"Rassun Gorerai"tte nan desu no?

RASSUN GORERAI! Eh eh, nante? Rassun gorerai, rassun gorerai, rassun gorerai, setsumei shite ne!
Being surrounded by Japanese teenagers 11 hours a day the phenomenon of Japanese pop culture is kind of inevitable to come across, and I've been shown so many things that I couldn't remember the names of if I tried (okay, maybe if I tried, but I'm not THAT interested in all of the craziness). Lately some of my closest friends have been singing this song and taught me some lines, and after going home and doing some research I sat down and listened to it and after a while I somehow found myself being able to sing along.... I've tried to sing some lines in the precense of other people to see what reaction I would get, and EVERY person have joined in. So since this seems to be a thing here I thought that hey, why not share some j-pop culture with everyone else. So here peeps, have some magic. (Oh by the way, this song basically makes as much sense to the Japanese as it does to everyone else. It's just a mess of weird things and it's a lot of fun!!)
It being the end of February I'm also closing in on the end of my no-Swedish month! It hasn't been that hard up until now, but these last few days I've actually missed speaking Swedish. I'm perfectly fine with Japanese and English but it feels weird not having formulated Swedish sentences and not having read Swedish writing or anything. But all in all it has been a good break from it and from everything going on over there (since I haven't read any news or watched any programs I have basically no idea about what's going on, I found out a few days ago that Melodifestivalen has started....), and I've been able to focus more on Japanese. So I'm kinda patting myself on my shoulder now, good job Johanna. Muchos bien. (I know I know I know the grammar is wrong, it's Johanna-spanish)
I haven't really had any routines in school for a while, this last month has been weird and a lot of different things have been going on so the schedule has differed a lot from what it usually looks like. I like it this way, it keeps my mind more clear and makes the days not-as-blurred-together! We've had some days off from school for different reasons (most of them being that it's closing in on graduation for some students which means a lot of tests which for some reason means that everyone else get's to stay home from school when the tests are held. Why? Beats me) and today was one of those. So I went downtown with one of my best friends here, Yumi, and we went around in stores and talked and talked and ate lunch at what I think is my favorite restaurant here. I haven't brought my camera with me to places for a while but today I did and I documented some of our adventurous adventures. So, enjoy the pictures I guess!
This store is one of the craziest stores to find in Kumamoto, and we have quite a few weird ones. It just has a lot of things out of which a lot of it doesn't make any sense, which makes it a really funny store to walk around in and you always find something new. I think the store is called Village Vanguard but I'm not 100% sure....
Moving on.....
This restaurant serves Japanese food, or washoku as they say here (western food is youshoku), and it's just amazing. Just amazing. I could live on gyudon.
After having eaten Yumi took me a to a place that I didn't know existed before, and I'm really happy that I know about it now. It wasn't exactly a library but had that kind of vibe (and it also had a lot of books), there were couches you could place yourself in comfortably with a book or to take a nap, and it was very calm and quiet and just a really nice environment. On the third floor in a building in the middle of the city!! So they had this little room you could go into and look through a small glass window, and behind the glass was this. I don't know why it was there but I loved it, super cool.
The place also had a shop, and I loved it too. It was kinda artsy and they played jazz music (which by itself makes me happy) and had a lot of cute things to look at and wish were in your possession.
Swedish things appear more often that you'd think and I always get excited about it.....
Waiting for the bus!
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The great run (and doing the "impossible")

Today I did something that I have been nervous about for quite some time, and I DID IT! Okay, I guess it'd be good to take this from the start (wherever the start is...).....
I will start by making a statement, a statement that has been made by countless Japan-exchangers before and will be made by countless future exchangers as well: Japanese high schools are TOUGH. And I'm not talking about the studying today, like the actual school work, I'm talking about what the school system puts the students through and how much is expected of them. In October my school had this event where all of the students walked over 33 km, and their next big school event, which we have been in preparation for for about a month, was a 10 kilometer run (which happened to take place today). Like, it's just expected of the students to take part is these things even though they are really physically challenging for most of them. I don't know, maybe it isn't as tough and strict as I find it to be, maybe I've just spent too much time in Sweden where we don't really have any expectations to do anything else than the actual school work. 
So I have P.E three times a week, and for about a month we have been running every lesson, taking time and counting distance and preparing for the great run that we all had to participate in. I do run with my dad sometimes back in Sweden but never more than two kilometers at a time, and I am not a runner, which made this new project a real challenge from day one. I did notice myself getting slightly better and being able to run faster, but running three kilometers at an OK time didn't exactly feel enough to get through the 10 kilometers I had to look forward to..... 
So, today was The Day. All of the first- and second year students gathered together at a nearby sports arena and while preparing (preparing = running around with my friends and learning commercial slogans and talking with people) I felt the nervousness from before somewhat disappear. I had been "mentally preparing" for this since yesterday, with my thoughts looking something like: okay, if I keep a relatively slow pace I think I can run five kilometers before I'll allow myself to walk for a bit. Or can I make it to six? and this isn't a competition with the other students Johanna, this is between you and you. Just be better than you were yesterday, focus on your own progress, and it really helped me before the starting shot went off. And then it did. And I ran. And I ran and I ran and even though my legs hurt and I'm not even gonna get into how my lungs felt my mind forbad me to stop and I didn't stop. I didn't stop and I finished it and even though I lost my breath when passing the finish line I couldn't stop smiling and laughing because I had just ran more than three times as far as ever before and I had done something that I didn't think I could. And I will live on that feeling for a long time. It's SO rewarding realizing you are capable of more than you think and despite this event being rather "small" and "inessential" it gave me something irreplacable and it is definitly one of the events of my exchange that I will be the most happy about when looking back on my year. I DID IT! YATTA!!
Something else that made my day amazing is something that has been going on for a little while and today more than ever... So, I might have written about this before but for a while now students at the school have started to approach me more, instead of just staring and whispering about me. I get a lot of daily "good morning!", "hello johanna!" and the like from students I have/might have/never have seen before and it is the sweetest thing ever. And so today, during the "preparation" before the start (which went on for like an hour), I talked with more new people than I think I have since I first came to Toryo. While walking around with some of my classmates some students, both whom I had talked with before and that I had never said a word to, came up to me and started talking, asked if I remembered their names and just said weird and funny things... And this one guy that is more or less known at my school for being a bit crazy came up to me and yelled "LOOK JOHANNA!" and then did a tumble on the ground and then looked up at me and smiled really big and then ran away. Like, what even? xD And then during the run I got a lot of "good luck! fightooo!" from several different students when we ran past each other and that definitly gave me more energy to keep going. All of this makes me feel appreciated and makes it easier for me to interact with the students more since it isn't easy always being the one to approach them, especially since I still sometimes feel insecure about my Japanese and it still can be hard to use it with new people. 
All in all this has been a day I definitly will remember and I thought it important do write down my thoughts and memories while still having them fresh in my mind. Right here and now I'm really happy and things are good!! Next up on my crazy-things-I-do-with-school-list is the annual sports festival where we will perform coreographed numbers and build human pyramides and stuff.... just the usual. Until then I will have to see what exciting adventures will come my way (I do have a few things planned).... I miss you guys and I hope that wherever in life you are and whatever you are doing you're all feeling good about it! Take care, don't drink and drive......
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Things I've (kinda) gotten used to here

Having been in Japan for more than five months now, I've begun to reflect over things that I've gotten used to in my life here. Of course you can only get as comfortable and grow as customed after five months, it's not like I'm completely changed and I haven't gotten fully used to everything, but I do feel like some things will be a bit hard to change when it is time to leave... I sat and wrote down some things before and I don't know, I thought I would blog about them! Because, you know, why not.
1. Smells. Japan obviously has different smells (just like every country does) and I remember noticing them all and just thinking a lot about them when I first came here, but now I hardly notice them. I had this moment a few weeks ago when I was walking down the stairs in the house and suddenly was hit by this smell that brought me right back to the first days in Kumamoto, and I got sooo nostalgic because I hadn't noticed it for such a long time! 
2. School uniforms! Wearing a school uniform, always being around people who are wearing them... It's a bit embarrassing to admit but in the beginning I had a hard time telling students from each other because of the school uniforms, I'm so used to students looking really individual with their own styles and what not, and now suddenly there were only white shirts and blue skirts and black pants as far as the eye could see... But it's fine now, my only problem now is remembering names of students I meet..... 
3. An excessive amount of rules and just general strictness in school. Like seriously, if I were to rank the top strictest places ever it would probably look something like: 1. The military 2. Restaurant kitchens (at least I hav the impression that they are super strict) 3. Japanese high schools. NO JOKE. Everything from how to dress (and how NOT to dress) to how to say hello to the teachers in the corridors (what to say and how loud you should say it etc etc) and how to properly stand in a line is strictly regulated, and I think it's fare to say that I had a rather hard time adjusting to all of this in the beginning. I haven't got used to everything a hundred percent but I have learned to live with it and will most likely get daily panic attacks when being back in the Swedish MESSY school. (I hope I'm not offending Sweden now, and if I am I'm sorry NOT SORRY)
4. Seaweed. Lol. Before I came here I was, to say the least, not too fond if seaweed. I don't know, the taste of it just didn't speak to me... But by eating it more or less every day here I quickly became used to it and eventually came to really like it as well! And now I worry that I won't find any good seaweed in Sweden.... Fingers crossed, fingers crossed!!
5. Airplanes. Airplanes everywhere. I live like 15 minutes from an airport and I see at least 3-5 airplanes CLOSELY every day. I found it a bit strange in the beginning since it never happens in Helsingborg, but now I kinda like the sound and it does feel like home.
6. Coming home late on week days! The thought of ending school at like two or three and then going straight home feels very, very distant.... Before I joined my club I would get home 16:45 at earliest and more often that not after five, and now with club never earlier than seven. But to be honest I like it that way, spending time with my friends in one of the best things here (of course) so even if I'm exhausted when I get home from school I get to spend almost 11 hours with people I love daily and I will definitly be happy about that when looking back on my exchange!
7. Being a foreigner. Yeah. It still doesn't feel comfortable all the time (which COULD be because of the amount of attention you get for being here and how you are kinda alienated in some situations), but I do have gotten used to constantly being the different (and sometimes weird) one at the party, ya know. I will definitly be facing some culture shocks, getting back to Sweden and completely blending in again. 
8. ENGLISH!!! English English English. Okay, it's not like English was completely foreign to me before and like everyone else (I'm talking about Swedes here) I've been fluent since quite a young age, BUT. Communication. Just talking. I can recall sitting in the English class in Sweden and having some kind of discussion, and after a while of speaking English feeling my throat getting dry and starting to stumble on my words, and that feels so, SO far away! I clearly remember the first days here in Japan that I spent in Tokyo with the other exchange students where I talked more English than ever before, and it only took those four days for me to feel 120% comfortable with speaking it (it was quite a lot of fun, me and the Swedish guys repeatedly switched to English by mistake when talking and eventually we kinda gave up Swedish). And since I've had Sam (the Aussie exchanger, who by the way is leaving Japan today) and an American language teacher in school to regularly talk with English now comes more natural than Swedish! It might worsen now that Sam is leaving though... I will go hardcore Japanese from now on. 頑張ります!
With Sam and my oldest host sister leaving (she went off to her own exchange student adventures on New Zealand!!) I feel like I've officially entered the second part of my exchange. I'm really excited for it, I am constantly noticing my Japanese improving little by little and I still have lots of things to experience for the first time and also a lot of things I want to do again! I'm gonna try to keep busy and make sure to spend as much time as possible with my friends as well as meeting lots of new people and getting to know them. January wasn't my brightest month but I feel like I've gained new energy and I'm really thrilled for what's coming up next!! Japan, you better watch out, I'm on the mooooooooooooove
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