Haruka and I literally spend the entire evening making origami. It was difficult, not to mention a little frustrating, but we finished many beautiful pieces.
I love how this family is so laid back and doesn't have a strict schedule. They do what they want when they want. Also we spend a lot of time together, like every meal (well except lunch of coarse). Even at breakfast we must force ourselves to sit down (since it's rude in Japan to walk and eat) and enjoy the meal even when we're late.
They also only take as much as they can eat and have only what they need. For example everyone has a set of a fork, spoon and knife - they need no extra so why have it? We clean the dishes every night so why would we need more?
Everyday in school gets more and more hilarious. Most everyone still stares at me like I'm from outer space but I don't really mind anymore. Some brave souls have approached me to practice their English and I give them major props for it.
My Japanese is getting better little by little. Every school day I try to learn five new letters in the Japanese Hiragana alphabet. Let me tell you it's not easy but hopefully it'll be worth it. I also am practicing short phrases such as "what's your name?" and "pleased to meet you". They're actually not short at all. For example pleased to meet you is "yoroshiku onegaishimasu". Yeah try saying that ten times fast. :)
Yesterday Kasumi, Haruka and I spent the entire day shopping and sightseeing in Yokohama's China Town. I tried "pow" for the first time (which is absolutely delicious!) and entered a Chinese temple with incense burning and everything! I couldn't believe how elaborate and beautiful it all looked - practically everything was carved and outlined in gold.
At the end of the night we ate a traditional Chinese family dinner with Kasumi's parents and Uncle Mackey and Aunt Mickey. It reminded me of my family's get-togethers for holidays. Even though I didn't know what they were saying most of the time, their eyes and expressions said it all. It was so interesting to watch and be involved in a family of a totally different culture.
I ate some weird stuff that night including shark fin soup and jellyfish. Being there helped me realize that no matter where you are or who you're family with, your time with them is what you make of it. I could tell they enjoyed one anothers company and I loved how after the meal we didn't all stand up and walk our separate ways immediately. We sat and talked and took pictures and waited on each other to get back from the bathroom, and when we DID finally get out of the restaurant we all walked over to a shop and the explained to me what everything in it was. Grandpa Ackey was my favorite - he hilarious the entire night! He kept involving me in the conversation and asking me questions and he was the typical cute Japanese grandpa.
One thing I hope to take back with me is the sense of relaxation. Sometimes it's ok to be lazy and work on origami for five hours. It's ok to sit on the subway and just watch people - not play with you cell phone or eat or do homework just WATCH. It's ok to slow down a little and enjoy life before it changes on you - because it always does.
Some deep stuff I know - but the more time I have to think the more I surprise myself. When they say this trip changes you they weren't kidding.