Thursday, March 13, 2014

My First Trip to Japan for JENESYS 2.0 Finale: The End of One of the Best 10 Days of My life

The last entry to my JENESYS 2.0 series. Can you believe how much of a slacker I am? It took me over three FIVE months (and another trip to Japan. lol!) to finish blogging about this 10-day trip. There's just so many things to share... and so many photos to post. lol!
Fuji Terebi!
Not New York. lol!
It was super windy that day. Can you tell? Haha!
Tokyo 2020 posters
I sincerely wish I could be in Tokyo for the Olympics, but I know I'd have to pour out a lifetime's worth of savings to make that happen. Haha. Who knows? I might get lucky again. #fingerscrossed
Look at those free fashion magazines I hoarded. Haha!
View from the restaurant where we had our lunch
And here are some photos from our final presentation, courtesy of the awesome TK-kun from Thailand:
Belle looked so pretty!
Stella of stellalee.net
She's a famous beauty blogger from Indonesia. Check out her super cute blog!~
So awkward
Here's a Youtube link of our final presentation 
(because for some reason I can't embed the video here).
It isn't the complete 7-min presentation since I ran out of memory space. lol. But the part where I butchered ayaka's song was complete. Haha!~

And here's another video TK-kun made as a background during our song performance:
My hair looks extra pretty in this photo. Haha! #shamelessselfpraise
Bye-bye!~

So, that was it. My first trip in the land of dreams (MY dreams, at least, and a lot of other people I know. Haha!). If I had finished this entry a few months ago, I would've probably said, "I wish I could go back to Japan again... blahblahblah..." But, well, I already did. Haha. Girl is super lucky.

I'll forever be thankful for all theses opportunities, and hopefully, there's more to come. *winkwink*

I met a lot of great people during this trip - people I surely would never forget EVER. Apart from  finally making my childhood wish come true, I'm also grateful for the fact that I have made new friends from all over the world. That's definitely one of the best parts.

To everyone from JENESYS 2.0 JPOP Culture Fukuoka H Entertainment Group (so long!), I'm soooo happy to have met you guys. Really. Let's meet again somewhere, okay? お疲れ様でした。

'til next time!~

Monday, March 10, 2014

My JENESYS 2.0 report got published in Japan Bulletin!

Mine's the green part. Haha!

A few days after I came back from Tokyo post-JENESYS2.0, I received a call from the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines inquiring about my thoughts and experiences during the program. I was extremely busy at work in the office when they called, so I couldn't give them proper answers at all (lol). I even freaked out a bit when they mentioned something about my experience as a former participant of their annual JPOP-Anime Singing Contest. Hahaha! I asked if I could just send them a detailed email instead, so that's exactly what I did.

After a few minutes, I received a reply telling me that they will publish a portion of my report in the Winter 2013 Edition of Japan Bulletin, the embassy's online magazine. #happy #veryhappy #veryveryhappy

Thank you very much to everyone in Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC) for the opportunity.

You can view the entire Winter 2013 Edition here.

Friday, January 31, 2014

JENESYS 2.0: My First Home Visit Experience in Japan

Although the Entertainment group was only given a Home Visit instead of a one-night Home Stay like the Fashion and Animation categories, I was still very excited not only because I'll get a really good chance to practice my Japanese (always a concern lol) but most importantly, we'll get the opportunity to interact with a typical Japanese family... and eat home-cooked meals! Haha! That's definitely the best part.

There were three of us assigned to the Kobayashi family. One was Michelle from Australia who's originally from my group, and Group I's Philine from Singapore. Seguchi-san, one of our coordinators, reminded me to use Japanese as often as I can, since the family may not be very comfortable with English. Fortunately, Philine was really good at Japanese (waaaaaay better than me), so you can just imagine how much fun we had!

The night before, the coordinators handed us a list of the things we should know about our host families. The Kobayashi family is composed of Miwa-san, the youngest daughter, Hiromi-san - the elder daughter with two kids, Mami-chan and Shuuta-kun (a yakyuu shounen/baseball fan! yey!), and Keiko-san, their mother/Mami and Shuuta's grandma. We also met Keiko-san's mother and their house dog.

It was Keiko-san and Miwa-san who met us in Sunrise Haki. It's really weird, but when all the representatives from the host families were seated in front of us, I knew right away who'll be picking us up. Hihi. Psychic skills, perhaps?  

I look extra haggard in these photos but whatev! Haha! 
Keiko-san brought us to her grape farm
Dinner time!
Yum!

We didn't run out of things to talk about during dinner. We talked about our families, what we do during our free time, our talents (lol), and just about anything under the sun... err, moon. 

Hiromi-san and Miwa-san were so surprised that I’m quite the smarty pants when it comes to Japan's pop scene (fangirl spirit! lol!). Mami-chan talked about her favorite Johnny’s group, Kis-My-Ft2, and she asked if I like them, too. I said they’re too young for me. lol. But then I suddenly remembered that Fujigaya and I are both '87ers. Haha. It’s their image thing. J

I felt the family got all weirded out (but in a nice way) at how “kuwashii” I was. Miwa-san and Hiromi-san mentioned Hikaru Genji in the midst of my totally enriching Kisumai discussion with Mami-chan (lol), and when I told them I knew the group, too, Hiromi-san was so surprised she even had to confirm my age. Hahaha!

I also told Hiromi-san she looked a lot like Yamaguchi Tomoko, and she said when she used to have the same hairstyle as hers, people often told her the same. Even with a different hairstyle, she really did remind me of the Long Vacation actress. So pretty!

I made a few verbal boo boos but I think they weren’t that bad. Haha. The most embarrassing would have to be the part when Miwa-san asked us if we’re okay with interracial marriage. And the hopeless romantic, shoujo manga-loving part of me said it doesn’t really matter, because that’s just how love is. It didn’t sound as cheesy in Japanese, I promise. Hahaha! But I totally forgot that there were 11-year-olds in the room, and Mami-chan was like, “Why am I hearing all this?” lol!

But my biggest blunder of the night would have to be blurting out that I'm a Giants fan. Haha! I should have known better and stuck to my mental note that I'm in Fukuoka, and Fukuoka is all about the Hawks. Haha. Good thing the Kobayashis just laughed it off, even though Hiromi-san called me out for being their rival. Haha! Hiromi-san said she hopes Shuuta-kun becomes a pro baseball player in the future and of course, play for the Fukuoka Sotfbank Hawks. Hihi. If he does become a pro one day, that's another thing I can brag about... meeting a pro yakyuu senshu before stardom. Haha!
Mami-chan and Keiko-san drove us back to the hotel. We were only given three hours to spend with our respective host families, and though it was a really short visit, it was truly a memorable experience. 

You can read more about my JENESYS2.0 experience here

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I'm going back to Tokyo!!!

Yeah, what the title says! lol.
I'll be staying in Tokyo (again!) for 2 weeks (Feb 13-27) to participate in Meiji University's Short-Term Language Program for Winter. Haha! I received the acceptance notice way back in November, but I had to wait until just this week to find out if I got the scholarship. Fortunately, I did! Yay!
Meiji Daigaku!~

JAPAN, Y U ALWAYS PAY FOR MY TRIPS? (Not that I'm complaining)

What's even better is that I'll get to experience Valentine's Day in Japan. Yihee!~ Super excited to see girls handing out chocolates to guys. Haha! I'll finally get to watch that famous tradition LIVE. lolol.

So, uhm, yeah. I'm running out of things to say, and I'm sure I'm not making that much sense right now. Haha. Can you sense how excited I am? :D

And I'm super thankful to my boss who allowed me to take a leave from work. Haha. She's awesome. :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My First Trip to Japan for JENESYS 2.0 Part 7: Days 3 and 4 in FUKUOKA + My First Visit to AKIHABARA!

There were there things that made me extra cheery on our third day in Fukuoka:
  • I was tasked to deliver a short (very short) thank you speech in Japanese
  • We finally met our Japanese host family for the home visit (again, very short)
First on our agenda was a tour of Aru Aru City in Kokura, which was pretty much the Akihabara of the south. It was an otaku-themed mall filled with, well, everything otaku – from anime and game character figure toys and trading cards to a huge collection of manga and other goodies. One of the most popular attractions inside the mall was the Kita-Kyushu Manga Museum.

The museum was home to a thousand manga creations from some of the most popular mangakas ever, with a special focus on Fukuoka-based and born authors. I was more into anime than manga when I was younger, so I wasn’t really very familiar with some of the manga titles the museum has, unless they have an animated or TV drama counterpart (I saw Bambino!). FYI: My all-time favorite anime series are Slam Dunk and Fushigi Yuugi, which pretty much explains why I’m a Midorikawa Hikaru fan. Haha.
Aru Aru City
No makeup! Haha. Too tired.
Taking photos inside the museum was prohibited (for obvious reasons), but there were some areas where they allow a few snapshots. I just concentrated on listening to the lectures and looking around the seemingly endless walls of framed manga artistry. Seriously, it was like we were inside a labyrinth filled with framed colored manga pages on the walls. It was pretty cool.
Then it was time for my really awkward speech.

Okay. I was assigned to write and deliver a short 礼の言葉 for the staff of Kitakyushu Manga Museum because I’m an excellent public speaker (lolwhat?) only because I was one of the three students who knows Nihongo (the other being Blake and Takkun).  I wrote the speech on a piece of paper from the hotel’s memo pad (lol) and asked Moriyama-san, one of our coordinators, to check it for me before we left for Aru Aru City.

My original plan was to deliver the speech in Japanese and then translate it in English after each sentence for my fellow delegates, but I got too nervous so I ended up using Japanese until the very end. Hihi. Fail. But I guess it was okay. At least the staff understood my message. J
Tadah! My first Japanese speech in all its Hiragana glory. Haha!
View outside the mall
The only character I can still recognize. Haha. I'm really getting old.

That afternoon, we rode all the way to Sunrise Haki by chartered bus to meet our Japanese host family. J

I don't remember the exact name of the place anymore (sorry) but this was already outside Fukuoka, I think. Here are some photos on our way to Sunrise Haki. See Japan beyond it's city image!
Ams and I on our way to Sunrise Haki

Since the home visit was such a special experience, I'll talk about it on a separate blog post. J

Fast forward to my most memorable experience during the entire trip. And yes, by "most" I mean the real essence of the word. While everything we did during our 10-day stay was memorable, this was by far THE most memorable.

I had my first Onsen experience! Hahaha! 
On my way to the Onsen. *dokidoki*

For anyone who isn't familiar, going to an Onsen or a Japanese public bath/hot springs means you have to go naked in front of everyone. Haha. Of course there's a separate bath for men and women. But still, it's a pretty big deal especially for foreigners (like me) who's pretty new to the idea. At first, it was really awkward especially since we were only given a teeny tiny towel to cover ourselves. Our coordinators, Seguchi-san and Moriyama-san, told us to just be comfortable.

I kept remembering that Utaban episode when Arakawa-senshu, a former member of Nadeshiko Japan (women's national football team), said that Onsen baths are simply a meeting place for naked people. Haha.

I don't know about the others, but after a few minutes I was like, "What the heck!," stopped giving a damn, and just enjoyed the warm bath. Haha. Onsen water is thought to have healing capabilities, so with all the nakedness aside, the experience was pretty heavenly.
Of course, no photos! Haha!

Fast forward to the following day, which was intended for a group meeting. We'll have our final presentation the next day and we're required to prepare a short performance. We thought we'd spice it up a bit, so we decided to do a song-dance-speech mishmash. We’re scheduled to fly back to Tokyo in the afternoon, so we had to finish everything in one meeting! Good thing, Group H has awesome people. Haha! J
Here are some photos during our meeting, shot by Touch:


Lunch time!
You can read more about my food experience here.

At the airport on our way back to Tokyo
The airport was filled with photos of the handsomes, so these photo opps are a must!
Hahaha! Please forgive this dorkiness. I can't even. 
Bye Fukuoka!
.
.
.
.
.
...and hello again, Tokyo!
Again, more of my food experience here.

And finally, a trip to Japan is never complete without a visit to Akihabara - the otaku mecca! 

After dinner, I went with Blake and Michelle to visit the "Land of Dreams" (for many foreign Japan enthusiasts). It's our final night in Tokyo and we'll be heading back to Chiba after our presentation the following day, so of course, we can't miss an opportunity to see the place that represents a significant part of Japan's pop culture.

While walking around the colorful streets of Akihabara, I kept remembering my anime and manga days as a grade school kid, and like many others, I did dream of seeing the "mothership" one day. Now that I've outgrown that phase (at least I think I did), I came to realize that Akihabara is really more for the male aficionados. *winkwink*

Unfortunately, since it was already evening, Akihabara wasn't as lively as I thought it should be. It was still a fun experience, though. 
There were signs inside the station telling girls to beware of skirt peepers. Alam na! Haha!
We spent most of our time inside Don Quijote (Donki for short) - a really huge shopping center selling, well, almost everything. Everything!

I'm sorry for the lack of photos. I was too busy sight-seeing. Hehe.
Our messy hotel room

Don't judge us. We're already getting desperate trying to fit all our stuff inside our luggage bags. Hehe.

Final night in Tokyo, Final night in Art Hotels Omori. 
 

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