My Homestay Experience

Hello all,

Today I will talk about my homestay experience during our Japan Study Tour

On Saturday, May 11, we arrived at Keiai Junior High School where we would meet our host student. Our school has tight bonds with Keiai allowing us to spend a two day cultural exchange. In March, we hosted them and met our pen pals.

Anyway back to the homestay, my host student was Yuuki. After spending a fraction of the School day with him, he took me and Shoh (Yuuki was hosting both me and Shoh) to Kokura Station where we met up with Ridge and Brady, as well as his pen pal. There, they took us to Aruaru City, which was a anime mall. There were a wide assortment to figures, mangas, animes, cosplays, and consoles that made GameStop look like nothing. After shopping for a few hours, we had to attend and perform at a banquet for us arranged by Keiai Junior Highschool, so we trekked to the hotel that hosted the banquet. There, I met me and shoh’s  host family. Even though my Japanese wasn’t the best, we were all able to communicate and share laughs.

(Photo taken by me) Tonktosu Ramen とっても美味しい (delicious)

On Sunday, Yuuki took us to the Fukuoka Science Center where we downloaded a app to make the pictures on display become realistic. When a person gets in the photo, the AR would make the picture a funny animation. An example would be falling off a giant hand. After witnessing all those illusions, they took us to lunch. Because Tonkotsu Ramen is a very popular dish in Fukuoka, they wanted us to try it. Like they described it, the broth was extremely rich and creamy とっても美味しい(very delicious.)

(Photo by me) Me, Shoh, and our homestay student

After lunch, we did a lot of much-needed omiyage shopping at Canal City Hakata and Hakata Station! I was able to buy a lot of Fukuoka snacks like menbei (rice crackers.) Shoh and I were even able to play in the arcade! We tried getting plushies from the claw machine but failed :(.

After a full day of exploring and shopping, we went to a Japanese Barbecue restaurant. The food there was really good! After dinner, we played wii games with Yuuki like Mario Kart and Taiko No Tatsujin. Even though I fell in the water multiple times in Mario Kart, we still had a lot of fun.

Overall, I enjoyed the homestay experience a lot. I am grateful for all the fun and memories we did with the family, and I am happy I was somewhat able to communicate in Japanese with them. I am also grateful that we got to experience the area in another point of view and that we can keep


Thoughts about Hiroshima

I Hi Edubloggers,

At this time, I wanted to write something before we actually go to the Japan Study Tour. One of the sites we will go to is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. I feel like going to sites like these and the Okinawa Peace Memorial will not only teach us how tragic it was, but remind us not to repeat the ignorant mistakes of the past.

Before writing this, I read a few articles about the experience of those fortunate to survive and tell the story. In the perspective of the  survivors, it was extremely devastating and shocking. Imagine you are walking to your school or workplace to see a brilliant flash of light and a ear-piercing explosion from the A Bomb.

Obviously, it was completely tragic because many innocent people lost their lives from the detonation of the nefarious invention, and if they didn’t lose it from the explosion, they caught radiation sickness slowly and suffered  over months or years. It is especially tragic for the interviews from the news articles because they were just teenagers awaiting a profitable future.

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I also believe that these stories and efforts are enlightening because it rings a sense of hope and resilience since the people had to pick themselves up. Even after, japan started having a economic boom making a quick comeback. To me, Japan is like a Daruma or Okiagari-koboshi Doll. and no matter how many times you push it down, it goes back up. We as Americans can learn a lot from their dedication,

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These stories and interviews (Below) have helped me by sort of knowing how lucky some people are because of a late train. It is the experience and first person perspectives that help accentuate the experience and make it even more heart wrenching and dire it was. It also gave me a small preview on the damage dealt to people.



Taiko Cases

Hi Edubloggers,

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Today I will talk about cases to hold Taiko Drums. Because skins tightened change pitch a lot, you need to keep it in a case to deter it from nature.

Firstly, these cases helps to carry the taiko more easily in safe. Also, it prevents from the damage like scratch. However, storing taiko in a case for a long time is not recommended. It may cause mold on the heads and crack in the body. To avoid such damage, you should take the taiko out of the case and leave it in the fresh air regularly.

-Note: As well as a case, a blanket protects taiko from dusts and scratch. The one thing is that blankets absorb water which is not good for the head, so I don’t recommend it,

Finally, I will talk about how to carry the Taiko.

It normally has 2 iron handles (kan) at each side of the body. Large taiko should be carried by 2-3 people using them. DO NOT DRAG A DRUM ON THE FLOOR!!!! A taiko may damage the head of taiko and rolling a taiko may damage the body. Usually, taiko case has handles and it’s easy to carry a taiko more easily in safe. A torn head is a pain to reskin.


Taiko Maintenence

Dear Edubloggers,

Today I will talk about how to maintain your Taiko drum. These things cost thousands of dollars and it is a honor to own one made of a hollowed our tree. Artisans spend a lot of time sanding, shining, and skinning the Taiko so here are some tips.

– The Best place to store taiko is well-ventilated and dry place. Moister packs should be put into it to avoid moisture if the taiko is stored in a case. Besides, please be aware of mice and termites. On the other hand, worst place is humid, extremely hot or cold place. Please store it in a cool, dark place to avoid dry Taiko skin

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– What if it is wet: First, please wipe the wet taiko with a dry towel, and then, leave it in the shade to dry. If the head is too wet and soft obviously, more time is needed to dry it.

– What if there is mold on the drum?: To remove mold on the taiko head, rub with a small-grit sandpaper (from 800 to 1200).  Never use detergent and bleach, which will shorten the lifespan of the head. Please avoid warm and humid storage not to get mold.


Flaws Taiko Players Have To Suffer Part 1

GHi people,

Today, I will talk about a few things that Taiko Drummers or broadly all drummers have to suffer. Things range from blisters and self care to actual equipment. You see even though drumming was discovered as early as the Stone Age, there are still a lot of problems.

1. Blisters

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One thing that deters us from drumming hard for a duration of time are annoying blisters. If you don’t know the science between blisters, they happen when skin rubs against something causing friction. In order to prevent further irritating the skin, either water or plasma floods underneath the skin to protect it. That is not a problem, but when it breaks or pops it causes pain and stinging since the new skin is exposed. The best thing to do in order to prevent the new skin to peal, is to put a bandaid or tape on it or even before you start playing. Another thing you can do is use exercising gloves since they cover the area that is most sensitive.

2. Transportation of equipment

Another problem is transporting equipment.

-Imagine this, your friend asks you to do a Taiko gig and you have to transport all your equipment.

Now that isn’t a problem if the drums weren’t so heavy. A drum that has a diameter of 1 foot and 3 inches on Taiko Center of Kyoto can weigh about 30 pounds. Now some groups use drums of a bigger diameter, so poor taiko groups.

Some groups use carts to carry their drums, but if it is a long distance from your loading zone, that’s a problem.

3. Finding places to practice

I’ll explain this as easily as I can. Taiko drums are loud! This means that there will always be a person complaining when you play that you are too loud and it is irritating. Something you can do is ask people if you can use their space to practice or instal sound blocking foam which works pretty well.

Stick around for part 2

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Flaws Taiko Players Have To Suffer Part 2

Hi edubloggers,


Welcome back to part two for problem Taiko drummers need to face. Last time we talked about self care, lugging gear around, and it just being so darn loud. Well here are three more ways it can be a pain.

4. Maintenance: I will try to make another post about Taiko drum maintenance later, but because they are made of natural items rather than more synthetic material like typical western drum sets, they will crack, tear, scratch, and the pitch will change because of temperature. You need to find the right time to put a drum in a case. If you leave it in all the time, it will start to grow mold on the skin, but if you leave it out in humid or muggy areas, the skin will get wet and cave in which isn’t good, so it is like caring for a baby; you need to dedicate a lot of time to it.

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5. People say it is not a actual art

Another complaint is that because Taiko Pioneer Daiihachi Oguchi created Kumi Daiko with a heavy emphasis on Jazz and Latin American drumming, it makes it feel more Americanized. Since they use the Shime Daiko as like a snare, a Chudaiko as a Tom Tom, and the low tuned Odaiko as bass drums, it is like a melting pot of different cultures.

So the argument is that it isn’t a actual art since it has been mended in many times, it isn’t authentic taiko. My argument however is may not be truly authentic, there are still Taiko pieces from many centuries ago that are still being shared to this day so it isn’t completely lost. Also, it has built such a tightly knit community, making it a way of community.

6. Costly equipment and global warming complaints

A big problem for starting a new Taiko group is buying new drums and  bachi. You can buy artisan material at Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten for a few grand, but people are always on a budget, so you need to start many fundraisers to get good drums which you need to dedicate a lot of time to.

Anyway do you play a instrument? What problems do you have with your instruments? Comment below!

Independence (A story in the perspective of a dog in a slaughterhouse)

Hi Edubloggers,

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Today I am just rewriting a story I submitted for the Mission PAWsible Project, by the Hawaii Humane Society. The mission of the Hawaiian Humane Society is to promote the human-animal bond and the humane treatment of all animals. This story I wrote focuses on the dog slaughtering in Korea and China and how these innocent animals need our help.

The rain felt like bullets on my fur as I ran away from those monsters. My father was fortunate enough to run away, but my mother was beaten with sticks and electrocuted to protect me! I didn’t want to go down the same path my mother did, so my instinct said ‘you have to run’ so I ran like there was no tomorrow. My name is Jong Hyun, and here, I will tell the story on how I learned how to protect myself and the people I love.


I did not live a normal life in my first year alive, as I was one of many unfortunate souls born in a dog meat slaughterhouse. They would brutally electrocute us. I lived in filthy, cramped conditions with blood on the floor, and being with dogs who have been snatched from the streets, and in some cases the backyards of their owners’ homes by thieves.


So after I escaped what seemed like hell, I was finally free! Shortly after, I was scouring the city for food, only for trash to be thrown at me. Fortunately, someone took me to a humane center. While I was there, I was trained to become a service dog and take care of people.


After being at the center for a while, I was assigned someone. She was a elderly woman named Ji Yeong who had difficulty breathing and had heart problems. She also was lonely because her husband passed away and her children were a world away. So not only did I have to provide medical support, but I also had to provide emotional support. I dedicated every second with her, even though she was fragile, she made my life and job worth doing. She would always mention, “your smile makes me fall apart.”


 After five years of us bringing joy to each other’s lives, I woke up later that usual because Ji Yeong’s footsteps would wake me up, but to my surprise thought she slept in. I went into her room and I saw her lying on the floor and I knew my life was going to change for the worst. Her skin was cold to the touch and I couldn’t feel her pulse. So I ran out the house and barked like I never have before evoking grumpy neighbors. As soon as they saw Ji Yeong, they called the ambulance. I too was taken away by the humane society probably to nurture another family.


 Death doesn’t distinguish people, it just sucks us up like a vacuums with no off switch. Ji Yeong’s funeral was held on a gloomy, rainy day. The experience made me think it was all my fault and that I should’ve heard her collapse but a voice inside told me it was okay and that I needed to move on.


 Although change is difficult, the Humane Society transferred me to a different family like the snap of a finger. I promise to put their happiness over mine every single time.


Sansa Odori

Hi Edubloggers,

In this third post, I will talk about the city of Tohoku’s  biggest festivals known as the Sansa Odori or more formally, “Morioka Sansa Odori.”

It is one of the Five Great Festivals of Tohoku. The Guinness Book of World records made the festival more known because it was listed as the “largest Taiko Drum Festival in the World” evoking more than  10,000 taiko drummers and dancers to celebrate in the city.

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The origins of this festival arise from a legend. It is said that Sansa dance began when a wicked demon was punished by the god of Mitsuishi Shrine. The god made the demon swear that he would never do bad deeds again, and as a sign of his pledge, the demon placed his hand on a large rock and left a hand print. The locals rejoiced, dancing around the rock.

This story explains the origin of Sansa, as well as the name “Iwate,” which means “rock hand.” The choreography for the main Sansa Odori parade on Chuodori Street is modern and simplified, but you can also see traditional and more dynamic Sansa dances at other venues such as Ekimae Hiroba in front of the station and at various halls.

Asano Taiko

Hi Edubloggers,

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Today I will talk about another shop that makes taiko drums out of a solid piece of wood. The group called Asano Taiko has been making Taiko Drums and Hogaku Insturments since 1609. The founded Saemongoro founded Asano Taiko in Fukutomi, Ishikawa village (today’s Fukudome in Hakusan City).

The shop first started making instrument for Hogaku such as Shamisens (String), Nohkans (flutes), and many different types of drums (Tsutsumi; hourglass drum.)  They have even made a museum influencing drums from diffent cultures such as Congo drums as well as drums from the civil war.

Another thing Asano is memorable for is the completion of the largest Nagado Daiko in 1998. I am also supprised on how long the group has been perfecting their craftsmanship. They’re ambition is like no other. In the early 21st Century, Asano Taiko has opened a shop in California so American Taiko Groups can access good quality Taiko drums.




FHi Edubloggers,

Today I will talk about the water filtering and the amazing LifeStraw!

Let’s say you are stranded in a swampy area. You’ve been trekking in the blistering sun and humid atmosphere for five hours and you are extremely dehydrated. Of course if you drink the swamp water  maladies such as malaria and diseases follow the temporary hydration. Unless there is a flowing spring, you need to filter the water.

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You can do a old school method by straining water through a bandana, shirt, or coffee filters to remove visible debris. Let the water sit for at least a few minutes, so the remaining particles settle on the bottom, then pour into another container. If at all possible, boil this water to kill pathogens before drinking. The steps below will teach you to make a more effective filter, but unless you brought along your own charcoal, the process can take several hours.

Now to the product that will help many third world countries who struggle to get fresh water. The Life straw acts like a filter system layering membrane, filters, and chemicals. All LifeStraw products use a hollow fiber membrane.

“These membranes have microscopic pores that trap contaminants Bacteria and parasites are bigger than the pores in the filter. Water is able to pass through, but contaminants larger than 0.2 microns remain trapped.

Some LifeStraw products use a two-stage filtration process. In addition to the hollow fiber membrane, a carbon capsule absorbs chemicals like chlorine and pesticides.

More advanced carbon filters, like the LifeStraw Flex, also reduce heavy metals, like lead.”