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.....