yokofox33 / Member

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yokofox33 Blog

The Immense Backlog

My current backlog is just massive. It spans across 7 systems and most likely includes well over 50 games. Yet I keep buying games. It's sick.

In any case I've decided to set myself a goal. Since I have a ton of games to beat for my PS3 I've decided to make a list of the games I will try to beat before the end March rolls around. March includes releases of Dragon Age 2, Ar Tonelico 3, and of course the 3DS. Needless to say it will be a busy month, but hell, I'm a busy man. Let's see if I can beat at least the majority of these 11 titles.

The order might change slightly, but for the most part I'll try to stick with this alignment:

  1. Mass Effect 2 - almost done actually, just need to finish up the Overlord DLC and then start the final mission
  2. Dead Space 2 - would have started already if I wasn't so absorbed in ME2
  3. Enslaved - seems like a fun adventure journey, heard the story was good
  4. Castlevania: Lord of Shadows - I like God of War, and I hear it's similar to that
  5. Red Dead Redemption - already started, but thanks to a glitch I gave up on it. Will try to get back into it.
  6. NIER - I've heard such mixed reviews, but I'm willing to try it out for the story, music, and characters
  7. Trinity Universe - need a longer JRPG in there somewhere
  8. The Sly Collection - I'll at least try to beat to the first and second installments
  9. Alpha Protocol - again, mixed reviews, but I heard the story and dialogue choices were stellar
  10. Vanquish - obviously very highly praised, shouldn't take me long to beat it
  11. Hyperdimension Neptunia - I'll end on some perverted anime girl adventure

So yeah, there you have it. Can I beat these 11 games by the end of March with a teacher's schedule/workload? Doubtful, but you never know. Wish me luck!

And just a side note to end on: EVERYONE NEEDS TO BUY 999 and GHOST TRICK!!!!! NOW!!!!!!

The Games I Am Playing at This Current Juncture in Time

So apparently "Now Playing" blogs are all the rave. I never knew this fact. So in an attempt to go with the flow and gain popularity, I present to you my first list of games I am playing right now. I'll give a quick impression of the games as well.

Resonance of Fate PS3 - All I can say is WOW. Resonance of Fate is a stellar game full of great gameplay, a strategic and challening battle system, and funny as hell characters. Everything about the game feels just so unique and awesome. Easily my second favorite game this year so far behind Heavy Rain. RoF >>>>> FF13 9/10

New Super Mario Bros. Wii - Old school Mario, Old school fun. The controls are a little tedious at times, but the game is still quite good. Very challening at points as well even though I have like 40 lives to spare :P 8.5/10

Kameo: Elements of Power 360 - I've had this game forever, but just never completed it. The game is a great blend of platforming and adventure and features some cool monster powers to obtain. It's a very underrated game and worth a look if you want a cheap adventure for your 360. 8.5/10

Pokemon SoulSilver - Nostalgia for the win. 9/10

No More Heroes PS3 - It started off as a terrible port featuring glitches and freezes out the shoot, but a recent patch has made the game a lot smoother. Still lots of technical issues to be found, but the core gameplay is still fun. Unfortunately the PS3 is heavily edited and features no blood or decapitations at all. It honestly takes away from the game's charm. 7/10

So there you have it. My first one of these things. I wish my blog were more visually appealing, so I'll try to work on a banner of some sorts. And colors. Lots of colors.

I'll be getting 5 more games mailed to me next week sometime, so look forward to some impressions on Red Dead Redemption, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Alan Wake, 3D Dot Game Heroes, and God of War 3.

Goo Goo for GaGa

I just secured 2 tickets to see Lady GaGa on December 31st in Miami! To say I'm excited is a major understatement. I had to pay a hefty price for the tickets, but I know it will be well worth it. They are "Platinum" seats too which basically means they are some of the better seats in the house. Not the best seats, but they'll at least be in the center on the first tier of seating.

Oh man. I'm so ecstatic right now. I can't believe she's going to be in Miami when I'm home for Christmas, and to top it off I can actually go! I know some of you probably hate Lady GaGa, but let me enjoy my happiness. She's great, and I lover her music. This will be the best New Year's Eve ever!

For those who don't know who Lady GaGa is (tsk tsk) here is the video for her latest single, "Bad Romance." She's famous for the songs "Just Dance" and "Poker Face" as well.

Lightning Strikes

I did it. I pre-ordered the FFXIII Lightning Edition PS3 Bundle from Amazon Japan yesterday. I had been searching Amazon for weeks non-stop to see when they would put it up for pre-order. Finally on Monday night a page for it appeared, but pre-orders were not allowed at that time. I was worried I missed out on the chance or that they would put it up while I was sleeping or at work.

Fast forward to yesterday at around 5pm. I get home from work and it's available for pre-order! Ordered that sucker in a second. Paying for it Cash On Delivery!

This morning I check the page again... OUT OF STOCK!!!! My invoice says it will still be shipped out on the 17th. I got super lucky! I'm really excited. It's something I really want. It's pink baby! Hooray me! Later, guys and gals.


My Top 11 Games of all-time

Let me start off by saying I am completely copying hazel's idea to post his favorite games. The only difference is the amount of games and the games themselves. Just thought I'd give a shout out to him before we move onto the list.

I chose 11 games because 10 is so cliche and because 14 was done by hazel. I've also been buying lunch from 7-11 lately, so there's the reasoning for 11. My basis for my top games is the wonderment or awe that each one of them brought me. Whether that was through gameplay, setting, or something else these games had a huge impact on my childhood and life. I will also list originals, sequels, and different versions of games as 1 game. So my Top 11 might have more games really, but I like to include the series as one entity if I so choose.

Before we begin the Top 11, I do want to list my honorable mentions. The games that just missed the list, but the ones that deserve recognition as well. I'm just going to list these with no description or pictures.

Honorable Mentions!

Persona 3, Tales of Vesperia, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 1 and 2, Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong 64, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Land, Halo, Call of Duty 2, FF Tactics

Ok, now the true Top 11:

11. Balloon Fight NES

I start my list off with a game possibly none of you have heard of. If you have then forgiveth me. Balloon Fight is an old NES game with basically the most simple gameplay ever. Repeatedly tap A and float your guy around hazards, lighting, and weird bird creatures. Your objective is to avoid all those hazards, keep your 3 balloons in tact, and destroy the bird creature's balloons before yours are gone. Do that and you move to the next level. Oh yeah, and don't float too close to the water or a giant fish will eat you whole. No kidding. This is one of the games that brought me so much joy and happiness as a child. I'd stare at the screen for hours playing this game, and when I was done I would draw pictures of the levels with the bird and fish creatures coming after me. This game would probably be smashed by critics everywhere, but it's so awesome. It's currently on the Wii Virtual Console as well as in Animal Crossing as a secret unlockable game. Balloon Fight is pure fun, and that's really what your childhood should have been about.


I guess you could say Balloon fight "popped" my gaming cherry as a child. Yikes.

10. Lumines PSP

Talk about addiction. Lumines is the best puzzle game I have ever played. The fantastic music, the simple gameplay, and that addiction I was telling you about. This is the game that never truly ends even if you do happen to lose. The first game ever for my PSP happens to be my favorite PSP game. It's not the most flashy of games (in a popularity sense), but it's one of the most well-done games I have ever played. That's why it crack my Top 11.


Gorgeous visuals and presentation, no?

9. Tales of Symphonia Gamecube

Perhaps the 2nd console RPG I ever played remains one of my favorites to this day. Tales of Symphonia was a wonderful adventure for me at the time. I was going away to college, needed something to entertain me during the boring summer and first rough couple of weeks of the school term, and I was starting to get an RPG hunger due to another game that will be featured in this list. That led me to Tales of Symphonia. I spent a long time with Tales of Symphonia and I'm glad I did. The battle system was awesome and like nothing I experienced before. The characters were fun for me and just the whole game was/is really great. I consider ToS a follow-up RPG for me to make sure the genre was right for me. Thanks to ToS, it was.


Sheena's hidden arte: Scrotum Blaster

8. Valkyria Chronicles PS3

I think you all know how big a fan of Valkyria Chronicles I am. You all might be thinking the next 7 games on my list must have really blown me away for VC to be only 8th on the list. Well, you're right. VC is a spectacular game. It breathed life into my once quiet PS3 (I credit VC for getting me back into PS3 gaming), was a refreshing experience, and just made me all fuzzy inside. I'm one of the lucky few who actually knew about this game before it released. Hell, I pre-ordered it online for no reason about a month before its release. After playing the short demo I knew I had made the right choice buying this game. After adding Janneth Walker to my squad, I knew this game would hold a special place in my heart forever. I actually hope in the future VC gets knocked from my Top games list. Might sound crazy, but I think we'd all be happy to witness more games like it, regardless of genre, and know that there are some talented people out there who can create gems like this one. I will never forget VC though. My sig says it all really.


"Stop! Where you going without Valkyria Chronicles in your PS3 collection!?"

7. Pikmin 1 and Pikmin 2 Gamecube

And here is one of those hybrid choices I was talking about earlier. The Pikmin games are all about fantasy. The Pikmin are adorable, the premise is awesome, and there is just some sort of strange feeling I get whenever I play the games. A strange feeling in a good way I mean. I love using my Pikmin to gather items, fight creatures, and conquer the day. The charming presentation makes me feel all gooey inside. I love it! The Pikmin games are almost mysterious. I can't really explain it, but it gives me that sense of wonderment I talked about in the opening. If you haven't had a chance to experience Pikmin yet, please do. They are a wonderful blend of strategy, adventure, and puzzling that really hasn't been matched to me. Great games. Can't wait for the 3rd installment to eventually release.


I hate to spoil your group photo, guys, but you bout to be eaten.

6. Kirby's Dreamland Gameboy

Ah, Kirby. You delightful little pink ball of something. Kirby is one of my favorite characters. I remember seeing a commercial for Kirby's Dreamland for the Gameboy when I was a small child. I immediately whined and cried to my mother to get it for me, and luckily she gave in and did. I love you, mom. You gave me one of the best Gameboy titles, and obviously best games overall, I have ever played. I remember the music themes for the levels and all that jazz. Back in those times Kirby could only consume and spit (stop it, I know what you're all thinking) and that's the way I liked it. No special powers, just some good ol' sucking action (ok, it's funny now). Kirby is yet another one of those games that made my childhood so enjoyable. Without Kirby I probably would have grown up a drug addict and doing a lot of Kirby-esque moves in order to score some smack. Ok, maybe not, but you get the point. Kirby is awesome and my childhood would have been a bit more boring without it.


"Oh hey, Kirby. You can, uh, start sucking my branc... er, I mean that apple anytime you're ready."

5. Super Mario Bros. 2 NES

This is not a typo. I did not mean to put the original or the 3rd one here. I am absolutely, 100% serial about Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES being my #5 favorite game of all-time. This game felt like an acid trip everytime I played it as a kid, and I didn't even know what acid was back then. I love the weird-ass environments, the catchy tunes, the potions, the warp vases, the enemies, the fact you can pick different characters (watching Luigi move his little legs in mid-air is golden), throwing objects, and the Birdo bosses. I love this game. I don't care if was toned down for American audiences, it was still fun as hell. I get giddy everytime I do play it. Maybe all those mushrooms from the first Mario Bros. game led to this freaky acid trip of an adventure. I'm glad it did though.


"I can show you the world!"

4. Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow Gameboy

Ah, now we're getting to the really good stuff. Pokemon shaped my childhood. It was the biggest thing I had ever witnessed. I was obssesed with the Pokemon franchise. Pokemon just kind of hit me. I didn't really know about it until my friends in my neighborhood let me borrow the game. I was hooked. More hooked than I was on the acid trip known as Mario Bros. 2. Countless hours of exploring, trying to capture all 151 Pokemon, learning every secret and glitch, training all my favorites to level 100. Hundreds of hours just constantly beating the Elite 4 so I could earn enough money to buy Porygon at the Casino. I played it so much that when I finally went to bed the theme music would still ring in my head. Oh, man. Such great times. I will never experience anything like that ever again. I chose RBY because they were my first experience with Pokemon. I'll admit that Gold and Silver were perhaps the better game overall, but nothing will ever top the feelings and awe I experienced with Red, Blue, and Yellow. They are perhaps the most special games to me. They might not be at the top of my list, but if I were forced to get rid of all games but one, Pokemon Red or Blue would be the one I keep. I need something to remind me of all the good times I had. Pokemon is the best, but yet it's not at the top. Let's find out why...


Where the magic first begins...

3. Megaman 3 NES

Ironically my 3rd favorite game is the 3rd one in a series of games. Megaman 3 is my favorite side-scrolling adventure of all-time. If Pokemon gave me that magic I'll never experience again, Megaman 3 gave me that passion for gaming I will never experience again. I dreamed of being the Blue Bomber and having all those weapons he collected. I loved the variety of enemies and all the stages. Megaman 3 has the best soundtrack I have ever heard. They were incredible, yet so simple. Megaman 3 called out to me. I felt cool playing it. As cool as a 5 or 6 year old kid could feel I guess. I still play it to this day. I might know all the moves and when to jump, and when to shoot, and when to slide, but it still remains fun as hell. There's still that chance I mess up that keeps me going. Oh, man. Gaming doesn't get much better than Megaman 3... unless you're the next two games on my list.


Hard Man ain't the only one who gets hard when playing this game. Gross.

2. Persona 4 PS2

I. Love. Persona. 4. A lot. Shin Megami Tensei is my favorite franchise in gaming. The stories are dark and compelling, the gameplay is fantastic, the characters are great, and all the demons/personas are like more badass versions of Pokemon. Persona 4 is the best example of all of these. I was blown away by this game the first time I played it. As I play through it a second time right now, it's somehow even better. Even though I know what's going to happen and memorized some of the enemies' weaknesses, it doesn't matter. I still get a sense of excitement from the game. It's a winner of a game, no questions asked. It includes my favorite character of all-time (Chie), and some of the best gameplay I've ever played as well. What I love about the Persona games is the social aspects. Persona 3 was great because of it, but Persona 4 improved on it by a lot I think. The s.tyle of the game is also killer. The colors and setting and music are all wonderful. Best boss battle theme I've ever heard as well. There's not much else I can say about it really. I wrote a review on it, but I don't think I did the game much justice. Persona 4 is just awesome. Simple as that. And with that, we move to the best game I have ever played.


You've just been punted. Hardcore.

1. FFX PS2

We've made it. My favorite game ever: Final Fantasy X. This is the game that got me hooked on RPGs. It's also the game that got me hooked on games in general. I had always been a casual player of games. You may notice I'm missing a lot of "c.lasscs" (seriously, they are gonna censor c.lassics?) from my list one might associate with favorite games: Metroid, MGS, Zelda, other stuff, etc. While I was a privileged child, I was also not well informed on many of the popular games one might consider c.lassics today. I didn't not get internet access till later in life and I was too young to work and make money to buy games. I only had magazines and occasional trips to the store to get my gaming info from. So I bought a lot of games that looked cool, but were not really that great. I also wasn't a huge gamer. I came home from school, horsed around on Mortal Kombat or Donkey Kong Country and called it a day. I was actually a big sports game fan back then.

Anyway, I finally purchased a PS2 years after its release. I had heard things about FFX, but I didn't really know what an RPG was or what FF was all about. I had played Pokemon sure, but I was too young to realize it was actually an RPG. I basically got it on a whim. What an awesome whim. I instantly fell in love. It was my first console RPG. The graphics were amazing for the time (and are still pretty solid even today), the story was emotional and compelling, I had no problems with the characters at the time (I guess now a couple could be seen as annoying), the battle system was fun, the summonings were sweet, the music lovely. Basically the game won my heart. It remains number 1 on my list because it impacted me so greatly. Without it I probably wouldn't be on this site and I probably would have not played a lot of the games mentioned here. It is both my favorite game ever and my sentimental favorite. Because it's so sentimental to me, I honestly believe it will never be knocked from the number 1 postion. Ever. I've played it numerous times and it still never loses its charm. It filled me with wonderment, much like the other games on this list, but just on a completely bigger scale. I wish I could say more about it, but words escape me. It is an important game to me on so many levels. FFX is the reason I game today.


Sure, Auron is a badass, but where would be without Kimahri? Dude is boss.


Well, I hope you enjoyed my list. These games are all special to me, and I'd love to hear what you all think about them. Toodles~

I also have no idea why some of the font is messed. Gamespot rules!

I really love volleyball.

Some of you may know that I play volleyball at the school I teach at. I guess you could say it's become a hobby and a passion. I love practicing with the students and watching their progress, and I love the feeling of knowing that I'm improving as well. Well, today I fell in love thanks to volleyball. Let me stop you right there: I AM NOT IN LOVE WITH MY STUDENTS. That is just wrong and perverse on many levels. No, I'm in love with someone else who plays volleyball. Perhaps you could call it fate or destiny, but it's a destiny that I crushed. Oddly enough, the story begins with badminton.

Long story short, my Japanese friend invited me to play badminton with her and a couple other people at a recreation center a couple towns over from me. In the car I told her I play volleyball at my school, and she said there would probably be people playing volleyball at the place as well. My eyes lit up with joy even though she told me it was a "Mama-san" team. Basically a bunch of middle-aged women playing. I didn't care. I needed my volleyball fix. So we get there and I'm surprised to see 3 or 4 younger girls playing as well. They were the daughters of some of the women. Naturally I watched them practice and wished I could play with them. There was one girl in particular who caught my eye because she was damn good at volleyball. We'll get to her in just a bit. After a little while of playing badminton, my friends could tell I desperately wanted to join in on the volleyball games. There were a couple dudes playing/horsing around with the volleyball crew, so they said it shouldn't be a problem joining them. So I embarrassingly walked over and my Japanese friends asked if I could join. All the people called the girl (the really good one... and cute as hell one) over and she talked to my friend in Japanese. And then she turned to me and said in perfect English, "I can speak English. Do you want to play volleyball with us." My jaw just about hit the floor. My friend told her that I played at school, and she seemed to be a little impressed. Anyway, I joined the opposite team (damn), and we started playing.

Let's take a break here and sum up the situation.

  1. I love volleyball
  2. I love women who play volleyball
  3. I wouldn't say I'm crazy for Japanese women, but the hot/cute are HOT. I like them.
  4. I LOVE Japanese women who play volleyball and speak PERFECT English.

It's not everyday you meet a cute girl who plays volleyball. It's like a one in a million chance you meet a cute Japanese girl who speaks damn good English. Not "good for a Japanese person English" either. I mean like she could live in America and be just fine with no help. We good? Ok, moving on!

So the game plays on. We yell English to each other during plays and after. I make some good plays, everyone is amazed by my awesome skillz. Blah blah blah, that whole crap. Cut to the girl. She's about to spike. She spikes REALLY HARD. Harder than me. Foolishly I tried to block it. Even more foolishly I didn't really protect my face very well. One thing lead to another and I got a really hard volleyball spike to the eye. It didn't really hurt, but it sure did a number on my contact. She ran up and was like I'm sorry and all that. I said it was cool, part of the game. Everyone was looking for my contact. About 10 minutes later I realized it was lodged in my eye :lol:

Anyway, we continued after a short hiatus. And then it ended. I walked back to my friends who of course asked if I got her number. I said no. They said ask for it. I said no. They were pretty dumbfounded. As was I, but when you have so little confidence in yourself, your're a shy person, and you tense up and get nervous, I knew why I didn't ask her. She walked by, I said thanks, she said sorry, I said no problem, my friend asked if they play every week, and she said only sometimes. They were more guests tonight rather than regular players at that center. And then she left. I blew my chance at destiny and a little bit of happiness.

Looking back on it, I had nothing to lose. Even if she didn't give me her number or said she had a boyfriend, would it have really mattered? I don't even know her, so why would that bother me if she didn't want to associate with a stranger. A foreign stranger mind you. At the very least I could have asked her to play volleyball with me. It is one of my loves, and I really only get to play at school which hasn't been too recently lately. In a nutshell I blew it big time. But I'm used to blowing it, so it doesn't sting as bad.

In the depths of my mind though I knew that someone was trying to look out for me. Whether it was God, or a spirit, or whatever kind of higher being may be up there. And I didn't take the bait. Sorry. Maybe I'll see her again by chance at the recreation center, but I actually hope I don't. I would just blow it again anyway. Then I'd be come even more depressed than I already am. So the person I'm in love I hope to never see again. Luckily there's still volleyball to play and love. Sorry for making this a sob story...


You could say today is just like any other day. It sort of is actually. The sun is shining, I'm struggling to stay awake at work, and I'll be going out tonight. But today is one of the emptiest days of my life even though it's just like all the others. Part of my youth died today. Part of what brought me so much joy as a kid is no longer with us. The days of me dancing in front of my mirror have always been a thing of the past, but now it seems like there was no purpose to them anymore. I'm not saying it doesn't have meaning to me any longer, but it's hard to fathom that the reason I was dancing in front of the mirror is gone.

Michael Jackson's passing is a shock. A complete and utter blow to me and many people. This is a man that you thought would live forever. There was no way the King of Pop could die, at least not this soon. Even if he was the brunt of another joke or being slandered by the media, he was still with us. It's painful to sit down and realize that MJ is actually dead. He brought us Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It, and so many other epic songs and dance moves. Sure, I might not have even been born yet, or maybe even too young to witness MJ in his absolute prime, but that's the beauty of his work. It's timeless. His music will last forever even though Michael has not. Generations of people will still listen to his music and his music will still be loved throughout the world. I'm not exaggerating when I call him the greatest entertainer of our time and a complete global icon. He was that special. The kids in my small Japanese village of only 3500 people knew of MJ's passing when I came into work this morning. That's how far his impact reached. Despite all the accusations and changes MJ went through, he was still the best entertainer ever. He made people happy through his music, and that's all that matters to me.

It's been rough trying to cope with MJ's passing. I haven't cried, but it feels like there's a part of me missing. I just feel empty. I'm sure a lot of you do as well. MJ played a big role in my life. I remember the first Walkman I got for Christmas one year. Guess what tape accompanied that bad boy? That's right. Michael Jackson's Bad. We'll always have his music, but it's depressing knowing that the man singing on the record is no longer here. I still can't believe it. Michael Jackson is dead. Obviously we should be celebrating his life and music, but there's still that sad, empty feeling deep down in my body. My youth had always been slowly slipping away, but I still had a grip on it. I'm only hanging on to it by a thread now that MJ is gone. I can only hope that wherever MJ is right now, he's sitting on a throne worthy of the King of Pop. Rest easy, MJ. We all miss you.


As I sit in my room in the middle night I find myself a bit homesick. That might sound weird because techinically I'm home. I should be happy to be with my friends, family, long-lost foods, and my 2 wonderful doggies. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely happy to be home, but I don't feel like I'm home. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I miss Japan.

Now, I don't miss Japan. That country is, well, weird. It's my life in Japan that I miss. I had a routine and it was working. I love my job, have grown attached to my students, and just basked in my indpendence. My life was great there, and it's great here too, but I felt a sense of satisfaction knowing I could survive on my own. I'm glad I'm "homesick" though. It proves to me I have things in Japan that I care deeply for. My students are absolutely amazing and I miss interacting with them. I honestly don't know if they even realize I'm gone, but I like them. They are great kids. I miss playing volleyball, I miss joking with the kids, and I miss being that freak of nature to them. I think they like me though even if they can't really express it. Everything I do is accompanied with ooohs and ahhhs and David is so awesome! So yeah, I like the attention a little bit :)

I have about a week and half left at my real home. I'll always consider Florida my true home and wouldn't want to live anywhere else permanently, but right now my home is in Japan. And I miss it. Sure it's going to be rough saying goodbye to my mom and sitting through a day worth of flying (gross), but once I walk into my apartment and settle in I'll feel complete again. I might feel weird going back as this trip home will have become a blur, but the kids will get me through any rough patches I may endure. It's awesome to truly enjoy what you do in life. So, I'll enjoy every moment I have in Florida, but once I get back to Japan and start working I'll feel whole again.

Can't believe I'm homesck over Japan...


I love volleyball. I played it in grade school and it was the one sport that I thoroughly enjoyed. There was no pressure at all. Volleyball was pure fun, and that's what a sport should be. For some reason though, I never continued in high school, and I regret it to this day. I sort of forgot about my love for volleyball until I came to Japan. After a grueling work day (trying not to laugh), I like to join the volleyball club and participate in the sport I consider my long lost love. Of course it is awkward for me, but not because I haven't played in years or because I'll sometimes completely miss a spike. No, not because of that. It's because I play with... girls. Yes, 13 and 14 year old girls.

Higashichichibu-mura is a small village. In fact, it's the only village in Saitama left. There are roughly 3500 people and only 107 kids at the JHS. It's a small place to say the least and a major change from the bright lights, sunny weather, and beautiful oceans of Miami, FL. I feel right at home here though, and volleyball plays a big part in that. Naturally I was a little skeptical playing with girls at the beginning, especially ones who are 10 years younger than me. There's no boys' club either, so no dice there. I didn't want the girls to think of me as a pervert so I talked with the coach first. Luckily the head coach is also my JTE, so she explained to them that I played volleyball as a kid and wanted to participate in the club on occasion. The girls were pretty shy in the beginning and I was almost a little embarrassed to be playing with them but now that I'm a "regular" we've learned to communicate and have fun together.

The girls are really great kids. They include me in their drills and somewhat try to communicate with me, if not through spoken English, then by acting out what I need to do. I probably tick them off a little bit when I completely mess up their drills, but they still smile and say "No problem." Still, I think the captain wants to rip my head off at times, but she's actually a really cool girl. I honestly still feel a little weird playing with them, but they seem to be as comfortable as can be. There are 8 girls on the team, so I'm literally the odd man out. They'll janken to see which one of them gets stuck doing the basic drills with me, but the girl who "wins" actually smiles and shows me where to go. It's just reassuring to know they think of me as a member rather than a weird foreigner. I felt so bad about being a guy that I gave them all chocolates on Valentine's Day in appreciation of welcoming me and letting me play with them. They seemed to enjoy that and were a little surprised actually.

Volleyball is one of the reasons why I feel comfortable here. It's also helped with my homesickness in a way. I really look forward to playing with the team. I love my job, don't get me wrong, but it just wouldn't feel complete without the volleyball club. It makes me feel like I'm a part of something. I really have the girls to thank for re-sparking my interest in volleyball. I still feel awkward playing with them at times, but I'm not embarrassed at all to tell others I play with middle-school girls. Well, ok, maybe a little, but only because they're better than me...

Farewell my awesome 3rd graders!

On Saturday, my 3rd grade students will graduate from Junior High School and venture off to the land of High School. I've only been with them for 6 months, but I've grown attached to them. They were a really fun class, and they always included me in their activities. I loved playing dodgeball and basketball with them after lunch. They were just a fun class full of really great kids.

It's just weird. I should have no attachment to these kids. I really didn't spend that much time with them, and the language barrier was hard to overcome, but I just feel sad for some reason. It may be because of my own memories of graduating and separating from my friends who I had spent the majority of my life with. Maybe it's because I'll never get to feel like them anymore. They are young and energetic and get to experience the cool things high school has to offer. Me on the other hand... I'm old :P I'm going to miss them. It may sound weird to miss some 14 year old Japanese kids you barely know, but I'm an emotional person. I just wish I was a kid again at times.

Anyway, here's to you my awesome 3rd graders! I hope they have an awesome time in high school and that I get to see them from time to time. Good luck!

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