Monday, November 6, 2017

日本の Juarez 

October & Sky Tree
Dressed up for a 
Halloween-y presentation.
An entire month in Japan, already! Ya mero se acaba Octubre! :( If you didn't know it's the most wonderful time of the year. Me encanta el 秋. Im hoping to celebrate Halloween in Shibuya.. He oido que se pone un poco loco. Pues en un mes he aprendido bastante! I learned that the tallest tower in the world is located in Tokyo and the second tallest structure in the world is that same tower. I was baffled when I saw it and I still am! Cuando suba voy ha estar tan emocionada! I already know it. 

Himiko & Hotaluna   
What Is This?
Back To The Future Boat.
This cruise ship looks soo cool! It's so futuristic. It takes you on a 360 cruise. I personally have not be on it yet but I would love to go. There are so many museums and shops here. Nunca tienes un dia aburrido, solo si te pones de ese humor.  I go to go to the Ryūji Fujieda art show! I didn't know this, but he was the illustrator that drew Kabajin, the little hippo mascot for LEX/Hippo. The art was titled What Is This? The title had an effect on the art, strangely. Instead of just looking at I looked into. The picture on the left slightly resembles Hello Kitty with a raincoat and an umbrella. A couple of things in this picture are interesting, she doesn't have matching shoes, there isn't any rain, and it looks like she's running. The great thing about art is that it can be analyzed or just looked at. How it is interpreted depends on you. 

Umbrella/Paragua/傘 (Kasa)/Parapluie
Shibuya Crossing

Before Japan I had never used an umbrella. Y ahora soy una experta. No salgo de la Casa sin una Kasa. Durante un festeval de la ciudad de Kawagoe estaba lloviendo mucho. Y todos estabamos afuera con paraguas. En Ontario el evento hubiera estado cancelado. La foto de abajo es en Shibuya Crossing. Se dice que es la interseccion makes ocupada en el mundo. Con mas de 1,000 personas a una vez crusando. En frente esta la tienda 109, con 9 pisos de tiendas de ropa para muchachas. A Shopping girls dream, but not my cup of tea. On the left of this store is the Adidas store with 3 floors and the bottom one being all Adidas Original. Love it

Matcha Everything, 抹茶
Matcha Ice Cream on a Cone
Matcha or Green Tea is put into many different things. Mochi, which I haven't tried yet, it's a rice ball with ice cream in the middle. I believe, a Japanese desert.
Ice Cream, there are different levels of matcha concentration with ice cream. Level 1 being the lowest and level 6 being the strongest. I went hard and tried level 6 with matcha powder on top. It was different. Once I ate all the powder the ice cream was very good and not so bitter.
Tea, tea is huge here and green tea is like water to me! They love it. They have green tea with just about every meal. 
Pastries, Tarts, Matcha sweets! They have the basics strawberry, chocolate, plain, but they always have a green option for it. I miss coffee everything!  

Disfrutamos Kamakura
Amazing New Friends
Hippo Family Club

I have met about hundreds of people in the past 5 weeks. From ages of 0 to 85, a wide range. Meeting new people is great until you have to leave and you don't get to hang out with them. At Hippo Family Clubs they are usually after work or on the weekends. They last about 2 hours and it is a range of different SADA, metakatsus, and games. All in different languages like Swahili, French, Chinese, Korean, English, Spanish, Japanese, even sign languages.  

Monday, October 2, 2017

点 や 違いを 理解

Understanding Similarities and Differences

Oh how I miss your sweet, sweet aspartame
This week I've noticed many questions regarding how life in American culture is different from life in Japanese culture. Although the differences are everywhere, from the 玄関, where one is expected to remove his or her shoes before entering any home, to the complete ABSENCE of Diet Coke, I am interested in documenting some of the many similarities. This attempt may in fact be quite "American" of me to assume these observations are in fact comparable. But for now these points help a bit with my homesickness. Below is a list of the similarities I'v noticed so far:

Both Japan and the United States...

  • Value the preservation of nature/parks

  • Function as male-dominated societies

  • Are respectful of timeliness and punctuality, monochronic-cultures

  • Enjoy playing and watching baseball and soccer games

  • Take business relationships very seriously

  • Have interest in learning about other cultures

  • Acknowledge the social and economic benefits of multilingualism

  • Are concerned with prosperous and ethical legacies

  • Love French-style patisseries

  • Seem to have constant construction happening
  • Observe apologetic language usage by more women than men

  • Have Starbucks and 7-11

  • Value certain cultural traditions

  • Are concerned with avoiding offensiveness

  • Celebrate Halloween

  • Restrict smoking in public spaces 

Monday, September 25, 2017

LEX American Intern: Brittany

Introduction and First Impressions: 

On LEX Hippo, and living in 日本 for a week

Greetings and Salutations, my full name is Brittany Esther Gautier, but you can call me び [/bi/: BEE], or Brit, or びじ[BEE-GEE], or my official title Japanese resident registration ぶりとに[literally, "bu-RI-to-ni], or Britney Spears, or Brit-Brit, or ぶりぶり, or Estee. Or like a few of my previous Spanish speaking co-workers you can just call me Shakira. I am a year-long intern for LEX Hippo America. I speak English, understand a good amount of Spanish, and am focusing on learning Portuguese, and Japanese. I'm so excited to have been chosen for this wonderful program, and I'm overwhelmingly grateful for this opportunity to travel, learn, and expand my worldview in such an authentic and meaningful way.


As I said before, I'm Brittany. I'm 22 years old, but on October 8th, I will be 23. Soy de Estados Unidos en California. Mi familia se compone mi madre Tracy, mi padre Eric, mis hermanos menor Madeline and Joseph y dos perritos Django (A.K.A. "Jingo-Jango" o "Bingo-Bango") y Alabama (A.K.A. "Bimbi-Wimbi" o "The Baby Girl"). I also have a musical, magical, lazy, lovely, boyfriend Garrett.
I was born in the city of Orange, moved to Riverside county when I was 6, and in the 3rd grade(age 7) I moved to Victorville in California's high desert. I lived in Victorville until I graduated high school, and in 2012 I moved 700 miles away from my family to the town of Arcata in the very northern part of California. I studied Child Development with an emphasis on language and communication, and I minored in American Sign Language and diverse populations. While I was in college my family moved to Orange County, so after completing my undergraduate program, I moved back to my parent's home. I've been living and working in Orange County for the past year preparing for this adventure to Japan!
I'm very much California-bred, but as one can see, it is difficult to call any single area my "hometown". 

My hobbies include, but are not limited to: reading about culture, society, history, and language, journaling and writing, window-shopping (especially in fancy or super "hip" stores), buying and trading vintage clothing (anyone need a 1970's Pendleton blazer?), trying new restaurants, American karaoke (because I have yet to experience Japanese-style karaoke), and listening to music from many different countries. I love trying new things, but sometimes I'm nervous to waste my money doing something alone. I'm sure my host families, peer-interns and all the new friends I've been/will be making will show me many unique and exciting activities.

A Rookie Intern in Japan

I flew out of Japan on September 14th, and arrived at Haneda International Friday September 15th in the afternoon. Maddie helped me find my way home to my host family. By the time I passed through the exit at Kami-Shakujii station, I had been in transit for about 14 hours. Luckily, I was able to take it easy that evening. Mom, known by her Hippo name Alice, prepared the best bowl of ramen I've ever had in my life, and I fell asleep hard by 19:00.
The next morning I woke up at 7, and little did I know that I was going to need every second of that 12 hour rest. On Saturday around 2, Mom and I went to a local Hippo family club. It was very high energy, but everyone was so pleasant, and so sweet. The club wrapped up at 4 pm. We left for home which was only a short walk, but we were only home for less than an hour and we were off to a second Hippo club. On our way to the train station we ran into my host father, Geenie, for the first time. He was going to meet us for the club. 
The second Hippo club was a whole other animal (many puns intended). So many children, teens, young adults, parents, grandparents were present. A fantastic, albeit overwhelming, example of LEX Hippo was taking place. 
The rest of the three-day weekend consisted of two more Hippo events, many delicious foods, meeting my two host brothers, and getting settled into my new home.
My host mother invited friends and Hippo fellows over for summer exchange reports, and a sort of welcome Brittany party. It was so sweet, and it made me feel so comfortable and so special. 

I went to the LEX Hippo office in Shibuya on September 20th. I got to meet with a few interns who I'd previous met at a Hippo lecture, Jay from Korea and Nicolaus from Vietnam. I also got to meet the other American intern, Stephanie.

The new interns received orientation on September 21st, and it really helped to put everything in perspective for me. We have many events to plan for, and many things to learn, and a truly amazing company to represent and participate in.
I'll try to post fairly often because day to day I'm learning and growing, and I don't want any of these important experiences to be forgotten.
Until next time

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

コニチワ! Hola!

About myself
Je m'appelle Stephanie Juarez from the state of Oregon, Eastern Oregon. Oregon is known for being green and being home of the Nike shoe as it was created there.  
My family consist of my mother, Eva.
My sister, Mayra, who is 18 and attends Oregon State University.
My sister, Fernanda, who is in middle school.
My brother, Fernando, who is a second grader.
My baby brother, Maurisio, who is going to turn 4 in 2 days!
And myself.
Soy la mayor de los cinco.

I am bilingual in Spanish and English, but am very interested in learning other languages.  Je suis vingt-deux, 21. Je suis Américain et Mexicain.
I was involved with 4-H in high school and still volunteer on my free time.
Some of my hobbies include reading, sleeping, listening to music, playing a card game called Magic: The Gathering, and asking Como se dice…? To learn new words in different languages. Estoy bien afortunada en poder estar en Japon como internada. I hope to acquire a lot during my stay in Japan and then be able to take it home and share it with anyone willing to listen.

Welcomed to Nihon:
My host family consist of mama, papa, an older sister, and a younger sister. Durante los meses que vienen seré la hermana de enmedio. Esto será una experiencia diferente. Mi familia es muy amable y linda. También son muy pacientes conmigo en aprendiendo japones.

During my first weekend here I attended different Hippo activities with my host mother and younger sister. They had me introduce myself in nihongo as well as my other native languages. Usually at home I would get super shy and just sit stuff like this out. Here everyone is very welcoming and everyone was participating that I actually wanted to go up and share.

Food and People:
Shortly after arriving my host family took me out to eat, sushi of course. This type of sushi was quite different from what I experienced back home. Nihon no subete ga totemo kawaīdesu.

There is no better thing to bring people together than food. Everyone LOVES food!!
Pues la comida en Japón es muy rica y muy diferente a lo que yo estoy acostumbrada. Aquí todo tiene como un sabor a dulce. Y lo que ellos consideran picante es muy diferente. En los estados unidos a todo le echamos sal y con la comida mexicana a todo se le hecha salsa. I'm excited to try new foods and to learn how to make some.

Hasta Luego. Sayonara!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Old Friends in New Places

As far as I can remember, the Hippo Office in Cambridge was always bustling with people from around the world – interns from Mexico and Japan, members from Taiwan and Italy, and visitors either coming with their friends or simply following the curious call of language and music. By the time I had to say goodbye to that little office on Sherman Street, I had made pockets of friends from around the world. However, with the way LEX Hippo is, farewells are never final, and by some incredible stroke of luck, I’ve had the chance to meet some old friends more than 7000 miles away from where we first met.

The Home Base!

1. Let’s zai jian, Boston Style!

At the beginning of November last year, I found myself on a plane to Saga, a small prefecture on the island of Kyushu. Given that it was my first time traveling alone on a Japanese domestic flight, I had spent the previous week worrying – what if I misunderstood the instructions and missed my flight? What if I couldn’t find my gate and accidentally flew to Okinawa? What if I never got to Saga and ended up in some alternate universe where Godzilla was real and ate my plane? And of course, my biggest worry: what if I never got to meet my friends? The anxieties, both the reasonable and the hyperbolic, dissolved once I settled down in my seat and buckled myself in. The next two hours were spent in quiet awe at the view outside my little plane window, and with the warm glow of anticipation.

Mount Fuji from a whole new perspective

When friends and colleagues found out that I was traveling to Saga, they were always baffled – why Saga? It’s tiny, more countryside than city, and relatively unknown outside of Japan – why not somewhere like Fukuoka instead? Each time I would answer proudly: my friend from Boston has just started a Hippo Family there! After more than half a year, I was finally going to meet Sagacchi – now a freshly minted Hippo fellow – and her lovely family.

The wonderful family!

Sagacchi joined LEX America shortly after I started volunteering there, so you could say that we grew up together in our Hippo experience. Back in Cambridge, however, I ended up becoming closer to her daughters, who – as a result of school – spoke more English than their mother did. At the time, my Japanese was close to non-existent, so my interactions with Sagacchi were mostly aisatsu and small talk, usually in English.  

This time, however, when I landed in the Saga airport, the dynamic had changed – now, I could greet Sagacchi in Japanese! Of course, my speaking abilities were (and are) still limited, but knowing that we now had more languages in which to communicate opened new doors for us. In the first 30 minutes alone, it felt as though I had gotten much closer to Sagacchi than I had before. No longer restricted to the weather or the scenery, our conversations could stretch into more interesting territory, like our language progress, our experiences in places where our native tongue was not spoken, and Sagacchi’s own fellowing experience.

And it was not just Sagacchi – when I was reunited with her daughters, and our conversations tumbled into Japanese instead of English, there was a visible change in our interactions. Before, I had felt that we were close, but there was still a sense of distance between us. Now, the barriers were erased, and the distance faded away. Especially with Sagacchi’s youngest daughter, A-chan, who would rarely come near me in the past, would now let me hug and carry her around. Hope and Violet, her older daughters, now referred to me as their お姉ちゃん, and seemed even more comfortable talking to me than before. While I had previously known about the emotional power of language, now that I was seeing it in action, I could see exactly how strong it was.

Enjoying Hippo activities as one big family!

It was a short four days in Saga, but I still managed to meet some wonderful people and make new friends! I got to visit my host mother Tabasa’s childhood home, and meet her lovely father; I took part in a sharing session where one of the fellows, Beatrice, taught us a version of zai jian that had over 50 ways to say goodbye (!!!); the most exciting encounter, however, was getting to take part in Sagacchi’s family! It was so heartening to see her doing her best as a fellow, and super reassuring to meet her members – all of whom were friendly, open, and kind. It was definitely an evening of nostalgia for me, as we got to do a ton of Boston-style SADAs, which brought me back – however briefly – to that little office back in Cambridge.

It was difficult to leave that little prefecture at the end of my stay, but I did so on the promise that I would return! When I next do so, I’m looking forward to seeing how Sagacchi’s Hippo Family will have grown, and what new SADAs she and her daughters will have cooked up!

2. 多言語 Reunions and Lots of Nos-snow-lgia

Sagacchi was not the only Boston nakama I got to reunite with – it would be another few months before any familiar faces would cross my path, but when February rolled around, someone very special came into Tokyo: Elizabeth!

Elizabeth and the Intern/Staff Crew!

Getting to see Elizabeth again was extra exciting in the sense that we were meeting in a new, yet familiar context. After two years of interning at the Cambridge office and coming to understand the rhythms of LEX Hippo over yonder, it was both refreshing and reassuring to chat with her while here in the Tokyo office. It was as though both my US and Japan sides were coming together to meet, and I could see what parts of me had changed and what parts of me had stayed constant over the past few months.

On top of that, hearing about everyone back in the Cambridge office, finding out about their recent 言葉 discoveries, and seeing how the kids have grown filled me with a rush of nostalgia and warm fuzzies. More than once I found myself thinking about how much I wanted to go back – just for a little bit – to meet everyone again.

Daniel, whose hair was much better styled than mine!

However, another opportunity came barreling in not long after – in March, we had the Multilingual Snow Camp, where I had the chance for a reunion with Daniel! Unfortunately, given the massive size of the camp, we didn’t get to see each other too often, but one of the times we did get to meet, he surprised me by speaking to me in Japanese! I probably shouldn’t have been that shocked – we’d both been mixing around in a largely Japanese environment – but it was exciting to see the language progress we had both made over time.

The re-Lou-nion!

And just two weeks ago, I got to meet yet another old friend and his family: Lou! They took part in one of the Hippo Workshops on Monday, and again I was blown away by how much Japanese Lou could speak when he gave a short talk about his time in Japan so far. When Maddie and I had lunch with the family after, it was heartening to see him using bits and pieces of Japanese to talk with his kids, and how they too were receptive to the language. Maddie and I also had a lovely time chatting with his wife, Oksana, who very kindly indulged our attempts at speaking Spanish with her. It was clear to me that this was a multilingual family that was open to all languages and all people, and I’m excited to see what progress they’ll be making back in LEX America!  

So far I’ve had the good fortune to meet an old friend at least once a month since February – perhaps there’ll be someone coming to surprise me in May? Friends back in Cambridge, I’ll always be waiting~

3. From friends to 友達


The good old Cambridge team of Genya + Elizabeth!

While in Boston, I got to cross paths with a number of Hippo members from Japan, who often came either in the capacity of interns or visitors. Thus, you can imagine you exciting it was for me to come full circle, and to meet them again here in their home country! What’s even better, however, is the fact that we now have more languages to communicate in. Be it Kama-chan, Mala, Dorami-chan, Akane-chan, or Genya – it has been so much more fun to chat with them not just in their native tongue, but in the various languages that they have interest in. It’s been awesome to see how much Akane-chan has improved in the realm of Mandarin, and it’s always a riot to talk to Genya in Spanish when he’s using his Española accent; meanwhile, getting to chat with Kama-chan and Dorami-chan in Japanese has made me feel even closer as we look back on old photos of the time we met in Boston. And somehow, my conversations with Mala often take place in a language comprised largely of hugs, high fives, and animated waving.



I feel like around the world, there is often that one language that is dominant in the place where you are – be it English in America, Japanese in Japan, French in France or so on – but when we open our ears and hearts, even by just a little, other languages join the mix, making for an orchestra (or in some cases, interpretive dance showcase) of different sounds and movements. The level of fluency doesn’t always matter – perhaps you can hold an elevated conversation about Proust, or maybe you can at best introduce yourself and your family – but what matters is that you are sharing your linguistic experiences. The more we share, the closer we become, and the deeper our friendships get. And at the end of it, that may be all that really matters – that our friends become our 友達 who become our amigos who become our 친구. When that happens, we are not only meeting old friends in new places, but in the wonderful realm of new languages too.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Being Onii-chan!

Growing up I was always the little brother to my wonderful brother Richard. From what I understand from him now I was an absolute pain. Though, despite how big of a pain I was he always cared about me and was overall a great big brother. Before I came to Japan I always wondered how he ever dealt with me. 

For three months I lived with my previous host family, which consisted of my three little brothers Shoji, Seiji, Takeshi, and my host mother and father, Nene and Takuji. When I first moved in with them it was a completely different experience that I was used to as my host family before had no small children. Then here I was, with three of the most Genki children known to man. 

I very quickly learned how to say the Japanese words you must need to be able to live with three small boys; Yamete (Don't do that!), Abunai (That's dangerous!), and Kyoskete (Please be Careful!). I probably ended up saying these words each about twenty times a day. This is all to say that living with three small kids can be difficult. 

This is not to say that I had a bad time living with my host family. I would say the exact opposite. I had a wonderful time. For as often as the kids bothered me or brought me to my wit's end they never saw me as a guest. They saw me at their big brother. When I would sit down in family Shoji, Seiji, or Takeshi would come and sit on my lap. When we went somewhere one of them would want for me to hold their hand. Shoji would want for me and Nene to swing him. When Shoji acidentaly turned off "Q Ranger" on Tv he would come to me saying "Make 'Q Ranger' come back!" 

The kids would poke fun at my Japanese and mimic it by saying "Yamete" in what they though my voice sounded like. After hearing me do it so many times, Takuji would jokingly say "Oh My God" in an American accent when the kids would do something bad. That's not to say that it was all Jokes made at my expense. Takeshi's English went from some simple words and phrases to some full on sentences! Sure the grammar wasn't perfect but this small child was speaking with a basic understanding of how English works! 

My Japanese increased exponentially due to constantly talking with the kids. They would point at object and say what they were called in Japanese. I also learned from them constantly saying certain words like "Iku-yo!". At the end of my stay I was able to get to the point that could hold simple conversations with them!

I think living with three Japanese little brothers really made me a better person. I'm more patient, I can speak Japanese, and now kind of know how to work a Japanese TV. In all, it was a wonderful experience that I don't think I would trade for anything!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

¡Es la primavera!

It's spring, and the cherry blossoms have been working on their peaceful domination of Japan. There's a good amount of updates waiting in the wings, but for this post I think I'd like to let the flowers speak for a little bit. 

Of course, it's always beautiful to see the branches swaying pink and white, but my personal favourite blossoms are the ones that poke their way straight out of the trunk, as if they couldn't possibly wait to clamber out. Whenever I see them I always think,  "あぁ、良く頑張ってるなー!" They're all doing their best, so I should too!

Happy Spring everyone!