Friday, October 24, 2008

My School Trip

So My whole purpose for adding this entry, was to tell you about my school trip....but then I realized....I haven't told you guys about my school!!!! So here it is. East High School. I go every day from 8:40 to 3:10, except on Mondays which are always extended to 4:10.

It is an interesting experience to go to Japanese school.....

Its a lot different from American School....

One difference is that we have to change out of our "outside" shoes, and change into our "inside" slippers every morning before going to class.

No yellow school buses here.....most of the students use bicycles to come to school! Some use the public bus, like me:)

And now for the moment you have all been waiting for....yes I have to wear uniform to school

I actually don't care too much for uniform. I guess it makes things easy in the morning because I don't have to look for anything to wear, but at school, makeup, jewelry, and accessories are prohibited. I think thats what bothers me the most. I am a girly girl, I love my makeup, earrings, and purses!

I also don't like the way it makes me stand out. EVERYBODY knows I am a high school student. Not that there is anything wrong with being a student, I just don't like being able to be quickly identified as one lol. It feels invasive to me that someone could glance at me for 2 seconds and know things about me lol By this uniform, the can tell what school I go to, my age, and basically where Im going. Anyone who sees me at 8 in the morning, on the bus, knows I'm going to East High School....I still cant figure out why that bothers me (lol) but it does.....

Oh well.....

But one thing the same, here and in America is that we have awesome nice teachers! This is my homeroom teacher! His English is so wonderful, and helps me out a great deal.

So, My school trip.....

I went to Hiroshima ,Kobe, and Osaka (and some little towns in between).

This is the Atomic Bomb Dome, in Hiroshima. One of the only buildings that was left after the atomic bomb was dropped. Its also a World Heritage sight.

This is the "Peace Park" which surrounds the peace museum which informs its visitors of the tragedy that was the atomic bomb. It also informs of past atomic bomb testing; And I learned that every time a country conducts tests for the atomic bomb, the government of Hiroshima writes letters of protests to the leaders of that country.....

Next we took a ferry ride over to MIYAJIMA island.

I was thrilled by the sights I saw when I got there......

First of all, were the friendly little deer that roam around the island. They are wild, however, they seem domesticated!

The will follow you around, try to eat your bags, and even let you pet them!

They are actually one of the things this island is famous for.....

But not the most exciting....

This is the TORI or gate of the Itsukushima Shrine.

Its beautiful isn't it?

We arrived during high tide, but during low tide you can actually walk out to this "gate"

This is the Shrine itself.

I feel so privileged that I could see this!!!!

This is a sceens if the boat rides in a small town called KURASHIKI. The city is famous for the O'hara Museum of art.
This is the Himeji Castle, It is the oldest- and considered most beautiful and well perserved in Japan.
Here I am posing with some of my classmates.

And Last Id like to leave you with a message from my friends!!!

I hope you enjoyed the update, I only have 2 more months in Japan- So I will see alot of you soon!

With love

Paris in Japan

Monday, October 6, 2008

October Love

The title of this blog is called "October Love" for many reasons. One is because Im falling in love with my life style here in Japan, my new friends that Im making, and the country itself. JAPAN is AWESOME.

This is me and Zaki. I met Zaki about a month and a half ago Starbucks, and we have almost every weekend together since then!!!
Now wait wait wait, I know what you are thinking.....

Hes not my boyfriend you guys!!!

But I love him so much. We were made to be friends. And it came at a good time in my life. Being in a foreign country without your family, can get frustrating sometimes. But when you have a host family like the one I have, and great friends....It makes everyday a wonderful, beautiful, exciting day. I Love you Zaki!!

This is my dearest Yuji! Hes so great and funny and sweet! Its always nice grabbing a Caramel Frapp together at Starbucks! And then talking about the people who pass us! Who's outfit is cute, who looks crazy....ect.

Ya know the norm.....

:)Beijos Yuji!

This would be my Zaki, and my friend Akiko!

One day I was walking through the Station on the way home from school, and Akiko recognized me as the friend of her friend and wanted to talk! She is a wonderful singer and actually went to a music school in Tokyo.

For those of you who know me, you know that I LOVE music. Its nice to have other musical people around me!

I'm so happy to be her friend!

Akiko invited me to an "International Language exchange party" It was in a university in Nagoya.

The purpose is for foreigners who want to learn or practice Japanese, to speak with native speakers, and for native Japanese speakers who want to practice their English to come together and learn through conversation!

We all sat in small groups, and the native Japanese speakers rotated tables.
The first hour and a half we could only speak in English, the second hour and a half it was JAPANESE ONLY!!!! It was so fun. These are some of the friends I made.
Zaki and I went together:)
Of course!

I had a blast, practiced speaking Japanese, and made friends in the process!

This is Yuji and Xandy ( A friend of a friend and now my friend too!!)

We went to Karaoke together.....
I cant explain myself, so Ill let the video I took do it for me.....enjoy

I keep getting lucky. Everyone I meet is GREAT. XANDY DARLING BEIJOS!

Xandy Singing for me......

My Zaki and Yuji singing! Aren't they cute?
But wait wait wait.....there are more reasons why this blog entry is called "October Love"

MATSURI!!! (Festival)

The Fall Festival! Here is a clip of the main attraction! Men carrying around this heavy.....thing on their shoulders, shouting to the top of their lungs. My goodness, how awesome is that? I don't know exactly why they do it (lol) but its certainly fun to watch. Have a look! All of this was held at the Buddhist Temple!

Ok so you can totally see why My heart is full of Love this October. Because life is great, and exciting, and fun, and I am in Japan! OMG. IM IN JAPAN!!









-Paris in (love with) Japan

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


My Apologies....I take so many pictures, and my memory cards get full, and each night before I go to bed, I tell myself I am going to write a blog post. I end up falling asleep with my laptop nearby.
Between School, And Bukatasu (School Club activities) I'm drained by the end of the day!

But Id like to share with you some interesting things that have happened in the past weeks!!!

So, this picture is of a Christian church I visited....

I really enjoy visiting the Buddhist Temples here in Japan, But Ill admit I missed my church back home in America, So when one of my Brazilian friends invited me to her church, I decided to go! Its a smaller church, and most of the members are young, but I felt really welcomed.

It wasnt too different from my church back home. The church that I attend in America is conducted in Spanish, and the church I visited here was conducted in Portuguese (the languages are similar) So I could follow!

The Christian community is very close here in Toyohashi. In comparison with America, a country founded on religious ideas, It is at the forefront of American Culture, and many people identify with a religion.

Here in Japan, from my experience, its less common. Of course many people are Buddhist, but many of my friends don't identify with any religion at all!

I remember seeing an interview on TV about 2 weeks ago about brides in Japan, many of them want a Christian wedding....they want to wear the white dress! But when asked if they wanted to convert to Christianity, one bride replied...."Of course not, I just like the wedding tradition.....

So Christians are the minority here....but its interesting that I happen to meet so many of them!

So I know this picture looks a little goofy, but these guys are actually Christian Missionaries living here in Japan. These guys were great! They volunteer in children's hospitals, and homes for the elderly to entertain, and spread the word of God!

This day they were making balloon animals for donations for their church.

They were so friendly, and you know its always nice to meet someone who speaks your language!

In Japan....its a must, no questions asked, no buts about it....YOU MUST PUT UP THE PEACE SIGN WHEN YOU TAKE A PICTURE hahaha.

Most people don't even think about it before they do it. Its like a default pose for every young Japanese person!

its natural for them! its become natural for me as well.....When in Rome....

When in Japan.......

..........I went to Nagoya.....for about the 10th time (lol) but it was great because I had another day with the Hattoris, which is always a pleasure

We visited the Nagoya police agency and I learned more about Japans gun control laws, and some of the challenges they are currently facing....

The police station has a museum type area about traffic safety, police uniforms, and types of vehicles that are used in law enforcement.
You can try on some of the hats the Japanese police officers use!
Quite stylish if you ask me!

Don't I look cool????

Mrs. Hattori even tired an interactive bicycle game!

Lastly on that day I visited Yoshis High School! Oh it was wonderful.....these were my student guides for my tour around the school.
I think the people in Nagoya are more accustomed to seeing foreigners around, because Nagoya is such a large city, so it was a relief and a change of pace, to be in a school, where students actually treated me....regular. LOL They say hello, and go on about their business....they don't care how old I am, where I came from, or if I speak Japanese....
Sometimes at my school here in Toyohashi I feel like my class room is a zoo....people stop by and peak in the window, giggle when they see me, and on average one person can wave at me about.....I'd say.....8 times a day.
Its quite sweet but It makes me feel like an alien sometimes!
The adventures just keep on comin'
I meet new people almost everyday
And I am having the time of my life.
I still have about 4 months to go, but in all honesty, its not long enough.
I miss my friends in America, and my family, and my school....
But it is going to be just as hard leaving Japan, as it was leaving America.
My host family has taken such good care of me,
and my friends here have become part of my extended Japan family as well :)
When I was sad, they were they for me, when I was bored, they showed me around town, when my brain hurt from trying to speak Japanese they spoke to me in English. Ill remember these things forever.
Don't ever let anyone tell you different, its true, Ive heard it, and I know you've heard it too...."Time flies when you are having fun"
Well trust me it goes even faster when you are learning a new language and creating life long bonds........

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Meeting the Hattoris

As most of you know, I am the recipient of the Yoshi Hattori Memorial Scholarship. In this picture, to the left is Mrs. Hattori, to the right is Mr. Hattori, myself in the center, and my host mother and sister in the back.

For thoes of you who do not know the tragic story of Yoshi, I would like to share with you. In 1992 Yoshi was an exchange student residing in Baton Rouge Louisiana. On October 17, 1992 Yoshi and his host brother were invited to a Halloween party, and unfortunately mistook the address and arrived at the wrong residence. The home owner believed that Yoshi was tresspassing with criminal intent.

Here is a briefe discription of the events of that night, compliments of Wikipedia

"Hattori and Haymaker rang the front doorbell but began to walk back to the street where Haymaker had parked receiving no response to the ring. Inside the house, however, Bonnie Peairs had peered out the side door and saw two boys whom she did not recognize. Mrs. Peairs, startled, retreated inside, locking the door, and turned to tell her husband, "Rodney, get your gun". Hattori and Haymaker were still pondering the situation as they neared their car when the carport door was opened again, this time by Mr. Peairs, armed with a stainless steel revolver, yelling "Freeze." Simultaneously, Hattori stepped towards him saying "We're here for the party," unaware of the imminent danger. Haymaker, seeing the weapon, shouted after Hattori, but in vain as Peairs had already fired his weapon and run back inside, locking the door again. (Kernodle 2002; Fujio 2004; Harper n.d.) Hattori was shot in the chest at close range and was still alive as Haymaker rushed to him. Haymaker ran to the home next door to the Peairs' house for help and to call for an ambulance. Neither Mr. Peairs nor his wife came out of their house until the police arrived, about 40 minutes after the shooting. Mrs. Peairs shouted to a neighbor to "go away" when the neighbor called for help. One of Peairs' children later told police that her mother asked, "Why did you shoot him?".
The shot had pierced the upper and lower lobes of Hattori's
left lung, and exited through the area of the seventh rib; he died in the ambulance minutes later, from loss of blood."

I knew all of this before I applied for the scholarship, and I thought it was a tragic story. But at that point thats all it was to me. A picture, and a story. But all that changed for me, when I visited his house, and met his parents. Yoshi became so real to me. And he will remain with me, in my heart, and Ill tell his story to anyone who will listen to me....

I was so nervous to meet his parents. They set up the scholarship that allows me to be here today. They are absolutely wonderful, easy going, and so easy to talk to.

I also met Yoshi's brother, and sister.

In this picture Yoshi's brother, myself, Mrs. Hattori and Mr. Hattori.

I spent the night in their home, the first evening, I had my break down. I was shown a documentary about their son, which was extremely graphic. I saw pictures of the crime scene, the blood, and even the gunshot wound. I may have been fine in any other location, but sitting in his home, with his parents was surreal. The tears starting flowing and my head starting spinning as I looked around the walls at all of Yoshi's pictures.

Me and a picture of Yoshi in the background.
And for a moment I was angered with some of the statements from the documentary. Americans, people from my country made ignorant statements about the incident. One women even said " Well Im glad he got off cause if that boy wasnt a Japanese yall wouldnt even be here" referring to the fact that the shooter was found innocent in court.
You see, this is the whole point of exchange. To be able to see the world from another point of view, and think objectively about your own country. I love America with all my heart, and I am proud to be American, but we have some things to work on as a country.
When you ask most Japanese people if they like America they quickly answer "Yes"
I asked the Hattoris the same question and they answered honestly. Mrs. Hattori said " Each country has it's good and bad points" and then went on the explain that she has seen alot of the bad points about America.
But what is amazing about these people is that they do not hate America, and they are people who live and breathe the message they are trying to promote....Peace.
I even noticed a quote about peace, by Martin Luther King Jr. next to the computer.
I was just a little over 1 years old when Yoshi died.
And I didnt know Yoshi
I never met him
But he is truly in my heart.
His story has encouraged many people to be advocates for gun control.
And advocates for peace!

Before I left, i took a moment in front of this shrine inside the Hattori home. Many Japanese homes have them to honor their loved ones who have passed on. And Mrs. Hattori nelt with me, and told me that inside were Yoshi's ashes. So there I made a decicion that I would share with as many people as possible, this young mans story.

Mrs. Hattori was quoted in the documentary, after the trail " We will continue to love America as my son did"

I know it must have been difficult to keep that frame of mind when their precious son had just been taken away from them. But its because of the love and respect that they have shown me, that I can pass it along to you. All my readers I hope you can take something away from this story, or research a little more about Yoshi.

Peace doesn't just have to be an idea.....

Monday, August 25, 2008

Changing the World, One friend at a time...

This is me, and new Buddy Tomo Kun! This past Friday, Saturday and Sunday I attended another camp! But this time it was a little different. My entire family went! This was a camp for the disabled and their families. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I met so many wonderful people! This picture was taken just before our talent show, thats why my friend was in costume!!

In this picture, next to me is my host brother Itsuki! And his friend, and his friends mother!

Each one of the campers had a volunteer to assist them with bathing, and getting around the hotel! Most of them were 2nd and 3rd year Nursing students. They were all so fun!

My host dad is so cool isn't he?

We had a camp fire the first night. This lady was amazing....

This is me trying my best to look like a star (hahaha) I sang in the "talent show"
My host mother was like my coach. The week before I almost lost my voice from practicing!

These people would do anything to make these kids laugh, its actually really sweet....and by the way do not feel bad....I have no idea what he is saying either :)

This was a beautiful performance by some of the volunteers. At the time I was not aware of the presence of any hearing impaired campers, but there must have been because the performance was done in sign language. It was wonderful.

I have so much respect for my host parents, and the parents of the other campers. It is challenging to raise a child, but even more so to raise a child with a disablility. I see the time and patience that goes into taking care of my host brother, and some of the other campers diablilites were more severe than that of my host brother Itsuki. The parents share many things in common, and understand each others daily challenges, however, one undeniable truth is that they all look at their children with the same adoration and love in their eyes. In a scociety and culture that easily misunderstand these children, they use this camp as an excape. An excape from the stares they recieve when out in public, the questions, the stress, and just have fun!

I wasn't expecting to make so many great friends. I can say that before now, I have unfortunately never taken the oppritunity to learn more about children with disablilites, or spend time around them. But they are just kids...they laugh, and smile, and want to play...

There really is no limit to all the lessons I can learn here in Japan. My heart and mind remain open....

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hola, Oi, Hello, Konnichiwa, Bonjour, Aloha...

Learning a new language can never be a bad thing. But it comes with it's challenges. I think Japanese sounds exotic; but for those of you who are studying any of the romance languages, or any language written with letters instead of symbols you should consider yourself lucky, because you have a head start!

Japanese has three different writing styles. Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Sometimes you will encounter the romanization of these as well. Hiragana and Katakana are symbols...but they are phonetic.

This is Hiragana

This is Katakana

Katakana is mostly used to write non-Japanese names. Because expressing a foreign name with Kanji (The most common form of writing Japanese names) can be difficult.

- This is my name in Katakana.

Also, In the rental shop, the name of foreign movies are written in Katakana. The point is to make it sound phonetically like English, while still using Japanese symbols! A little confusing right?

This is an example of Kanji (Symbols borrowed from Chinese language)
This Kanji is "Ai"
And means Love.
I am currently able to read and write Hiragana and Katakana, and maybe 50 or so Kanji. But there are thousands, and thousands of Kanji to go!
As you can see Ive got my work cut out for me.
So good luck, and happy studies!

Friday, August 8, 2008


I love summer. I love what summer represents, and the mood that it brings to everything and everyone. Ive honestly been trying to think of how to explain the joy in my heart, for this is the best summer of my life. Ive just returned from a camp full of exchange students, and some Japanese high school students. And in the moments we spent hiking, cooking, swimming, and even bathing together....It confirmed my beliefe that youth are the key to world peace, and programs like the one I am in now is a vital tool to achieve that peace.
Ill be honest and say, at first I didnt want to come to camp, and my fears were realized when they showed us this building we were to sleep in......

There is no bathroom inside, no beds, and no AC (lol) just floor to sleep on and some shelves to store your shoes...In the end it wasnt so bad.....

I met the cutest Korean boy. I was trying to have a picture to remember him by hahaha well some Japanese girl jumped in the picture hahaha

Funny thing is he loves black people and rap music. He watches American TV shows, and remembers the curse words from them hahaha

Its funny to hear someone who doesnt speak english to well curse like a pro. He loves 50 cent and Tupac. He kept me laughing, hes full of surprises.

This girl is awsome. Ami. She helped me out the whole time if I didnt understand something, not to mention we had some awsome girl talk during our hike. Shes so funny and she loves anything American lol

She says shes American in her heart, I believe her. Shes such a wonderful person and I know we are going to be friends for many years!

Every night we made dinner. Like real camp style. We made the fire and everything. Obviously Im not in this picture lol so I was standing to the side looking beautiful haha. It was about 10 people in my group, some people cut up the veggies, some people made the fire, and some people cooked! I cut up veggies, yay!!!

Me and my sister from Paraguay!

Vane is so awsome, and when we saw each other for the first time in 4 months we were jumping up and down and screaming "HERMANA, HERMANA" which means sister in Spanish lol

Shes such a sweet person, I cant wait to go see her in Paraguay one day!

Each one of these people is from a different country! Isnt it great! Dont they look so happy? I love this enviroment. It took me until the last day of camp to realize that I was the only black person there. I didnt notice at all. Its wonderful to be in a place and feel completely accepted and loved. These young people are the future, and will do some good for our world. I just know it, I feel it.

On our last night, we had a camp fire. We danced around it four hours. at the end of this clip you can hear me and someone talking some nonsense lol Its kinda funny. It was alot of fun. Im going to remember this forever.

I am so lucky, and this expereince confirmed for me why I am in Japan. It reminded me that Its not just about my Japanese expereince, but meeting other youth from around the world who have the same hope, ideas, and love for the planet . Its about creating lasting bonds that surpass nationality, religion, or race. Its about learning, sharing, bonding, living, and laughing together. But right now, and then we are sheltered, in our perfect diverse world,secluded and separated by mountains and rivers from the people who dont share our own views. So we have to learn to be each others support, and spread the love and respect that we share for one another to everyone we meet. I think its going to be a domino effect. And it started in the deep woods, on a mountain in Japan.

I wish some of our world leaders could have been there. To see Japanese, Americans, Germans, Brazilians, Australians, Coasta Ricans, Chileans and more, jumping around a camp fire together, staying up talking until 5 oclock in the morning. And coming away with so much love and respect in your heart. Thats how I want the future to be like. I sincerely hope that when I come away from this, I can apply what Ive learned to my life, and help others to have the same expereince. To help others feel the Love. To help others understand why its so important to have peace. Its so vitally important, I feel as though Im chosen, by a higher power, to do this. It was always my destiny to travel. I am a person with so much love to give. So much that I never really knew what to do with it. Being an exchange student has shown me part of the answer. Its to share that Love with everyone I meet, so they will share it with everyone they meet.

So it you are reading this blog, I invite you to start the domino effect that I mentioned. I invited you to open your heart to others and truly try to understand them, their ideas, and their culture. I invite you help us; To help all these wonderful people that Ive had the pleasure to meet and be friends with, to find that peace. It can be something as simple as making a friend from another country, or trying your best to let go of your stereotypes, or learning another language. All of these things are fun, and will benefit us all in the end.

With so much trouble, war, and death in our world, we can often forget that wonderful things are happening, wonderful life changing things. Strong cross cultural bonds. Be a part of the movement. Share the Love. Just Share the Love.