Club Day!

Hey guys,

Sorry, I’m late getting this out. Club day was a bit ago now, but life happens and there’s no time like the present! You get to look forward to this week of catch up that will contain many interesting adventures.

Japanese colleges and universities take their clubs very seriously, maybe even more than classes. Classes here meet once a week, and clubs, usually 2 or 3 times a week. But I will talk more about the differences between American universities and Japanese universities in a future post. I’m still not sure if I’m going to sign up for a club. It seems like it’s expected but I don’t want to overwhelm myself. I should probably spend nights studying so I can travel. Nonetheless, the performances were amazing.

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Aikido Club

The first performance I saw was an Aikido demonstration. It was pretty cool, but most of it happened on the ground and I’m not athletic enough for summersaults.  I didn’t stay for too long because I wanted to look around. There were a lot of people handing out flyers advertising their club. From what I could see, these people were very active with the other students, but probably because I’m a foreigner they shied away from me more, and I have to admit in that crowd I didn’t mind it so much. It was very crowded. The event reminded me a bit of street festival in America, without of all the food trucks.

P_20170408_114930During this event, I also learn that the culture in Japan around being filmed or photographed is different than in America, so I did my best to be respectful. As a result, I didn’t get a lot of picture or videos of none performance based clubs. Luckily, the ballroom club and most performance clubs were ok with photos and videos. The ballroom club was amazing, and I was tempted to cave in a join. They were all so nice, but I realized I would have to spend money on costumes and give up two nights a week to practice. While I’m sure the club would be rewarding, my goal here is to travel and experience, IP_20170408_115314 need my nights for study and routine, plus, how seriously they take their clubs is intimidating anyway. I suspect it would be a lot of work, regardless. I got permission to use their videos in my vlog. They did use copyrighted music in their performances though so it might end up being more of montages. They were amazing, it was like going to a live street version of ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’. But the crazy over the top performances didn’t stop there! There was a belly dancing club, that went more theatrical than the slow style of belly dancing. They costumes were wicked and they had a lot of cool moves. P_20170408_135312

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I’m not sure any American University or school cares as much about anything (other than money, maybe) as much as the Japanese schools take pride in their clubs. It makes a lot of sense though. Most of these girls have committed themselves to getting a job after graduation and the way they talk about it, it doesn’t seem that they look forward to it at all but feel they have no choice. I think clubs, for a lot of them, are they’re last chance to do what they love and if they’re lucky, maybe they’ll get picked up and get to do dance instead of a desk job. But that’s just me speculating. p_20170408_132401.jpg

P_20170408_131911Another performance I saw surprised me a lot! The Samba clubP_20170408_131904 went all out vegas. Japan is very open about a lot of its sexuality but I never expected to see full on festival style Samba, it was very cool though! Very energetic and eye-catching. They go all out, in costume and everything. It was quite the experience. If this is what school clubs are like, I can only imagine what a parade or festival is like. Definitely on my bucket list and I will be sure to document it for you guys.

 

 

P_20170408_131854Thank you for reading! As always, I love to engage with you guys,

P_20170408_131842 so if you have anything to share please leave it in the comments below!

Aja

 

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My Apologies: Update and Plans

Hello everyone,

I know I have been awol for a while now. I’m very sorry. Basically, a bunch of things happened at once, including getting sick, and I needed a week to recover. In addition to everything, my phone completely broke and I’m trying a bunch of different things to try to fix it or get a replacement. I will probably write a blog about it in the coming days. Anyway, I’m back on the wagon (mostly) and plan to write and post regularly from now on, so please expect more content coming this week and from now on. Good news is, this week has given me lots of topic ideas.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you stick around and see the upcoming blogs. And as always, if you have anything, in particular, you would like me to talk about or having any questions or general thoughts, please leave them in the comments below.

Thanks again.

Aja

My First Video & YouTube Channel Introduction

If you like my blog posts consider watching my youtube channel. Right now I only have one video up but I plan to post new videos regularly. If you like this video, please give me a thumbs up and if you want to see more, please subscribe. And as always, I love to hear from you guys, so please leave a comment! Thanks!

Surprise! Public Bathing

Dear Readers,

I have noticed that there isn’t a way for those who aren’t on WordPress to subscribe. I apologize about that, I am working on it and hopefully, it will be available soon. So if you are interested in that, please keep an eye out.

Before coming to this school, I didn’t know what the bathing/showering situation would be like. Now, I’m not a personally conservative person. Nudity doesn’t really bother me. I’ve been to nude beaches and lakes before, so even after I found out that everyone showers and baths together, I didn’t think it’d be a problem for me at all.  Little did I know my cultural background had subconsciously affected me. I’m not a shy person but cleaning… all of me in front of other people is more daunting than I would have thought. I think partly my problem is I had a lot of questions and I hadn’t gotten close enough to anyone yet to ask them.  The bathroom (literally a bathroom, not like in the US) looks something like this. Now, this isn’t a photo of mine since I figured it’d be rude to photograph the bathroom without permission but this will give you an idea. Normally, I would only use my own pictures, this is an exception.

Everyone sits on stools and showers themselves. I’m sure for Japanese people this is normal, but coming from a culture where everything is hypersexualized and showering was something done in private, it feels super weird cleaning my junk in a room full of people. I also didn’t (and still don’t really) know what the proper procedure for that sort thing is here, but that’s the only option for getting clean so I’m figuring it’s normal here. I think this realization that I even have these reservations is very eye opening. I can see now I will probably learn more about myself on this trip than I have in my previous 20 years of life. I’m sure most American’s would have these same feelings when faced with this type of situation but really, psychologically speaking, this is probably way healthier and despite my shyness, I never knew I had, there are a lot of things I like about this bathing situation.

Firstly, the huge bath is amazing. It’s like being able to get in a clean hot tub without all the chemicals every day and it is normal. It helps you feel more relaxed and your muscles loosen up. It completely worth it. In addition, it becomes social time. While this is weird at first, it’s kinda nice. You can chat while bathing or while lathering up. I’ve actually met a couple friends through showering and bathing together. Some days are definitely more social than others, so you kinda have to read the room. And Of course, I miss having the shower as a place to escape to for some down time and privacy but honestly, it’s an easy trade for the ability to both practices my language and to get to meet new people. It also becomes a nice girl time, a kind of bonding experience. Plus, I believe it’s helping me with body positivity. The girls don’t look at me any differently, despite how different my body is from theirs. The atmosphere is very respectful. Plus, you get a more realistic image of human bodies. And really, unless you engaged in conversation with someone, no one’s going to be looking at you anyway, so that privacy is still somewhat there.

Regardless, I have every intention of shedding my American habits. I want to be able to shower comfortably with the rest of the girls and not even think about it. I think it will happen sooner than I expect. Actually, I’m going to go take a shower after I’m done writing this. But, I want to hear from you guys, what do you guys think? How would you feel about this situation? And, actually, I already have readers from all over the world. I would love to hear about your points of view. How does your culture see nudity and bathing? How do you think you’d fare in this situation? I would love to hear, so please leave a comment. In addition, I could probably go more in-depth on this topic so if you have questions or want me to talk further on this topic, let me know, especially for those planning to come study abroad.

Time to go get clean. Goodnight.

Welcome to Japan

This is my first time Traveling outside of North America, so I was well warned this would be a big change, and while in a lot of ways it was, in more ways it’s kinda the same. As a world, we seem to talk about more about cultural differences than similarities. I was well prepared for things to be starkly, even unforgivingly different, but the girls at my Japanese university are much the same as the girls in my home university in a lot of ways. To be fair, I’m not new to the language or culture as I have been studying both since I was 12. I think it’s definitely different for everyone, but for me, I feel at home here.

Before coming to Japan, I was losing motivation in school and was simply burnt out. Now classes haven’t started yet here, so I’m not saying those feelings won’t come back, but coming here and finally seeing Japan in person, has rekindled my motivation and passion for my education already, and I haven’t even been here a week. I think the true differences between America and Japan lie in the routine and expectations Japanese people live by. Before beginning my journey, I had some idea of the routineness that existed in Japanese culture and worried it might be one of the things that I didn’t like, but I was wrong. In America, there is no set way of doing things. No expectations. You can do anything, and for you that’s great but for everyone else, it can kinda suck. In America, there is no set way to handle a misunderstanding or accident, no set way of talking to people. In Japan, there is a set way of doing most things, and it feels natural. If there’s a misunderstanding, both parties apologize even if it was clearly one person’s fault. If you are asking for special treatment at say a restaurant, it’s expected that you are appreciative and apologetic. Most Americans probably feel uncomfortable about this. We are used to a self-centered way of living. And that’s ok, that is one way of doing it. But coming here, the expectations and unspoken understandings are something I unexpectedly find comforting and freeing in a way. Knowing how every interaction will go and knowing that if you follow the flow you won’t step on any toes and everything will go smoothly is very reassuring. It gives you space to think about other things.

In addition, everyone is very nice in my town. Of course, I’m sure there are grumpy people everywhere, but with how safe it is and how much trust there is between Japanese people, everyone is very open and ready to help. If you get lost you can ask anyone for help and they will likely go off their path and take you there. There’s a sense that everyone’s kinda looking out for each other. Like me and another random man ran into a crosswalk to help an old lady who’s chair’s battery fell out while she was trying to cross. This is normal in Japan. People instinctually will ask if you’re ok if you fall or seem lost. Of course, it may not be that way everywhere, but that has been my experience so far.

I guess for all those nervous about having to worry about all the customs, don’t worry, Japanese people are very patient and you will learn them quickly, and if you’re anything like me, you will come to appreciate them.

In my next post, I plan to talk about the bathing situation here and something exchange students might need to know if they plan on living in a dorm. Don’t worry, It’s not as bad as you might think.