Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Train training...

I think... if you live in big city bright lights type Japan, your train "know how" is superly high. You're probably a pro taking the train by the first grade. However, for rural Japan peeps like us, you need a car to get anywhere. We live in a *real* rural town of 5,000 people. And our town does not have a public bus like you imagine folks in big cities. Big city folks have for example a bus #28 and a bus #32 because well... they're big city folks with populations that need that many buses. But for us in this tiny town of 5000 people. Our town has 1 bus. But it's honestly, a minivan! I am kidding you not. It's a flat out minivan and probably seats 8 at most. So when folks mention that they took the #20 bus to get somewhere, I know for a fact they live in a big population place. Because folks who live in true rural towns of like legit 5000 people... we have a minivan as our town bus! LOL! So having said all that. My kids... I think have ridden the train once in their lives. So...considering Bran will now be taking the train to and from school 5 days a week. We knew that a practice run would be in order... for our country kid! So, on Sunday April 9th. Noboru and Branden caught the train to B's new school. Sunday was supposed to be a gray rainy day and as you can tell by this pic, it sure was. Noah and I dropped them off at the train station. And they went from rice fields and rural Japan views, to a big bustling city view! Noboru said...he taught Bran how to use his new Suica card/train pass and also how to get there. Bran only has to take 1 train, no transfers at all... so he's lucky! Noboru later told me...Branden was so surprised to see all the things that the big city has to offer. He saw all the food stalls at the bottom of department stores. He saw so many things that Noboru laughed and said..."it's like Branden is an Amish person going to the big city for the first time in his life!" Hearing that cracked me up! 

His school is a short walk from the train station... they reached the school and then turned right back around. They had lunch before catching the train back to our rural town. I'm glad Noboru taught Bran how to take the train to and from. And he also showed him around. And we could have got Bran just a plain train pass. But we decided to get him the Suica card so he can use it at convenience stores to make a purchase. Some vending machines take Suica cards too. McD's also takes them too. Lots of places let's you just pay via your Suica card now days. And that is a relief because if Bran needs anything or gets thirsty... he can just get it that way. And we also give him cash too, in case. Anyways, so Noboru and Bran went for lunch at an udon shop in the big city. They both said they really enjoyed their lunch, then they took the train home, where Noah and I went and picked them up at the train station.

Monday April 10th. Was Branden's first day of high school. And first time riding the train alone. He did it! His dad also had him bookmark on his cellphone... the train website to see the time table of the train in case he gets out late or gets out early. He had absolutely no problems taking the train to and from. He said when he got out of the train at the station near the school. He started seeing lots of his high school uniforms. Mostly girls. But he saw his new classmate S (he's a boy too) and they both waved and said...lets' walk to school together!!! So they both did! Today is Wednesday here and Bran has been taking the train for a few days. And so far so good.

How does Branden like his new school? Honestly you guys he *loves* it!!! I will give you a few short stories. But remember these are stories from a 15 year old's perspective!!!

He said..."mom high school is way better than JHS! It's so fun! They have vending machines at school. You can drink a lemon tea or a soda or a Calpis!!!" : ) And he also said.."you can also suck on candy too mom, in class!!!" This just made me smile hearing this! He was so excited about this, you guys! : )

And yesterday he came home with another little nugget... that just made me smile again!!! "He said..."mom, did you know my school has a small store?!!!" He was too excited you guys! I said...REALLY? He said..."yeah it's like a mini version of a Mini Stop." His exact words! I said really, what do they sell? He said, "Yakisoba. Cup Noodles. Bentos. Sweet breads. Pencils mom...they sell pencils *and* erasers!!!" And..."and they sell Calligraphy paper AND ink!!!" Oh heavens...I said. What a cool store. He told me..."it REALY is mom!!!" Oh honey...I believe you. Next time I go visit your school... please show me this wonderful store! Last fun Bran fact about the store...."oh and many kids buy the sweet breads and J bought a Snickers bar!!!" I said... J has good taste, I like Snickers too! "Yeah me too...I didn't buy one though." I told Bran...you should buy one sometime. He said. "OKAY!" Goodness. Bran's school has a store. Much like I am sure most high schools in Japan have stores. In fact my high school in America, also had a school store. But it just made me smile. How happy he was about it. : ) Kids...including teens do have such innocence still. They're so for real. And show excitement in such a pure way. I hope he never loses that!

Monday, the English kids ate in their English class and had lunch there. But yesterday. The principal had invited *all* boys in the school to have lunch in his office. Oh and...sorry I did get the correct number of boys total for the school right this time. 14 boys all grades. So...all 14 boys went inside. And the principal told all 14. "There are so few of you, you better all be super close" Because there's just not that many of you. Remember boys are not allowed in the regular courses. So these are just English (speaking) boys and Genius (course) kids. So they're all good kids. And they all get along. He had the 4 new boys introduce themselves to the older boys first. The principal said just say your name, which JHS you came from and your interests/hobby's. Bran said, his name, the JHS he came from and he said, he loves swimming and has been swimming since age 4. The principal chimed in apparently and said...I love swimming too and I also swam competitively in my elementary school days too. So they talked about swimming for a minute or two. Oh and J is a returnee you guys, which is super exciting and great. He lived in Thailand for 13 years of his life. 10th graders are 15 in April. He moved to Japan only 2 years ago. So he went to a Japanese JHS for only 2 years. So that too is exciting and a fun fact. The older boys also introduced themselves. Branden said. There is 1 boy in the English course who is 100% Filipino and he says "mom he is so funny and nice." He told Bran... if you need any help at school or need to know where something is...please do not hesitate. We will all help you. Again...they are all LINE friends. Bran said there is a 100% Korean boy who moved to Japan from Korea a few years ago and he fluently speaks English and Korean and Japanese. He said...mom the boys are so nice here. So welcoming. And he said mom so many foreigners go here. Branden is just having the best time.

There is also 1 half African American and Japanese girl. And she's a new friend for Bran too already. Just so many hafus. So many 100% foreigners. And the 100% Japanese kids who picked this school are really special and open minded. And...he just loves this school, you guys. He keeps mentioning....high school is so much better than JHS.

Also the clubs at high school. Are not mandatory. You chose if you want to join or not. And they're not 365 days a year like at JHS either. One club is twice a week. English club is only once a week. So...their clubs here at this high school are light and no huge pressure like how JHS was. Branden is still deciding if he wants to join or not. We didn't let Bran join a club at JHS because his dad doesn't agree with the system of how JHS clubs run. But it's a totally different thing at high school...or at least at the high school Branden is going to.