Evan Fowler
2006-07 Outbound to Japan

Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
School: Wolfson High School
Sponsor: Jacksonville Rotary Club
Host: Takaoka West Rotary Club
District 2610, Japan

August 25 Journal & Pictures
 I honestly still can’t believe that I’m in Japan right now. I mean if someone was to shake me and say I have been dreaming for the past couple days I would totally believe them because to say the least I have truly been living in a Japanese oasis which is actually everywhere I look. I mean to go from wishing to get accepted to practicing a far off language that no one around me knew a word of is big, but there is more. To get off a plane to a group of people saying that same greeting I'd been practicing for eight months, can really throw you off.
The first thing I saw when I went to baggage claim in the Komastu airport, on the other side of a glass wall, were about thirteen people saying my name and holding a sign. I was so taken aback even though I knew I was to be greeted, it hit me like a brick, wow they really knew I was coming and they came. Then to greet them was the next big thing. I was shaking like crazy and pushing out the traditional Japanese greeting and falling over myself in nerves. There at the airport I met my other two host families, I knew my first host but I wasn't thinking I would meet my other two that day so that also threw me off. I mean what do you say when someone says I'll be your mom in a couple months, then someone else says yes and we will be your host parents after that. I have never felt so welcomed by people I had just met in my life, EVER. Through all the fuss and welcoming I had totally forgot my so-called plan for when I was met. I exchanged cards, bowed like crazy, and took pictures with my families and the other inbounds of my district. It was confusing but great to say the least.

My shaking nerves soon melted away to comfort when I met my second host family and my host sister Yuri, she had been an exchange student to Canada and spoke great English. I stayed with her family, the Honda family, the first night and was truly made at home. But before we went home we went out to a local museum where I saw some of the coolest art I had ever seen, from an underground pool, to a large spinning camera wheel, it was all amazingly awesome. Later I met my other host sister, and grandmother, and my host brother at dinner. They all reminded me of my own family at home, and her mom and father had such great personalities that I couldn't help but to feel at ease. I went to the mall with Yuri and I saw all the Japanese stores that to me were just like home but better. We then took pictures in a photo booth, but much better than like the ones at home. The ones in Japan have so much more stuff that you would be busy for hours on end with them. Then to say the least my first meal was the ice breaking in eating Japanese food, it was Amazing. We had sushi rolls made at home, with so many choices, but the best part was I didn't even feel  ぃけ- I was across the globe, the meal was so good I just stopped asking what things were, and since then I still don't ask whatever I eat, it all tastes great. The next day my host sisters tried to help teach me some more words in Japanese and I learned more about the Japanese land layout with my host dad. They were in the end more then I could ask as a host family. I mind you I did all that my first day with them, so much when I look back but time flew like crazy.

The next morning I was to meet my first host family, the Kanamori family. They live in downtown T and consist of my host mom (okasan) and host father (otosan). The house is three blocks away from a huge amazing park that you could get lost in for days and a giant Buddha statue. After getting dropped off I again felt that nerve feeling but was soon at ease yet again to my surprise. My host mother is truly one of the nicest people on earth I have met and my host father also very nice and admirable to say the least. They have two grown children who live in Tokyo and were both exchange students who went to the New York area, so they know how an exchangee might feel at any given moment, but I have yet to have a chance to feel in anyways down or sad. In my first week I have done so much already. Me and my host dad went sailing twice and saw some of the most beautiful scenes over the mountains I've seen ever. While me and my host mom have chatted about almost everything that could matter and she has already taken me to get fitted for my school uniform and other things.

To make it even better, I have been fighting to learn the language for a while and now I'm taking class in the nearby town Toyama for a week via a 20 minute train ride by myself. This makes me feel very productive on what I want and need to survive this year. Everyday I wake up and greet my host parents for breakfast then maybe do some laundry and make my way to my classes. I have yet to start my actual school but I'm very much optimistic.

I've also already met more of the other inbounds for my district and they too are awesome friends. Plus I've made friends with the local jets (Japanese exchange teachers) which share that foreign gaze of Japan like me.

I used to think that the first journal entries were sugar coated to make everything sound great, but after being here and just feeling so great and uplifted by people I've just met over a week ago, I see why everyone is always so happy by the tone of their entry.

So with that I say good bye for now, I have more class tomorrow. I can’t wait to see where this year may take me from ups to downs and anywhere between, Ja matta
   
   
October 3 Journal & Pictures
 As of now I think I’m close to two months, I really don’t know. To me it’s a good sign I’m not counting the days because I’m having that much fun. Well to recap there has been a lot of big and small stuff since my last entry. I started school but that’s so big I'll get to that subject last.
Me and my first host family went to Tokyo about two weeks ago. It was amazing. The way there we stopped at a mountain temple that was built upon an old volcanic ground meaning there were huge volcanic rocks everywhere. Really big and really cool. Then we went to Tokyo and the next day my host brother showed me around. That was really fun too. First we went to the top of this one building and I saw all the different areas of Tokyo. Then he took me around to all the different popular spots. Of course I shopped a little. The main point is he was awesome and so was the time spent.

After my trip to Tokyo later that week I switched host families. My new host family is the Honda Family. They are really cool and I stayed with them my first night so I kinda very vaguely knew what it was like. They live a little outside of downtown Takaoka in an area called Toide. Which means my commute to school is no longer a walk but two trains and a walk. I have a host mom and dad, and two older host sisters, a brother who lives in Tokyo, and a host grandmother. It’s a really great and open family. My younger of the host sisters went to Canada last year so her English is great; she helps me learn formal Japanese and more teen friendly. Plus she is really cool so I feel really lucky that I’m with this family. I recently got a new bicycle which if I were told I was getting while in Florida I would just give you a weird look, but that’s pretty much the main source of transportation for people my age. Plus I’ve been walking everywhere so I was really happy to get one.

Also the two other inbounds in my town are great. They are both from Canada but we pretty much spend at least one of our weekends together walking around shopping and practicing Japanese. It’s like having a sample of my friends from home here with me. They are the best people to be with in a place like this.

Now to the big issue, SCHOOL. This is truly the first time in 13 years I’ve ever said this at all but I love school. To start I admit I had my personal doubts about it. Luckily to my surprise I was totally wrong which I love. I thought the teachers would either look down upon me for not knowing enough of the language but they are the best. They understand and really are supporting in a good way when I slowly start talking more and more in Japanese. My basic way of talking for now is I say as much as I know in Japanese and then I might switch to English. Since I’ve been here for about a month most know now I prefer to stumble over their Japanese and ask them to talk slower then to be talked to in English which is great. Also my homeroom class is the best ever. My homeroom teacher is really helpful in making sure I understand everything that is going on. He even helps by making sure I have everything I need for school such as kendo wear for kendo class, which is awesome to side track, and anything else by calling my host parents to let them know. Classes also have been amazement even to me. I still don’t understand a big gap of what the teachers say but the best part is that what they teach spans from 9th grade subjects then sometimes jumps to my level. So I can actually get the lesson in math, science, and world history. English classes are actually fun but for reasons I didn’t expect. They almost show me that everyone is human when learning a new language. I mean when they mess up I pretty much see myself so I help when I can, and in return I think that shows that I do respect them for even trying.

The students are above all to say the least what I wished for without knowing. They have interest in me and where I’m from but not to a point where that’s all I talk about. They let me feel like I’m just average which is actually good. It’s better to be in a class that doesn’t put you on a stool where you have to always talk in English or about Florida and other stuff. But now we actually have a good normal friendship or at least with some help from American phrases I taught them such as loser or whatever. Which is really funny to see them try. But usually after school if I don’t have kyudo we sit around and joke half Japanese and half English, they teach me jokes and what’s cool, and now and then I tell them jokes and what me and my friends do back at home. I’m in the kyudo club which is Japanese archery. It is really great to say the least. I practice like crazy but the other members are really nice and help me and try to explain as much as they can. This gives me even more Japanese practice and more great friends. I already feel a part of the school since everyday I greet my class then greet teachers in the hall on the way to class. It’s awesome.

Also, last week we had our school festival. It was another really big and cool event. My homeroom class made the room into a haunted house which was cool. Also we sang in a competition but I think we didn’t win, I really don’t know. But it was fun, the song of course was in Japanese and I studied it like crazy, so I’m kinda glad that’s over. But there was so much at the festival I can’t even go into it. But I’m having a great time and wish the best for the other outbounds and hope the new inbounds are having a great time in Florida.

Until next time, ja ne  
   
November 13 Journal
 I must say I thought before I left when the outbounds said they were too busy to think about journal entries they were just being lazy but now I know, it really does seem every week just collides into one huge day. Along with that same note I've been traveling around my district a lot so I guess with all the fighting to remember dates and better my language I actually did slip and totally forget about journal entries.
Anyways, well recently like I said I've been traveling. Nowhere really big just places that me and the other inbounds say "Have we gone there yet," "No, why not," "Let's go there Saturday." That alone keeps me busy and I love it. I also thought that I would never be able to ride a train myself but after being late for one or two you really learn your lesson while you wait an hour. I can honestly say here I learn lessons that everyone should learn but it's actually fun.

Like for example, I'll admit for about a week I thought my host sisters didn't care much for me. I asked myself why, that's not really fair of them, one was even an exchange student before. After thinking it over I was going to flat out ask, do you dislike me for some reason, did I do something wrong. Until one night I thought deeper, how much do I personally know about them. I couldn't say I ever really took the time to ask about them. In the end it's much better now, I'm glad I didn't jump to the conclusion that they were the unfair ones when really I totally overlooked the simple fact that even with simple language abilities, showing pure interest is the best way to make friends. That's the big lesson I've learn recently.

Also Kyudo is going great too (oh and I read about Hannah and how she is in Kyudo also, I accept her challenge. When we return we are so having a showdown). Anyways next Sunday I have a really big Kyudo test about sitting, walking, and shooting of course. I can't wait. My fellow club mates though really do go out of their way to help me for which I could never express how grateful I am. Also the Kyudo teacher is always willing to stop and try to explain in simple Japanese how to make sure I pass the test, it's when I'm doing kyudo I can hardly tell I'm away from home thanks to the great friends around me.

Plus the past week or so we had Halloween. I personally don't really celebrate it to begin with but again I got all mooshy when my teacher gave me a trick-or-treat candy, then my host family gave me a Halloween pin as a present. It may not be the biggest holiday to me, but that they really do care enough to even think about how it might affect me really makes me happy. As of that I think that is everything: lots of traveling, great times, lessons learned, great friendships, it's an everyday thing in the day of a Rotary Exchange Student. (Me and the other inbounds say that to ourselves when we have the chance, lol.)

P.s. Hope all the other Outbounds are having as much of a great time, I love reading their entries when I get a chance. miss you all.

December 26 Journal

 As I’ve said before I am truly in love with this place. It is as if to call it paradise would be short of its true splendor. Honestly I don’t want to even think how I will survive back at home after this.
Lately like always I’ve been busy. School test, kyudo, and I switched host families. My current host family is still outside of the main city but I like it out here. Almost every morning I wake up to a great view of the snow-capped mountains. Also because of that great view riding my bike and paying attention is really hard at times but it’s ok. To add on to such a great land, my new host family is crazy great. It has yet to be a month and I truly feel at home. But the big thing even I was worried about was how I would handle Christmas and the holiday time.

Well, my Christmas was also great. It actually had nothing to do directly with the holiday itself which I later thought suited the time perfectly. In all honesty you can always celebrate a holiday with family and friends around or not, but you can never recreate the same feeling place to place, it’s also not fair to try to do so onto others. So the best way I thought to avoid bad feelings was to do as the locals do. Turns out I spent the day with my host mom and sister and dropped off gifts. It was actually one of the best days I have had with the family. I also got a chance to see my host father’s work, which was really cool. Instead the bigger holiday here is new years which I can hardly wait to do everything that consists with it.

So in the end, I may not have been with my true family back in Jacksonville or doing what I would have done every year, but instead I did what I set out to do from the minute I thought about being an exchange student, doing something new.

My host Rotary club along with all the members also show great support in everything I do which really acts as a booster everyday. After my kyudo test which I passed, my host club for an early Christmas gift bought me kyudo fuku or kyudo clothing. I went crazy over that alone, but to make it better they also bought me my own set of arrows. So I really do appreciate everything my host club has done and given me to say the least.

Also on another matter, it really does sometimes surprise me how everyday it seems I start to understand more and more about everything here in so many ways. Not only the language or culture, but when you take the time to try to see why the custom is done and do it yourself you start to understand. From that I mean to say that I’ve seen so many ways of living in Japan that I start to see that what I thought beforehand was a totally wrong view, yet at the same time very much right. Before I came here I thought only in my point of view, as in when I go to school the main interest will be music. After a couple friends, I start to realize that is only a part of each person’s interest. Usually it’s actually their own club which makes sense, but back in my high school, clubs where usually just a good thing to go on a college application.

Also, I start to see that overall passion in what you believe and do is actually strong here also. Not in the same way as America but shown differently. From what I’ve heard we Americans can be viewed as very outspoken people as a whole, when I heard that I thought nothing wrong with it and somewhat agreed; they made the point of why yell what people already know you know. Basically it’s the same old idea of sometimes cultures view each other in ways that are true yet wrong, and good yet bad, depending on where you stand. It’s actually very hard for me to explain in depth but I find that the same far off ideas of Japanese traditions all start to make sense.

Recently I also was given a chance to visit a very old temple in my city. It also was really big and awesome to say the least. I must admit temples and shrines aren’t really the rarest things here but the one I went to was a national treasure. Everything around it had a feeling of Japan. It sometimes gets hard to tell I’m still not really at home but in another country, that’s why I love to visit all the nearby places of interest. I’ve also seen several art museums of old Japanese art and poetry and even with my so-so language skills it somehow left me feeling more appreciative of even getting a chance to be in such a place. I still have so much to look forward to, and honestly it has been and seems things will be nothing less but great. So to end, again I must say I love this land and I wish I had a time machine to stay in this year forever, but until then I’ll make the best of every moment.

January 23 Journal & Pictures
 Well so many things have happened this month. To start, the New Years events, which I never thought too much about, came and went. The Japanese traditions around this time of year are several and very different from house to house. My host family and I celebrated with some of the more average ones. To begin the night of New Years we went to a nearby temple to ring the bell and pray. It was so cold but breathtaking at how unbelievable it was that I was actually doing it.
The next day we awoke and had a breakfast together that was out of norm, but for a reason. The following days to come were spent cleaning. In Japan along with a new year comes a newly cleaned house. At first I thought ok no problem, I don't have that much to clean. Instead I ended up cleaning the entire day, it seems somehow my room slipped away from me over the holidays due to the gift giving and receiving and much more. After cleaning my room I went outside to help my host dad wash the car. At first again I thought no problem just washing a car, I do it a lot of times in Florida. I was wrong yet again, it was freezing. I managed to finish helping and if I could go back in time I would have helped anyways. I love spending time with my host families. Not to mention this one is really open and funny. Every night I have to remind myself I need to go to sleep early because of school the next day because either we are watching a movie together, talking, or doing yoga, any of which is hard to pull myself away from.

Anyways back to the New Year holiday. The next day my host mom and I went to the local temple to see my host sister work. That day you were able to get a future paper. On said paper it tells your luck rating and supposed luck of the year. I should have medium luck and returning is lucky for me, weird if you ask me. Later that week we all went to a larger shrine outside of Kanazawa where we did a lot that day including going to the beach. I've been to several art museums with my host dad who also loves art. I've seen several different types of Japanese art that are really ancient yet their beauty is remarkable as if painted or carved just yesterday. I even got a chance to visit a museum about a Japanese poet a while ago. It was hard to understand exactly what the poem meant because it was in old Japanese, but even through the language barrier, you understand how much he really not only viewed but loved Japan and everything within it.

After my winter break ended school soon started all over again. I really missed my classmates seeing how I didn't have time to see them over the break so I was eager to go back. Not to mention a week back into school I had my birthday. It was awesome how my classmates remembered and even better are the gifts I got. They were not gifts you would ask for but rather jokes we had. Like the Japanese food Natto, its a bean substance which I always hated, not to mention the smell. Also the only food I won't eat. My classmates love it so they went out and bought me some for me to have my first actual taste. I still hate it, actually I hate it even more, but the thought that they even went through with such a plan was very funny, and we laughed the whole time.

The same day all my host families got together to have a dinner for me which was one of the best dinners I have ever had mainly because I got to see all my host families at one time. I had a great time, I didn't even think twice about what I could be or would be doing back at home. Everyone here really went out of their way a million miles on my birthday so I'm still really grateful for that. The next week after my birthday my school had all day kendo and judo. Since I am in kendo class I had a personal round of kendo which I did ok on, then we had a class match which I made sure to give it my all. We still lost but we were all tired and yet still ok with losing after the matches.

Recently the Australians returned home so that was a slight reminder that this new life won't last forever and that I have to go back sometime. I still have a lot to do in my schedule in the weeks to come so I just have to make sure to make the best of all the time left. One year truly seems shorter then ever when you're half way through, but a special hey to the other outbounds and hope the inbounds are having a great time in Florida. じゃね (later)

   
February 19 Journal & Pictures
 Well I still haven't gone on my spring break but I still have done a lot in the past month or so here. To start, my host sister and I went skiing for my very first time. I can say that I'm not going to be in the Olympics anytime soon, but at least I had a great teacher to make sure I never really fell down, which I didn't. We took a day off from work and school to just go out and have fun which was just that, really fun. When we first arrived we practiced of course the basic things like going, turning, and stopping. But I can still remember when we reached the top the first time, I looked down the steep side just thinking to myself that it didn't seem to be that steep from the bottom view. While on my slow crawl down with ease I wanted to climb down the side that was less steep but one small twist of a ski and I was gone like a rocket. I can gladly say that through the maybe seven times that happened I never got hurt, so I'm lucky for that. Also as the day went on I slowly learned how to not zoom down a side of a mountain but actually ski. So it was great like I said before but the Olympics are far away. Plus to make it better my host sister took video to make sure I would never forget the time I was flying down a side of a mountain screaming, "yabii yabii yabii," which is Japanese for (this is bad).
That weekend I attended yet another kyudo event. This time it wasn't for personal rankings but instead district wide school ranking. I didn't do too well I think but my school's club got third place in the district for boys and the girls got second. Regardless I was happy for them, just shows I need more practice. It was still fun to watch how intense my clubmates became once they entered the stage to practice. It was as if there was nothing else but that target and the arrow. So, tense to say the least.

The next day actually my current host parents kind of surprised me to say we were taking a days trip to Nagoya. Nagoya is the prefecture on the opposite side of Japan so it was a little random but of course I couldn't turn it down. I wasn't sure why we were going or to do or see what but it was nice. The drive there we went through snow capped mountains which held little towns dotted with trees so that was a cool sight to see. When we finally arrived we actually went to see a collection of ancient historical buildings from around Japan all collected and moved to one spot. It at first seemed weird to read that the huge mansion I was standing in was once in Tokyo hundreds of miles away and that it had a big part in the royal family's life. But in the end the collection of buildings were all important and interesting to see. It showed mostly the part of Japan that was effected and inspired by western countries such as Europe. A lot of the buildings you would expect to see in England and France, so I had a great time. Later that night we stopped by a night festival on the way back home where the houses were designed hundreds of years ago to hold amazing amounts of snow. Every house had a search light set up to show how big and tall the roofs were and how the structure itself could support mounds of snow. That too was something I was glad to see.

That following weekend my first host parents, the new exchange student form Australia, and I went to some famous cities which included Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe. We had a three day trip so we ate out at great places that showed off the Japanese life and food. We also saw countless shrines but each had their own story and reason to why they were famous and all were really spectacular to see. While in Kyoto we walked down several streets that were very wall to wall restaurants. The street itself was so thin I could touch both sides at once with my hands. Not to mention it was lighted by electric lanterns which really added an extra effect. The final day we made our way to ancient Japan's capital, Nara. There we saw the Huge Buddha. It was to say the least huge. I mean huge!!! Nara is also famous for a large group of deer that live within the Buddha grounds, so they randomly walk in and out of the crowd and you can feed them. That's why Nara was my favorite city. On the way back to my town we stopped to see where the art of the ninja was practiced and how some houses were actually designed for ninjas. I actually always thought ninjas weren't real and if so they were over done, but while in that small town they showed how many clever things they could actually do.

Not to fail to mention this month I've been practicing with the local teachers since we are putting on a charity play for the town in June. We are performing a half English and half Japanese production of Peter Pan. When they asked me if I wanted to help out or have a part I was more then happy. Since I was actually my school's drama club president I really missed acting, not to mention I would get to do it in Japanese, so that added on a interesting effect.

So now to say the least my weekends are somewhat full with things I have to do, either traveling with host parents, friends, practice, or just hanging with my close friends at home, it's always somewhat busy this month so I really can't wait for spring break when I can finally take a huge break. So that's it for me and congrats to the new outbounds.
Ja ne

 
Kyudo meet
 
Was once a house to the Royal Family of Japan
A kinda bad pic of a bell and prayer statue from the snow village Gokayama
Me and my host sister on the ski lift
A famous ancient symmetrical building
that is on a coin
 
The giant Buddha
building in Nara
Me in front of the Giant Buddha Building
The Giant Buddha
Me and some of the other exchange students at one of our Rotary gatherings
March 22 Journal & Pictures
 Well it’s once again that time to write of my adventures in Japan. This time though I thought I’d take time to answer that everyday question I receive while on exchange, or at least one of the more reoccurring ones for me, "What do you do day to day as an exchange student?" Well, here is the ultimate response. This is what I call the day of an exchange student, or at least one in Japan from Florida District 6970, sponsored by The Downtown Jacksonville Rotary Club, and who happens to be named Evan. :)
Well the day starts off as any other day of school for me and every other person my age, quick shower, get dressed, and make my way downstairs for breakfast. From there it takes a new twist thanks to Rotary, I greet not my real parents but the next best thing, host parents, where I have a quick meal and make my way out the door. I then ride my bike to the train station where I board and ride two trains to get to school. This is the part that resembles almost every other person in Japan, but at the same time I stand out for one main reason. During this time I find myself still in awe that I’m really taking a train to school, not only that but right outside the window is the greatest view of Tateyama (the nearby mountain range) that always causes me to stare. I’d say its because I’m from Florida, aka the flat lands. lol

Then when I finally get to school, I set my stuff down and then yet again my day starts at school where I then rotate between Math, English, etc... depending on the day of course. At the same time of this ongoing schedule, I sit deeply listening to what the teacher says, not because like before I had no clue what he was saying, but now because I can say I actually do understand or at least a little, and dare I say, respond to a question, and better yet not just in English class.

After the daily classes are through, the class breaks into groups where we have weekly cleaning chores around the school. If you’re like me when first hearing this you’d ask, "Don’t they have people paid for that?" and yes, there is a staff, but it’s more then just cleaning. It’s truly to the best way maintaining the school. I mean if you knew that ball of paper you tossed in the hall would be picked up by you later would you waste your time to throwing it? NO. So in a way, the thought of the mess you make is the mess you clean is strong here, leading to a very clean school, which I’d say some Florida schools might want to pick up on.

After that quick clean-up I make my way back to the room, but first there is something new. Over by the student entrance there are bulletin boards, with names, and a huge crowd of people outside in front of the school as if some kind of mob. I make my way to the sidelines with my friends and ask "nani shite no" or "what’s going on". They tell me that the entrance exams are over the letters telling the hopeful might-be-first-years to come to the school and see if they can find their name on the list of hundreds. From that once again I’m just like "ok" I guess I’m just used to getting a letter in the mail that says I have orientation on whatever day, which could be looked at kinda the same but still doesn’t match to how focused these people looked. When the teachers finally announced that the parents and students could look, a huge flock of people rushed through to get just a quick glance. You’d have thought they said free bags of money are there, but then again this is a yearly thing where if you don’t get the school you test for (which is only one) you have to go to an expensive public school - sounds light but there is way more into it then I’d rather tell right now. Just trust me, IT’S BIG.

Then I finally make my way to kyudo practice, where for about an hour or two I do my best, then make my way back home. After two trains, a bike ride, and a warm welcome from my host family, I sit down to a great dinner, conversation over the day and what new Japanese I learned, watch TV, then off to bed for yet another day.

In that it ends my average day as an exchange student, or at least one in Japan from Florida District 6970, sponsored by The Downtown Jacksonville Rotary Club and who happens to be named Evan, is very much average yet special for so many reasons, but this doesn’t even include the times between classes with friends and classmates, or the priceless jokes learned in kyudo, or those endless jokes my English teacher loves to tell my class (then ask if I might know them, but I’m sometimes just as lost as the other students lol) or those great trips with the host to near and places afar, or the weekends with friends.

In the end, being an exchange student here is more than I or anyone else could ever tell. I learn so much in so many ways, through reading books, seeing new places, eating the best of foods, or just going out and doing that one thing that you think is worth doing; in all it’s best to be compared to a dream and nothing less.
The kyudo Dojo
 
The rush to see who makes it into my school
A bowling trip gone wild...lol
The town's Giant Buddha covered in snow
Me and my second host dad in the park
April 23 Journal
 Well time is slowly winding down to my most unwanted reality of the truth. Lucky for the me though, just as the book said and those oh so helpful Rotex stated over and over, this point is somewhat the best.
To do a quick recap, earlier last month, or at least after my last entry, I went on my Rotary trip across most of the big spots in Japan. Of course it was nothing less then great, with great times, great people, great stories, and a taxi fee of over 3000 yen, roughly 30 dollars. I'll actually tell that quick story.

Well we all went out for dinner in Osaka, the comedy capital of Japan if you ask me. It's one of my favorite places in the world, along with the other 6 people of the Rotary group who came that night. Well we had free time to get dinner, then return by 10:30, so we decided to get a simple order of ramen at one of the million bars, then do a quick sight seeing. So we were on our way and soon after found a great place that had just what we wished for. Of course we sat down, had our dinner, then we made our way ever further down. This is where the story gets hazy, or at least for us who where there it did. So we kept walking on this long strip away from the hotel into the lights, the people, the great time known as Osaka in the air. We reached this great shopping strip and looked around for an hour or two and then we noticed, time was up. As soon as we turn to head back, we look and to our surprise, nothing looks a bit familiar. So of course we start replaying in our minds and out loud the way we came. I mean the hotel was just right up the street, then we made that one turn to the next street, but it runs even with the first street, then we crossed the hotel's street to get ramen, but then we went further to get to the last shopping lane, then that one ran out and we went just as far towards the first street. So as you can tell we were kinda lost.

As we slowly tried to think of a way to get back, it starts pouring rain. The streets pretty much go empty for the shops which are closing to hide from the rain. So the next thought is, ok we need a taxi, who said Taxi, I don't know but they owe me money. There were six so there we were running to find a taxi lane to get a taxi. Of course the nearest one is streets over, and not to mention we are at the end so have to run up a street to the front to get one. So we finally get a taxi, but have to split up seeing how like I said there are six. So me and two others get the first taxi and the second will follow, simple right? Wrong, within that very taxi I proudly say since it was my 8th month in Japan I could easily get around, but not in a town I'd never been too, nor recall any name of anything near the hotel. The only thing I could say was this street, straight, please, sorry, thanks so much. Lucky the driver was more then happy to drive to my loose directions, after telling him I have no idea where the hotel was. So we were off, somewhat relived to be out of the pouring rain but at the same time looking out the window to see passing famous spots one would see on TV about Osaka but in the other part of your mind know it was nowhere near the hotel. So to cut this ever so long story short, we drove around Osaka in a cab soaking wet for about 40 minutes, but as you can tell from this journal, arrived a little late and unharmed. (^O^)

So besides that adventure in Japan, life has been nothing but the best, as I slightly stated before, it really does seem to me that this season is the best of the year so far. From the sakura blossom, to becoming a second year, to meeting even more great people within my club and really being able to talk with them and share interest in their life and mine, to just making the best out of everything around. So with that I say good bye and Ja-ne until next month or so...

May 21 Journal
 Well, like every month here, the past one has been crazy. I actually think, if possible, even more crazy than months before. Well I’m with my last host family, that alone is a bitter fact that is hard to swallow as I placed my bags on the floor. No more wonder of who is next, no more rush to pack for the next move, the next time I see my bags I’m heading back home. That thought just floated around my head the whole day as I moved in. Not to my surprise though, just like all my host families, the last is truthfully amazing. They don't hesitate to make me feel at home in any way. It’s really weird how over this year I have truly gained another view of people in my life, they are more than just people I met in Japan, more than just the people who took me around Japan on their free time, more than just that one random club that hosted me for a year, more than just the people who put up with my oh so interestingly horrible Japanese while learning, they are something I may never really be able to sum up to one word besides the best thing that ever happened to me in Japan! … my host families.
 Anyways, after the last moving day as I said earlier, I quickly felt at home. To start off my official stay, we went to the local tulip fair. I’m sad to say that beforehand I wasn’t much into flowers, I’d say it’s due to, as a boy with the last name Fowler, closely sounding to flower, I never really gave them a chance on my personal list of things to like, but that’s just a personal story, lol. But that day we saw the biggest array of tulips which are the prefectual flower for my region. For the first time I really felt like I wanted to see more and take in the wild colors and great view. To make everything that much better, my great host mom is always happy to take more than enough pictures to help me make sure I remember everything here in Japan.

I’d have to say since I’ve been here I’m quick to realize the great things but slow to pull out the camera, but with my current host family, not a thing gets passed by. Sadly as I write this I’m not able to download all the pictures of not just the tulip fair but of all the things we’ve done over the last month or so, which is actually a lot more then one would think. For example, the next weekend after the tulip fair was a week break for schools, so my two host brothers came home from college which was crazy fun. To try and sum up all the things we did, I saw Spiderman 3 in Japanese, yes that’s right - I actually saw it in Japanese and loved it still, I actually kinda got used to it right away, and dare I say rather keep it in Japanese in my mind for the personal memory that I finally have gotten to that point, the point where I can easily sit and watch a movie in another language without that fight to understand. It’s crazy great.

Anyways after that, the next week was my school’s big test, so I didn’t have to go, so me and the family went to Tokyo to see my host brothers again. once again it was fun. I got to see the sights of Tokyo one more time but this time with a more independent feel, not to mention when I was with one of my host brothers he was the one to forget the right station after I asked if it was the correct stop, so that’s a personal point for me I think lol. But yeah I really have more then millions of funny times spent with this family not alone to mention the past families, or Rotary, or school friends, and at the same time I’m still meeting new people. But with each new person it’s like a kick to the face and makes me think, gah this person is so cool, why couldn’t we have met earlier, before I only had so many months left. So I’m left feeling as if everything, every hour, every minute is a race before I leave. You would think that would be pressure or cause uncomfort, but actually I think it keeps me in focus, makes me really keep in mind that this time really is a once in a lifetime thing. I can easily come back any time and actually plan to, but it will sadly never be the same, so I have to live it up while I can right?

In final, I’m sad to say since I think I’m going to be so busy in the last months here, this is going to be my last entry out of country :( But it was great fun and still is to even have the chance to do it. Also thought to mention that coming up is my school sports day where all the classes take a day off to run and pretty much exercise, but that comes after a huge introduction by each homeroom’s chosen person. For my homeroom it’s me, so yeah I’m more than happy they chose me to do it, even though our theme is Lion King, meaning I have to dress up like a lion, then yell out my homeroom’s number in front of everyone at my school. Sadly those pictures will never make it to the site, awww. lol. Well with that I truly say again thanks to Rotary for even giving me the chance to see the things I’ve seen, do the things I’ve done, and more importantly, dress up as a lion, fur and all.