us and our homestays at Nagoya Station.|
This was a public holiday in Japan, so our host siblings took us out to this insane entertainment complex where infants gambled and people smoked and our minds were blown as soon as we walked in. We got into a fight with our hosts as they insisted that they would pay for our lunch even though we wanted to. They eventually relented. After trying a billion times to win stuff, we left and went shopping in Nagoya. It was so weird, they had a girls mall and a boys mall separate from each other. Japanese style is so cool but man are their clothes small. That night was filled with some sadness as it was my last night with my host family and we just sat around watching the news, seeing the huge snowstorm in Tokyo and the Golden Globes stuff.
|My host family|
|Miss you Anna!|
|Last day :(|
We had to say goodbye to our host families today and I never anticipated how hard that was going to be. There were any tears shed. They were just the nicest people I've ever spent 7 days with. Not much else happened in this day as we just had our connecting flight between Nagoya and Tokyo. In Tokyo there was still a lot of snow around from the snowstorm the day before, and it was a little colder than Nagoya too. Our hotel was right by the airport, so it really wasn't in the best place for trying to get into the city. Luckily, that night we went on the net and sorted out our transportation and stuff.
|Lost in Translation, baby.|
|Tommy Lee Jones is everywhere!|
|The Dark Knight Rises in Japan, so yes I had to take a photo of it.|
|Matua Les, Keiran, me, Cassie and Jaycob at Shibuya Crossing.|
|The view from the Skytree.|
We took a very long train ride into Shibuya, which is probably the centre of every happening thing in Tokyo. As we got there in the morning, it was a little disappointing looking. We had some Starbucks and then some McDonalds, and went shopping. After a while we went to Harajuku, which had some very interesting shops which were a little better than what we found in Tokyo. To be honest, I think Melbourne's a better city than Tokyo, but given the chance to go back for a few more weeks, I'd really embrace Tokyo. At night, things got better as Shibuya was all lit up and magical, just like in Lost in Translation. We went up in the Tokyo Skytree, which was about 450-ish metres up. That was amazing. Probably one of my favourite experiences in Japan. There was a Ghibli shop outside of the Skytree so I literally spent about $100 NZD without even thinking. Totoro's everywhere!
|That time One Direction followed in our footsteps.|
|Us and my girl Jessie.|
|OMG, these guys were crazy. They kept telling us to find the Old Zealand. I want their jobs.|
|It was like Meet Me in St Louis|
So this was the day when we went to Tokyo Disneyland. There's so much I could write here but I can't even put into words how amazing that experience was. That's the happiest place on Earth. First though, I mmust share an insane story. We went to the airport to catch our bus, so I went to the ATM to get some cash out. I saw a few teenage girls walk past with One Direction stuff. I didn't think much of it. I looked around and I saw a sea of One Direction fans waiting outside of arrivals. Yup, what are the odds that we arrive at the airport and One Direction were coming? However, we had to go to Disneyland and they were coming later, so we weren't going to waste our precious Disneyland time for a band none of us particularly loved. We took some photos of the fans, and then they wanted us to take photos with them. LOL. Anyway, just check out the photos at Disneyland, they speak a million words.
Friday 18th January
The day where we ended our journey and flew back to dumb, depressing NZ (that may sound like an overstatement but NZ is actually such a stupid country compared to Japan, who may not have the most grass but they're so logical). On the plane I saw Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was average and End of Watch, which was amazing. I didn't realise how sad that movie was going to be.
Anyway, going to Japan was an amazing experience. I'd love to go there again - even live there - but spending that much money on a place I've already been to may not be an option in the future. The scope of the amazingness is something that you could never put a price on. The trip literally changed my life and my perspective on everything, which is especially helpful considering I'm embarking on the biggest year of my life as head girl. The students at Eitoku were so passionate and committed to what they do, something which NZ teens so sorely lack. The people in Japan are so kind - at Narita Airport, there were smiles everywhere, and people were genuinely happy to help. Get to Auckland Airport, there were no smiles to be seen anywhere. I'm not exaggerating. Stuff you Tall Poppy Syndrome for making our country so bad. This was really the best experience I've had in my short life so far, and it has made me excited to travel some more. India is hopefully next on my list - I just want to be a professional traveller now!